San Francisco, CA
The public's fascination with zombies is rooted in an underlying irony. Hollywood recycles genres every couple of decades or so, including zombie-themed films. In the 1950s and 1960s, movie houses across America featured a plethora of B-flicks including zombie films by Edward Cahn. In the late 1970s, a slew of low budget zombie flicks entered the consciousness, many of which found a second life as home rentals in the 1980s courtesy of the VCR. And now as 2012 approaches, all-things zombie are kitschy again.
Zombieland. World War Z. Walking Dead. 28 Days Later. Zombies. Zombies. Zombies.
Zombies are everywhere and I'm not talking about the lifeless zombies you'll see in Las Vegas hunched over a slot machine, nor am I talking about the Aussie zombies sitting in the dark in Oz grinding away at online pokies. Nope. I'm talking about those rancid, flesh-devouring cannibalistic monsters who hunt down and devour the few remaining humans in a post-apocalyptic world.
Although the zombie genre features the un-dead feasting upon the living, there's a deeper socio-political message embedded in each film -- the real world is cluttered with dead souls corrupted by materialism, sucking out the life force and destroying every iota of individuality. In the parlance of our snarky times, the sheeple are the zombies. For those among us that are enlightened, we must fear the herd because the herd of zombies will eventually trample us, eat us, or infect us with their affliction.
What do zombies love to eat? Brains. Human brains. Highly symbolic if you ask me, because zombies eat brains to eradicate intelligence. The zombies don't think. They just consume. More. And more. And more.
So where's the irony? The sheeple love zombie movies. Zombie movies are subversive movies about sheeple. Therefore, the sheeple are really in love with movies about themselves becoming brainless monsters, yet their collective reality is too distorted to realize what is really happening.
Zombie flicks are hot today, but all of this will change in a couple of years, when the public loses interest in brooding teenage vampires and zombie-strewn dystopia. Eventually the suits in Hollywood will recycle another genre. In the meantime, I shall tolerate zombie flicks and snicker at the absurdity of their popularity, yet I eagerly await the return of erotic, campy women-in-prison flicks and Blaxsploitation films. Seriously, when the hell are they gonna re-make Superfly?
I often wonder if the American public will ever become interested in poker-themed entertainment again? Will poker ever get recycled? Can poker, during online poker prohibition, become a centerpiece of popular culture?
Unless one of the Kardashians starts banging Phil Ivey, I doubt the sheeple will give a damn about poker.
During the gravy years of the glorious poker boom, it was hard to keep up with the over-saturation of poker programming on the boob tube. Even with a thousand cable stations, there still isn't 24-hour poker channel in America. That omission is stunning, but the bean counters in Hollywood only care about the bottom line. And the current bottom line is this... only hardcore poker enthusiasts and degenerate gamblers will watch anything poker-related. Sure, the WSOP on ESPN might attract a small stream of curious non-poker people, but until Americans develop an appetite for more poker programming, we won't see any new shows -- especially since Poker Stars and Full Tilt aren't around to fund new poker-themed entertainment projects.
But, I have a brilliant idea that I revealed to a studio exec during a recent meeting in Burbank. Here's my three second pitch: washed-up celebrities playing poker.
Think about it. Who wouldn't want to see a bloated David Lee Roth check-raise a strung-out Dustin Diamond (aka Screech from Saved By the Bell)? Wouldn't you want to see an angry Vanilla Ice go on mega-tilt after getting sucked out by Gary Coleman?
Here's another mind-blowing pitch... it's a Vegas-based reality show comprised of bankrupt former child stars who live at Panorama Towers and receive daily tutorial sessions by Matt Stout and Tony Dunst. The former child stars compete in a weekly tournament in which the winner gains "immunity" and a free comp to the Bellagio buffet, while the rest of the child stars argue incessantly over which one of them gets kicked out of the Towers. Former Hollyweird child stars in Vegas is 100% pure comedy gold. Think about all the juicy B-roll you can obtain while following them around Sin City... hustling paid appearances on the Strip to take photos with tourists from the Midwest, then blowing their paychecks on an over-priced 8-ball that they scored in the parking lot of Olympic Gardens from a one-eyed pimp named Rummy.
Or better yet, here's one more high-concept pitch... lock up any eight D-list celebs in a penthouse at the Palms, feed them booze, pills, and enough speed to keep the entire state of Wisconsin up for a month... then film the ensuing surreal trainwreck as the schwilly D-listers attempt to play low-stakes PLO. We'll hire Gabe Kaplan and Gary Busey to do the color commentary and have Shana Hiatt conduct side-line interviews with hysterical celebs after they get bitch-slapped by the chick who played Six on Blossom.
Ah, just call me cynical. We're waiting on a ghost train. Poker's gravy train arrived at the turn of the century, then abruptly departed the night before the UIGEA was tacked onto the Port Security Bill. The gravy train, fueled by online poker rooms quest for domination, might never return in my generation, which is why I spend many of my waking hours writing up half-baked pitches so I can justify scoring a free lunch at Mo's with desperate development execs seeking the next big reality show.
Okay, I have one last brilliant pitch... strip poker featuring coked-up 20-something starlets and botox-riddled cougars. Meg Ryan has not cashed a big paycheck in a while and we know Lindsay Lohan is looking for work.