Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Academy award-nominated screenwriter, Roger Simon in studio to discuss the art of screenwriting, woke Hollywood, and some of his recommended picks.

Leahy: Roger, I’m told that you are able to vote for the Academy Awards. Is that right?

Simon: I’ve been an Academy member for like years, actually since the mid-80s.

Leahy: Since the mid-80s. There are what? How many members of the Academy are there?

Simon: I’m not sure exactly now. It used to be 8,000. It might be a few more.

Leahy: Like 10,000?

Simon: Not even. And they are divided up into divisions. I’m in the screenwriter division now.

Leahy: Are you able to nominate anybody or just screenwriters?

Simon: I am able to nominate for best picture and for best screenplay and best-adapted screenplay. That’s the nomination process that is going on right now. And then in the actual election, once the nominees are announced, I can vote.

Leahy: You can vote all categories?

Simon: Yes. Except in the categories where they want you to prove that you actually saw the movies, (Laughter) which are foreign films and documentaries.

Leahy: Do you vote every year?

Simon: I have, but I’m wondering, it’s become a chore. I used to love being an academy, and I used to love the movies. Neither is true anymore.

Leahy: Why don’t you love the movies anymore?

Simon: Well, they become woke nonsense. And like many of your listeners, I don’t go to see many movies anymore. And that used to be my life. I love things like Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather and these kinds of movies that were epical things that everybody wanted to see. Now nobody wants to see any of it.

Leahy: Well, the movies that are coming out, it’s like various comic book series. Superheroes.

Simon: And a lot of that is manipulated by China. I’m going to be doing an interview with EpochTV tomorrow on this because China doesn’t pay for the movies directly. But what it is, they control the content because they are the biggest audience in the world. They make money, and therefore, they have a kind of strange veto power. Even the big Tom Cruise movie that was popular this year.

Leahy: Top Gun Maverick.

Simon: You noticed that they didn’t say who the enemy was. Now what kind of a story is that?

Leahy: It was some generic kind of Russian-like enemy.

Simon: It could have been Iran; it could have been Russia. You didn’t really know. And they were just going for some kind of strange nuclear spot that didn’t make any sense if you thought about it. But it was fun to watch the special effects, but that was about it.

Leahy: I would agree with that. I liked the movie, but again, it was about more speed. It was all about speed. And Tom Cruise riding a motorcycle out on a sailboat up in a plane. There’s Tom Cruise.

Simon: Because they’re trying to be very careful about telling the truth. And, of course, that filters down to art films, which are really boring, mostly. Is somebody going to come out as a lesbian or not? (Yawns)

Leahy: What an original topic.

Simon: Forty years ago, but not now. That’s what’s happened. And the result is that the Golden Globes this year got their lowest attendance ever. And I predict the Academy Awards will follow suit.

Leahy: So I guess first, are you going to nominate any picture for Best Picture?

Simon: I don’t know if I can get enough to do it, but I will try. But the movie I liked was a documentary. I liked The Automat.

Leahy: With Meryl Streep?

Simon: No, it was a documentary about automats.

Leahy: I was thinking of something entirely different. About how automats were where you’d go in New York City, you’d order food, and it was $0.05.

Simon: I did that as a kid.

Leahy: And you liked that documentary?

Simon: Oh, yeah. It’s very nostalgic, but it’s fun.

Leahy: Are you going to nominate that?

Simon: No woke stuff in it. The woke cinema is about the worst that has ever happened.

Leahy: So I look at the movies. The only movie that I’ve gone to see this year was Top Gun Maverick.

Simon: That’s the only movie you and a lot of people saw.

Leahy: A movie that I have no interest in is Avatar Part 2,3,4,5, whatever it is.

Simon: That’s high-priced, woke.

Leahy: Yes, high-priced woke. And then there’s another one that’s getting some buzz. I read the summary of this, and I said, like, this is crazy. I don’t want to do this. But it’s getting some buzz. It’s called The Banshees of Inisherin.

Simon: I haven’t seen it yet. I saw the trailer, and I’m going to watch that. I’m able to watch any of the movies I want online because the Academy provides them.

Leahy: Well, that’s nice. You’re going to watch that one?

Simon: Yes. A movie I did like a lot, and I recommend the viewers, and I don’t know, I’ll put a vote for it, I think is Elvis.

Leahy: I heard good things about Elvis.

Simon: It’s really fun. The guy who plays Elvis is spectacularly good, and it’s a brilliant preview of directing by Baz Luhrmann, the Australian guy.

Leahy: And Tom Hanks played Colonel Tom Parker.

Simon: That’s a minor part of the movie.

Leahy: Minor part of the movie.

Simon: The other guy is fantastic. I can’t remember his name.

Leahy: So you like that movie?

Simon: Yes, I recommend that to people if they haven’t already seen it.

Leahy: I’ve heard good things about it. The banshees of Inisharon. It’s got some bizarre stuff on it, from what I’ve read in the plot. Bizarre stuff to the degree that I’m not at all interested in seeing it. But I’d be curious.

Simon: It’s good acting in it, from what I understand.

Leahy: That’s what I hear. And it’s scenes of Ireland

Simon: Another movie is called Tar which is about a lesbian conductor. And if you watch the movie, it makes no sense. Zero. And it goes on for two hours and 40 minutes. That one we could say, buyer beware.

Leahy: Of course, all these comic book movies, the Marvel series, which apparently a lot of people watch, but it’s like, are you kidding me? Where are the classics? Where’s Lawrence of Arabia? Where’s The Godfather? Where is It’s A Wonderful Life?

Simon: Going back further is Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Leahy: Great movies, great writing.

Simon: Yes, great writing. One of the things that killed screenwriting, I think, is the advent of the film school.

Leahy: Yes.

Simon: I’ve taught it. I taught at the fanciest one at the American Film Institute. But I noticed that the old writers who came from Broadway back in the 30s were real writers. Even Faulkner and Fitzgerald tried their hand at it although they weren’t very successful at screenwriting. They weren’t that good.

Leahy: By that time Fitzgerald was kind of a drunk, wasn’t he?

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: Of course, Faulkner was a drunk all along.

Simon: He wrote a great novel about Hollywood called The Last Tycoon.

Leahy: Yes, a very good one.

Simon: Yes, it’s really wonderful book.

Leahy: It’s interesting. Let me just say, from a journalistic point of view, if somebody wants to come to us and work for us as a journalist, and they’ve actually graduated from a school of journalism, I have no interest in talking to them. (Laughter)

Simon: I understand that in the early days of The Epoch Times, when I first joined, there was a guy, Ivan Penchrov, who had an office in the then offices in which they would take graduates from the Columbia Journalism School and deprogram them at the offices of The Epoch Times.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Academy Awards Red Carpet” by BDS2006. CC BY-SA 3.0.