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Diagnosed with cancer, 16-year-old Dylan Jamieson (Michael Angarano, Jack's son on Will & Grace) is invited onto national television by an organization that grants last wishes to dying children. Dylan surprises everyone by making an eyebrow-raising request: to spend a steamy weekend with a supermodel. As a media frenzy hits his small Pennsylvania town and Dylan gleefully prepares to have his final wish fulfilled, his mom (Cynthia Nixon, Sex in the City) struggles with the idea of losing the most precious thing in her life. Directed by Alex Steyermark (Prey for Rock & Roll).
 

 Today Is NOT Today

Today is not today. Today is five years from now. You’re out on the town with some friends, having just dined at that hip new Iraqi restaurant west of Times Square (you ordered the Bush-kebab platter, which left you with a bad case of indigestion). You and your friends have each plunked down 100 bucks to see my latest production—One Last Thing... (written by my best friend, Barry Stringfellow)—and now you’re settling into your seats as the lights go down in the theater. After five minutes or so of advertisements, the opening music begins, and the curtain comes up on a grittily realistic set of Marcus Hook, a small oil refinery town just south of Philadelphia. It’s a pretty good replica of the opening of the DVD version of One Last Thing..., which you watched last week because Starbucks was giving it away free with your Soy Decaf Latte. Part of a promotion for tonight’s live theatrical version featuring the original movie cast.

Okay, let’s rewind eight years (or three years ago if you follow the above timeline). Back then, the music business was experiencing dizzying declines in CD sales. The record labels tried to blame it on piracy and digital downloads. Of course, everyone else knew that it was because the major labels were putting out mediocre music no one wanted to buy. Sales of recorded music continued to decline in spite of a string of decent releases, and it became clear that, well, yeah, now everyone was copying music illegally (knowingly or not). When was the last time your 13-year-old niece actually bought recorded music? “You mean I’m supposed to pay for this stuff?”

My musician friends have since come to understand that they’re probably never going to see much money from sales of their recorded music, so they’re doing what any sensible performer would do—they’re taking to the road, and getting paid cold hard cash to put on a live show. Live performance—an experience that’s arguably impossible to replace. And presumably something for which the public is ready to pay good money, judging by the sold-out concerts with ticket prices well above $100.

In my previous life as a film music supervisor, I noticed that music industry trends eventually appear a few years later in the film business. So look at last year: declining box office revenue which the studios attributed to any number of reasons other than the fact that (as everyone else understood) they were putting out movies no one was really interested in paying to see in theaters. Then all sorts of innovative distribution models were being explored (including the day-and-date model for One Last Thing…). Certainly the old distribution models are due for retooling, but what I really see in all of this is a race to beat the piracy monster. What I find extraordinary, however, is the extent to which the distributors are complicit—rushing the DVD out sooner, so that more people can copy it illegally and circulate it among their friends and on the internet. Just like with recorded music, there may come a day when no one actually pays to see movies (which are, after all, another form of recorded performance). Don’t get me wrong—people will see the movies; they just won’t pay to see them.

Now there may be a way that this can work to the moviemaker’s advantage. I’ve seen this work very successfully in the music business—where artists now routinely give away their CDs to promote their much more lucrative live tours (remember when it was the other way around?). Here’s where I see this all headed: giving away DVDs to promote live readings of movies or—an even bigger bonanza—live readings of unproduced screenplays (wow, just think of the wealth of untapped material to choose from). And I can easily see someone plunking down $100 to see a live reading of One Last Thing… featuring the amazing original cast (which includes Michael Angarano, Cynthia Nixon, Sunny Mabrey, Ethan Hawke, Wyclef Jean, Gina Gershon, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Michael Rispoli, Gia Carides and Johnny Messner). And what a great idea from a producer’s standpoint—eventually a producer might not actually have to spend the money to make the movie at all.

Back to that theater in Times Square five years from now. The show’s over. You laughed a little, you cried a little, a good time was had by all. On your way out the door the usher hands you a free cellphone containing the movie version of my long-gestating passion project, One More Last Thing… (yup, it finally got made). Feel free to email the movie to all your friends’ phones. It’s all part of a promotion for the live theatrical version of One More Last Thing… which opens on Broadway next month.