The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood

The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood

Sonny Bunch hosts The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, a new podcast featuring interviews with folks who have their finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry during this dynamic—and difficult—time. read less

Our Editor's Take

The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood podcast offers a dynamic analysis of the latest movies and their politics. Host Sonny Bunch talks with directors, producers, and critics about the film business. He also talks about TV shows like Peacock's Bupkis.

Sonny is a journalist, editor, and writer specializing in film. He writes for The Bulwark as well as The Washington Post. The Bulwark is a center-right website that promises "honest news" and "smart analysis." Sonny brings this guarantee and his movie love to his work on the show.

Moviemaking is an evolving business. The streaming wars of today mean fewer people are walking down the movie aisle at the theater. But the magic of acting keeps people watching films. Sonny talks about Hollywood's biggest nights, like the openings for Barbie and Oppenheimer. Ticket sales suggest they will be among the year's biggest Hollywood hits. The show also talks about what's to come in the industry.

Special guests on the podcast include Richard Rushfield, Shannon Moore, and Alison Macor. Sonny talks with Alison about her book, Rewrite Man. In it, she reveals the challenges of Warren Skaaron, who wrote for films such as Batman and Top Gun. How many Hollywood screenwriters, like Warren, struggled to get credit for their work? What makes working in the film industry so rewarding and so frustrating? Sometimes, Sonny concludes, it's best to do things the old-fashioned way. "Making a living is hard," he has noted.

In another episode, Alan Zilberman visits to discuss what being a film critic is like. Awards season, he explains, is overwhelming. Critics must watch as many movies a day as they can. He and his colleagues do this, knowing their input may not matter. The frontrunner gets the Oscar. At least, Alan says, that's the way it seems to go. David Thomson joins another episode to chat about the evolution of movie directors. He offers a fascinating perspective on people behind the camera. The show also talks about what's to come in the industry.

The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood may be an excellent podcast for film lovers and experts. Sonny rolls the camera on the show weekly.

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TV & FilmTV & Film
Why You Can Finally Watch 'Moonlighting' on Streaming
Nov 18 2023
Why You Can Finally Watch 'Moonlighting' on Streaming
This week I’m joined by Glenn Gordon Caron, the creator and showrunner of Moonlighting, to talk about that series’s long-awaited arrival on streaming. We discussed the show’s creation, the discovery of Bruce Willis, how he and costar Cybil Shepherd kept up with the show’s trademark rapid-fire patter, the difficulty in clearing music rights (and how Moonlighting was one of the first shows to heavily incorporate pop music into the show), working with legends like Orson Welles and Stanley Donen, and so much more.  If you’ve never watched the show, I highly recommend checking it out on Hulu; the folks at Disney have done an amazing job restoring the episodes. A handful of highlights, if you’re trying to figure out where to start: Season 1, Episode 1: The Pilot. Tonally this is a bit different from what would follow, but it’s genuinely kind of wild to see Willis show up onscreen fully formed as Bruce Willis, Star in what was almost literally his first role. Season 1, Episode 2: Gunfight at the So-So Corral. Again, the show is still finding its footing, but it’s a pretty good representation of the combination of smart dialogue, great casting, and clever resolutions to the onscreen mysteries. Season 2, Episode 4: The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice. Orson Welles introduced this episode—which is structured with a mysterious intro and then two dream sequences (one dreamt by Shepherd’s Maddie Hayes as a sort of MGM musical; the other by Willis’s David Addison as a sort of 1940s noir)—in part because the network was terrified no one would want to watch a black-and-white episode of TV. Season 2, Episode 18: Camille. Whoopi Goldberg and Judd Nelson co-starred, and their mystery is all well and good, but it’s the closing sequence in which the (fourth) walls of reality come crashing in on the cast that makes this second season finale a must-watch. Season 3, Episode 6: Big Man on Mulberry Street. The mid-show dance sequence was done by Stanley Donen, and, again, I just can’t imagine what it was like to have this sequence pop up in the middle of network TV in the 1980s. Wild stuff. Season 3, Episode 10: Poltergeist III — Dipesto Nothing. One of the show’s episodes focusing on the adventures of Ms. Dipesto (Allyce Beasley) and Mr. Viola (Curtis Armstrong), who make for a delightful pairing. Season 4, Episode 2: Come Back Little Shiksa. Shepherd had to leave the show for a while due to her pregnancy, which led to a series of episodes that separated her and Willis. But the creators used some clever ways to get them in the same room. Plus: John Goodman’s in this one!
How 2023's Oddest Box Office Hit 'Paid It Forward'
Aug 5 2023
How 2023's Oddest Box Office Hit 'Paid It Forward'
Some backstory to this episode: last month I bought a ticket for Sound of Freedom because I was curious about the year’s most unexpected box office sensation. As the credits rolled, star Jim Caviezel came on the screen and gave a speech to the audience about the importance of theatrical exhibition; it’s the sort of thing you typically see at the start of movies these days, actors and directors thanking audiences for coming to the theater. Here’s the wrinkle: during his speech, Caviezel tells audience members they can “pay it forward,” buy a ticket for someone who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go. When the QR code allowing audiences to do this came on the screen, a woman who had lingered by the exit when she heard Caviezel talking pulled out her phone, scanned the code, and bought a ticket. I’ve never seen anything like that in a movie theater. Ever. So I asked Jeffrey Harmon, Angel Studios’s Chief Content Officer, on the show to talk about his studio’s unique business model, how they decide what to fund, and whether or not the pay-it-forward model could work for other types of movies like civil rights dramas. We discussed how the pay-it-forward system impacts the box office (briefly: only tickets that are requested and redeemed count toward the total, which as of this writing stands at $156 million domestic) and what their plans are for international distribution. As always, if you learned something, I hope you share this episode with a friend. Finally: I know there’s a lot of controversy swirling around this movie. For reasons I lay out here, I think it’s a fairly serious misstep to describe this as “the QAnon movie,” though I understand why some have misgivings given Jim Caviezel’s statements in the past. But this episode is about the film’s box office business, and as such I hewed pretty closely to that topic. If you’re not interested in that aspect of Sound of Freedom, I understand, but I’d ask you to keep comments on topic if you’d like to discuss this week’s episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit