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The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood

Arts & Culture Podcasts

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.

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.


United States


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.






202 527 9438


Rod Lurie Part 2: 'The Outpost'

Welcome back to the show! Please check out last week’s episode if you missed it; Rod Lurie (The Contender, The Last Castle) had a ton of great stories about transitioning from the Army to the world of film criticism to the world of filmmaking. This week we talked about shooting The Outpost: the difficulty of bringing such a sensitive story to the big screen and trying to decide what to cut and what to keep; shooting the film in Bulgaria; and casting actors like Caleb Landry Jones and Scott...


Rod Lurie on Breaking Into the Biz

This week (and next week!) Sonny talks to Rod Lurie, the director of The Contender, The Last Castle, and The Outpost, among other films and television shows. This week’s episode is all about Rod’s early efforts to break into the business, from Army officer to film critic to writer/director. He tells a great story about his first meeting with Bill Paxton, fills us in on the difficulty of getting funding for just about anything (spoiler: you’re always one actor away from a green light), and...


CinemaCon in Twilight

Richard Rushfield, proprietor of The Ankler, returns to the show this week to fill us in on the declining fortunes of CinemaCon in an age of streamers and theater-threatening diseases. We also discuss low-budget horror and why studios seem loathe to fill their slate with surefire hits in addition to checking in on the minions celebrating the downfall of Mike Richards, Jeopardy scourge.


Jake Tapper on Afghanistan War Classic 'The Outpost'

On this week’s episode Sonny is joined by Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and author of The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, to talk about his book on Combat Outpost Keating and its adaptation into the defining movie of the Afghanistan War by Rod Lurie. Why did the book expand from coverage of the rare battle that saw two living Medal of Honor winners emerge to a book about the life an ill-advised and ill-placed outpost in the wilds of Afghanistan? How did the troops feel about American...


Zak Penn on 'Free Guy,' Writing Villains, and the Fate of 'PCU'

Very excited to have on Zak Penn this week, who, in addition to being one of the writers of Free Guy, is also a credited writer on a series of HBO classics from my younger days: Last Action Hero, PCU, and Behind Enemy Lines, among others. On this episode we talked a lot about Free Guy and the state of Hollywood’s internal struggle between IP-branded ventures and original films, but we also dove into some of his other work: What happened with the writing of Last Action Hero, the first script...


Matthew Belloni on the Changing Ways Hollywood Gets Paid

This week, Sonny is joined by Matthew Belloni, author of the newsletter “What I’m Hearing” for the exciting new web publication Formerly an entertainment lawyer and editor for The Hollywood Reporter, Matt joins the show today to talk about Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit, the ways in which streaming economics are upending traditional compensation packages, and Disney’s new “socialism.” Are the days of superstar show runners earning hundreds of millions over? And what lies ahead for...


Clayton Childress Explains How Taste and Status Reinforce Each Other

On this week’s episode, Sonny talks to Clayton Childress, an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Sociology of University of Toronto who studies taste, decision, and meaning making in the creation, production, and reception of culture. Clayton is on to discuss a recent study he coauthored with Shyon Baumann, Craig M. Rawlings, and Jean-François Nault about the strange ways elite tastes have both grown more inclusive and more exclusive. What does it mean that those with more education say they...


Ray Subers on Polling Moviegoers

On this episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny talks to Ray Subers, a vice president at NRG, which has helped Hollywood studios with polling about movies for decades. Currently, NRG’s most interesting and informative efforts have to do with polling audiences on their comfort levels with going back to theaters during the age of COVID and its variants. How are audiences feeling right now as case numbers surge? How nervous is Hollywood? Also: If you’ve ever wondered how movie studios...


John Mass on the Future of Content

This week Sonny is joined by John Mass, Executive Vice President of Content Partners, LLC, to talk about the business of acquiring intellectual property and figuring out how to make the business side of show business work. We had a great chat about the future of streaming, the shifting world of windows, and the (potentially limited) future of physical media. Content Partners is the leading independent owner of major studio distributed films, televisions shows, and related participations with...


Ryan Faughnder on How Valuable You Are (to Streaming Companies)

This week on The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny talks to the Los Angeles Times’s Ryan Faughnder about arr-poo (that is, RPU, or revenue per user) and how such calculations figure into the value of a subscriber, as well as all sorts of other topics. Make sure to subscribe to Ryan’s newsletter (it’s free!) if you’re into the whole “business of Hollywood” thing, which you are since you’re listening to this show. And if you enjoy this episode, share it with your friends! Everyone loves getting...


Richard Rushfield on the Latest Hollywood News

On this week’s episode we ask a very important question of The Ankler’s Richard Rushfield: Is Vin Diesel a star? Really, what does it mean to be a star these days anyway? How are the streaming wars shaping up? What’s the deal with Universal’s new pay window? And how beloved is Quentin Tarantino? All this and more on this week’s episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood.


James White on Restoring Movies for Arrow Films

This week, Sonny talks to James White, the Head of Restoration at Arrow Films. On this episode, we dive into the tricky nature of rescuing older films and getting them ready for appreciation on Blu-ray and UHD 4K. What is the actual mechanical process of restoring a film like? Beyond getting elements like the original negatives, how does James work with directors and cinematographers to make sure the color timing is right? What’s the deal with film grain? All that and more on this week’s...


Summer Reading!

On this week’s episode, Sonny Bunch is joined by Bulwark contributor Bill Ryan and Turner Classic Movie writer Greg Ferrara to talk about some of their favorite film books. This episode was inspired in part by a recurring question Sonny gets about books that can help people better understand film or become better film writers. Obviously, you should listen to the episode; we wouldn’t be sending it to you otherwise. But here’s a cheat sheet with links to the recommended titles. (Pro tip: I’ve...


James Emanuel Shapiro on Cannes and the Business of Film Festivals

On this week’s episode, James Emanuel Shapiro returns to the show to talk about the return of Cannes and what it’s like to be on the business side of a film festival. We all know about the great premieres and the fancy parties, but what about the actual business of these festivals, the markets where films are bought and sold? Plus, we’ll talk about Amazon’s purchase of MGM and, at the end, James shares some interesting data about Prime Video and iTunes’s relative place in the transactional...


Jonathan Taplin on Working With Dylan, Scorsese, and the Rolling Stones

(Note: This is a two-episode week since apparently I did not upload this episode to Apple last week. But if you're listening via the Substack, you would've gotten it fine! The lesson, as always: sign up for the Substack!) Sonny is joined by Jonathan Taplin to discuss his new must-read book, The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life. Jon was there when Dylan went electric; he was there when Martin Scorsese needed some cash to get his first early classic, Mean Streets, made; and he was...


Frank Pallotta on the MGM/Amazon Deal, F9 in China, and the Summer Movie Season

CNN Media Reporter Frank Pallotta returns to the show to talk about a huge week in movie business news. Amazon has acquired MGM (and half of James Bond) for $8.45 billion. Summer movie season has kicked off in China, with the release of F9 and kicks off this weekend in America with A Quiet Place 2: what do new benchmarks for success look like? All this and more on a news-and-analysis packed episode. If you found the episode interesting and informative, please subscribe to Bulwark+ to help...


Eddie Muller on TCM, Film Noir, and the HFPA's Charitable Work

This week Sonny is joined by Eddie Muller, the host of TCM’s “Noir Alley” and the founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation. We discussed the Foundation’s reliance on the Golden Globes for the funding it procures to help restore long-lost film noirs to something approaching their original condition. We also talked about the world of film restoration more generally and Eddie offered up some picks for those looking to dive into the world of film noir. And make sure to pick up Eddie’s...


Jon Finkel on 1996's sports movies and athletes on sports cinema

This week Sonny is joined by Jon Finkel, author of 1996: A Biography: Reliving the Legend-Packed, Dynasty-Stacked, Most Iconic Sports Year Ever. This is a movie podcast, not a sports podcast, so I understand if you’re confused. But 1996 was also notable for having some great sports movies (Jerry Maguire, Tin Cup) and some … not-so-great sports movies (The Fan, Space Jam). Plus: Happy Gilmore! We also talked about how athletes perceive their portrayals onscreen and had a quick lightning round...


Jesse Nelson of Diabolik DVD Discusses the Boutique Blu-ray Biz

This week Sonny is pleased to be joined by Jesse Nelson, the co-owner of Diabolik DVD and Cauldron Films. Diabolik is one of the best places to pick up boutique Blu-ray discs from outlets like Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, and Shout/Scream Factory, and he had a number of interesting thoughts about the state of the physical media industry. We also talked a bit about his own label, Cauldron Films, which released a wonderful Blu-ray set of the pictured movie: American Rickshaw. If you’re a fan of...


Chris Fenton on China, the Oscars, and the MCU

Chris Fenton, author of Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, & American Business, returns to the show to talk about China’s influence on Hollywood, and vice versa. Why is the Chinese Communist Party censoring news about Chloe Zhao’s historic win on Oscar night? Should Disney be worried about the fact that she’s the director on the forthcoming MCU tentpole, The Eternals? What to make of recent misfires in the Middle Kingdom like Mulan and Raya and...