February 13, 2012



Tonight’s Grammy Awards were inevitably somewhat haunted by the awful loss of Whitney Houston barely 24 hours earlier, a tragedy that seemed to have been going on for a decade yet was still shocking when it came to its fruition.  Nevertheless, the show found time to include innumerable music numbers, some of them saluting artists in the CBS demo like The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Glen Campbell and Bruce Springsteen, but also an odd Nicki Minaj salute to The Devil Inside, and what appeared to be Katy Perry’s very public middle finger to Russell Brand.  Although the actual awards always seem to be of secondary importance on this broadcast, everything that wasn’t nailed down went (deservedly, in one listener’s opinion) to Adele. 
The Grammys aren’t quite the Super Bowl when it comes to movie ads–studios don’t pay millions to promote films that won’t be opening for months–but it’s still a show that gathers a relatively young (especially for CBS) and clearly, considering the featured movies, female audience, and as such it serves as a showcase for quite a few films opening soon.  Here’s what the show had for movie fans:

THE LORAX (Universal) – :30Featuring stars Taylor Swift and Zac Efron, who have been known to warble a tune every now and then.
THE VOW (Sony/Screen Gems) – :15 – The only current release in the show, this spot was notable for making Vow look much more like a romantic comedy than it actually is.  This could indicate the studio’s hope to broaden its audience beyond the weepie crowd as the picture continues in theatres.
JOHN CARTER (Disney) – :30 – One of the few action movies that figured into the evening (possibly on the theory that a shirtless Taylor Kitsch transcends genre).  This was the first promo that attempted to explain just who John Carter is and what what he’s doing on Mars, which made it a welcome relief after the incomprehensible Super Bowl spot.
THIS MEANS WAR (20th) – :30 – The film is opening Friday (with sneak previews on Tuesday night), so its ads are in high rotation throughout all network schedules.  One change in this spot from the first wave is that it shows the moment when Reese Witherspoon realizes that both her beaus Tom Hardy and Chris Pine know each other.  This makes her appear a little less clueless, and also allows her to deliver the music-appropriate line “I’m Yoko!”
PROJECT X (Warners) – :30: – Yet another “found footage” movie, this time recounting a teen party from hell and (not coincidentally) produced by Todd Phillips, director of the Hangover movies.  This is a very young-skewing picture, so its promos probably won’t be making many more appearances on CBS.
THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate) – :30 – Mostly the same promo that aired on the Super Bowl, but slightly re-edited to emphasize heroine Katniss’ feelings about leaving her sister in lieu of spectacle.
21 JUMP STREET (Sony/MGM) – :30 – The same cut-down version of the theatrical trailer that’s been running for a while.  It’ll be interesting to see if the giant success of The Vow prompts some Channing Tatum-intensive spots between now and the opening.
ACT OF VALOR (Relativity) – :15 – The other action movie of the night, this promo, despite its short length, found time to name the country music stars who supplied songs for the soundtrack.
GOOD DEEDS (Lionsgate) – :15 – The latest from Tyler Perry, it appears to be about a man named Deeds who decides he has to start doing good.  No one can accuse the title of being false advertising.  (Coming soon from Tyler Perry:  “Return of the Man In Woman Clothes.”)
WANDERLUST (Universal) ) – :30 – Like most of the spots for this Paul Rudd/Jennifer Aniston comedy, this plays up the “Omigod, they’re hippies!” aspect of the commune where the lead couple goes to recharge their batteries.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."