Item 1. Letterman introduced Nicolas Cage Wednesday night as an actor whose films have made $3 billion worldwide. Not as the man who made Moonstruck, Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation (each a shining achievement in their respective decades), but as an actor who can really rake in the dough.
Item 2. For the past couple years, the content of my ex-favorite magazine and ex-employer, Entertainment Weekly, has revolved not around film quality (as it did during its infancy in the early '90s) but around box office. All its newsy articles are fixated on predicting or analyzing a film's floppage or blockbuster capacity -- not delineating why something sucked or why it was great and what it means for the medium and the culture.
The point: Culturalists are talking too much about movies and movie people in terms of dollars. I know the film industry is a business; money must be made, and the financial success of a movie can serve as a kind of cultural barometer. But Letterman isn't Sherry Lansing and EW isn't Variety. Let's keep our eye on the ball, folks. I understand there are corporate interests at work here, but Letterman on TV and EW in print and on the Web have tremendous power to point people to quality material. If only they were using that power for good.