As much as I detest reality TV, I have to admit that “Project Greenlight” became a guilty pleasure. The HBO series chronicled the making of an independent film by first-time filmmakers chosen by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Although it was easy to dismiss as a blatant promotion for the movie, “The Battle of Shaker Heights,” which opened on the heels of the series finale, the show did provide a brutal and riveting glimpse into how people work together — or more often don’t.
This was an anatomy of the ultimate dysfunctional project team, with characters as unlikable as they were recognizable: the arrogant, passive-aggressive directing team of Kyle and Efram, who proved to be rather skilled actors themselves whenever they appeared to be listening to others’ ideas; the disillusioned Midwestern screenwriter Erica, who could barely bring herself to watch what the directors did to her coming-of-age story; and the world-weary producer Chris, who teaches the newbies the hard lessons of Hollywood (lesson No. 1: the only audience that really matters is the studio’s marketing department).
As Hank Stuever wrote in Saturday’s Washington Post, “Nearly everyone has worked for a Kyle. Or an Efram….These are complicated, micro-managerial babies, with Banana Republic wardrobes. These are the assistant vice presidents and supervisors who go behind colleagues and higher-ups, yet their subterfuge is always pure in intention – coming from a visionary, renegade mind-set.”
If Kyle and Efram’s creation is as bad as critics claim (“Gigli” is Oscar-worthy by comparison), I’ll be surprised if HBO gives this revealing series the green light again.