In the groves of academe, studying popular culture is often the preserve of nutty left-wing professors performing exotic Marxist autopsies on the imperialist dynamics of Donald Duck comic books. Academic conservatives are teaching and writing about Homer the Greek poet, not the cartoon, which is important but oftentimes leaves their audience without a learned guide to analyze the themes of our modern culture.
Fortunately, there is Thomas Hibbs, a professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University – and a film critic for National Review Online. Earlier this year, the Spence Publishing folks in Dallas published a valuable and fascinating book by the professor called "Arts of Darkness: American Noir and the Quest for Redemption."
In an appearance on Monday's Hannity and Colmes on FNC, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris responded to the HBO movie Recount, about the 2000 Florida recount of the presidential election, as she charged that the movie ignored Harris's early attempt to implement a statewide recount in Florida, a move which was fought by the Al Gore campaign. According to Harris attorney Joe Klock, who worked on the recount case, Gore "wanted no part of" a statewide recount, instead preferring to "count in their four carefully-selected counties," which were predominantly Democratic.
The segment began with a clip of actress Laura Dern negatively portraying Katherine Harris in the movie Recount. Harris responded:
I'm quite accustomed to being mocked in terms of my appearance, but when the truth is so flagrantly disregarded ... we had to respond. In fact, in the closing scene of this film, when two of Gore's lead campaign consultants were leaving by the airplane, they said, "You know, we should have gone after that statewide recount at the beginning." Had the author of this film ... bothered to do the research, then, perhaps, he would have learned that indeed we did that from the very start.
That sleazy yet hallowed HBO television series "Sex and the City" is now in theaters as a feature film, and the cultural elites are having a religious experience. Newsweek previewed the movie by reporting how an estimated 50,000 people, some from far-away lands like Australia and Japan, "make the pilgrimage each year to the shrine," the fictional New York City home of "Sex" protagonist Carrie Bradshaw. The magazine chronicled a tour group standing silently, some weeping.
Am I the only one who thinks that those estimated 50,000 people out there make the Trekkies look sane by comparison? But Newsweek seems to lament how the movie isn’t outrageous enough. The headline is "Girls Gone Mild," and the trailer is all about our protagonist getting married – maybe. Writer Julia Baird was amazed at "how many people speak of it in hyperbolic terms: as a revolution, a phenomenon, a cataclysm, almost an insurgency."
New York Times TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley reviewed "Recount," the HBO film about the controversial aftermath of the 2000 presidential campaign vote in Florida.
Many have commented on how the movie clearly visualizes the contest through a Democratic prism. Predictably, Stanley loved it, and let her opinion of one major GOP character (often loathed by liberals who accuse her of handing the election to Bush) very clear.
"Recount," an astute and deliciously engrossing film on HBO this Sunday night, retells the tale of Florida in all its bizarre and inglorious moments, from haggling over the "hanging chad" and "butterfly ballots" to the ruckus between the Florida secretary of state, Katherine Harris, and the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. "Recount" is not satire; it's a mordantly serious look at a moment when character, political influence and luck fatefully collided.
Then it was time for some Katherine Harris-hating:
HBO's 'Recount' movie which premiered Sunday night, and will re-run on Monday evening, certainly lived up to the admission of actor Kevin Spacey, who played Gore operative Ron Klain, that it presented the 2000 Florida election aftermath through the eyes of the “underdog” Democrats fighting to “count every vote” despite being frustrated by Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris who was portrayed as an easily-manipulated dolt. But Tom Wilkinson as James Baker came off as an in-command strategist and the movie delivered some anti-Democratic points rarely heard in the news media:
First, Bob Balaban, as Bush-Cheney lawyer Ben Ginsberg, reacting to Gore-Lieberman campaign Chairman Bill Daley whose father was Mayor of Chicago in 1960: “His daddy stole it for JFK and now he's going to steal it for Gore.” Second, from Wilkinson as James Baker: “Who knows how many votes we lost when the networks called Florida for Gore before all the polls were closed on election night.”
But the weirdest moment came in a scene of a protest held outside the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. A man, holding a Bush-Cheney sign, chanted: “Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots! Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots!”
UPDATE: Weird, but close to reality. In 'Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency,' the 2001 book by Jake Tapper now with ABC News (Tapper's Political Punch blog), Tapper reported on page 139: “A guy with a sign saying 'God Made Bush President' appears. Another, hyping the Web site Newsmax.com, starts shouting out that 'Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots.' This guy has a bald spot, too.”
With HBO's 'Recount' movie (airing Sunday and Monday night at 9 PM EDT/PDT) sure to rekindle claims that Al Gore would have won if only the U.S. Supreme Court had not “stopped the counting,” a reminder that both recounts conducted by major media outlets in 2001 determined George W. Bush would have won anyway. Two stars of the film have fueled the re-writing of history with actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Gore operative Ron Klain, charging that “the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted” while Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris, recalled that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling left her “devastated because there were uncounted votes.”
George W. Bush would have won a hand count of Florida's disputed ballots if the standard advocated by Al Gore had been used, the first full study of the ballots reveals. Bush would have won by 1,665 votes -- more than triple his official 537-vote margin -- if every dimple, hanging chad and mark on the ballots had been counted as votes, a USA TODAY/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder study shows. The study is the first comprehensive review of the 61,195 "undervote" ballots that were at the center of Florida's disputed presidential election....
That look was followed in November by an analysis by a consortium of media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN and AP. It determined that George W. Bush still would have won under either legally possible recount scenario which could have occurred: The Florida Supreme Court ordered recount of undervotes statewide or Gore’s request for a recount in certain counties. The New York Times led its November 12, 2001 front page article, “Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote,” by reporters Ford Fessenden and John M. Broder:
Asked by Howard Kurtz on Sunday's Reliable Sources how she felt, “as a citizen,” when “the Supreme Court stepped in and essentially made George W. Bush President?”, actress Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris in HBO's Recount film to premiere tonight at 9 PM EDT/PDT, replied that “as a citizen, I felt devastated because there were uncounted votes” and “I left the experience with a real disillusionment about the process.”
Dern's personal view echoing the liberal/Democratic spin on what occurred matches the take expressed Wednesday by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Gore operative Ron Klain in the movie: “It does seem that on the one hand the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski says that since we talked to Likud, we should talk to Hamas. And Kevin Spacey, who has trouble keeping his disputed primary states straight, suggests that his "Recount" plays it straight, despite evidence to the contrary. All that and more on today's Morning Joe. In reverse order, let's begin with Zbig's appearance, and consider this statement.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I have joined a bi-partisan group of some prominent Americans including Paul Volcker, Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton, and some others, in saying that talking to Hamas is a necessary course of action. You know, we talked to Likud when Likud was advocating the total incorporation of the West Bank into Israel. And today Likud accepts a two-state solution. Hamas will evolve, but it will not evolve if it is continuously ostracized and threatened.
Actor Kevin Spacey, who stars as Al Gore adviser Ron Klain in HBO's Sunday night Recount film about the 2000 post-election battle in Florida, conceded on Wednesday's Countdown on MSNBC that “the movie is done from the Democratic point of view.” That matches the observation of Entertainment Weekly magazine reviewer Gillian Flynn: “Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story.” On Monday's Late Show with David Letterman, in apparent references to Katherne Harris and President George W. Bush, Spacey quipped Florida in 2000 was “a confluence of events and personalities -- some of whom perhaps weren't qualified for their jobs, [pause] some of whom probably aren't currently qualified for their job.”
Wednesday night, Spacey told Keith Olbermann that Bush's team was more ruthless than Gore's: “I think there's no question what the movie illustrates is there were two differing philosophies about how to approach this recount fight. The Republicans pretty much, it was a street battle in their eyes. And I think on the Gore side, I think there was a -- perhaps an overestimated view of the patience of the American people.” Bottom line for Spacey in echoing the liberal take at the time: “It does seem that on the one hand the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted.”
Here's another sure sign the new HBO Campaign-2000-nailbiter movie "Recount" will have a liberal slant. (Sunday NB post on a review in Entertainment Weekly magazine, "HBO's 'Recount' Movie: Favors Democrats, Harris as Cruella De Vil"). In a full-page newspaper ad appearing on the back cover of the A section of Monday's Washington Post, it was endorsed as "terrific" by a list of Gore-voting liberal media notables: Joe Klein, Matt Cooper, Jonathan Alter, Tina Brown, George Stephanopoulos, and Judy Woodruff. The movie's slogan is "The future of the nation was hanging by a chad."
We haven't seen these quotes in print, so we assume they come from a celebrity screening or publicist interview. The text below in bold tells you which words were increased in size for emphasis:
The votes are in.
Joe Klein, Time.com: "Terrific"
Matthew Cooper, Portfolio.com: "HBO is as good as ever. Watch ‘Recount’ and see...[they do] history better than any other studio."
Jonathan Alter: "This is the seventh presidential campaign I’ve covered for Newsweek and Recount conveys the nitty gritty of politics better than any movie I’ve ever seen."
An early review is in for HBO's upcoming movie, Recount, about the Bush-Gore battle in Florida after 2000 election. Gillian Flynn in Entertainment Weekly, which like HBO is part of the Time-Warner family, has described the film, to premiere next Sunday night, as tilted against the Republican characters.
In her review in the May 23 edition of the magazine, Flynn asserted: “Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear.” Saying “Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story,” Flynn reported that the “Republican players here are coolly calculating -- Tom Wilkinson's James Baker III, the Bush team quarterback -- or they teeter on the edge of madness, like Laura Dern's Katherine Harris.” In fact, in an interview elsewhere, the writer of the movie slammed Harris as “a fraud.” [Screen shot is of Dern as Harris]
You're a member of the MSM and a Barack Obama backer. But I repeat myself. More specifically, you're Chris Matthews. What better way to promote your guy's candidacy than to claim that Republicans would really rather run against Hillary?
That's just what the Hardball host did on this afternoon's show. Here's his exchange with the–in my opinion–very impressive Republican strategist Todd Harris, who worked for McCain in 2000, and with Dem strategist Michael Feldman.
LAT television critic Mary McNamara made the slip up in this April 19 article about HBO's surge in popularity when she began describing the cable network's “John Adams” miniseries (via Patterico) (all bold mine):
In his portrayal of our second president, Paul Giamatti creates a man perpetually dissatisfied, disgusted by the preening ambition of politics even as he is infected by it... [S]etting up a new government is a bureaucratic nightmare, with oversized personalities disagreeing over things both petty and fundamental. George Washington (David Morse) so quickly tired of the infighting among his Cabinet and vagaries of public opinion that he stepped down from the presidency after a single term. "I know now what it is like to be disliked," he says to Adams, his perpetually disliked vice president.
Well, if the nonsense he uttered last evening is what liberals call an apology, it should act as a grander indictment as to what's wrong with the extreme-left in our nation (video embedded upper-right courtesy our friend Ms Underestimated):
Bill Maher, true to form on his "Real Time" program on HBO on Friday, went on a tirade against Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, only days before the Pope’s visit to the U.S.. He stated that the Pope "used to be a Nazi" and compared him to a cult leader. He then went on to call the Church a "child-abusing religious cult" and "the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia." "And that’s the Church’s attitude: 'We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,' which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion."
Following a profanity-tinged one-liner concerning the raid on the Texas compound of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Maher quipped, "In fact, whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God’s infallible wingman here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That’s right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he’s single!" At the "funny hat" line, Maher displayed a picture of Pope Benedict wearing a wide-brimmed hat called a saturno
Can you feel the love already? Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News magazine reports that the flagrantly liberal Bryant Gumbel will have a chance to celebrate the life and times of president-in-waiting Barack Obama, specifically his Hoop Dreams era:
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) will talk hoops on the upcoming edition of Home Box Office's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
In the Emmy award-winning show’s 133rd edition, Obama, in a segment called for “The Love of the Game” discusses how basketball helped shape his identity. During his interview with Gumbel talks about childhood, his high-school years on the Punahou School basketball team in Honolulu, and the pickup games he’s played since then, as important connections to his life today.
The program bows April 15 on HBO at 10 p.m. (ET/PT).
Will Gumbel be able to resist painting Obama as a political Dr. J? Perhaps the last time we noticed Bryant opining on sports and the news, it was this little gem from the Gumbel file:
On Monday, the Drudge Report released a picture of Barack Obama dressed as a Somali elder claiming it had been circulated by "stressed Clinton staffers."
Four days later, on HBO's "Real Time," host Bill Maher strongly implied that the picture had been leaked by conservatives.
Although Obama and his campaign representatives strongly lashed out at Hillary Clinton and her supporters for "shameful offensive fear-mongering," Maher, during his "New Rules" segment Friday, never once mentioned the picture's apparent connection to the former first lady:
The hatred from supposedly compassionate and open-minded Hollywoodans is something to behold, isn't it?
After all, just imagine despising a radio talk show host so much that you would suggest, on national television, that he should die of a drug overdose.
Alas, such was the case Friday evening when HBO's Bill Maher actually asked guest P.J. O'Rourke, who was talking about Rush Limbaugh's use of the prescription drug OxyContin (disgusting question after the jump):
People that watch HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" are infinitely aware that the host is not only an atheist, but is also an antitheist, meaning that he hates religion.
No finer example of Maher's disdain for theism and Judeo-Christian principles occurred on Friday's installment of "Real Time" when he actually declared, "At least half of the [Ten] Commandments are stupid!"
This came moments after Maher proudly stated, "If I had a child, the last book I would ever give to teach morality would be the Bible, especially the Old Testament." This led one of his guests to say that Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain should be stoned for committing adultery.
A truly extraordinary event happened on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday evening: the host, in the first show of the new season delayed as a result of the Hollywood writers' strike, began the program bashing Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for faking a teary moment in a New Hampshire diner Monday.
Maybe even more astounding, Hillary's charade was a central focus of Maher's monologue, as well as the entire program during which he questioned the sanity of voters who bought into her crying game hook, line and sinker.
How quiet is it Chez Finkelstein on Christmas morning? Quiet enough that I actually resorted to my HBO on Demand re-run channel and decided to check out a two-minute Def Comedy short. I wasn't looking for trouble, let alone grist for the NB mill. But here's what turned up. A comedian named Patrice O'Neal. And these were the very first words out of his mouth:
It appears the good folks at HBO must have been extremely concerned that "Real Time" host Bill Maher was going to lose many of his viewers as a result of his tossing 9/11 truthers from the audience two weeks ago.
After all, Maher even admitted at the opening of the discussion segment of Friday's program, albeit almost apologetically, "I'm not going to pretend that we have ideological balance on this panel."
Ideological balance? Are you kidding?
Here were Maher's attendees this fine Friday evening in no specific order:
As the new season of HBO's "Real Time" began Friday night, I watched with great trepidation, especially given host Bill Maher's disgraceful special on that network back in July wherein he spent virtually two-thirds of the program bashing President Bush and anyone with an "R" next to his/her name.
With that in mind, my stomach started turning during his opening monologue as he made joke after joke about our president. I was put in further unease as he introduced his first guest, New York Times correspondent Damien Cave, currently in Baghdad, who seemed likely invited on to speak the liberal party line about how the surge is failing, and how things are much worse in Iraq than the Administration wants to admit.
Miraculously, my concerns were all for naught, for Cave, much like the Times' Baghdad bureau chief John Burns, sees good things happening in Iraq, which appeared to catch Maher off guard. For instance, when Maher asked, "What is the morale of our troops, because I know President Bush always says that the troops are steadfastly all behind him - uh, I have my doubts. What is your view?"