In time for the Persian New Year, CBS's Melissa McNamara trawled the blogosphere (including MySpace blog entries) and found bloggers who think Iran's Islamic extremist government has a point about "300" being "anti-Persian." In doing she, she produced a handful of blogs that appear to generate light traffic and in at least one case is just a rambling screed.
McNamara told readers that the "Islamic Republic News Agency" (IRNA) finds fault with the film's version of historical events. She left out that IRNA is Iran's official state-controlled news/propaganda service. CBSNews.com's resident "Blogophile" also noted objections from an Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, which she described simply as "Iran's biggest circulation newspaper."
That's akin to a journalist during the Cold War describing Pravda as simply the Soviet Union's best-selling newspaper. Hamshahri co-sponsored a political cartoon contest that the Iranian government held last year that generated hundreds of entries that were anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli. Portions in bold are my emphasis:
Clarification (Ken Shepherd | 10:26 EDT): The story in question was written for The Hollywood Reporter and the photo was provided by Reuters.
Yahoo News picked up a Reuters article on Yahoo that reports actress Eliza Dushku of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Tru Calling” and “Bring It On” fame has a new show lined up called, “Nurses.”
The article is a tiny little story that isn’t worth much time, except for the accompanying picture. The pic is a file photo from a 2004 John Kerry benefit concert, and a two and a half year old photo with such a visibly identifying background should have sent this photo to the back of the pile.
Potential political bias aside, I think the photo editor should have done Dushku a favor and chosen a different picture because of that outfit alone.
The new media revolution brought about by the Internet Age leaves a constant vacuum to be filled for the traditional entertainment cycle on broadcast TV. You'll notice a lot of broadcast Web sites doing what they can to fill that void with extra footage, behind-the-scenes stuff, bloopers, "webisodes," and the like.
But let's face it, when the new episodes are exhausted on the networks, we're not likely to stick around for reruns. There's too many other things to do, and we've probably already rewatched the best clips of those shows on YouTube. There goes millions in advertising revenue for the nets.
Trying to find a way around that, NBC is taking that to the airwaves with "newpeats" of "The Office." (h/t TVTattle.com)
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," Sigmund Freud is purported to have once said, cautioning that not everything has a deeper, hidden meaning to it. Well, sometimes a blockbuster blood-soaked action flick is just that, a blood-soaked, special effects-laden action flick.
Just try telling that to cynical, left-wing European journalists.
According to Entertainment Weekly, everyone from gay interest groups to foreign journalists have engaged in armchair psychoanalysis of director Zack Snyder's screen adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel "300.":
Brent Bozell's culture column this week unfolds the new polling numbers for the MRC's Culture and Media Institute on the American people's impression of moral decline and the media's role in it:
A new cultural-values survey of 2,000 American adults performed by the polling firm of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates for the Culture and Media Institute reveals a strong majority, 74 percent, believes moral values in America are weaker than they were 20 years ago. Almost half, 48 percent, agree that values are much weaker than they were 20 years ago.
Over on radical Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" propaganda-cast, they're still recycling lectures from the big National Conference on Media Reform weeks back. On Thursday, they rebroadcast a lecture from actress Geena Davis on how children's entertainment cruelly stereotypes women, especially back in the Dark Ages of the last century. Is Judy Jetson too thin? And what's up with Smurfette? Davis started a foundation to fight for the image of women in children's entertainment, as she explained:
Do you remember the kinds of stuff that they made for us, for kids, in the oldie old days? Let’s see, the first animation, of course, was Disney's Minnie Mouse and -- where is she? I’m pushing the button -- Daisy Duck, who didn’t really do much at all, except ask to go shopping, I think. There were a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons -- Magilla Gorilla, Wally Gator, George of the Jungle -- virtually no female characters. I had a vague recollection that Yogi Bear had a girlfriend, and I searched and searched, and I finally found her, Cindy Bear, as you all remember.
Tonight's episode of NBC's "Las Vegas" apparently has an Iraq sub-plot that, at least the abstract below suggests, may carry an anti-war message.
SEASON FINALE-- Mike finds out that Sam has been kidnapped
by one of her whales. Meanwhile, Danny takes drastic measures to help a
friend avoid being deployed to Iraq. Elsewhere, Delinda learns
life-altering news for she and Danny. James Caan and Nikki Cox also
stars in this unpredictable and explosive season four finale. TV-14
In a previous season of "Las Vegas," actor Josh Duhamel's character (Danny McCoy) suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following a harrowing tour of duty with the Marines in Iraq.
Vegas co-star Molly Sims (Delinda) and creator Gary Scott Thompson will participate in a live chat at NBC.com following the program's 9 p.m Eastern (8 p.m. Central) airing. [continued after page break]
Remember how Team Clinton always disparaged their enemies as peddlers of "trash for cash," selling their stories to book publishers and movie studios? The liberal media played along then, but not now. The March 5-11 edition of Variety notes that Warner Bros. moved quickly to secure the screen rights to "Fair Game," Valerie Plame’s upcoming memoir of her life at the CIA. Michael Fleming sells it: "It’s a delicious political thriller of secret government power, covert identity and White House manipulation tht would make for a great movie." Fleming doesn’t note the tale is much more "delicious" if you hate Team Bush.
With the story arriving before the verdict, Fleming warned "the path to release is strewn with land mines" with movies based on real life. Plame’s memoir has yet to be approved by the CIA, and sometimes real-life stories take "unpredictable turns." It turns out that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the D.C. jury that convicted Scooter Libby enhanced the bankability of Valerie Plame, The Movie.
As modern media has seen a fusion of news, opinion, and entertainment, are too many things being politicized? I think so.
The news media have contributed to this state of affairs more than any other group so it was refreshing to see the New York Times actually point out a case of inappropriate politicization in an article about "300" the new movie about a group of Spartans who held off a large Persian army.
The Times also makes the point that in many cases a media outlet will attempt to gin up controversy about its product to get the public to tune in.
Three weeks ago a handful of reporters at an international press junket here for the Warner Brothers movie “300,” about the battle of Thermopylae some 2,500 years ago, cornered the director Zack Snyder with an unanticipated question.
“Is George Bush Leonidas or Xerxes?” one of them asked.
The questioner, by Mr. Snyder’s recollection, insisted that Mr. Bush
was Xerxes, the Persian emperor who led his force against Greek’s city
states in 480 B.C., unleashing an army on a small country guarded by
fanatical guerilla fighters so he could finish a job his father had
left undone. More likely, another reporter chimed in, Mr. Bush was
Leonidas, the Spartan king who would defend freedom at any cost.
Mr. Snyder, who said he intended neither analogy when he set out to
adapt the graphic novel created by Frank Miller with Lynn Varley in
1998, suddenly knew he had the contemporary version of a water-cooler
movie on his hands. And it has turned out to be one that could be
construed as a thinly veiled polemic against the Bush administration,
or be seen by others as slyly supporting it.
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell talks about the rare hawkish corner of entertainment, and finds it a bit troubling that while "24" sends a gung-ho message in the War on Terror, it's starting to look a bit like an FX show. (Remember that episode of "The Shield" with the face-melting-on-the-burner scene?) He starts by noting his mother was always a big John Wayne fan, that standard-bearer of red-blooded patriotism, and salutes that neglected genre of entertainment. But:
The sixth season of “24" premiered on January 14, but this time even otherwise supportive critics are worried that Fox has gone over the top, with plot twists so extreme and brutal that one concludes the network is irresponsibly falling back on the old formula: shock for the sake of shock.
Most people who tune in to morning TV "news" programs know the unbearable lightness of the product, full of celebrity cotton candy and tragic tales of tabloid woe, of climbers lost on mountains and teenagers lost in the tropics. So it was a little shocking to be diverted from that maudlin box of info-bon bons known as the Anna Nicole Smith deathmatch to questions on the grand and glorious subject of Biblical anthropology, and a "discovery" of the alleged bones of Jesus.
Why this whiplash-inducing change of subject? It's sad but true that the "Today" crew went into promotional hyperdrive for the Discovery Channel special on the alleged bones of Jesus because someone spread Hollywood glitter on it -- James Cameron, the director of "Titanic." (Christians are joking among themselves that Cameron doesn't seem to know who the real King of the World is.) The Cameron connection has been a constant attraction for The Discovery Channel.
Al and Tipper Gore just consented to an interview with Ryan Seacrest on the E! pre-Oscar festivities. (First question: Tipper's wearing Bill Blass, Al Gore reluctantly noted he's wearing Ralph Lauren.) The goofiest answer was when Seacrest asked Gore, "if you were to cast an actor to play the lead in 'The Al Gore Story,' who would you pick?" Gore quipped, "I don't know, maybe William Hung," the infamous "American Idol" reject who mangled Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." Seacrest laughed and said "I love it, I mean, the 'Idol' reference!" When Seacrest asked if that performance was one of his favorites, he said it was "right up there," and then said "no, no, no" and insisted that his favorite song is the lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge's song "I Need to Wake Up." Guess why? It's up for an Oscar for its inclusion in Gore's film. Lyrics, please:
And as a child I danced like it was 1999 My dreams were wild The promise of this new world Would be mine Now I am throwing off the carelessness of youth To listen to an inconvenient truth
"24" is just a TV show. But in her Los Angeles Times column of today, America Tortures (yawn), Rosa Brooks cites the actions of the show's characters -- and the American public's reaction to them -- as evidence of the way in which we have become inured to U.S. government-sponsored torture. In doing so, Brooks unwittingly raises another, more interesting issue.
Writes Rosa: "If you need any more evidence that the American public has gotten blasé about torture, consider the hit Fox action drama '24.' The show featured 67 torture scenes during its first five seasons, and most of those depicted torture being used by 'heroic' U.S. counter-terror agents." Note Brooks' placement of scare quotes around "heroic." For the enlightened folks of the liberal media elite, Jack Bauer is no hero -- he is best viewed as a torturer. But Brooks leaves an important question unanswered.
Brent Bozell's culture column this week centers on those Hollywood sore thumbs called Walden Media, who have made family-friendly and faith-friendly films. Brent told me it was a "V-8 idea," a slap-your-forehead business proposition to serve an underserved market of religious families with children. The new Walden project is the movie "Amazing Grace," as Brent explained:
It is a sad reality: Very few adults, and virtually no child can recognize the name William Wilberforce, the man Abraham Lincoln claimed was known to “every school boy” in America in 1858. Then there’s this: “Amazing Grace” is the most recognizable hymn in the land – but how many people can tell you its origin? To the rescue comes Walden again, with the movie “Amazing Grace,” which tells the true, and beautiful story of William Wilberforce, the brilliant British orator and parliamentarian who fought relentlessly to ban the slave trade in Great Britain and who ultimately succeeded, against all odds, decades before the United States fought a bloody civil war to do the same.
A few moments ago on the February 16 "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," NBC's Natalie Morales shared a story with the late night host of actor Alec Baldwin's attempt to score a lunch date with the "Today" show talent.
I'll update later in the morning with video, but basically, a few years ago, according to Morales, Baldwin called her on the phone and told her he was working on a movie about cable news. Was Morales available for say, lunch sometime to help Baldwin with his, well, research.
Morales wasn't born yesterday, so she kindly told the "30 Rock" star that she's married.
Diamonds don't cause conflicts in Africa, bands of armed thugs do. But you wouldn't know that if you followed the media's slant on "conflict diamonds," which, much like stories on gun control, often blame the object instead of the evil person misusing it.
Has Chris Matthews watched one too many episodes of "Oz," the hyper-graphic HBO original series about prison life?
Discussing the Scooter Libby trial on the 7 PM ET edition of this evening's Hardball, Chris spun a sanguine scenario in which Libby, facing the prospect of a long prison sentence in a vulnerable environment, might turn on Vice-President Cheney.
Matthews: "If Scooter's convicted, if you're looking at the number of counts facing him. If that jury really does go to town -- and I hope they're not watching -- and hits him with four or five counts, they add up to big time in some federal penitentiary, not necessarily Allenwood [known as the country club of federal prisons]. Someplace where a guy like Scooter Libby would not bevery protected from the fellow prisoners. If he faces 20 years somewhere in maximum security, he's going to think again about his situation, isn't he?"
I just caught this, originally posted on February 1 to the Web page for People's Weekly World. It's from a diatribe against the Fox television program "24" by PWW's John Wojcik.
Notice how the writer goes on to explain just why terrorism is such a bad thing. I mean, Stalin was just so much better at systematically killing people than some rinky dink terrorists. </sarcasm>
MSNBC commentator Keith Oberman [sic] rightly described "24" as "naked brainwashing."
All people of good will, of course, oppose terrorism. The Communist Party USA has often pointed out that terrorism substitutes individual acts of violence for the mass action essential for real progressive change.
Wojcik also cited NewsBusters as evidence of why "24" is an evil neo-conservative/Bush White House agitprop:
"We're on a mission from God." -- Dan Aykroyd as Elwood, "The Blues Brothers"
NBC is on a mission -- from Gore.
NBC announced its allegiance to Al Gore's stop-global-warming mission on this morning's "Today." With Tom Costello narrating, Today first ran a glowing piece on Timberland shoe company, famous for its boots, which has announced that, you guessed it, it's on a "mission" to become "carbon neutral." To achieve that, it will among other things be using wind farms and solar panels to power its factories. Costello emphasized an expert's opinion that "it's up to each one of us to cut our own carbon emissions."
Costello then stated as unquestioned fact that the carbon that each of us is responsible for by flying, driving or running our homes "adds to a layer of greenhouse gases that is warming the planet." No indication of how much current climate changes are caused by non-human factors, the kinds that caused the Ice Age and subsequent warmer period thousands of years ago.
Costello closed his segment by quipping "it's all about treading lightly." Boots. Treading lightly -- we get it.
Host Campbell Brown teased the next segment by saying "You've seen how several companies are going carbon-neutral to limit damage to the atmosphere. Up next on Today, you'll see how easy it is for all of us to help in that effort."
My NewsBusters item last week previewed how Sunday's then-upcoming episode of the L word, Showtime's drama series about lesbians in Los Angeles, would feature the “Unauthorized Abortion of W,” a sculpture of a woman's body with an exposed womb displaying George W. Bush's adult face with each of his hands holding onto a rocket labeled “U.S. Air Force.” The rockets were angled to suggest they represent forceps. The preview on which I based my posting (video in the earlier NB item) only displayed the exposed womb in a woman's body. The full scene aired Sunday night showed that the figure was made to look just like Barbara Bush, with an American flag blindfold, and with the suction end of a vacuum cleaner just below her crotch.
Hollywood types speak gauzily of their "art," even if nothing seems to fit the definition of some of this "art" better than "films almost no one wants to watch." Robert Redford became a hero of the "art" film world by founding the Sundance Institute in 1981, based on the call for "creative risk-taking" and "nurturing the diversity of artistic expression." But the search for risk-taking-cum-creative diversity is a hopeless free-fall into the abyss, and all too often, and too predictably, results in creative perversity. What Mapplethorpe brought to the photograph, Redford’s festival is now bringing to the silver screen.
The 2007 Sundance festival has reached a new low with a strange, yet highly publicized film called "Zoo." No, it isn’t about giraffes and hippos. "Zoo" is about "zoophiles" – you know, humans who like sex with animals. The documentary explores the activities of a group of men in the Pacific Northwest who engaged in bestiality. To be precise, they engaged in sex with Arabian stallions – until a man died from a perforated colon in 2005.
Sunday's episode of Showtime's drama centered around the lives of lesbians in Los Angeles, the L word, will feature the “Unauthorized Abortion of W,” a sculpture of a woman's body with an exposed womb displaying George W. Bush's adult face with each of his hands holding onto a rocket labeled “U.S. Air Force.” The rockets are angled to suggest they represent forceps. (Showtime is part of CBS.)
In a promo for the January 28 episode, character “Bette Porter,” the dean of a university's art school played by Jennifer Beals, tells a new character played by Marlee Matlin: “I'm bringing one of our biggest donors to tour the studio. There's a radical sculpture.” Through a male interpreter, the deaf Matlin character, whom the L word's Web site describes as “an artist whose work is politically incendiary,” observes: “He's not going to like that piece.” Porter/Beals confirms “no.” Then as a man comes into view, presumably the big donor, the camera quickly pans the figure of Bush in the womb as Matlin explains: “This is called the 'Unauthorized Abortion of W.'” Video clip of Showtime's promo for the January 28 episode (45 seconds): Real (1.3 MB) or Windows Media (1.6 MB), plus MP3 audio (275 KB)
Based on what Times Watch has read, “Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi,” the documentary on Christian evangelicals airing on HBO tonight (Pelosi being the daughter of you-know-who) seems more respectful than the contemptuous anti-Christian commentary it's generated, including a paragraph Thursday from television critic Alessandra Stanley.
NBC's Thursday night comedy "30 Rock" took some good-natured potshots at "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams in a scene that depicted his office as rife with liquor bottles, dirty underwear, pornography ("Junk in the Trunk") and wall graffiti declaring "Katie Couric Sucks." (h/t TVNewser.com)
Interesting panel discussion about "24" on last evening's Fox News Watch. On the one hand, lefty Neal Gabler actually defended the show. Mentioning that he likes Keith Olbermann "very much," Gabler continued:
"I disagree with Keith Olbermann in this situation. I look at '24' as being like a 527 [tax-exempt groups that engage in political activity]. It's bringing up that issue about terrorism, it certainly serves the Bush administration. But unlike the 9-11 show that was on ABC which specifically cited Bush as a great hero, this does not do that. It is entertainment, and I don't think it ought to be censored, or pulled off the air, or anything like that."
At the same time, Gabler later claimed: "I had dinner with the creator of '24' [note: IMDB lists Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran as co-creators. A well-positioned source informs me Gabler was referring to Surnow], and let me say, he was a right-wing fanatic. Let's not pretend that he isn't."
Last night ABC’s Boston Legal was packed full of political jabs. Lawyer Denny Crane (played by William Shatner) was placed on the "No Fly List" and when Alan Shore (played by James Spader) asked if Crane has called for help, his response was, "Well, I can’t get anybody. I called Tom Delay, his number’s disconnected. Foley has got his hands full, Frist said, "Don’t take it personally." I called Clarence Thomas; his office said he was indisposed." Shore then asked, "How you tried going right to the top?" Crane’s response was, "Cheney?"
Soon after, Shore described Crane to a Homeland Security official saying, "Mr. Murch... there is nobody more red, white and blue than this man here. He's for the death penalty. He's pro-life. He doesn't read newspapers. He's exercised every loophole to avoid paying taxes. He's even donated to. The Jack Abramoff ball."
Keith Olbermann is scared. Not by the threat of terrorism in the United States. But at the notion that "24" might be raising Americans' awareness of the threat. And he has singled out NewsBusters for the role it has played in highlighting the issue.
Olbermann devoted a Countdown segment this evening to "24", suggesting that its two-night, four-hour season opener should have been sufficient to "scare or outrage you." Incomprehensibly, Olbermann complained that the show depicted various terrorist suicide attacks "not in places where these things already happened, but in a country called the United States of America." Is it possible that Keith Olbermann has forgotten 9-11?
Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin is blogging from the annual Television Critics Association tour, and found some hot talk in recounting the Clintonista war against ABC's movie on 9/11.
Asked during his appearance on the TV critics' tour if he was embarrassed that the network had to "backpedal" on its Clinton-unfriendly movie The Path To 9/11, [ABC programming chief Stephen] McPherson took no prisoners -- particularly when it came to Clinton's national security adviser Sandy Berger, one of the film's chief critics. "We didn't backpedal," McPherson said. "We aired the movie. We didn't change anything for those guys. We aired it as planned on the dates that were planned. I mean, it's a little odd to have Sandy Berger telling you about what's truthful or not when he was indicted for stuffing documents into his pants on this very subject."
Cal Thomas had the line of the night on this evening's Fox News Watch. Here's how the conservative commentator explained Americans' dissatisfaction with progress in Iraq:
"Part of the problem here is we have Desert Storm with the 100-hour war. Everybody came home. There were victory marches, General Schwarzkopf leading. The press was full of stories: 'we finally got the Vietnam monkey off our back.' Now we're used to the very quick action. It's not going to happen, except thank goodness Jack Bauer is coming back to make it happen on '24' - that's what we're waiting for."
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell unveiled a new study from the Parents Television Council (cleverly titled "Dying to Entertain") that found that the 2005-2006 TV season was the most violent in recent history. In fact, there has been a 75 percent increase in prime-time TV violence since the 1998 season. Some of the examples of creepiness and gore are pretty extreme. The other inspiration for the column is the debut of "The Sopranos" on basic cable at a price to A&E of 2.5 million smackers an episode:
The latest landmark (or landfill) in the TV world is the arrival of HBO’s pay-cable mob drama “The Sopranos” on the basic-cable channel A&E, where now virtually anyone with cable can watch. How carefully is this show with mature-themed sex, violence, and profanity vetted for general audiences? TV critics wailed that any snip is messing with the “artistic integrity,” but the Hollywood Reporter reassured fans that “a few judicious snips to a series can be made without snuffing its profane soul.”