Joel Stein is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times – officially a "humor" columnist, but that’s a matter of debate. A few months ago, he drew attention for baldly stating he did not support the troops in the Iraq war, and that "an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying."
Last week, he decided to mock the Federal Communications Commission for a $3.6 million fine of individual CBS stations for airing a teenager-orgy scene on the Thursday night drama "Without A Trace." But a funny thing happened on the way to the Janet Jackson jokes. He asked CBS for a DVD of the episode: "And, to my shock, I was honestly disgusted."
Actor Sean Penn was apparently interviewed for an upcoming issue of The New Yorker magazine. According to a couple of sources, Penn was quoted in the piece as having a plastic doll with the likeness of Ann Coulter that he “likes to abuse when angry.”
As reported by ContactMusic.com (hat tip to Drudge): “The Oscar-winner actor has hated Coulter ever since she blacklisted his director father LEO PENN in her book TREASON. And he takes out his frustrations with Coulter, who is a best-selling author, lawyer and television pundit, on the Barbie-like doll.”
VH-1 watchers enjoying the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concert Tuesday night received some perhaps unsurprising political commentary along with the music. When rock singer Elvis Costello came on stage to perform with New Orleans music legend Allan Touissant, he took a few shots at the Iraq War and the Bush administration's apparent inability to handle Hurricane Katrina because of that war:
I feel very lucky and very proud that music jumped to the aid of New Orleans back in September...But it’s a drop in the bucket for what is needed. There is a lot of things that I could say. I could say something like we are fighting the wrong wars in the wrong countries and not dealing with the people here that are living in this country that are not living right. You could call to account the people who have the audacity to blaspheme and say that Katrina was a judgment of God on the city of New Orleans. This is absolute nonsense because the devastation that followed Katrina was man-made, as we now know.
Time magazine celebrates an exclusive interview with Mel Gibson, described as an "ultraconservative Roman Catholic" with a Holocaust-denying Dad, as he prepares his new film, "Apocalypto," based on the Mayans and performed in the old Mayan language (more subtitles). Gibson says he doesn't give a "flying f---" about his critics, but the comments Time highlighted suggested he may be trying to get back in the good graces of the people living inside Hollywood's liberal bubble, attacking President Bush and sounding an environmentalist alarm:
Gibson and his rookie cowriter on Apocalypto, Farhad Safinia, were captivated by the ancient Maya, one of the hemisphere's first great civilizations, which reached its zenith about A.D. 600 in southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. The two began poring over Maya myths of creation and destruction, including the Popol Vuh, and research suggesting that ecological abuse and war-mongering were major contributors to the Maya's sudden collapse, some 500 years before Europeans arrived in the Americas.
Dan Gainor of the MRC's Free Market Project alerted me to the potentially left-wing plot of the episode of Law & Order set to air tonight (Wednesday) on NBC at the show's new time of 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST. The NBC Web site page for the program provides this preview:
WAS VENGEANCE THE REASON BEHIND THE SLAYING OF A PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTOR? -- A private military contractor is found shot to death in his hotel room and Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) believe vengeance is the motive in a politically charged case that questions the reason America is at war. The detectives soon narrow their focus on a fellow commando Kevin Boatman (guest star Pablo Schrieber) and the younger brother of a man who was murdered by Iraqi insurgents while under the victim's questionable command. But as A.D.A. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) fights to keep a frightening video of the Iraqi execution out of court, he confronts unexpected political intrigue when more details are revealed about a recently captured terrorist.
Be cautioned, however, that L&O's often take plot twists in which the initially-assumed motivations for crimes turn out to be inaccurate.
The CNN Headline News show "Showbiz Tonight" led Monday night with controversy over the movie "V for Vendetta," and stomped hard on the idea that it was directed at the Bush administration. Host A. J. Hammer began with a promo: "On ‘Showbiz Tonight,’ the war in Iraq, the war on terror and the hottest movie in America. The shock and awe over 'V for Vendetta.' And the controversy. Is art imitating life? A political thriller where the hero is a terrorist. Is that really such a bad thing?"
Is this a rhetorical question? Or is Hammer auditioning for al-Jazeera International?
MRC's Michelle Humphrey tipped me off to the story. Hammer explained: "All right, let me tell you what happened this weekend. America had a big choice of movies. Here's the one they made No. 1: 'V for Vendetta.' This is a movie all about terrorism. This is a movie that raises some serious and unsettling questions about who should really be called a terrorist. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. A movie that has chilling allusions to everything from September 11 to government spying to terror bombings to the war in the Iraq. It`s a movie that opened just as we crossed yet another disturbing milestone in the struggle to end the seemingly unending war in Iraq. It`s enough to make critics and Showbiz Tonight ask, what's going on here?"
The Washington Post reports that anti-American or anti-U.S. military movies and plays are all the rage in Egypt. It's like George Clooney wearing a towel.
CAIRO -- When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited this city last month, Egyptians had an unusual choice: watch her on TV as she expounded on issues of war and peace in the Middle East, or go to a neighborhood movie theater and see her portrayed by a look-alike actress belly-dancing and placed in "adult" situations.
The film in question is "The Night Baghdad Fell," which depicts Egyptian obsessions with war, sex and the United States. Wildly anti-American, it has done a brisk business for two months, a long screen life for Egyptian-made films. In "Night," Egyptians fret about an American invasion of Egypt and the potential destruction of their capital. Americans are bullies, rapists and mindless killers.
Via the AP (Yes, I'm surprised also): Actor and writer Ben Stein spoke Thursday (3/16/06) at a Republican Party fundraising dinner in Michigan. He chastised Hollywood for failing to recognize the sacrifice of our brave men and women fighting overseas during the Oscar ceremonies on March 5.
"Not one prayer or moment of silence for those who have given their lives ... And they complain about (falling box office numbers). Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies," Stein is quoted as saying (emphasis mine).
The "real stars" are not those in posh Beverly Hills, Stein says, but the soldiers "wearing body armor in 130-degree heat, pulling 24-hour shifts" in the Sunni triangle.
First Isaac Hayes, the voice actor for its Chef character left "South Park" over an episode that poked fun of his scientology beliefs. Now it seems the popular animated series has been dealt another blow by Hayes's fellow scientologist, Tom Cruise. The New York Post reports:
Hollywood bully Tom Cruise got Comedy Central to cancel Wednesday night's cablecast of a controversial "South Park" episode about scientology by warning that he'd refuse to promote "Mission Impossible 3," insiders say.
Since Paramount is banking on "MI3" to rake in blockbuster profits this summer, and Paramount is owned by Viacom, which also owns Comedy Central, the tactic worked.
In the liberal British paper The Guardian, reprinted in The Sydney Morning Herald, Annie Proulx, the author of the short story that inspired "Brokeback Mountain," has lashed out at Hollywood and the Academy Awards.
She complains that Hollywood, ironically, is not liberal enough, which explains why they still hate "gays and fags."
On the sidewalk stood hordes of the righteous, some leaning forward like wind-bent grasses, the better to deliver their imprecations against gays and fags to the open windows of the limos - the windows open by order of the security people - creeping towards the Kodak Theatre for the 78th Academy Awards. Others held up sturdy, professionally crafted signs expressing the same hatred....
The people connected with Brokeback Mountain, including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy Awards, it would get best picture, as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture.... And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash - excuse me - Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver....
For those of you that are unfamiliar, “Boston Legal” is an Emmy-winning television program broadcast by ABC on Tuesdays. In its most recent episode, one of the key attorneys, Alan Shore – played by James Spader – raised various issues facing our nation in his closing arguments (video link to follow). His monologue included references to weapons of mass destruction, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, terrorist surveillance, you name it.
When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up. They didn’t.
"He said 'Hello, Wendy, this is Jay Leno,"' the Sherman Oaks resident remembered. "`I'm calling about the letter you wrote and I want to apologize. I just want to let you know we make mistakes sometimes and we don't mean to hurt people."'
AP reports that actor and legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes has left the role of Chef on the snide adult cartoon "South Park" because he cannot abide its mockery of religion. One of the show's co-creators, Matt Stone, was quick to attack the singer's sudden departure after eight seasons:
Stone told AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin...This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians." Last November, "South Park" aired a Scientology-mocking episode where the child Stan is thought to be the second coming of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and Hollywood celebrities come to visit. When Stan mocks Tom Cruise, the actor locks himself in Stan's closet, allowing the writers to make endless gay jokes about Cruise refusing to come out of the closet.
Fresh from winning an Oscar for his movie "Crash," director Paul Haggis is looking to produce and direct a movie based on the memoirs of Richard Clarke, the disgruntled former anti-terrorism official who accuses the Bush Administration of botching the war on terrorism.
Reuters reporter Tatiana Siegel has the story. Notably missing is when the expected release date for the picture will be. Anyone willing to bet against a summer of 2008 launch?
Hot off his best picture win for "Crash," Paul Haggis is in final negotiations to direct and produce "Against All Enemies," a project based on Richard A. Clarke's best-selling memoir chronicling the Bush administration's handling of terrorist threats.
Certainly, this should come as no surprise – actor George Clooney is a liberal. Yet, in an era when fewer and fewer people want to admit this in mixed company – with polls showing that the ranks of “declared” liberals have significantly declined in the last decade – it is fascinating to see someone – even a Hollywoodian – so proudly proclaim their leftist affiliation.
Yet, that’s exactly what George Clooney did today at HuffPo. In a blog post entitled “I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It!” Clooney couldn’t have been more clear:
“I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.”
If you put stock in the actual results of the Memphis GOP straw poll, you've got things . . . Oz backwards. At least, that's Chris Matthews' view.
In Dorothy's adventure, the Wizard cautioned us to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." But this morning, Chris Matthews told us that the way to understand what happened in Memphis was to do just that - look behind the curtain at the Republican heavy-hitters lining up behind John McCain.
Interviewed by Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show, Matthews claimed:
"The big thing for McCain is the strength he showed not in the straw vote [where he finished at the bottom of the pack] but among powerful people. [Haley] Barbour, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott and [J.C.] Watts all talked up McCain. I think McCain is building up strength."
U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a website designed to debunk claims made in the "Da Vinci Code" book and upcoming movie with Tom Hanks. The "Code" claims that Jesus married and had a bloodline that lived on after his death.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a new website refuting key claims made in Dan Brown's novel that are likely to be brought to the big screen in Howard's movie, starring Tom Hanks.
"'The Da Vinci Code' is a mess, a riot of laughable errors and serious misstatements. Almost every page has at least one of each," the bishops wrote on the website Jesusdecoded.com.
In further evidence of just how out of touch Hollywood is, the AFP is reporting (hat tip to Drudge) that total worldwide movie ticket sales declined by 7.9 percent in 2005. In North America, the decline was 6 percent.
Potentially more telling from this survey done by the Motion Picture Association of America was what kinds of films moviegoers are interested in: “Most movie-goers in 2005 went out to catch family films, with movies rated PG-13, meaning that children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, accounting for 85 percent of the most watched films in 2005.”
Washington Post book reviewer Jabari Asim writes in a column on the Post website that he hopes the newfound notoriety for the Oscar-winning rap song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" will make the P-word too mainstream, that it will lose its "luster of hipness," and suggests new African-American slang.
My first suggestion: "scholar."
Imagine yourself amid all the men who used to gather aimlessly on street corners, lounge on the steps of other people's houses and hang out with the rest of the worshipful congregations outside package liquor stores -- all of you deeply absorbed in library books.
Except you can top them all by trundling down the street with -- you guessed it -- a wheelbarrow almost overflowing with the latest volumes by our nation's best authors.
Normally, the news that a film about racism won the Oscar for best picture is pretty much a dog-bites-man type of story. Old hat. Done before. What usually happens.
Not this year, though. The upset victory of "Crash" in the Academy Awards race has proven to be just that, but more for supporters of "Brokeback Mountain" than for anything else. Apparently, hell also hath no fury like a slightly-above-average gay movie scorned.
The backlash against "Crash" has been such that even avowedly liberal film critic Roger Ebert has stepped up to defend the film he had been pulling for to win the Oscar. After listing some of the more ridiculous criticisms from "Brokeback" supporters (see here, here, and here for more), Ebert notes how Academy of Motion Picture critics blithely ignore "Capote," which chronicled gay journalist Truman Capote's attempts to write the story of a murder of a rural family:
Most of you have probably never heard of Bill Robinson. Heck, I’ve never heard of Bill Robinson. I've heard of “Will” Robinson, but now I'm dating myself.
Anyway, Bill Robinson is a movie producer and screenwriter of some note whose blog at HuffPo on Monday must have raised a few eyebrows, and caused many hung-over Oscar revelers to spit up their first cup of coffee. In his piece entitled “Sore Loser Mountain,” Robinson took on his fellow Hollywoodians’ collective concern that “Brokeback Mountain” was robbed of Best Picture honors at Sunday’s Academy Awards due to “the secret homophobia of Academy voters.” Robinson didn’t see it that way:
“Sorry, but I don't agree with the sore losers. Yes, homophobia exists all over the place, including among Academy voters, but the ‘Crash’ victory probably had more to do with the thousands of DVD's sent to voters, and the six-figure Oscar spending spree on its behalf. ‘Brokeback’ had garnered endless awards, and is the highest grossing best picture nominee. Is it really the victim of an anti-gay conspiracy?”
Hmmm. Clearly, Robinson was on thin ice here, for most of the posters and readers at HuffPo – especially the proprietor! – hate it when facts are brought into the discussion. Fortunately, Robinson wasn’t done. Next, he challenged the premise that “Brokeback” was an extraordinary movie deserving of Best Picture status:
Last night's 78th Oscar presentation was the lowest rated show in the last 20 years, failing to break the 40-million mark in viewership. Why? Well, aside from the Hollywood-left’s love affair with anything that cast George W. Bush in the worse possible light, the reason is as plain as the botox in Jennifer Lopez’ lips:
The rather obvious and politically -charged "social message" that Hollywood attempted to swamp the American movie-goer with just didn’t entertain, and didn't sell tickets.
Our man Dickens also discovered that over the weekend on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," Time columnist (and Clinton-loving "Anonymous" author) Joe Klein disagreed with Matthews on the artistic and political merit of the Best Picture winner, "Crash":
Joe Klein: “You look at these five, you look at these five movies and they are like a right-wing fantasy of what the Democratic Party is all about. It’s, one movie is about blacks, another movie is about Jews, another movie is about journalists, another movie is about a gay journalist and finally you have gay cowboys just to poke an eye in your face. Since all politics is local.”
MRC's Geoff Dickens reported that in the 9 am half hour of "Today," Katie Couric went mushy for "Crash," a movie even liberal critics disliked for its manipulative (and at times unrealistic) plotting. Couric even mentioned how she liked that her daughter's ninth grade class was shown the fictional L.A.-stuffed-with-racism flick to spur discussion about America's unending race problem.
Katie Couric: "And also I think, Chris [Bridges], don't you think that, that the things weren't so black and white, so to speak, in the, in the movie. You know people were very nuanced. They had very different sides to them. So there weren't clear cut lines between bad characters and good characters were there?"
This was a dramatically liberal year for Oscar, but the more political winners at last night's Oscars didn't get pointed questions from the right. The news media's general feeling is to cheer movies for the "social good," and never imagine that the movies could be riddled with errors (Good Night and Good Luck), riddled with profanity (Crash), or just be assessed by critics as a lovably confusing in its conspiracy theorizing (Syriana).
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed George Clooney this morning about his Oscar victory speech on "Good Morning America" and asked benignly: "Was it a political speech, were you interjecting politics?" Clooney spoke diplomatically about a "portion" of America being on his side, and a portion were not. Clooney's claim that Hollywood was "out of touch" in all the good ways was underlined by ABC as they ran a clip of black actress Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With The Wind."
At the 78th Academy Awards Sunday evening, actor George Clooney won the Oscar for best supporting actor. During his acceptance speech, Clooney admitted that Hollywood is out of touch. However, he said that this was a good thing, and actually had the gall to suggest that Hollywood is responsible for bringing attention to problems like civil rights and AIDS.
In what was a pretty lackluster evening with very little political references, instead of winning the award for best supporting actor, Clooney should have won for the most self-serving, pompous, and inane acceptance speech.
What follows is a transcript of the part of his speech dealing specifically with how wonderful Hollywood is, along with a video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz and Expose the Left.
Here in Washington, the affiliate that carried the Oscars was ABC channel WJLA. Immediately after the show, Anchor Leon Harris spoke with reporter Kyle Osborn about the only "officially sanctioned Oscar party" held in Washington, where 400 political fat cats raised money for charity as they cheered their favorite Hollywood liberals.
Said Kyle Osborn, who attended the event:
"The crowd cheered on Jon Stewart, his monologue went over well. George Clooney, they loved him, and especially loved his, I'd say, politically minded acceptance speech."
George Clooney defended Hollywood's status of being out of touch with the rest of America, saying Hollywood has always led the way on such issues as civil rights while the rest of America dragged its feet.
While Air America Radio's loss of two affiliates in Phoenix and
Missoula, Montana is generating news this week, the company itself probably
hasn't been able to give either city a second thought.
Why? In a
development sure to rip the heart right out of the liberal radio network's
already ailing body, it appears extremely likely their leased New York City
flagship station WLIB-AM will soon abandon Air America programming.
worse, litigation looks probable over the station's lease.
As NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein pointed out this morning, Hollywood’s liberal streak is now so obvious even the news media are taking notice. But it isn’t just that celebrities are liberal activists in their spare time — liberal talking points are also finding their way onto TV and movie screens.
Case in point: Last night’s ER, NBC’s long-running medical drama. The March 2 episode saw the much-promoted return of “Dr. John Carter,” played by Noah Wyle, who left the show at the end of last season. Last night’s episode had John volunteering at a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan, where hundreds of thousands have died in a real-life humanitarian catastrophe. Even as they portrayed the Janjaweed militia as the chief villains, the ER writers couldn’t resist taking a potshot at inaction by a supposedly racist U.S. Congress. Windows Media or Real Player
What got into Good Morning America? Each of the network shows ran its compulsory pre-Oscar segment this morning. But while Today was airing a bland piece on the freebies that celebrities in attendance get in gift bags, GMA's segment had a most unexpected angle, asking whether Hollywood has become too political - read 'liberal.' As Tim Graham has noted, Jon Stewart and George Clooney have denied that Hollywood suffers from any such bias, but GMA host Charlie Gibson acknowledged the slant frankly.
He framed it this way:
"Now we turn to the politics of the Oscars. We've talked a lot about the culture wars in America, the blue state/red state divide, the clash between more traditional moral values and more liberal points of view.