In his column on the decline and fall of morality on television this week, Brent Bozell applies scrutiny to the TV critics, a group of people often pushing and shoving the networks to shatter every moral barrier, break through every standard of taste. Showtime has a new series titled "Dexter," featuring actor Michael C. Hall in the title role, slobbered over by the critics for his role as the repressed gay funeral director in HBO's "Six Feet Under." This new show makes a hero out of a sadistic serial killer, because his insatiable desire to kill is channeled into killing other bad guys. During the day, he helps the cops catch other killers by assessing blood spatter patterns. Brent writes "He’s a sociopathic killer-slash-hero, with the emphasis on the slash – he carves his victims up to fit into Hefty bags." Here's more:
As pay-cable pioneers, always pushing the newest disgusting "edge" with an eye on extremely jaded TV critics, Showtime executives feel warm that they have brought more understanding to the world on behalf of the much-maligned serial killer. Said Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt: "This is a complex and fascinating look at serial killers, which, up to this point, have been marginalized and made two-dimensional."
Society has "marginalized" serial killers? Silly me. Here, all along, I thought those folks had done that to themselves.
Talk about a double standard. On the one hand, ABC News breaks stories pushing disgust at Mark Foley's "X-rated emails" with teenagers, and suggests Dennis Hastert should resign for being unable to stop them. But wait: ABC Entertainment rolls out the adult-on-teen gay sex scenes on ABC's smutty "Desperate Housewives" for fun and profit. It wins awards for ABC as "Best Comedy." How serious is ABC and Disney about the sexual exploitation of teens by adults? Doesn't it make money presenting it as saucy?
Did Aaron Sorkin finally realize that singling out Christians for mockery on his new show wasn't fair (or particularly brave)? We did criticize him pretty severely for his two-dimensional stereotyping of Christians in the opening show, and again, when he expanded on the slurs in "Studio 60"'s second week.
This time, "Studio 60" featured a skit on this show about a show that mocked not only Christians, but also "Meir Kahane" Jews, the Taliban, Tom Cruise the Scientologist, and a witch. They were all contestants in a skit about a show that denies science. This is certainly an improvement compared to singling out one religion. But does it mean that Sorkin and his writers are responding to critics?
Brent Bozell's entertainment column this week chronicled an especially sad decline of a one-time child star of "Little House on the Prairie" raging against her wholesome reputation in an attempt to keep snagging roles in the land of polymorphous perversity. Say it ain't so, Laura Ingalls!
Perhaps this is a classic example of how pathetically low our society’s morals have fallen in 25 years: Melissa Gilbert just guest-starred on the FX cable network’s grotesque show "Nip/Tuck." Are you ready for this? As a woman needing to have a nipple replaced....because her dog bit it off....during sex.
On CBS's racially-segregated "Survivor" reality show Thursday night, an Asian man named "Cao Boi" (pronounced Cowboy) went on a rant against the Iraq war and insisted American teenagers are going to be drafted and sent to Iraq en masse -- unless you're privileged, "unless you're Mr. Bush children." He was telling a story about a conversation he had at a restaurant:
“This old man he said, 'I come to United States, I’m so lonely, all my friends are in Vietnam.' He’s like fifty-something. And he just missed the old days. 'But I come to United States for my children’s future.' I go, ‘how old are your children?’ 'Fifteen and sixteen.' HA HA HA HA! Fifteen and sixteen! They trick you. They trick you. He go ‘what’? Fifteen and sixteen, you think in a couple of more years they’ll be in Iraq? ‘I’m sorry. For what?’ You’re Vietnamese. You should know better about war. You should know all about war.”
Here's a shocker: Oliver Stone doesn't like President Bush or the Iraq war. More of a shock is his remark: "Terrorism is a manageable action. It can be
Is it just me or does that seem surprisingly honest for a media liberal to admit he feels this way?
Filmmaker Oliver Stone blasted President Bush Thursday, saying he
has "set America back 10 years." Stone added that he is "ashamed for my
country" over the war in Iraq and the U.S. policies in response to the
attacks of Sept. 11.
"We have destroyed the world in the name of security. [...] From Sept. 12 on, the incident (the attacks) was politicized and it
has polarized the entire world," said Stone. "It is a shame because it
is a waste of energy to see that the entire world five years later is
still convulsed in the grip of 9/11.
Michael Moore, darling of the American left, is also a big hit in Islamic fundamentalist quarters. We already knew that Osama likes him, now, we learn that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a big fan.
Following his infamous speech to the United Nations, Ahmadinejad held a few receptions for Iranians and Iranian-Americans as well as the media. His translator while he was in this country wrote an account of Ahmadinejad's itinerary:
The following morning, Mr. Ahmadinejad held a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, again at his hotel, with American academics and journalists. Earlier, he had expressed some interest in having Michael Moore attend, and although attempts were made to reach him (even by myself, since I was asked), they were unsuccessful. I was seated between Gary Sick (of Columbia University) and Jon Lee Anderson (of The New Yorker), and three hot issues were covered: nuclear power, Israel and the Holocaust.
Aaron Sorkin upped the stakes this week in "Studio 60"'s jihad against non-casual Christians. And sadly, it's probably very realistic in its portrayal of how Hollywood views large segments of the American public.
In the premiere of this show about a show, the head of "Studio 60", played by Judd Hirsch, had an "I'm mad as hell" moment on the air and was canned, because the network standards guy wouldn't let him run a skit that mocked Christians. Even though television is rife with shows that mock Christians, and has been at least since the Church Lady first appeared on "Saturday Night Live".
Why can't you conservatives be more like this, unelectable? That is the message of HBO's documentary, "Mr. Conservative," profiling the life of Barry Goldwater. Many Democrats are quoted praising Goldwater, which should set off alarm bells that the purpose of this seemingly congratulatory 90-minute film has ulterior motives.
One major quibble: William F. Buckley Jr. is quoted nowhere in this program, which is such a ridiculous omission that viewers, particularly conservatives, will be agape at the oversight. What's the answer? Who knows, although a legion of Democratic admirers - Al Franken, Hillary Rodham Clinton (who campaigned as a "Goldwater Girl" in '64), Sen. Edward Kennedy (his brother John F. Kennedy and Goldwater were close friends, as well as potential presidential rivals) - are quoted. At least George F. Will is his usual eloquent self.
Al Franken's praising Goldwater? Does Franken admire Goldwater's racial policies, or does he admire Goldwater's embarassing defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson?
The essence of the documentary: longing for that old-style conservative who would readily wear a target for liberal potshots.
Breaking in a parallel universe somewhere: NBC is set to air live footage of actor Jean Reno portraying the Islamic prophet Mohammed engaging in sex acts with another man.
In our real world, according to Matt Drudge, the network is going to be airing a "special" concert featuring over-the-hill singer Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (aka Madonna) singing her song "Live to Tell" while standing on a disco-style crucifix and sporting a glittery pretend crown of thorns. It's a repeat of shows she's done in Europe.
Frankly, I have to yawn at this point. There's nothing new here. If these Hollywood types had any real guts or edge, they'd do PR stunts in the style of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "Team America." But since they and Ciccone are pseudo artists, that's not likely to happen.
Note to the professionally offended: I am not advocating ridiculing any particular religion here. Just saying what Ciccone et al. would do if they ever thought about living up their supposed ideals.
"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" premiered on NBC tonight, and it looks like more of the same old, same old. Judd Hirsch's character, in charge of the Saturday Night Live-like show flew into a snit when the network standards and practices exec forced him to pull a skit called "Crazy Christians".
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell offers a preview of Monday's premiere of NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." (The premiere, on DVD, was available from Netflix.) Why critique it? The first plot of this "Saturday Night Live"-derived show from "West Wing" producer-writer Aaron Sorkin centers around a canceled skit entitled "Crazy Christians," which apparently was a laugh riot:
When his skit is axed, the outraged fictional "SNL" producer [played by Judd Hirsch] bounds onto the stage and unleashes a lecture on live television. It’s what Sorkin has probably wanted to say about network executives (and their alleged overreaction to those crazy Christians) many times. "The two things that make them scared gutless are the FCC and every psycho religious cult that gets positively horny at the very mention of a boycott." Sorkin was so impressed with his own insult that it reruns later in the show in fictional news clips.
British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's comic creation Borat Sagdiyev has caused so much outrage in Kazakhstan with his new movie, President George W. Bush will address the issue when he meets the Kazakh leader.
Bush is set to hold talks with Nursultan Nazarbayev over oil supply--and disgusted Kazakhs have demanded action over Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Roman Vassilenko says, "We have made it clear that we are unhappy with the character's representation. He does not represent the true people of Kazakhstan."
It was stunning, and yet it was eerily reminiscent of the extraordinary discipline of Team Clinton. Days before the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" was to air, they determined the network fudged in its commitment to follow faithfully the facts in the 9/11 Commission report. A scene or two in the otherwise remarkable presentation was false.
And this was the angle Team Clinton needed in order to pounce. The Clinton campaign kicked into high gear in the days before it aired, with the ex-president and his lawyering aides and Democrats in Congress all pressuring ABC to dump the film.
It’s important to understand that Team Clinton didn’t demand the film be edited for accuracy. They wanted everything -- including all the accurate criticisms and findings – thrown in the garbage. Clinton had his usual cleanup squad write letters to ABC chief Bob Iger demanding the $40 million movie be deep-sixed: "We expect that you will make the responsible decision to not air this film."
From the start, Wyatt adopts the POV of the Clintonians that tried to stop ABC from airing the miniseries:
"The first half of ABC’s dramatic mini-series 'The Path to 9/11,' which drew fierce advance partisan reaction last week over its portrayal of Clinton administration officials, drew an estimated 13 million viewers Sunday night, several million more than a rebroadcast of a CBS documentary about Sept. 11 but far fewer than NBC’s opening-week National Football League game.
In 2003, the New York Times editorialized against the CBS decision to yank its personal-attack film "The Reagans" and said conservatives "helped create the Soviet-style chill embedded in the idea that we, as a nation, will not allow critical portrayals of one of our own recent leaders."
But Tuesday's Times carries an editorial that never mentioned a "Soviet-style chill" in the attempts of Clinton and his staffers to kill ABC's "The Path to 9/11." Instead of decrying "fierce" ideological assault on the media, the Times again finds its villains on the right, attacking Rush Limbaugh and moderate Republican Thomas Kean. It makes "One suggestion: when attempting to recreate real events on screen, you do not show real people doing things they never did." (Like Jayson Blair claiming to report for the Times from West Virginia when he was in New York City?)
The New York Times' reliably liberal television-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley offered up a surprising assessment in her mostly favorable review of “The Path to 9-11," a review which ran on Friday when there was still some doubt as to whether or not ABC would cave in to the Clintonistas and various left-wing bloggers furious at the network. The first part of the miniseries ran last night with some selective edits but with the essence of the story intact, further infuriating the left with its picture of a Clinton administration unwilling to take terrorism seriously.
ABC's entertainment division refused to knuckle under to intense pressure from supporters of former President Bill Clinton, including the Democratic National Committee and MoveOn.org, and aired the first part of their miniseries, "The Path to 9/11", with some additional edits:
Brent Bozell's column on the entertainment media culture this week addressed an amazing double standard from NBC. For Saturday mornings, they've picked up a Christian-media favorite, the cartoon "Veggie Tales" -- but is cutting out the religious angles. That's sort of sad when our media's more tolerant of Islam, the "religion of peace," than they seem to be of Christianity:
The early word from producers is that NBC has grown increasingly fierce about editing something out of “Veggie Tales” – those apparently unacceptable, insensitive references to God and the Bible.
So NBC has taken the very essence of “Veggie Tales” – and ripped it out. It’s like “Gunsmoke,” without the guns, or “Monday Night Football,” without the football.
Michael Moore hasn't taken time off from making films to please liberals. FoxNews.com reports he'll soon be releasing two movies (neither of which will ever be vetted for accuracy by the MSM).
In the story, Moore is also quoted defending actor Tom Cruise, saying "his religion is his own damn business." Two paragraphs later, though, the corpulent moviemaker makes fun of actor Mel Gibson's religion:
Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore unveiled two new projects last
night in Toronto: a documentary about the health insurance business
called “Sicko” and film that chronicles the aftermath of the 2004
election, entitled “Slacker.”
Moore showed clips from both
films as part of a special two-hour presentation at the famed Elgin
Theater. Larry Charles, director of the new comedy “Borat” and
well-known from his work on the TV show “Seinfeld,” conducted the
program that also consisted of a long, funny and intimate live
interview with Moore.
The evening was almost marred by a
faulty projector that caused Moore’s clips to be interrupted several
times. The same thing apparently happened one night earlier during a
screening of “Borat.” Moore jumped on stage and did shtick with Charles
for the packed house. Last night, Charles returned the favor.
while clips from both new Moore movies looked tantalizing, it was the
director himself who made the biggest headlines with revelations about
his life since becoming a lightning rod for controversy with “Roger and
Me” some 17 years ago.
Something tells me this excuse wouldn't fly with 99.9 percent of American women, much less any woman as attractive as Ms. Jolie:
NEW YORK Sep 8, 2006 (AP)— Brad Pitt, ever the social activist, says he won't be marrying Angelina Jolie until the restrictions on who can marry whom are dropped.
"Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able," the 42-year-old actor reveals in Esquire magazine's October issue, on newsstands Sept. 19.
In the article he reflects on "fifteen things I think everyone should know."
It's been natural for some to link the Clintonista campaign against ABC's "The Path to 9/11" with the efforts of MRC and other groups protesting CBS's flimsy biopic on "The Reagans." (Rich Noyes makes one obvious point of difference: Clinton is cogent enough to defend himself. In the fall of 2003, Reagan was deep into his Alzheimer's disease and dying.) Brent Bozell columns from that time are here and here. Brent still believes that if ABC corrects its docudrama if it doesn't have documentation for something being challenged, it's doing the right thing.
To mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attack on America, ABC Entertainment is presenting a six-hour miniseries titled "The Path to 9/11," a forceful, compelling docudrama chronicling the struggles faced by America's counter-terrorist experts between the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the fatal one in 2001. Unlike the tone of too much of our reporting on terrorism, where anyone who fights terrorism is depicted as either assembling naked Muslim pyramids if in Iraq, or listening to Grandma's phone calls if at home, this film treats the fight against terror as deadly business, and not just deadly business but a noble struggle for the survival of our nation.
Serious scholars of current events, not to mention some of those named in the film, may take issue with parts of this presentation. The movie is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, which itself is not infallible in its conclusions on what went wrong and what needs to fixed. Moreover, up front the moviemakers note it has composite characters and manipulates the time of events for a better movie experience. As a "docudrama" it has taken certain poetic license with history.
The Washington Post continued on Wednesday its pattern of defining the news in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia as what the Democrats want the news to be. Reporter Tim Craig notes that a "nonpartisan" analysis shows Sen. George Allen has more "Hollywood" cash than his Democratic opponent:
U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is a leading recipient of entertainment-related campaign contributions to members of Congress, a nonpartisan analysis released yesterday shows, even as the senator has been criticizing his Democratic opponent's ties to Hollywood...
The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group, said that Allen ranks 16th among members of Congress in campaign contributions received from the entertainment industry during the past two years. Allen has accepted $93,350 since 2004; Webb, $20,650, according to the center.
As you may or may not know, this coming weekend, ABC is presenting a movie about the events that led up to the attacks on the WTC in 2001, called "The Path to 9/11".
It has leaked out by various critics and folks who have been offered an advanced screening of this flick that the Clinton administration does not come out looking too strong on National defense in the years prior to the attacks on that fateful day. In fact, it shows them as responsible for one misstep and failure after another in the face of plenty of forewarning that the situation was quickly escalating.
In light of that depiction, for the last week or so, there have been some pretty persistent rumors that, after these screenings, various members of the Clinton administration, including the ex-president himself, began a campaign of calls, meetings and efforts to cajole ABC into altering and editing the film to make the Clintons look better.
As the summer ends, so ends the season of the superhero blockbuster, and some parents of young boys that I know are still getting over their annoyance at the superhero movie-marketing gap. The toy stores and burger joints carry all the merchandise for the grade-school set – and the movie is rated PG-13. What happens when your first-grader wants to see the movie that’s tied in with his new toy?
Suffice it to say that our news media would be more upset about the fat content in the Happy Meal food than the dangers of taking young children to movies they may not be ready to handle.
"Superman Returns" was a big, noisy, critically acclaimed blockbuster – and it was PG-13 for intense violence. But just look at how the movie was promoted by Burger King: eight different toys, including sweat bands, sunglasses, action figures, Frisbees, and fans. There was even a drawing for a Superman laptop computer.
If you want to force propaganda onto young people, shouldn't you at least find an entertaining messenger? During last night's MTV Video Music Awards, Al Gore lectured about global warming and what that generation needed to do to fix the problem.
Nekesa Mumbi Moody of the Associated Press said the award show "had about as much spontaneity as an episode of 'Cribs.'" Viewers did "NOT watch for lectures from former Vice President Al Gore on global warming. When does the phrase 'here's a photo of a glacier melting' ever fit into an awards show?"
Ankle Biting Pundits says the former vice president also remarked, "The environment was the number one response when you were asked what the biggest problem your generation will face. We can solve it but we must act quickly."
Talk about your culture clash! A hip hop music site juxtaposes a report on Bill Cosby's condemnation of that musical genre with news of the latest criminal doings of hip hop stars. AllHipHop.com bills itself as 'The World's Most Dangerous Site.' Currently up on the site is an article reporting a recent speech in which Cosby . . . "went on the offensive against rap music."
States the article:
"'They put the word 'nigga' in a song, and we get up and dance to it,' Cosby said.
"The two-hour Coppin State University-hosted event dubbed 'Fatherhood Works,' was the last stop on the entertainer's day-long visit to the city.
"In addition to hip-hop, Cosby expressed his views on teenage pregnancy, re-emphasized the importance of a good education and urged fathers to take a more active role in raising their kids, as he visited three West Baltimore elementary schools and the church."
So here was AllHipHop respectfully passing along Cosby's message. Meanwhile . . . to the right of the Cosby article is a column with links to the latest news from the hip hop world. But while reports of new record deals and other doings were mixed in, much of it read like a 'rap' sheet of an altogether different sort. Examples:
Foxy Brown Misses New Jersey Court Date, Must Attend Next Hearing
Estate of Slain Man In CCC Club Files Lawsuit Against Proof Estate
NY Times theatre critic/playwright George Hunka's "A Sermon on Corporations, Neighborhoods and Loss" celebrates a left-wing performance artist for exposing the evils of large corporations. Hunka, of course, is writing this for the New York Times, part of a modest little enterprise known as the New York Times Co., which had revenues of a mere $3.4 billion in 2005.
"Reverend Billy -- the alter ego of the performance artist Bill Talen, bleach-blond pompadoured and an impressive presence at 6-foot-3 in his pale brown leisure suit -- struts, preaches and sings his way across the Spiegeltent stage at the South Street Seaport, bringing his anticorporatist, environmentalist message to the converted via a sermon and several songs, accompanied by the Church of Stop Shopping gospel choir and a seven-piece band."
What does Maureen Dowd want? Her column of today is the latest evidence of a woman torn between the imperatives of modern feminism and a not-so-secret longing for more traditional domestic arrangements.
The topic of Ring-a-Ding-Bling [subscription required] is marriages in which the husband plays a decided second fiddle to the wife. You might think that Dowd-the-feminist would celebrate marriages in which women play the leading role. But, with one notable exception, she expresses little but scorn for husbands whose wives have the upper hand.
Mo's Exhibit A is the Britney Spears/Kevin Federline couple. Dowd begins by professing that "to make fun of Mr. Spears [would be] too easy — shooting tuna fish in a can, as they say." By referring to Federline as "Mr. Spears" Mo has of course mocked him already. Then, utterly ignoring her own precept, she proceeds to ruthlessly ridicule him, describing his recent attempt at rap music as "even more deliciously atrocious than anticipated," also letting us know that "the hip-hop community reacted with amused disdain."