There’s another sequel coming out today, and this one is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the 1994 cult classic “Clerks.” Apparently, the Motion Picture Association of America gave this unbelievably vulgar film an “R” rating instead of a stricter “NC-17,” and the movie’s writer/director/star is absolutely shocked (hat tip to Town Hall’s blog). As reported by MSNBC.com:
“Clerks II” director Kevin Smith was “shocked, literally, in shock” when his slacker sequel got an R rating. Smith had fought the tougher NC-17 rating on the first film, and was prepared for a battle on this one. “The ‘questionable’ content in ‘Clerks II’ goes beyond anything we've ever presented in a film before,” he noted. “Don't know what happened in the MPAA screening that morning, and don't need to know. All I do know is that they handed us an R, without asking for a single cut. And rather than obsess over it, I just quickly [and happily] accepted the rating and moved on.”
To give one an idea of just how vulgar this movie is supposed to be, film critic Joel Siegel actually walked out of a screening. According to the Hartford Courant, this is the first time in 30 years Siegel has done that:
It's getting harder to make a blockbuster these days, and as productions costs continue to rise, making movies is no longer financially rewarding. Superstar actors are now more talked about for their private lives than for their movies, and they face cuts in salaries as studios have to worry more about digital technology and foreign marketing.
One benefit of this, hopefully, will be that Hollywood will no longer be the purveyor of the conventional wisdom and the stars, who will not burn as brightly, will no longer have their every political opinion treated as gospel by Hollywood and national reporters.
As studios slash jobs and restructure to boost profits, Hollywood's creative and executive ranks are having a collective anxiety attack.
Walt Disney Co.'s move this week to lay off about 650 employees and revamp its Burbank studio to make fewer films only confirms what many in the entertainment industry have been stressing over for months: The movie business is shrinking.
Slapstick Politics has an excerpt from a recent Entertainment Weekly article on Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth." It turns out documentary films about global warming have a way of making people cool. This should be encouraging news for science club high schoolers around the country.
Minds are being changed, all right, and not just about global warming. Miraculously, over the past few months, An Inconvenient Truth has accomplished something many people once thought inconceivable: It's made Al Gore cool. The somber policy wonk who campaigned for president in 2000 with all those bland speeches about lockboxes is gone. He's now a hip and trendy (in a wonky sort of way) ecological activist. While promoting the movie this summer, Gore has been connecting with crowds more effortlessly and comfortably — even charismatically — than he ever did as a politician. He even found his sense of humor; turns out it's been hiding all this time inside daughter Kristin, a former comedy writer on Matt Groening's Futurama and the one responsible for Gore's gag
Another friend sent a giggle with the HBO press release on Spike Lee's forthcoming Katrina documentary. Is Spike Lee seeking a "wide range of opinions"? Bayou Buzz has details, including this piece of the press release:
Lee and his team selected nearly 100 people from diverse backgrounds, representing a wide range of opinions, to be featured in the film, including Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Harry Belafonte, Wynton Marsalis, CNN´s Soledad O´Brien, Terence Blanchard, Rev. Al Sharpton, Wendell Pierce, Sean Penn, Kanye West, local media and other New Orleans residents.
It might be a pretty big event: It "will have a world premiere August 16 in New Orleans before a potential 10,000 people. The premiere in New Orleans will be one year after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Acts I and II will be presented free of charge before a potential audience of 10,000 people at the New Orleans Arena."
The line between old-fashioned objective reporting and opinion writing is blurry enough on the big subjects like the war on terrorism and the economy, but in entertainment journalism, it’s becoming nearly impossible to differentiate between the two, especially since those who deliver this product don’t, and won’t.
Take it from me: This is a rough neighborhood to work in if you are lobbying for decency and family-friendly programming on television and regularly deal with the entertainment press. In the daytime, you’re working with reporters you assume are dedicated to telling the story in an objective and balanced manner. But when they go moonlighting on more opinionated Internet web logs, entertainment reporters often make it clear that the concept of upholding decency is a bad joke.
A colleague forwarded a press release from MTV titled "MTV News Presents: IraqUploaded To Air Friday, July 21st at 8PM (ET/PT)." The special will show how soldiers "document war" in Iraq and share it on the Web, but watch out for that "mujahideen" perspective:
In this half hour special report, MTV News’ Gideon Yago delves into this technological and social phenomenon [of soldier-made video] emerging from the front lines in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Through short videos on user generated content websites, OIF troops provide an unvarnished and unrefined perspective of the violence of combat, the relationships of men in uniform and the reality of war. “MTV News Presents: Iraq Uploaded” will air on Friday, July 21st at 8PM (ET/PT).
Editors of the New York Times, along with their allies in journalism, are defending the publication of anti-terrorism programs by declaring their actions to be in the “public interest,” making them a watchdog against what they view as excessive government power and secrecy. But the tables need to be turned. What about excessive media power and secrecy?
There’s something bizarre about the Times rushing out to protest excessive secrecy in the Bush administration – and then touting the testimony of secret sources as its evidence.
You're the boss at the New York Times. The warden at the jail holding celebrity snoop Anthony Pellicano issued an order barring anyone other than family and lawyers from seeing him. Getting a scoop with Pellicano will certainly boost newstainment sales.
Do you: A. Respect the order and write stories without talking to Pellicano. B. Appeal to a judge to lift the order. C. Send in a "reporter" with a 20 year old law degree and California State Bar credential card who may or may not have filled out a form stating "Purpose of the visit: legal" which forces Pellicano out of his cell and into "outrage."
If you answered C, you could be New York Times management.
The media usually leaves Hollywood out of the class warfare it engenders, but NBC's Michael Okwu found a sore spot among union members angry at Hollywood hot shots like George Clooney: Top dollar celebrities pulling down millions to voice over commercial spots.
“Let’s put it this way, there are some people that are
making a million dollars an hour,” announcer Tom Kane griped. Okwu told viewers
Kane is paid “a lot less.”
“Just go make
your movies. Let us do our commercials and no one gets hurt,” Kane told Okwu.
But Kane is far
more successful than the average union dues-paying announcer and he himself has
starred in a few animated movies.
A look at Kane’s
professional Web site and his profile at the Internet Movie Database
(imdb.com), tell of a career voicing over television shows, video games, and
trailers to movies such as “Booty Call,” “Ice Age 2,” and “Jimmy Neutron.”
Fair warning for those that are sensitive to vulgarity, for this post will need to use some to properly quote the individual involved. Comedian Robin Williams was on the “Tonight Show” Thursday, and used the occasion to make fun of Rush Limbaugh’s recent Viagra incident. To be sensitive to those that might be offended, all obscene quotes will appear in the "Read More" section.
Now, to be fair, I am a huge Robin Williams fan, and believe him to be an equal opportunity offender. Even Rush, who has a fabulous sense of humor, likely would think this was funny (video link to follow).
With that in mind, host Jay Leno nicely set up Williams by asking for his opinion about the recent Viagra story concerning Limbaugh. Williams answered:
The 70-year-old comic book superhero Superman has always had the longtime slogan, "Truth, justice, and the American way." But in the latest movie reincarnation of the Man of Steel, the slogan is a little different: "Truth, justice and all that stuff."
The makers of the movie claim that "the world is different" than it was in the 40's and 50's, and that the film has to be applicable for movie watchers around the world.
While audiences in Dubuque might bristle at Superman's newfound global agenda, patrons in Dubai likely will find the DC Comics protagonist more palatable. And with the increasing importance of the overseas boxoffice -- as evidenced by summer tentpoles like "The Da Vinci Code" -- foreign sensibilities can no longer be ignored.
One of the writers of the screenplay, Dan Harris, says "the American way" doesn't mean the same thing anymore.
Should we look for Matt Lauer to close his next interview of Condi Rice by clasping her hands? Perhaps a verklempt Dick Cheney thanking Campbell Brown for "standing by me through every crisis"? Could be, judging by Al Roker's interview of Star Jones this morning.
OK. Star isn't Secretary of State. She's someone who got bounced as co-host of a televised coffee klatsch. Even so, some of the journalistic values on display were eye-brow raising. For openers, what does it say about Today's news values that the interview, stretching across two half-hours and three segments, was the longest this veteran Today watcher can remember?
And then there was the personal relationship between Al and Star. The flag first went up when Star thanked Al for having phoned her with information: "I actually remember a phone call when you saw something in the paper that I had not even seen that was pretty nasty."
A few hours after a televised display of saccharine warmth and affection between Barbara Walters and Star Jones Reynolds - who yesterday surprised her "View" colleagues by announcing she's leaving in mid-July - their relationship turned very chilly indeed.
Never mind Walters' previous public assurances that Jones Reynolds was welcome to stay on the show as long as she wanted. Yesterday, "The View's" alpha female - the show's co-owner and co-executive producer - told me that she lied "to protect Star" from the damaging news that ABC long ago decided not to renew her contract.
"The network made this decision based on a variety of reasons which I won't go into now. But we were never going to say this. We wanted to protect [S]tar. And so we told her that she could say whatever she wanted about why she was leaving and that we would back her up."
Well I'll be, The View is a news program after all. If she did this to protect someone she dislikes, just think what she's done to protect the people she likes.
As a veteran Couric watcher, I've recently come to follow [without actually watching] doings at The View, since Katie's replacement Meredith Vieira was for years a member of the show's cast. For those unfamiliar with it, The View is an all-female televised coffee klatsch and gabfest of which Barbara Walters is the creator, partial owner and a co-host.
The View has a distinct liberal tint to its patter. And as we know, one of the tenets of feminist theology is that women have a right to whatever body size they want, free of societal restraints.
How ironic - some might say hypocritical - that one reason for the recent firing of co-host Star Jones is that . . . she refused to stay fat! As you'll note from the before and after pics here, Star has undergone a dramatic physical transformation. According to this AP article:
The MRC Business & Media Institute's latest study is getting notice in the media.
The Washington Post's Frank Ahrens did a write-up below-the-fold in the business section today.
"Bad Company," the first of a three-part study series on media coverage of the American businessman is available here.
Here's a bit of what Ahrens wrote:
On the heels of last month's conviction of top Enron Corp.
executives comes this nugget from the Media Research Center, a
conservative television watchdog group that examines programming to
determine how certain groups are portrayed. In this study, the group
claims that Hollywood unfairly and overwhelmingly casts businessmen and
women as "criminal CEOs and murdering MBAs."
Mark Twain once said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress."
Today's Hollywood TV executives would beg to differ. To them there's no distinctly native criminal class except American businessmen.
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute is out with our latest study, the first of a three-part series looking at the media's bias against businessmen.
Almost 10 years ago, the Media Research Center’s
Business & Media Institute published “Businessmen Behaving Badly,”
which found that businessmen on TV committed more crimes than any
other demographic. In this new study, BMI looked at 129 episodes
from 12 top-rated dramas on the four networks: ABC, CBS, FOX and
NBC. These broadcasts were picked from two “sweeps” months in 2005 –
May and November – when networks try to attract the largest
audiences to maximize ad dollars.
In this look at primetime, BMI found:
Negative toward Business: Negative plots about business and
businessmen outnumbered positive ones by almost 4-to-1. Of the 39
episodes that included business-related plots or characters, 30
(77 percent) cast businessmen and commerce in a negative light.
According to Drudge, the checkbook journalism practiced by People Magazine extended to another Time Warner property; Anderson Cooper.
There's loud chatter among industry insiders that the $4 million deal PEOPLE Mag's editor Larry Hackett cut with Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt for their baby pictures extended to CNN, also part of the TIME WARNER family. A rep for CNN denies any TIMEWARNER deal secured the interview. "Angelina Jolie's representative approached Anderson Cooper's senior executive producer David Doss because Angelina is an admirer of Anderson's work, especially his commitment to covering Africa and the plight of refugees."
There is one sure way of finding out. It is imperative that Time Warner immediately release the original contract with Angelina to determine if anything other than People Magazine is mentioned. If it were any other organization implicated in an unethical practice, wouldn't CNN demand the same of them?
Their actions over the weekend will speak directly to the ethics, transparency, and values of the news operation. (i.e. don't expect much more than more denials, obfuscating the facts, and refusing to expose the contract.)
TV critic Alessandra Stanley goes after host Jay Leno for not laying a glove on his Wednesday night guest Ann Coulter in Friday’s Arts review, “A Battle of Wits, And No Clear Win.”
It’s clear who the liberal Stanley is rooting for in this clash of TV talker vs. best-selling conservative titan, chastening both Leno and David Letterman for failing to verbally spank Coulter: “As his tut-tutting chat with the mean girl of the moment showed, Jay Leno is a terrible interviewer….Mr. Leno, who will be replaced by Conan O'Brien in 2009, can afford to slack off, but it is [rival TV talker David] Letterman who seems to be taking too many of his shows pass/fail. And it's a shame, because the host of CBS's ‘Late Show’ is the comedian intellectually and temperamentally most suited to taking on the conservative enfant terrible and giving her a much-deserved public swat.”
Writing at NewsMax, Steve Malzberg talks about how the liberal press holds Ann Coulter to a much higher standard than it does for left-wing humorists.
You have to admire the brazen
hypocrisy being exhibited by the liberal media when it comes to the
treatment that Ann Coulter has been receiving from them.
She has been so vilified that at least one liberal columnist has
reportedly suggested she'd be better off dead. He actually asked her,
"Would it kill you to do us all a favor and kill yourself?" But that
columnist, Simon Dumenco of Ad Age, gets away unscathed – as do the
rest of those who have directed vile, outrageous and shameful remarks
in the direction of Coulter and others on the right.
Here's what BMI's Dan Gainor posted Thursday about Lauer's Tuesday night foray into documentary-making (click here for the full article):
“We are the problem,” declared NBC’s “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer doing a stint as host for the SciFi network. Lauer was referring to mankind’s alleged misuse of planet Earth, but his comment better suits the media and his apocalyptic documentary.
Lauer’s program, “Countdown to Doomsday,” merged nearly every science-fiction disaster flick ever made – “The Terminator,” “Deep Impact,” “I, Robot” and, of course, the SciFi Channel’s own “Battlestar Gallactica.” Lauer’s news background gave an air of respectability to the documentary and the show was filled with news footage from Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and more to reinforce that impression.
The world has taken another turn for the bizarre. CNSNews reported on Friday (hat tip to NB reader RJ) that a new family movie about football, “Facing the Giants,” has been given a “PG” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America apparently for having too much religious content.
Too much religious content? Are you kidding me?
This story appears to have first been reported by Terry Mattingly at the Scripps Howard News Service on Wednesday: “‘What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents,’ said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures. Provident plans to open the film next fall in 380 theaters nationwide with the help of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which has worked with indie movies like ‘The Squid and the Whale.’"
Just what kind of “thematic elements” are present? The article elaborated:
Reuters reports that the country music trio Dixie Chicks is having trouble filling seats at concerts as it continues to take heat for criticism of President Bush.
While early ticket purchases for their first major tour in three years are generally robust in Northeastern cities, initial sales have fallen short of expectations in numerous markets, especially in the Midwest and South, forcing some dates to be scrubbed.
Who would have thought that the biggest country music fans would be in Boston and New York?
By contrast, the group's latest album, "Taking the Long Way," opened atop the U.S. pop charts last week, selling 526,000 copies during its first seven days and remaining No. 1 in its second week to notch one of the year's strongest debuts.
Human Events Online reports that "The Passion of the Christ" is in no danger of being passed up by "The Da Vinci Code" in ticket sales, even after 15 days.
As reported here earlier, The Passion of The Christ, which IMDb ranks No. 10 in U.S. box office sales for all time, continues to outpace The Da Vinci Code’s U.S. box office performance in head-to-head match-ups of day-by-day sales—a trend that continues to send Hollywood this unmistakable message: “Blasphemy doesn’t pay.”
Imagine it as a horserace between Passion and Code.
Passion, at the week three, Day 15 turn had sold $228,134,000 at the U.S. box office, while Code lagged behind at $172,656,000 in U.S. ticket sales....
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) is co-hosting a symposium on June 6 with TCSDaily.com at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Hollywood's treatment of capitalism on the silver screen. The panelists include Fox News Watch's James Pinkerton, film critic Michael Medved, Clinton acolyte Lanny Davis, and BMI director Dan Gainor.
The free event lasts from 6-9 p.m. and includes free cocktails. Bloggers are particularly welcome.
Seats are still available. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
For you conservatives tired of the to-the-right-of-Attila ribbings, know that liberals sometimes brag up their own ideological bearings. So in the Weekend section of the Washington Post on Friday, obnoxious red-headed comedienne and old "Suddenly Susan" character Kathy Griffin proclaimed: "I'm super, super loudmouth lefty. I'm so far left I'm not even a Democrat anymore [sic]...I'm a Sandinista."
So what's with the I'm-a-Sandinista line? Is it funny to align yourselves with overthrown (by vote) communist dictatorships? A little Googling brought me back home to the January 23 CyberAlert, where I learned this Sandinista line is apparently a regular Griffin riff, as she described her approach to doing comedy for USO tours for the troops in Iraq: "My politics are so far to the left I'm not even a Democrat, I'm like a Sandinista at this point. So nobody wants to hear my blue state liberal crap over there. So I try to keep a lid on it and just try and make them laugh and do a good show."
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission refused to reconsider on Wednesday its decision to fine 20 CBS Corp. (CBSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) television stations a total of $550,000 for airing pop singer Janet Jackson's breast flash in 2004.
The decision sets up a likely court battle over the FCC's attempt to crack down on indecent content broadcast on television and radio.
Jackson briefly exposed her breast during the Super Bowl football halftime show, sparking an outrage among some lawmakers and parents groups and provoking regulators to impose the fine on CBS for violating U.S. decency standards.
Can you imagine the visage of Adolf Hitler being incorporated as a kitsch pop item and celebrated as a "kind of George Washington, James Dean" icon in the mainstream press?
Probably you can’t. But left-wing mass-murderers get an irony pass in both the media and pop culture. Chairman Mao's image is almost as ubiquitous as that of Che Guevara (another left-wing killer, albeit on a less grand scale). A Sunday Week in Review story by David Barboza ("Chameleon Mao, the Face of Tiananmen Square") celebrates Mao's image without acknowledging the millions of murders under his long reign.
MRC's Michelle Humphrey spotted an incredibly effusive endorsement for Al Gore's new movie "An Inconvenient Truth" in a surprising venue -- the "Daily 10" show on the E! entertainment channel. This is a show apparently geared toward people under 25, if not under 18, with a really young group of hosts (except for thirtysomething Debbie Matenopoulos). As part of the feature called "Lyons' Den," Ben Lyons (son of "Sneak Previews" movie critic Jeffrey Lyons and surprise, a Michael Moore fan) poured on the goo for Gore just after his thumbs-up for the third X-Men film:
Lyons: "I would rather talk about something a little bit more important that needs our support. And that’s the Al Gore film, 'An Inconvenient Truth.'"
Times music writer Kelefa Sanneh tosses ice on the liberal media’s celebration of the Dixie Chicks in Thursday’s “It’s Dixie Chicks vs. Country Fans, but Who’s Dissing Whom?”
The female country music trio are best known lately for dissing President Bush at a London concert in 2003, and since then have picked fights with the overtly patriotic country singer Toby Keith. But kudos from liberal media outlets like the Times and Time magazine have proven easier conquests than radio stations, where there first two singles have struggled to get airplay and have tumbled down the charts.
A half hour after championing Al Gore's "comeback" on Tuesday's Good Morning America (see this earlier NewsBusters item), the show celebrated the Dixie Chicks and their new album, treating them as victims for the negative reaction to the lead singer's 2003 charge, from overseas, that she was "ashamed" to be from the same state as President Bush. Diane Sawyer fretted over how "suddenly country radio stations pulled their music, people destroyed the album, hounded their relatives and tracked them down with death threats." But, she touted, "they are roaring back. It is a new album called 'Taking the Long Way' and in it they dare to announce, at least when it comes to the haters, they're not ready to make nice. They are spirited, unbowed and they are back with a new single called 'Not Ready to Make Nice.'" Sawyer insisted that "among their biggest supporters were the soldiers fighting in Iraq who said they were fighting for the right to freedom of thought and speech." After highlighting how the group's video features a hit on Vice President Cheney -- "to talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming" -- Sawyer read a sympathetic e-mail to them: "Do you feel basically that you've been vindicated and that the American public moved to your position?" (Transcript follows)