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)
The Dixie Chicks and their marketing gurus clearly know publicity. They asked themselves: How can we get ourselves featured on the cover of Time and hailed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” just before the new CD comes out? Easy. Trash George W. Bush again.
Time’s cover had the three women framed in black with the celebratory title “Radical Chicks.” They were famous not because of their music, but because “They criticized the war and were labeled unpatriotic.” That’s a bit off. They criticized George W. Bush, with lead singer Natalie Maines telling a London audience the band so despised him they were ashamed to be from the same home state. That isn’t exactly a brilliant anti-war policy statement that Madeleine Albright would crib. It was an insult.
Times music critic Jon Pareles thinks the anti-Bush country group The Dixie Chicks were right all along in Sunday’s front page Arts & Leisure feature, "The Dixie Chicks: America Catches Up With Them"
"The Dixie Chicks call it 'the Incident': the anti-Bush remark that Natalie Maines, their lead singer, made onstage in London in 2003. 'Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,' said Ms. Maines, a Texan herself.
"It led to a partisan firestorm, a radio boycott, death threats and, now, to an album that's anything but repentant."
What Pareles doesn’t mention: It also got them cover stories on several news magazines and newspapers back then, and they’re still milking their profile in courage -- Time Magazine this week has them on the cover in a typically favorable article (they apparently have "The Biggest Balls In American Music," apparently because it's just so courageous to stand up in front of an anti-war audience and bash Bush).
It's a spicy set of covers on the news magazines this week. U.S. News asks how low Bush can go in the polls. Newsweek is having another agnostic's crush on Mary Magdalene. But Time magazine wins the liberal-bias award for promoting the Dixie Chicks on its cover with the words "Radical Chicks." (Cover copy: "They criticized the war and were labeled unpatriotic.") Josh Tyrangiel's cover story begins predictably by hailing the lead singer:
Natalie Maines is one of those people born middle finger first.
As a high school senior in Lubbock, Texas, she'd skip a class a day in an attempt to prove that because she never got caught and some Mexican students did, the system was racist.
If you would like to see the range of opinion among film critics on "The DaVinci Code," one very nice inventory of major-media reviews can be found at metacritic.com. It earned a 48 out of 100, well below this weekend's new cartoon, "Over the Hedge," which averaged out to 67.
On Thursday night, NBC aired the final episode of "Will & Grace" after eight seasons, but on Thursday’s "Today," MRC’s Geoff Dickens noticed Katie Couric interviewed the cast and just lathered on the praise that her 14-year-old daughter learned so much about tolerance for homosexuality from the show, and "I think that’s a great contribution to society," because "I think you have to teach tolerance at a very early age and the more comfortable people feel with people who are different, starting when they're young, the more tolerant and accepting they're gonna be as they go into adulthood." So much for CBS hiring an even-handed new anchor on the hot social issues of the day.
You would expect an NBC show to praise an NBC show, but Couric went way beyond that to a serious political lecture. She began the segment by touting the victory over what critics call homophobia:
After a couple days in which the only people offered the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code were the movie's director and cast members, this morning's Today show finally gave an outside expert and Catholic officials their shot. The result was an oddly ambivalent reaction in which the movie was simultaneously praised as offering an opportunity to teach about the Church - and condemned as filled with lies.
A quick recap on the state of play at Today. Matt Lauer has been "On the Road with the Code" this week. On Tuesday, as reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark timidly raised the matter of the controversy with Code director Ron Howard. Stark didn't bother informing viewers just what all the fuss is about - which is none other than the movie's premise that Christ wasn't really divine, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her, that the true religion is the "feminine divine" and that the Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated a murderous patriarchal plot to suppress the truth. That's all!
When Mel Gibson introduced "The Passion of the Christ" into the public conversation, Hollywood had a lot to say about it. Now Hollywood is offering its response with the upcoming release of "The DaVinci Code," inviting commentary not on that movie, but on Hollywood itself.
Three years ago, Mel Gibson gambled his own personal fortune on a great creative risk, going completely outside the established Tinseltown system to produce a horrifyingly realistic reenactment of Our Lord’s crucifixion, and resurrection. It took not just sacrifice but also real courage to make this. The studios all scoffed at the idea. The reviews were horrible – before anyone had seen a frame of it.
It's not enough for "DaVinci Code" star Ian McKellen to make cracks about Bible disclaimers. MRC's Michael Chapman passed along that in an interview with Reuters, he took his wisecracks directly to the Catholic Church:
“When I put the book down I thought, ’what a load of potential codswallop .That’s still going on in my mind. But I’m very happy to believe that Jesus was married.”
Sir Ian, who came out as gay in 1988 during a Radio 4 discussion programme, continued: “I know that the Catholic church has problems with gay people and I thought that this was absolute truth that Jesus was not gay.”
In a cautionary signal for the future of American media, an online poll conducted by Bolt Media indicates some interesting changes in viewing behavior as a result of the Internet. AdAge.com reported on Monday (hat tip to Drudge): “Only one in four 12- to 34-year-olds can name all four major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox."
The poll also asked what respondents’ favorite activities were. The number one answer? “That would be surfing the Internet, which 84% said they did during their idle periods.” By contrast, TV viewing got a 69 percent response. Their favorite TV Networks:? “Fox, Comedy Central, ABC, MTV and Cartoon Network.”
The article continued: “‘There's a massive movement going on in people under 30 and how they spend their media time,’ said Bolt President Lou Kerner, who once upon a time was a cable analyst on Wall Street before leaving to run TV.com and then Bolt. ‘Our audience spends lots of time on net, creating their own media.’"
Kerner believes this is a sign of a significant change in media usage habits:
If "The Da Vinci Code" was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank's worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning's 'Today' show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is "fiction." Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day "On The Road With The Code," was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
Chris Weinkopf writes at American Enterprise Institute Online that if Hollywood had made a movie about all of Islam being a sham, with a murderous sect that kills all those who try to reveal the true secret, the media would have denounced the movie as hate speech, sure to inflame the terrorists and defame a major world religion.
Imagine, if you can, a major studio releasing a thriller in which the stars investigate the origins of Islam. Pursued by a murderous Muslim cleric, they uncover a series of shocking discoveries: Mohammed was no prophet! The Koran is a hoax, the work of self-serving hypocrites! Modern-day Muslims are dupes, if not deranged psychopaths!
Now imagine, in the unlikely event such a film were ever made, what sort of reception it would get in the establishment media. Given the categorical refusal of the American press to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons, it's a safe bet that the talking heads and big newspapers would only mention the movie to denounce it.
Let's be clear: the Da Vinci Code portrays Christianity as a fraud and the Roman Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy. As Archbishop Angelo Amato, the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year recently stated, if "such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising."
Yet the Today show has decided to offer the movie, scheduled for release this week, untold millions in free advertising by devoting hours of, um, worshipful coverage to it, going so far as to send Matt Lauer to Europe for the week to be "On the Road with the Code."
Matt Lauer's trip to Paris, to go "On the Road With the Code," included a stop at the Louvre art museum on Tuesday, where the novel "The DaVinci Code" begins. In his interview with the Louvre's head curator this morning, he asked if the museum staff would be bothered that people came to see "the spot where Sauniere was murdered," as if it was a real human being, and not a figment of author Dan Brown's imagination. Is this a "news" show, or just an unpaid publicity arm for Sony and Brown?
Lauer did note that it was preposterous for Brown to suggest that a 76-year-old curator in the book would be marching around with a painting that was in real life too large for him to carry, 12 feet by 18 feet.
It must have been a dream come true for the folks at NBC, as well as all those associated with the long-time comedy variety show “Saturday Night Live.” Last night, NBC welcomed former vice president Al Gore to open the show posing as America’s president addressing the American people five years after having "overwhelmingly" won in 2000 (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). In reality, despite the obvious left-leaning bias, this was a good piece of comedy, with Gore doing a very fine job. Some of the highlights:
“In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.”
“Right now, in the 2nd week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash. I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because - hey if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.”
“On a positive note, we worked hard to save Welfare, fix Social Security and of course provide the free universal health care we all enjoy today. But all this came at a high cost. As I speak, the gigantic national budget surplus is down to a perilously low $11 trillion dollars.”
“There are some of you that want to spend our money on some made-up war. To you I say: what part of ‘lockbox’ don't you understand?”
“There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and divisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.”
What follows is a full transcript of this sketch courtesy of Crooks and Liars, and a video link courtesy of Expose the Left.
NBC’s medical drama ER included more anti-war speeches last night, as the show’s writers killed off a character who used to work as a doctor at the Chicago hospital but has lately been serving as a National Guard medical officer in Iraq. One doctor railed against how the “whole war smell[s]...of right-wing cronyism,” while another complained the U.S. was spending “$6 billion a month in a war all the way across the world to kill a few more of the other kids who actually get to make it to their teens!” (See video)
Earlier this season, “Dr. Neela Rasgotra” railed against the war in a March 16 episode, as Brent Baker noted in an earlier post on NewsBusters. Her character had married “Dr. Michael Gallant” after Gallant had returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq.
Last night, the truck carrying Gallant and several other soldiers was blown up by a roadside bomb during the first few moments of the show, right after he tried in vain to save a soldier shot in an insurgent ambush. That left the rest of the show for the other characters to complain about the war as they learned of their friend’s death.
Apparently it's old news week at the broadcast networks. After hyping the year-old revelation
about the NSA's telephone record program, CBS has invited the Dixie
Chicks, the formerly popular country music group whose penchant for
spouting liberal platitudes alienated their fan base, to talk about
death threats they received in 2003.
Ostensibly, the purpose of the
on "60 Minutes" this Sunday is to promote a new
album, but the lead of CBS's online promotional piece about the
interview focuses entirely on three-year-old threats.There's apparently
an effort to "make news" here most likely, but it's so feeble as to be
Any person who cuts even a slightly bigger-than-average public profile has received death threats. Doing
a story on them is of questionable value; doing one on threats received
in 2003 can only be attributed to the fact that the Dixie Chicks are
liberal. Much-reviled conservative women like Linda Tripp or Katherine
Harris both received many death threats but were never granted
interviews with "60 Minutes" to talk about their experiences in a
Just to get things started on a Friday, "The Early Show" on CBS had a segment on Milwaukee's missing Alexis Patterson, who was something of a cause celebre a few years back for being the barely known black girl that proved the Only Missing White Girls Matter rule. But CBS used graphics for the story with the words "Without A Trace." Repeatedly.
While that may describe the Patterson case, they also ape the title of a hit CBS Thursday night program. What next? What CBS shows lend themselves most easily to cross-promotional graphic word play?
The easy list: Close to Home, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Out of Practice, Still Standing, Yes Dear.
The would-never-work list: Numb3rs, The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Okay, now I'm not a regular CBS entertainment watcher, but Hillary Profita on the CBS News "Public Eye" website explains how the "Without A Trace" feature is a follow-up from the Thursday night drama:
Thursday morning's Today contained a few pop-culture nuggets that revealed liberal media attitudes. As Kathryn Lopez noted on The Corner, in the 7:30 half hour, Katie Couric turned the "American Idol" chat into a peek at her feminist parenting habits (and once again, she plugged her love for Helen Reddy):
Couric: "Oh you're so hip. A lot of people expected Chris [Daughtry] to go all the way, but last night. He got sent packing although, you were so funny. I was playing Helen Reddy on my CD player yesterday."
Lauer: "I thought it was weird. I literally, I walked past her dressing room going out of here yesterday and Helen Reddy blaring on the, on the stereo. She's in the thing like this." [Snaps fingers]
Yesterday, NB's Megan McCormack noted the Oprah Winfrey web site asking viewers to tell show producers how CNN host Anderson Cooper has "encouraged you to make the world a better place." After word spread about it on the web, the solicitation soon disappeared, the NY Post (ht: TVNewser) notes:
But by late afternoon yesterday, the query had been mysteriously removed from the site.
And no one was saying who or why it had been pulled down.
"Anderson is coming on to talk about his book and it will air sometime [this month]," a CNN spokeswoman said.