New York Times TV critic Mike Hale fixed his gaze on the ABC show “Scandal” in Thursday’s paper, and the pull quote was “The affairs and conspiracies never end for a miracle worker.”
But then Hale concluded by leaping off a deep end: the show’s lead character, the public-relations fixer (and presidential mistress) Olivia Pope is a version of Jesus, and in fact better than Jesus, so who needs him anyway?
Stop the presses! Decadence dominated the publicity oozing out of the Cannes Film Festival in France. The festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or (or Golden Palm) went to “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which drew most of its buzz from an explicit ten-minute lesbian sex scene.
This, apparently, was art, not pornography. The Cannes jury headed by Steven Spielberg took the unprecedented step of insisting that the movie’s two stars be included as Palme award recipients. New York magazine’s Vulture blog cooed these awards were the festival’s “Most Pleasant Progressive Surprise.”
New York Times critic Mike Hale’s review of an HBO documentary on the evils of guns, “Gun Fight,” is colored with his liberal perspective. Hale is never hesitant to work in his liberal political opinions into his reviews. He clearly favors left-wing public affairs series like Frontline, and has embraced European-style nationalized health care as clearly superior to the U.S. version (until Obama-care, anyway).
Barbara Kopple’s engrossing, frustrating documentary “Gun Fight” -- it’s not liable to inspire happy thoughts in people on either side of the gun-control debate -- begins with eerie cellphone video footage taken during the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007, and the aftermath of that rampage provides the film’s emotional ballast.
Ms. Kopple, who in the past has demonstrated her sympathies for labor unions (“Harlan County U.S.A.” and “American Dream,” both Oscar winners) and the Dixie Chicks (“Shut Up and Sing”), gives plenty of time in “Gun Fight” to people who believe that the limits on an American’s right to own and carry a gun should be few or none. ....
In a Thursday New York Times appreciation of CBS producer Don Hewitt, television writer Mike Hale avoided the whole concept of liberal bias in the work of Hewitt or his creation, 60 Minutes. Instead, Hale suggested that in threading the needle between an "increasingly radicalized" audience and stuffy advertisers, CBS and Hewitt created a "kinder, gentler, more conservative take" for 60 Minutes than controversy-stoking British and Canadian shows that inspired it. (Hewitt represented "cautious CBS News values, the kind exemplified by that other recently deceased titan, Walter Cronkite.")
How hard was it for CBS to be "more conservative" than the Canadians? Consider this brief explanation of the "slyly subversive" film Mills of the Gods: Viet Nam, produced for the TV show that inspired CBS: "Working without a script, [filmmaker Beryl] Fox went to Vietnam with portable equipment and shot two kinds of cinema verite footage: placid images of the ordinary life of the Vietnamese peasantry and shocking images of the war’s carnage and destruction as wrought by sometimes disturbingly cheerful American pilots and soldiers." These were then edited together for propaganda impact.
Given the paper's unfair treatment of his Fox News show, it comes as no surprise the New York Times didn't much approve of talk show host and provocateur Glenn Beck's recent simulcast comedy show, which aired from Kansas City and over 400 theatres around the country.
The criticism came in an Arts Beat blog post (hat tip Hot Air) by Times critic Mike Hale, "Glenn Beck, Simulcasting Discontent." Hale is clearly far more at home when praising left-wing Frontline documentaries for PBS, where he showed his eagerness for Euro-style socialized medicine to supplant the American system's "high-costs" and "failure."
Before starting his performance Thursday night at the Midland Theater in Kansas City, Mo., which was simulcast to more than 440 movie houses around the country, Glenn Beck walked over to the camera, waved, and acknowledged the critic for The New York Times. The poor guy was in a theater somewhere in New York, Mr. Beck said, "all by himself."
Actually, at that moment I was one of eight people watching at the Clearview Chelsea Cinema, a number that would grow to 14 and hold there until almost the end of the show. (More on that later.) Not for the last time that night, Mr. Beck -- the comedian, Fox News host and suddenly hot spokesman for American populist discontent -- was hazy on the specifics but shrewdly aware of where his listeners were.
The small group that braved West 23rd Street was audibly pro-Beck, laughing at the same times as the capacity audience in Kansas City and occasionally saying something in menacing tones about the Federal Reserve or the progressive income tax. Being the critic, I didn't cheer or heckle, but I did yell at the screen once, something I don't think I'd ever done in a movie theater. It was 50 minutes in, when Mr. Beck announced that he was taking a 15-minute break and coming back for the second half of the show. "You've got to be kidding me!" was out of my mouth before I knew what was happening.