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Ed Driscoll

Hollywood, Interrupted

“Oh, God, while the Sony situation isn’t funny George Clooney’s reaction to it certainly is,” Moe Lane writes. “Well, not Good Funny.  This is Bad Funny… anyway, let’s go over who Clooney blames, shall we?”

As Moe notes, between the media, trial lawyers, movie executives and Obama,”That’s… a large cross-section of the Establishment Democrats’ supporters up there, huh?”

We’re just missing the academics, Big Labor, and Big Green.*  George Clooney thinks of all of these people as being a bunch of cowards, which is certainly true; but what he’s apparently not getting (while sounding like quite the fire-eating Republican on this issue, might I add) is that they didn’t become cowards overnight. This is, in fact, pretty much reflective of the standard operation procedure that’s been adopted by the Other Side over the last few decades; and forgive me for saying this, but that’s why they were targeted. Nobody over there wanted to fight.

Alternate headline: Man who made film declaring fighting communism a witch hunt wakes up one day to discover that there actually are real Capital-C Communists in the world. And they’re very bad people. Even worse than the inhabitants of film studio boardrooms. (And that’s saying something.)

* Clooney’s most hilarious pro-environmental statement was in 2011, when promoting his vanity film The Ides of March with his fellow leftists at the L.A. Times said that he wanted to see the internal combustion engine banned by executive fiat, so to speak:

“If we’re cut off from oil, we will find a way to power our cars. So say it and make it happen,” Clooney said. “It’s not ridiculous. It is possible. And these are the kind of leadership things I would love to see and could be argued about. People will say, ‘It’s just actors.’ But I truly believe it.”

This from the man who owns a Lexus, a Carrera, and a ’59 Corvette. Of course, to paraphrase something Virginia Postrel once said to Brian Lamb, North Korea’s start-from-zero let ‘em eat grass and ride bicycles basket-case economy is a Hollywood environmental fascist’s dream come true. One in which, Kim Jong-un always gets the final cut, in every way imaginable.

Hey, it’s not like they were on the Axis of Evil of anything:

North Korea has similarly denied the massive hack of Sony Pictures, which has been forced to cancel next week’s planned release of “The Interview,” a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But KCNA applauded the attack.

“The hacking into the SONY Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK,” it said, using the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The hacking is so fatal that all the systems of the company have been paralyzed, causing the overall suspension of the work and supposedly a huge ensuing loss.”

Experts point to several signs of North Korean involvement. They say there are similarities between the malware used in the Sony hack and previous attacks against South Korea. Both were written in Korean, an unusual language in the world of cybercrime.

“Unfortunately, it’s a big win for North Korea. They were able to get Sony to shut down the picture. They got the U.S. government to admit that North Korea was the source of this and there’s no action plan really, at least publicly no action plan, in response to it,” said Cha. “I think from their perspective, in Pyongyang, they’re probably popping the champagne corks.”

I didn’t see the segment, but my wife was telling me that when she caught a few minutes of CNN while having lunch with some business associates today, everyone the network interviewed was angry with Sony (this was before news of Paramount knuckling under as well) for capitulating to North Korean demands to censor their media. Which seems rather paradoxical, given that, as is their wont with any socialist dictator*, CNN gave in to North Korean censorship long ago:

And let’ss not forget this infamous 2005 segment with the network’s goofy far left founder. Ted Turner red-lined the Godwin meter in interviews when he learned that Fox News was launching in the mid-1990s. But when faced with a 21st century national socialist regime, he was quite happy to sing their praises, the very definition of the phrase “useful idiot”:

* Foreign and domestic.

But then, it’s not like most MSM outlets don’t have a similarly huge mote in their eye on the issue of choosing self-censorship over advancing the First Amendment:

Update: From Ace, “What Exactly Has North Korea Done That Progressives Don’t Do Every Single Day?”

A professor blogged a criticism of a teaching assistant, who’d discussed gay marriage in her classroom, but then shut down all dissent, claiming dissent to be illegitimate (per his claim).

Result? The university is “investigating” him and has suspended him from all teaching duties.

Ace’s headline resonates particularly strongly here in California, where Sacramento’s first impulse is to ban everything. Not to mention at CNN, which has a pretty strong ban everything instinct as well. As does MSNBC, where “Lawrence O’Donnell probably would have pulled ‘The Interview’ too,” his associate Chris Hayes tweeted tonight.

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Come on, man,” Ed Morrissey implores. Paramount bans showings of Team America: World Police in place of The Interview”:

Oh, the irony. After Sony cancelled the release of The Interview, a few theaters declared that they would show the 2004 hit Team America: World Police in its place as a protest against threats to free expression. That film also derided the government of North Korea, as well as the liberal Hollywood establishment that catered to anti-American despots in what was a prescient (if irreverent and very R-rated) satire.

As if to emphasize the latter critique, two cinemas have announced that Paramount Pictures has forbidden them to show the film publicly:

According to IMDB, Team America, while distributed by Paramount, was produced by Scott Rudin, the embattled (and uber-manic) Sony Pictures executive being eaten alive by the North Korean hacking scandal.  I wonder if he put in a frantic call to Paramount to have Team America banned as a substitute for the latest anti-North Korean movie whose production he led. (If so, the Norks will likely let us know in their next round of hacks.)

A few years ago, when TCM or AMC reran Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s Road to Morocco, a 1942 Paramount production, I remember thinking, it’s a good thing this film is grandfathered in, as there’s no way Hollywood would make this movie today, in today’s leftwing hypersensitive, comedy-killing “multicultural” era. That iteration of Paramount was made of sterner stuff — but who knew that the 2004 version of Paramount was as well?

A couple of years after Team America snuck past Paramount’s leftwing censors, Mark Steyn had Hollywood’s number down pat: “Hollywood prefers to make ‘controversial’ films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won”:

Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Thirties but they were serious about their leftism. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Seventies but they were serious about their outrage at what was done to the lefties in the McCarthy era — though they might have been better directing their anger at the movie-industry muscle that enforced the blacklist. By comparison, Clooney’s is no more than a pose — he’s acting at activism, new Hollywood mimicking old Hollywood’s robust defense of even older Hollywood. He’s more taken by the idea of “speaking truth to power” than by the footling question of whether the truth he’s speaking to power is actually true.

That’s why Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pinup: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.

A KNOWN WOMAN These films are “transgressive” mostly in the sense that Transamerica is transsexual. I like Felicity Huffman and all, and I’m not up to speed with the latest strictures on identity-group casting, but isn’t it a bit condescending to get a lifelong woman (or whatever the expression is) to play a transsexual? If Hollywood announced Al Jolson would be playing Martin Luther King Jr., I’m sure Denzel Washington & Co. would have something to say about it. Were no transsexual actresses available for this role? I know at least one, personally, and there was a transsexual Bond girl in the late Roger Moore era who looked incredibly hot, albeit with a voice several octaves below Paul Robeson. What about that cutie with the very fetching Adam’s apple from The Crying Game? And, just as Transamerica’s allegedly unconventional woman is a perfectly conventional woman underneath, so the entire slate of Oscar nominees is, in a broader sense, a phalanx of Felicity Huffmans. That’s to say, they’re dressing up daringly and flouncing around as controversy, but underneath they’re simply the conventional wisdom. Indeed, “Transamerica” would make a good name for Hollywood’s view of its domestic market — a bizarro United States run by racists and homophobes and a poodle media in thrall to the administration.

And nearly a decade later, that’s still how, in its heart of hearts, Hollywood would prefer to view America:

 


A few months ago, John Nolte of Big Hollywood was excoriated by the left for daring to predict that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO would eventually ban DVD sales or streaming of Blazing Saddles. But he was certainly on to something: Hollywood likely doesn’t want to admit that its earlier executives were made of much stronger stuff than those running the town now.

Update: At the Washington Free Beacon, Sonny Bunch documents the “Signposts of a Broken Culture:”

Think about this for a second. What we are saying—nay, what we have accepted, as a society—is a situation in which a totally blameless third party would be held responsible for the evil committed by an irresponsible actor. Sony and the theater chains are being punished for the mere potential of a terror attack against them.

I joked with a friend that tort reform immediately became my number one concern for 2016. He pointed out, rightly, that this is a much larger issue. Tort reform? That’s just futzing around at the edges. Our problem runs much, much deeper than concerns over insurance costs for doctors. Our true problem is that, again, we have accepted, as a society, that it’s okay to sue a party for the bad behavior of a second party even if the first party has no role whatsoever in the malfeasance.

“This is also totally and completely bonkers,” Bunch writes, before concluding that “We made this world. [Sony's] just living with the rules we adopted.” I’m not sure who “we” is, but I do know the top five list of Obama donors in 2012 include both Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks, and Steve Mostyn, “a Houston-based personal injury attorney.” We now know which industry blinked first in that equation.

‘Pretend Mel Gibson Is Roman Polanski’

December 17th, 2014 - 3:19 pm

“3 Ways The Biblical Blockbuster Can Get Its Groove Back,” as proffered by Hans Fiene at the Federalist:

I know, I know. Nobody in Hollywood wants to touch him. I know he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and said some reprehensible things about Jewish people. But remember what Mel Gibson accomplished in 2004. He took a cast of mostly no-name actors, had them speak exclusively in Hebrew and Aramaic, and made the highest grossing R-rated film in U.S. history.

More importantly, he made an absurdly Catholic film, and all the Pope-hating Protestants in the country poured into their church buses and made pilgrimages to the local multiplex to see it. Seriously, “The Passion of the Christ” is the cinematic equivalent of a two-hour, spurting crucifix, and the same people who won’t even walk into sanctuaries with the corpse of Jesus carved onto a cross rewarded him with $370 million domestic.

So if you want to achieve “Passion”-level results at the box office, you need to get over your aversion to Gibson and hire a man who has both the trust of Christian audiences and the cinematic talent necessary for such a feat. But how do you forgive his unforgivable transgressions? Easy, just pretend he’s Roman Polanski, the critically acclaimed director who hasn’t stepped foot on U.S. soil since fleeing sentencing for six sexual assault related charges in 1977.

Polanksi hasn’t had a hard time getting work after his indiscretions. He’s directed eleven feature films since then, and notable actors such as Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, and Kate Winslet have had no moral objection to working with him. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences even gave him a Best Director Oscar, along with a standing ovation. in 2003. So if giving work to Mel Gibson makes you feel a little ill because of the unforgiveable speech that spewed forth from his drunken lips, just pretend that he did something far more pardonable, like Roman Polanski did.

If your conscience can’t handle employing a man who said some anti-Semitic words a decade ago, just pretend that he drugged and sodomized a 13-year-old girl instead, and that should put you at ease when you sign the contract.

Or heck Hollywood, just pretend Mel’s a film executive at Sony, and everything’s golden, right?

‘This Is Cyberwar, Not Tabloid Fodder’

December 17th, 2014 - 2:54 pm

OK, to be fair, modern Hollywood has beclowned itself so badly in the post-9/11 era, that there is a weird kabuki-like performance art to the whole North Korea-versus Hollywood story, but as Abe Greenwald writes at Commentary, “The Sony hacking story has largely been treated as a juicy showbiz gossip scandal. We’re probably going to regret that:”

If North Korea is behind the computer hacks and threats to terrorize theaters showing The Interview, it confirms a new era of rogue-state terrorism, one for which there’s no counterterrorism blueprint. According to the New York Times, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema has killed its scheduled New York premier of the anti-Kim Jong-un comedy. The Hollywood Reporter says that the country’s top five theater chains have pulled out of showing the film. Time says the movie’s stars, James Franco and Seth Rogen, have called off their publicity tour. A spate of film executives are backpedaling for their lives as their emails are picked through and published to viral derision. The Times’s Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes write that the theater threat “opens a new range of worry for Hollywood.”

As Allahpundit adds at Hot Air, “Rarely do you see a terrorist victory quite this total. Bow down, America:”

I hope our fearless leadership in Washington is preparing some form of retaliation, cyber or otherwise, for the NorKs for terrorizing an American industry into submission. By dropping the film under pressure, the theaters are making the same concession that newspapers made in refusing to publish the Mohammed cartoons, replacing the free-speech norms of American culture with the norms of a more illiberal one. Going forward, with respect to North Korea at least, Hollywood will follow North Korean rules for what can and can’t be said. That can’t stand. And it’s a disgrace that Obama hasn’t said so already.

Speaking of retaliation, this is a nice idea but fraught with problems. Imagine being a North Korean peasant who picks up a DVD of “The Interview” that he found on the ground, brings it back to his home having no idea what it is, and then gets a surprise visit from the NorK gestapo, who find the disc on his kitchen table. What happens to that guy? There has to be a better way to strike back. This is one, especially if Sony makes the download free.

Update (Allahpundit): North Korea’s GDP as of 2011 was $40 billion. Sony’s market cap today is $22 billion. Seems like a reasonably evenly matched virtual fight. Why doesn’t Sony build its own cyberarmy and counter if the feds won’t?

Update (Allahpundit): What’d I just say about following North Korean rules?

The chilling effect of the Sony Pictures Hacking and terror threats against The Interview are reverberating. New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher’s Steve Carell. It’s a paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad and it was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward. The location won’t be transplanted.

Jihadi hackers would be nuts not to try this the next time a war movie is in the works. In hindsight, it’s amazing Zero Dark Thirty made it to the screen.

Oh sure, ISIS and the Iranians are great at headchopping and blowing stuff up, but they don’t have the technological know-how to pull off serious Neo-in-the-Matrix-level corporate database hacking cyberwar activities, right? Which brings us back to Abe Greenwald at Commentary:

In February, hackers laid digital waste to Sheldon Adelson’s Sands casino, forcing the Sands to temporarily disconnect from the Internet. It was a massive undertaking that wiped out or compromised millions of files. Bloomberg reports that “recovering data and building new systems could cost the company $40 million or more” (a figure coincidently close to the $44 million Sony sunk into The Interview). Why did hackers target Adelson? The cyberterrorists who hit him call themselves the “Anti-WMD Team.” They are based in Iran, and claim retaliation for Adelson’s hawkish remarks about the Islamic Republic. Here’s the rub, via Bloomberg:

The security team couldn’t determine if Iran’s government played a role, but it’s unlikely that any hackers inside the country could pull off an attack of that scope without its knowledge, given the close scrutiny of Internet use within its borders. “This isn’t the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing,” says James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

So, if the evidence is pointing in the right direction, dictatorships are tanking our enterprise, holding us hostage, and essentially turning us into their offshore subjects.

And thus we come full circle with our opening Tweet:

It’s hard to imagine worse people than today’s Hollywood executives and actors, but North Korean, Iranian and Cuban terrorists all qualify. And our semi-retired president, in full YOLO mode, is negotiating with at least two thirds of those monsters. Sleep tight, America.

Actually only the first three words of Ed Morrissey headline at The Week are really necessary when it comes to anything involving the pedantic Hollywood archleftist. As Ed writes, “The famed screenwriter is unhappy that news outlets are publishing emails leaked by hackers. But that’s what the media do:”

Sorkin, for his part, argued that the leaked material had no real news value, unlike the leaks from the Edward Snowden cache or the Pentagon Papers. Sony isn’t a government or Enron, he pointed out, but a movie studio, and nothing of what was stolen and published had any social or cultural value, appealing only to the prurient and the nosy.

In this, Sorkin landed a clean punch — but perhaps he was too much on target. His essay could easily be taken for an argument against the existence of Variety altogether. After all, Variety doesn’t cover governments or the Enrons of the world. What exactly is Variety supposed to cover, if not news about the studios and celebrities, the appetite for which can be best described as prurience and nosiness?

For that matter, the entertainment industry hardly rises to Sorkin’s stated standards, despite his best efforts. He fulminated about a NATO-type treaty among studios and unions to lobby Congress for some kind of action to defend against an attack on “one of America’s largest exports.” Sony Entertainment is a subsidiary of the Japanese corporation, of course, so it’s not exactly an American export. And if the American film industry as a whole is so important that it requires Congress to protect it, then suddenly we’re back to grounds that it is newsworthy, and that Variety and other media outlets are correct to exercise scrutiny whenever possible.

There is also a hint of double standards in Sorkin’s outrage. If the Rudin-Pascal email exchange had taken place at another corporation — say, Walmart or Koch Industries — would Sorkin have objected to a hack that exposed it, and media coverage about the exchange? Or would it have been just great journalism, as long as it didn’t gore Sorkin’s own ox?

Consider this: The IRS leaked confidential financial information about the National Organization for Marriage before the 2012 election, after which it ended up in the hands of its opponents, Human Rights Watch. It then got disseminated to media outlets, which published the data and damaged the conservative group’s operations during a political campaign. A similar leak struck the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose financial records also got published by a liberal outlet before the 2012 election.

On a public policy basis, as well as on the affront-to-American-values scale, those infractions should rank a little higher than the Sony hack. Yet Sorkin didn’t seem bothered by reporters following up on those leaks. Or perhaps I missed Sorkin’s call for Congress to take action against the IRS and its targeting of private conservative organizations.

Note that Sony’s op-ed ran in the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon era, but famously did everything it could to bury the Climategate scandal in November of 2009, as Alana Goodman wrote at Commentary:

Some may argue that it’s unfair to criticize [New York Times’ ‘environmental’ ‘reporter’ Andrew Revkin] for his private comments, and point out that none of these emails on its own could be characterized as an egregious ethical lapse. Maybe. But combined, they point to a pattern. There’s also this: Revkin was the same Times reporter who refused to publish the first trove of ClimateGate emails in 2009, claiming they were off-limits because they were “private” conversations (a standard the paper evidently hasn’t applied to other leaked documents). He also dismissed the scandal as meritless.

As one of the leading national environmental reporters, Revkin had a huge amount of influence over whether the ClimateGate controversy went anywhere. He ended up doing all he could to snuff it out. Should the fact that he wasn’t just involved in the emails, but also seemed to portray himself as an ideological ally to the scientists, raise ethical questions about the Times’ coverage of the first ClimateGate? I’d say so. And maybe Revkin’s departure from the news section one month after the emails leaked in 2009 means that, internally, the Times thought so as well.

As I wrote in November of 2009, Revkin’s motto back then seemed to be “All the News That’s Fit to Bury:”

Seeing as they each impact key pillars of what today passes for liberalism, there seems to be more than a few connections between the recent ACORN stings by Giles, O’Keefe and Breitbart, and the recent hacking of the emails of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, or “Global WarmingGate”, as Charlie Martin dubs it elsewhere at Pajamas. Not the least is that they each sent the legacy media into full gatekeeper mode, hoping to prevent exciting, important news of current events from ever reaching their readers. Or perhaps, like the scandal last year involving John Edwards, sitting on the stories for so long, while making claims that they have to endlessly research them to verify their authenticity — Keep rockin’! — that when the legacy media decides to go “public” with news that everyone already knows, they can dramatically dilute the ultimate impact of these stories.

And then the Times went on to ask its readers to crowdsource any revelations in Sarah Palin’s emails, confirming its biases, and what news the admittedly leftwing paper deems fit to print.

Related: While Sony’s Amy Pascal, who previously banished Mel Gibson to industry Siberia for his drunken anti-Semitic rants rushes to Al Sharpton in an effort to save her job (see also: Imus, Don), don’t miss the New York Post on Scott Rudin, her co chair, “The man known as Hollywood’s biggest a-hole.” And that’s saying something, given the industry baseline.

Alternate headline: Bill Cosby is heading into O.J. Simpson territory:

“Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind,” Cosby said.

The comedian, who is being represented by attorneys Martin Singer and John B. Schmitt, said he has been advised not to talk to reporters about the ongoing allegations. More than two dozen women have publicly claimed that the “Fat Albert” creator drugged and raped them.

The allegations span at least four decades, beginning in the 1960s.

The New York Post article goes on to note that pioneering black supermodel Beverly Johnson “alleges that Cosby put drugs in her cappuccino after he invited her to his New York brownstone to rehearse lines for an episode on his hit NBC television show,” which jibes with the quotes last month in the New York Daily News from Cosby’s network fixer during his tenure at NBC in the 1980s at the height of the legendary comedian’s career. Assuming the allegations are true, why on earth would someone at that ozone level of superstardom do such a thing, beyond the notion of droit du seigneur?

“Mel Gibson & Racist Emails: H’Wood’s Only Choice Is to Exile Pascal & Rudin,” John Nolte writes at Big Hollywood, noting that Sony Pictures and its chairwoman have come full circle:

Make no mistake, I’m not calling for anyone to be fired. This is just an observation on my part that, due to Pascal’s and Hollywood’s own standards, there really is no other choice but to fire her and exile Rudin.

Pascal was one of the first Hollywood executives to exile Mel Gibson after news of his drunken anti-Semitic rant became public in 2006. The rest of Hollywood soon followed. One of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, who also happened to be an Oscar-winning director, was ruined. And for the last eight years (there was another incident in 2010) Gibson has remained ruined.

Gibson’s rants sickened me. So too do the Pascal/Rudin emails that diminish a black man (forget he’s our President) to the color of his skin and mock him over it. Worse, the exchange reads like two mean girls getting together to feel better about themselves through the petty act of lording their superiority over someone else. In this case, it can be interpreted as racial superiority.

“Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” says Pascal, according to the reported e-mails. Rudin writes back: “12 YEARS.” Pascal responds: “Or the butler. Or think like a man?” Rudin: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

In a statement, Pascal said that the emails “are not an accurate reflection of who I am.”

I take her at her word. We all should. No one should be judged or defined by a single lapse of judgment.

Who Amy Pascal is as a person, though, is the not the issue here.

The issue is the message Hollywood sends to black America if racism hurled at a black man is forgiven when racism hurled at Jews is not.

As Nolte notes, “With the banishment of Mel Gibson, Hollywood set a standard. If that standard is broken for Pascal and Rudin, the message it sends to all of us, but most especially to black America, is unmistakable and inexcusable.”

The London Telegraph reports that Sony has suspended filming on numerous movie shoots (and other sources say all shoots) as a result of their recent hacking playing havoc with their ability to process payments, and adds this detail:

In an email to Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures, Scott Rudin, who made Moneyball and No Country for Old Men, described Angelina Jolie as a “minimally talented spoilt brat” who possessed a “rampaging ego”.

On the same day that the hacked exposed an email exchange, the actress came face to face with Pascal at a Hollywood event.

A stony-faced and stiff Jolie glared at Pascal who attempted to embrace her, at the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast on Wednesday.

John McCain never recovered in 2008 after he temporarily suspended his presidential campaign during the financial crisis of late September. Voters seemed to think he had given up his quest for the White House and permanently suspended his campaign. Perhaps Sony should consider permanently suspending its film business in the wake of this scandal.

Though for the first time and only time, I can’t wait to read what Maureen Dowd has to say about this topic…

Update: As always, Steve Green asks the important questions:

Since 9/11, Hollywood has increasingly rejected American audiences for the larger market overseas, hence their ubiquitous preteen-oriented zillion dollar 3D CGI-laden superhero movies. As Mark Steyn wrote last year, “Hollywood is now approaching the condition of Broadway in the ‘abominable showman’ David Merrick’s dotage: The shows are boring but the backstage machinations preserve the glamour a while longer.”

Since their product has put much of America on the sidelines, and we’re no longer active consumers of pop culture, pass the popcorn; sprinkle plenty of schadenfreude on top.

Certainly as a director, Lou Lumenick writes in the New York Post:

Robert Wise, the editor of “Kane” and “Ambersons,” says in an archival interview in “Magician” that RKO fruitlessly pleaded with Welles to come back and make changes after a disastrous test screening of “Ambersons.”

“Welles might have been spoiled by the total control he had in both radio and theater,” says the documentary’s director, Chuck Workman. “He went to Hollywood at a time where directors were not necessarily the final arbiter of their films, and what he wanted was not in sync with what the money men wanted.”

While Welles was still in demand in Hollywood as an actor for films like “Jane Eyre,” no one trusted him to direct another film until the independently produced thriller “The Stranger” (1946) — Welles’ one and only box-office hit as a filmmaker.

Welles managed to blow whatever goodwill he had in Tinseltown after Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn took a chance on him to direct “The Lady From Shanghai” the following year.

Not only was this beautifully filmed (but narratively inscrutable) noir the first flop starring the studio’s top star, Rita Hayworth — but Welles perversely turned Hollywood’s most famous redhead (also his ex) into a blonde for the role, further enraging Cohn.

Except for a Poverty Row production of “Macbeth” (that Republic Pictures had to redub because Welles insisted on thick Scottish accents), Welles didn’t work again in Hollywood a decade.

That take certainly jibes with earlier Welles biographer, the late Charles Higham. In the conclusion of his 1985 tome on Welles, published just weeks before its subject’s death at age 70, the veteran biographer offered a simple and concise summation of why Welles’ services as a director went unwanted in Hollywood after RKO rescinded his license to kill in the early 1940. In an era before VCRs, DVDs, 500-channel cable and satellite TV and Netflix, there was no ancillary market for movies — they had to make their money at the box office, and a director who flopped as spectacularly as Welles was not a welcome man. And Welles’ films, visually stunning as they were at their best, simply didn’t make money. Hitchcock, John Ford, Michael Curtiz and Frank Capra were bankable directors; Welles was not. (Apologies for any errors in the following passage introduced while transcribing it):

It is axiom in the commercial cinema that the central figure of any work must be a human being with whom the mass audience can identify. He or she has to be likable, attractive, desirable, even when capable of villainy; he or she must speak the language of the people. Scriptwriters of proven commercial worth have deliberately tailored their scripts to the specific needs of stars so as not to extend their range too far, and the stars themselves more often than not make further alterations to suit their personalities. Yet so relentlessly has Welles worked against the commercial grain that he has even dared to make the central figures of his films unsympathetic.

In Citizen Kane, Welles created a selfish heartless tycoon who is destroyed spiritually by his own greed and ambition. Americans could have comfortably accepted a rogue or a pirate of this sort, but someone who was haunted by agonizing visions of lost innocence alienated and confused the mass audience for decades. In The Magnificent Ambersons, Welles portrayed an impudent, bad-tempered puppy of a man, George Minafer, who disrupted the life of a small town; this charmless creature proved impossible to identify with in an age of heroes of the caliber of Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. The other protagonist of the story, Aunt Fanny, was the sort of figure usually made fun of in American films: the tortured virgin spinster who hopelessly sets her cap for a man she cannot have. Contemporary audiences laughed at Aunt Fanny, whose misery failed to touch a chord in the American heart.

Citizen Kane lost well over $100,000. The Magnificent Ambersons lost more than half a million. Following his failure to finish It’s All True, Welles attempted a comeback with The Stranger, a movie in which the protagonist was a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small American town. Again it was impossible for the audience to identify with such a person; the war was only just over, and there were few families that had not been affected by it. The Lady From Shanghai had as its hero a liberal sailor who had supported the loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War — and many Americans knew that people like that were Communist sympathizers. The making of Rita Hayworth, reigning sex goddess of the American screen, into a murderess further alienated the public.

Shakespeare has never been box office in America, so Welles’s Shakespearean trilogy sank without a trace. Ironically, while the films he directed were failing, Welles himself was highly bankable as an actor and public personality, much as he is today. In Europe, Welles’s discipline disintegrated, and he lost control of his career. As his waistline grew, his career shriveled; it was almost as though eating and drinking were substitutes for creativity.

Sadly, Welles could have been transformed himself into a sort of father figure to the easy riders and raging bulls of the 1970s New Hollywood era, but he was far too dissipated by that stage to serve as a workaday mainstream director. Or as George Orwell once wrote, “A man may take to drink because he feels himself a failure, but then fail all the more completely because he drinks.” Lumenick notes that of Welles’ six abandoned ’70s-era films, The Other Side of the Wind, which starred John Huston, another larger-than-life director-actor-raconteur, as Welles’ onscreen stand-in is being readied for Cannes next year in honor of the centennial of Welles’ birth.  Having seen clips of it, I’m not sure if anyone should get their hopes up that this will be Welles’ long-lost masterpiece, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

Thanks to yeoman work by John Nolte of Breitbart.com’s Big Hollywood (and to think I knew him when), “The Lena Dunham story has finally hit the mainstream media (not counting rogue blogs like ours),” Eugene Volokh writes today. Naturally, Time magazine circles the wagons, switching reflexively into postmodern Fake But Accurate mode and responding, “It’s unclear, however, how a reporter could hope to validate or invalidate something that happened behind closed doors a decade ago,” which would news to an MSM that once castigated Mitt Romney and George Bush for their actions decades ago as young men. (And then deliberately chose to airbrush John Kerry and Mr. Obama’s youthful indiscretions in 2004 and 2008, of course.) Fortunately, Volokh, now adding a smidgen of much-needed sanity to the Washington Post, punches back:

Second, the inaccuracy of some details that a person gives does cast doubt on the accuracy of other details. Of course, even honest people make mistakes. Of course, it’s eminently possible that all the other details Dunham gives are accurate, and the only thing that was fictionalized was the name. Of course, more generally, that a person who says she has been raped makes a slight mistake as to one detail doesn’t that she’s lying about other details that relate to the alleged rapist’s identity or actions.

Yet ultimately, when we — as journalists, as readers, as jurors — judge the credibility of sources, often the only way we can tell what happened “behind closed doors” is precisely by looking at how accurate and candid the witness has been as to other matters. An error or an unacknowledged falsification doesn’t categorically, automatically invalidate everything else a person is saying. But it does shed some light on the degree of trust we should place in that person.

To casually dismiss an investigation — an investigation that actually succeeded in getting a publisher to correct a statement — on the grounds that the investigation couldn’t directly verify another aspect of a story is, it seems to me, to miss this basic point about journalism, and about truth-seeking more broadly. I hope this attitude expressed by the Time writer is not characteristic of newspaper and magazine writers more broadly.

As the late Sen. Pat Moynihan once told an interviewer, “Hannah Arendt had it right. She said one of the great advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.” Perhaps Time magzine, until very recently a namesake component of the giant Time-Warner-CNN-HBO conglomerate still suffers from corporate Stockholm syndrome and wants to circle the wagons to protect the HBO brand name. But it’s more likely that any chance that someone on the right could be correct about a story must be tamped down and rendered anathema.

And while modified limited hangouts can buy time, we’ve all seen this movie before — and it rarely ends well for the person at the eye of the hurricane.

Related: Time alumnist Michael Walsh on “Rolling Stone and Journalism 101.” Or as Michael writes, “When in doubt, don’t.” Sounds like journalistic advice that Rolling Stone, Dunham, Random House and Time should have all taken to heart in recent months.

Time-Warner-CNN-HBO’s Ticking Time-bomb

December 8th, 2014 - 12:36 pm

“Rolling Stone magazine revises apology on UVA rape story,” CNN writes:

One of the major criticisms of Rolling Stone is that the reporter did not seek comment from the men Jackie says raped her.

The updated apology says Rolling Stone honored a request from Jackie, a pseudonym, not to interview the men because she feared retaliation.

“We should have not made this agreement with Jackie, and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story,” said the updated apology written by Dana. “These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.”

The updated apology mentions discrepancies in Jackie’s account that have already been reported by The Washington Post and other news outlets.

Notice the first sentence in that quote. “One of the major criticisms of Rolling Stone is that the reporter did not seek comment from the men Jackie says raped her.” CNN may well be using a variant of it at some point in the future regarding a fellow employee at the Time-Warner-CNN-HBO mega-conglomerate. In the meantime, as J. Christian Adams writes, there’s “Media Silence on Lena Dunham Rape Questions:”

In Manhattan’s publishing industry, where magazines like Glamour, Vogue, and Marie Claire treat Dunham as some sickening combination of Madonna and Rosa Parks, there is probably hardly a soul aware that [John Nolte of Big Hollywood] has wrecked Dunham’s story.

Even if a few are aware, truth and falsehood in those quarters comes by the identity of the speaker.  If conservative new media wrecks Dunham’s veracity, it will take weeks for the New York publishing world to acknowledge it, if then.

Here’s Barry’s challenge. If Dunham is lying about Barry, then she has made a false and defamatory publication. A significant legal issue is whether her publication was indeed about the potential plaintiff, Barry. She doesn’t provide Barry’s full name. Instead she provides outlandish details, such as Barry having a Rollie Fingers-style mustache and cowboy boots on a campus where most people look like David Van Driessen, the teacher in Beavis and Butthead:

Barry will have to demonstrate that Dunham’s allegations could reasonably only mean him. Since Dunham provided just enough information to out Barry while at the same time including just enough puffery to make Barry look clownish on a liberal campus, Dunham may have opened herself up to liability.

If she were smart, she might consider offering an apology of Rolling Stone proportions before Barry hounds her for the next few years in a federal courtroom.

In the meantime, conservative L.A. street artist “Sabo” is on the case:

I wonder if CNN will run an article or TV feature on Sabo’s poster this week — and if so, what if any of Nolte’s reporting will be referenced, likely without mentioning — or interviewing — him?

Update: “Entertainment Sites Ignore Lena Dunham’s Rape Story Investigation,” Christian Toto writes at Hollywood in Toto. Their coverage — if any — of the Sabo poster will certainly be…interesting.

More: Random House works to defuse their own time-bomb: “Random House Goes for Quick Payoff, Clears ‘Barry One.’”

“Will Dunham herself apologize to Barry One? Random House might have published the memoir, but it was Dunham who, for whatever reason, pointed her powerful finger at an innocent man,” Nolte asks.

Fabiola Has Left the Building

December 5th, 2014 - 8:18 pm

“Belgium’s former Queen Fabiola has died at the age of 86 at Stuyvenbergh Castle,” the London Daily Mail reports:

A statement from the palace today said: ‘Their majesties the King and Queen and the members of the royal family announce with great sadness the death of Her Majesty Queen Fabiola in Brussels this evening.’

Foreign minister Didier Reynders said all Belgians would mourn her passing. ‘A page in our country’s history has turned,’ he told Belgium’s RTL television. 

King Philippe of Belgium said he was left with ‘great sadness’ when he heard of the death of his aunt.

“She became queen of Belgium when she married King Baudouin in 1960,” the Daily Mail adds. Which probably explains the name of the character played by Mel Brooks in one of his zany interviews with Carl Reiner on their epochal 1961 comedy album much better known for launching the legendary 2000 Year Old Man:

(Tell the truth, you only linked to this story for an excuse to embed the Brooks and Reiner skit, right?–Ed. But of course!)

A series of articles chart the latest news from the frontlines in the war of the sexes. First up, from late last month, Bob Tyrrell, the founder of the American Spectator, writes, “So this is how the Sexual Revolution is ending:”

It is not ending with the Sexual Utopians of yesteryear shouting “Oh Joy” and extolling the therapeutic orgasm, which was to bring happiness to Americans from every walk of life. It is ending with gangs of angry women—some well into their seventies, some with grandchildren—recalling sexual assaults that allegedly took place up to half a century ago. They are aggrieved. They are angry. Some still burst into tears. And their alleged assailant, in this case the avuncular 77-year-old Bill Cosby, is pictured on the front page of the Washington Post in sullen denial.

Also on the front page of the Post is more evidence of the Sexual Revolution’s unanticipated expiry. The University of Virginia is suspending all fraternities, even sororities, because of libidinous excess among its students. Specifically a gang rape is supposed to have taken place two years ago in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. The university did not respond in any way. Apparently this is the way the university has responded to charges of sexual assault for decades. A middle-aged woman is quoted as saying that she was assaulted on campus in the early 1980s but did not bother to bring the incident to the university’s attention. The university’s lack of concern for such complaints was widely known even then.

Two stories of sexual assault, one relating the alleged assaults committed by a Hollywood icon at the dawn of the Sexual Revolution, the other relating a tale of alleged rape that was perpetrated two years ago, both in different stories on a major newspaper’s front page—I submit the Sexual Revolution is dead. Yet what will replace it? The Sexual Utopians’ beliefs are still around. Their promises of sexual hygiene, libidinous bliss, and, of course, their claptrap about the citizenry’s right to sexual satisfaction is enshrined in every sex ed curriculum in the country. Thus in early high school or perhaps even grammar school you have the harmless innocence of sex being taught, along with birth control cleanliness. Yet by the time a student gets to college the harmless innocence of sex has turned grisly: there are lectures on sexual harassment and there is rape counseling. Suddenly, sex is no fun. Possibly it is even unhealthy.

Could it be that the Sexual Utopians were wrong all along? Could it be that morality plays a role in sex? The male sex drive is usually aggressive and needs to be tempered. The female sex drive exists, but she has a right to say no, to change the subject, even to enjoy sex in a moral setting, for instance in marriage.

If, as Tyrrell speculates, the sexual revolution is over, perhaps it’s time, as Milo Yiannopoulos writes at Breitbart London for “The Sexodus” to begin, with “The Men Giving Up On Women And Checking Out Of Society:”

Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding. To radical feminists, who have been the driving force behind many tectonic societal shifts in recent decades, that’s a sign of success: they want to tear down the institutions and power structures that underpin society, never mind the fall-out. Nihilistic destruction is part of their road map.

But, for the rest of us, the sight of society breaking down, and ordinary men and women being driven into separate but equal misery, thanks to a small but highly organised group of agitators, is distressing. Particularly because, as increasing numbers of social observers are noticing, an entire generation of young people—mostly men—are being left behind in the wreckage of this social engineering project.

Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish lad culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement.

You can hardly blame them. Cruelly derided as man-children and crybabies for objecting to absurdly unfair conditions in college, bars, clubs and beyond, men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: ridiculed as basement-dwellers for avoiding aggressive, demanding women with unrealistic expectations, or called rapists and misogynists merely for expressing sexual interest.

How bad is it for today’s men? Yesterday, PJM’s own Dr. Helen spotted an expectant Washington State mother asking in a recent Seattle Weekly column, “A daughter would need to know how to protect herself from sexism and fight injustice. But a son does not require this protection, and his privilege allows him to ignore injustice—or think that he can ignore it. But sexism is still a threat to him, in that he could very well become a perpetrator of it.”

His mother-to-be is pondering all this while her future son is still in the womb. As Dr. Helen responds, the author is “already pre-judging her unborn child and has him pegged as a potential perp before he is even born — and she thinks it is girls who suffer from sexism:”

Hopefully, this woman will at least be narcissistic enough to protect her son from the more likely cases where injustice will be brought against him by a misandric society that sees men and boys as disposable, but that might be asking too much from a woman who hates men and baby boys as much as she seems to. His start in life is to a woman who already harbors hatred of his sex. How will this affect him as he goes through life? How many thousands or millions of young boys have dealt with the same hatred or are dealing with the same psychological and cultural bias against them in this society? Probably a lot.

How much pain and angst has been brought to men and boys because of hatred and bias like this from women who dislike them? Thirty-thousand men commit suicide a year; maybe women like the author mentioned are one of the reasons boys see themselves and their sex as disposable. Why does this woman want to add fuel to the fire? What if her harboring sexism causes him to think something is wrong with him his whole life and causes depression because she is the sexist jerk?

Meanwhile, as Bruce Thorton of Hoover Institute in Stanford writes, “California recently passed a law requiring that sexual encounters between students in universities and colleges can proceed only on the basis of ‘affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement.’ Failure to resist or to ask the partner to stop the encounter can no longer be taken as consent. Institutions that wish to receive state funds or financial aid must adhere to this standard when investigating charges of ‘sexual assault,’ a phrase redefined to include behaviors once considered boorish or insensitive, but not legally actionable.”

All of which has led Thorton to declare “The End of Feminism:”

Faced with the costs of sexual liberation, contemporary feminism has betrayed its devotion to personal freedom and equality, choosing instead to demand that the state use its coercive power to protect women not just from insensitive men, but from the consequences of their own choices. Sexual harassment law is the most widespread expression of this impulse to use the tutelary state to defend women from a “hostile and intimidating” environment. The vulgar joke or boorish innuendo is now not just a violation of social decorum, but a crime subject to law and punishment.

But nothing infantilizes women more than the sexual codes promulgated by numerous universities. Obviously, sexual assault properly defined is a crime that should be investigated and the guilty punished. But getting drunk and then sleeping with an equally intoxicated partner is not a crime. It’s a learning experience about taking responsibility for one’s actions, and practicing the virtues of prudence and self-control.

By criminalizing young adults’ complicated sexual experiences, feminism is betraying its original call for sexual equality and autonomy by making women perpetual victims too weak to be held responsible for their choices, and too incapable of painfully learning from their mistakes and thus developing their characters. At the same time that feminists still call for unlimited sexual freedom, they treat women as Victorian maidens who lack agency and resources of character, and thus must be defended against sexual cads and bounders. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald puts it, this “new order is a bizarre hybrid of liberationist and traditionalist values. It carefully preserves the prerogative of no-strings-attached sex while cabining it with legalistic caveats that allow females to revert at will to a stance of offended virtue.”

Incidentally, to return to the first piece we linked, atop Tyrrell’s article is a recent photo of a now-elderly Cosby and Hefner hanging around the Playboy mansion. Today, the London Daily Mail flashes back to the women that surrounded both men during their swinging younger days, and one of the casualties of the era of “free love.” “Passed around by Bill Cosby, Hugh Hefner and dozens of Hollywood honchos — this is the [November 1968] Playboy Playmate of the Month who felt so used and abused by the most powerful leading men she took a gun and shot herself in the head” in 1974, at the age of 30.

Tyrrell’s article is titled “The Joy of Sex is Over.” As Kathy Shaidle recently quipped, noting that the original illustrations for that epochal 1972 smash bestseller are currently on display in London, “How many people were turned off sex by those pictures of hairy, humping hippies, that’s what I want to know.”

Heh. Yet another cautionary tale embraced by far too many as a how-to guide. But then, all of these recent articles are yet more reminders that as fun as a wild evening in the Weimar Republic can be, the hangover is a nightmare — and may only get worse in the years to come.

So the Terminator franchise is entering its direct-to-video phase, it seems.

The horror. The horror.

(Via an equally horrified Moe Lane.)

Forgetting Your Own Lessons

November 26th, 2014 - 5:54 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Which is a curious tweet, given that according to security cameras, Michael Brown appeared to violate multiple examples of the excellent advice that Rock proffers:

(Yet another reminder that all comedy is conservative, even if its creators may not be themselves.)

Related: “I’ve looked at riot from both sides now….”

The Four Scariest Words in the English Language

November 24th, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride:

Where does Alec Baldwin find the time? Between his top-rated sitcom, his long-running MSNBC talk show, his string of blockbuster movies, and his sold-out speaking tour, the guy has got a lot on his plate.

Now we can add this to the list of his massive successes: his new web series, Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride.

Click over to Jim Treacher’s post for the actual video of Baldwin in his Lovemobile — if you dare!

It’s interesting to see Baldwin ripping off Jerry Seinfeld’s Internet video curiosity, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, because when Baldwin appeared there, it was one of the tensest videos to watch, at least for me. When Baldwin and Seinfeld chatted alone, the two men made quite wealthy by NBC’s largesse appeared to get on quite well. But whenever the waitress appeared to bring them coffee,  I kept wondering, what will this poor woman do to warrant the full Baldwin Parris Island-style humiliation treatment the Great Man reserves for stewardesses, journalists, photographers and children? Baldwin kept his cool — at least from what we saw in the finished clip — but the tension building up made for an inadvertently fascinating clip.

It’s too bad that we’ll likely never see the outtakes from Baldwin’s ripoff of Seinfeld’s concept, because they would be infinitely more interesting than the finished product.

The Not Ready for Prime Time White House

November 24th, 2014 - 11:00 am

Peggy Noonan, who worked under Presidents Reagan and Bush #41 on how she reacted to when the Lewinsky scandal broke, altering the course of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and how the TV series The West Wing might be influencing Obama’s:

If you work for American presidents who are good men, you will inevitably carry forward in your head the assumption that American presidents will be good men. Your expectations will be toward high personal standards and normality. If you started out working for leaders who are not good men, on the other hand, you can go forward with a cynicism and suspicion that are perhaps more appropriate to your era.

The second thing the Horowitz story made me think of is this. I have remarked, and I think others have also, on the broad, deep impact of the television drama “The West Wing.” It spawned a generation of Washington-based television dramas. (Interestingly, they have become increasingly dark.) It also inspired a generation of young people to go to Washington and work in politics. I always thought the show gave young people a sense of the excitement of work, of being a professional and of being part of something that could make things better.

But it also gave them a sense of how things are done in Washington. And here the show’s impact was not entirely beneficial, because people do not—should not—relate to each other in Washington as they do on TV. “The West Wing” was a television show—it was show business—and it had to conform to the rules of drama and entertainment, building tension and inventing situations that wouldn’t really happen in real life.

Once when I briefly worked on the show, there was a scene in which the press secretary confronts the president and tells him off about some issue. Then she turned her back and walked out. I wrote a note to the creator, Aaron Sorkin, and said, Aaron, press secretaries don’t upbraid presidents in this way, and they don’t punctuate their point by turning their backs and storming out. I cannot remember his reply, but it was probably along the lines of, “In TV they do!”

“The West Wing” was so groundbreaking, and had in so many ways such a benign impact. But I wonder if it didn’t give an entire generation the impression that how you do it on a TV drama is how you do it in real life.

Last night’s post on Ferguson mentioned Tom Wolfe’s “information ricochet” theory, which he expounded upon further in another interview, quoted here. Basically, the theory boils down to real life inspires hugely popular movie or TV series, which makes loads more stuff up for drama and exciting visuals, which in-turn influences real life. Rinse and repeat. Plenty of mafiosos watched the myths and visual poetry of The Godfather (which Obama has claimed is his favorite movie, incidentally) and thought “Whoa, so that’s how we do it, boys!” So why wouldn’t the seven seasons of The West Wing have a similar impact on wannabe politicians and their staffers, who probably watch them as intently as geeks watch Star Trek reruns or women watched Sex In the City for pointers?

Related: Sadly, police departments may have also viewed The Godfather as a how-to guide.

daily_news_cosby_fixer_11-23-14-1

“EXCLUSIVE: Ex-NBC employee Frank Scotti claims Bill Cosby paid off women, invited young models to dressing room as he stood guard,” the New York Daily News reports:

Back when Bill Cosby was the king of network television, veteran NBC employee Frank Scotti served as the royal fixer.

When Cosby invited young models into his Brooklyn dressing room, the megastar’s pal stood watch outside the door. When the married Cosby sought a Queens apartment for another pretty face, Scotti arranged the deal.

And when the man behind Fat Albert needed cash disbursed to his flock of single female friends — hey, hey, hey — Scotti became the conduit for payments of up to $2,000 a month.

“He had everybody fooled,” said Scotti in an exclusive interview with the Daily News. “Nobody suspected.”

Scotti came forward last week with his insider’s look at Cosby’s womanizing ways during the magical 1984-92 run of “The Cosby Show.”

The 90-year-old Scotti said he decided to speak as the drumbeat of sexual abuse allegations against Cosby, 77, grew steadily louder. “I felt sorry for the women,” he told The News.

Along with the multiple women coming forward with allegations, is Scotti lying? Presumably the left-leaning Daily News wouldn’t run the story unless the paper and its lawyers believed him. But in any case, NBC certainly has ample prior examples of enabling their performers’ dysfunctional behavior to help keep a hit show humming along.

As Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad wrote in their 1986 book, Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, while the late John Belushi was the most legendary substance abuser of the original cast of SNL, the performer most affected by drug use according to the authors was Garrett Morris. And certainly, his onstage performances in his last season on the show often seemed near-catatonic, as he appeared to lean heavily on his cue cards to remember even the simplest of lines. According to Hill and Weingrad, “Garrett free-based cocaine, meaning he mixed it with ether and heated it to filter out the impurities, then smoked it in its purest, strongest form,” and insiders at NBC, including Morris’ own fixer at the network, were certainly aware of drug use of some sort by Morris:

As much cocaine as John Belushi used, within Saturday Night Garrett’s habits were seen as more dangerous, because Belushi seemed so much stronger than Garrett. “Belushi,” one of the writers said, “was howling against the elements. Garrett sort of just slipped away in his sleep.” In the end, of course, that judgment proved to be incorrect, but at the time most would have expected Garrett to succumb long before John.

What to do about Garrett occupied a good deal of conversation on the 17th floor. That he wasn’t taken off the show or forced to get some sort of treatment struck many as utterly irresponsible. The countervailing opinion was that taking him off the show would have only completed his collapse. No one could convince Garrett he needed help; he always insisted he was fine. But obviously he wasn’t fine, and many blamed Lorne for not dealing with it. “A lot of people felt Lorne ignored the problem,” one of the featured players said. “A lot of people thought, ‘Lorne’s got to do something about this.’ It seemed that week after week Garrett was in bad emotional shape. Nobody knew what to do.”

Garrett’s problems were also ignored by NBC, and not because no one in the network was aware of them. To the contrary, one NBC executive, a vice president, frequently gave Garrett the money to buy his cocaine. Garrett would come to this executive for advances on his salary. He always said he had some different project in the works that he needed it for, but the executive was well aware of what Garrett was doing with the money. The advances were usually $1,000, but once, when the show was ending for the season and Garrett needed enough to tide him over the summer, he was advanced $10,000. The executive says that Garrett thought of him as a sort of friendly banker, and that as a result he and Garrett always got along extremely well. Eventually the advances were stopped.

In more recent years, NBC has long ignored Alec Baldwin’s homophobic slurs and violent encounters with photographers, as long as they could build shows around him. (Unlike the heyday of the original SNL and Cosby Show, ratings be damned, curiously enough). And today, as the New York Times strongly implied last week, NBC looks the other way at Al Sharpton’s multiple tax abuses.

When the MSM, those Democrat operatives with bylines, as Glenn Reynolds memorably dubbed them, ignores corruption in the Obama administration, remember that they have a lengthy history of ignoring and in some cases enabling corruption and malfeasance in-house as well. Anything as long as the show goes on.

QED.

“They might as well change its name from ‘The View’ to ‘The Feud,’” quips the New York Daily News:

A shrill, backstage brawl at “The View” Wednesday left co-host Rosie Perez in tears while panelists Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell battled over how to cover the latest allegations against Bill Cosby and the racially charged upheaval in Ferguson, Mo., sources said.

O’Donnell believed the show — now overseen by ABC News — needed to delve deeper into both controversial subjects, while Goldberg wanted to steer clear of the topics altogether.

Ultimately, both news stories were discussed at length on the air by the panel.

“There’s terrible frustration and there are problems,” a source close to the show told the Daily News. “Whoopi didn’t want to talk about Cosby and Ferguson, Rosie (O’Donnell) did — how could you not? These are topics that are uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s ‘The View’ and it’s their job to talk about topics that might make some people tense.”

If viewers are tense, it may due to the show’s increasingly uncomfortable format, now that Barbara Walters has finally retired.

The formula for a successful TV talk show isn’t that much different than the formula for a successful TV sitcom or drama, and has been the same since the medium took off in the 1950s. (That’s why they call it a formula.) A network talk show casts an appealing straight-shooting everyman and surrounds him with wacky, offbeat sidekicks for leavening. In the 1960s, the boyish Johnny Carson was flanked by big drinking heavyset Ed McMahon and the psychedelically-attired  Doc Severinsen. In the 1980s, long before he became churlish and partisan in his dotage, David Letterman was a fratboy variation on the same theme, another Midwestern everyman, this time with postmodern zaniness swirling around him. Fictional TV has long used the same formula, with Star Trek’s JFK-esque Captain Kirk surrounded by the pointy-eared Spock and Mencken-esque Dr. McCoy. Happy Days had clean-cut WASP Richie Cunningham, surrounded by Fonzie the Italian greaser and Ralph Malph the class cut-up. And M*A*S*H ran for a million years with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye character surrounded by oddball characters such as Radar, Klinger, Frank Burns, etc.

The View was a distaff variation on the same formula, with Barbara Walters the veteran journalist and everywoman surrounded by zany offbeat showbiz types such as the caustic Joy Behar, loony conspiracy theorist Rosie O’Donnell, and the far left Whoopi Goldberg. With Walters now retired, there’s no center of gravity to the show, no one to reign in the lunatics inside the asylum. No wonder the ratings have plummeted with the formula broken and the cast is feuding with each other.

When will ABC put this tired dysfunctional show out of its – and the remaining viewers — misery?

Pompeii with Mirrorballs

November 22nd, 2014 - 2:28 pm

The Last Days of Disco, Whit Stillman’s 1998 film, as reviewed, stream of consciousness style, by Eve Tushnet:

For the first half of this movie I was not totally sold on it–despite its setting in “The Very Early ’80s” and its discussions of group socializing vs. “ferocious pairing off” and the Robert Sean Leonard of it all. “It’s fun enough, but it’s no Damsels in Distress,” I thought.

By the end I was so fascinated and pleased that I wanted to rewatch it immediately. I listened to the commentary track, which I rarely do with Netflix dvds because I am greedy and want my next one as fast as possible. But The Last Days of Disco is an intelligent souffle. It’s light–if it were heavy it would be lugubrious, but it’s so light that it’s poignant instead–and endearing, and insightful.

It’s a great film, one that benefits from repeated viewings, as I wrote a year ago in a post titled “Turn the Beat Around: A Reformed Disco Hater Looks Back at Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco.”

And speaking of Pompeii with mirrorballs, at the start of the month, the Flashbak Website assembled an incredible collection of mostly black and white photos of the real Studio 54 from the late ’70s. Beyond the coke-fueled Weimar-esque decadence of the period, what’s fascinating is the intermingling of politics and cultures, where Italian socialist film director Lina Wertmuller meets Ed McMahon, Pat and Debbie Boone drop in, and Gerald Ford’s son Jack Ford chats with Alice Cooper. I’m not at all sure if the highly segregated puritanical left would sanction such a diverse intermingling of culture these days, in their all-consuming efforts to root out original sin.