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Ed Driscoll

Hollywood, Interrupted

“Founder of German electronic pop group Tangerine Dream which provided soundtracks for Hollywood films and Grand Theft Auto computer games dies aged 70,” the London Daily Mail reports:

Edgar Froese, who founded the pioneering German electronic rock group Tangerine Dream in 1967, has died at 70.

The band said Froese died unexpectedly from the effects of a pulmonary embolism in Vienna on Tuesday.

* * * * * *

The band went on to release more than 100 albums and soundtracks over the years.

It also produced music for Hollywood hits including Tom Cruise’s ‘Risky Business’ as well as the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto V’.

The soundtrack to the 1980 film Thief, which put Michael Mann on the map as a director and served as the prototype for the iconic look and sound of Mann’s Miami Vice TV series a few years later was pretty awesome. In some ways, it was years ahead of its time, as synth rock would go on to became one of the genres of ’80s pop music, as the technology became more advanced, more user-friendly, and more affordable.

Question Asked and Answered

January 22nd, 2015 - 4:00 pm

“Why Does Hollywood Ignore the ‘American Sniper’ Audience?,” Larry O’Connor asks at the Washington Free Beacon:

Hollywood ignores the middle of our country. So much audience out there just WAITING to give their money to these arrogant studios. If only they had the wisdom to hire more writers, producers, and directors who spoke to this audience. It makes you wonder … why don’t they?

We keep hearing that all Hollywood cares about is money … well, if that’s the case, then why don’t they capture the money from this audience by creating more content that appeals to them?

Ask most who’ve worked in the industry who hold a right-of-center political perspective and they’ll tell you that these subjects are so outside the world view of most studio executives (and their gatekeepers) that the content rarely even makes it to their desks for evaluation.

It’s hardly breaking news to say the entertainment industry’s values and priorities are antithetical to the rest of America. Just look at the dismal performance of HBO’s Girls, a series celebrated and rewarded within the industry but virtually ignored outside of New York and LA.

As the late Andrew Breitbart told me once during an interview, David Geffen is under no obligation to make a movie that’s antithetical to his worldview.

No matter how much it might clean up at the box office.

As I noted in late August 2010, a year in which the media increasingly knew Congress was about to change hands, and in response threw a temper tantrum (as Peter Jennings would say) shouting the most hateful incantations the Tea Party specifically and Americans in general, our news media is basically “closed circuit TV for the ruling class” on both coasts. So is most of the entertainment that Hollywood produces, with the exception of breakthroughs such Mel Gibson’s The Passion and Clint’s American Sniper, and other than the summer sci-fi and superhero movies. (And even those pulp-inspired genres have increasingly begun to reflect the left’s obsessions.) That’s also true of much of cable TV’s entertainment product: In-between exploring the personal psychodramas and sophomoric power games that drive many TV producers, Brett Martin’s highly readable book Difficult Men is largely about how networks such as HBO crafted a viable entertainment model similarly designed to appeal almost entirely to a tiny niche of blue state coastal elites and their wannabe brethren.

As for the movie industry, O’Connor asks, “The question is, will this practice change after the success of American Sniper?”

I wouldn’t count on it for two reasons: the next pro-military film won’t be made by someone who has a lifetime of directing chops like Clint, just as the few earnestly religious films made in the immediate wake of The Passion didn’t have the same skill, and er, passion that Mel Gibson brought to the table, before his self-inflicted career-killing implosion.  And second, both genres allow for plenty of subversion by Hollywood. The immediate post-9/11 era saw the release of Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Gibson’s We Were Soldiers, both likely films that were green-lit before 9/11 occurred. These were followed by the seemingly endless craptacular stillborn anti-Iraq, anti-Bush movies that Hollywood became infamous for during the years of 2004 through 2008.

And Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus are both examples of what modern Hollywood can do to subvert the genre of religious films. Noah was dubbed by its director “the least biblical film ever made,” which is all middle America needs to hear to know it should stay home. Similarly, regarding Scott’s film, as John Podhoretz memorably began his review last month at the Weekly Standard, “Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.”

Enjoy the one-off success of American Sniper. I hope I’m proven wrong, but leftwing Hollywood’s not about learn from its lessons anytime soon.

“New York Magazine Mainstreams Incest,” Rush Limbaugh noted yesterday:

Time to hide the women and children, ladies and gentlemen, and maybe grab a barf bag.  New York Magazine.  Let me give you a countdown here.  Because, as I say, we don’t want to shock anybody.  Not our purpose.  Nor is it our purpose to offend.  That just happens.  I’m gonna count down from five to one, and if you’re still here, you’re on your own and you can’t complain. Complaints will fall on deaf ears because you’ve been given ample time to turn down the sound.  Five, four, three, two, one.

New York Magazine had the story.  They recently interviewed a couple who decided to remain anonymous for reasons that will become obvious.  It’s an 18-year-old woman and an older man.  They live in upstate New York.  They are planning on getting married soon. Eighteen-year-old woman which, ah, she’s of age, and the older man living in upstate New York, plan to get married.  Here’s the thing.  The older man is her father.  The older man is her biological father.

In an article titled, ” What It’s Like to Date Your Dad,” New York Magazine describes how father and daughter were at one time estranged and then, magically, they were reunited after 12 years and the magazine says sparks flew between the teenaged daughter and her biological father.  They were attracted to each other, says the magazine.  The woman said that within days of rediscovering each other, within days of the woman rediscovering her father, for whom sparks were flying, she lost her virginity.

As Jonathan Last adds, say, isn’t this the same New York magazine that back in November profiled “the guy who loves horses? (Not in the Ann Romney way.)”

“But don’t worry–changing one foundational part of the culture couldn’t possibly alter others,” Jonathan sardonically quips, in a post headlined “The Vindication of Rick Santorum (cont.).”  Follow the link at the end of his post for a hilariously related addendum. (And as Last adds, stick with it to the end, it’s worth it.)

How much of this is New York magazine approving the subjects they cover, and how much is it a case of a magazine hoping to shock the public into reading and linking (see also: TV networks’ strategies to shock viewers into watching, even as such repeated tactics eventually result in apathy and boredom?)

In any case, in 1970, a much different and still relatively sane New York magazine published Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic,” in which Wolfe caught up close and personal the insanity of the left, attending Leonard Bernstein’s cocktail fundraiser party for the Black Panthers, who would have loved nothing more than to firebomb Bernstein’s swank Park Avenue duplex, and all of his fellow One Percenters (as the kids say these days) attending the fundraiser. In 1976, New York published Wolfe’s “Me Decade,” which explored where America’s growing Weimar-esque sense of narcissism and nihilism would eventually lead.

Who knew the answer was full-on Caligula? (Well, the person who’s referenced in Last’s headline might have. Which is why it was necessary for the left to destroy him.)

And speaking of life in the Caligula era, “In Elle, Lena Dunham Slams Screaming ‘Static’ of Pro-Life Protesters, Their Lack of…’Decency.’”

Proportion, Lena, proportion! Think of your critics as merely just a few inconvenient pebbles blocking your path to superstardom.  (And then consult with your crisis management firm for further instructions.)

Tweet of the Day

January 21st, 2015 - 11:21 pm

As John Hinderaker writes at Power Line, “Greatest. Democrat. Ever.”

Though Chris Dodd and the late Teddy Kennedy might very much argue with that assessment, after allegedly attempting to tag-team Carrie Fisher in 1985, then at the height of her superstardom as Princess Leia, asking her “Would you have sex with Chris in a hot tub?”

“So, having recently graduated completely healed and normal from my first stint in a rehab, and appearing in an almost perfectly respectable piece of work, I found myself driving from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to have dinner with Chris Dodd, this senator who I knew virtually nothing about. Nor did Senator Dodd — like most people, then, now and always — have any idea who I was in the wide, wide world beyond this cute little actress who’d played Princess Leia.”

“Suddenly, Senator Kennedy, seated directly across from me, looked at me with his alert, aristocratic eyes and asked me a most surprising question. ‘So,’ he said, clearly amused, ‘do you think you’ll be having sex with Chris at the end of your date?’ … To my left, Chris Dodd looked at me with an unusual grin hanging on his very flushed face.”

Her reply: “‘Funnily enough, I won’t be having sex with Chris tonight,’ I said, my face composed and calm. ‘No, that probably won’t happen.’ People blinked. ‘Thanks for asking, though.’”

His retort: “‘Would you have sex with Chris in a hot tub?’ Senator Kennedy asked me, perhaps as a way to say good night? ‘I’m no good in water,’ I told him.” (A representative for Dodd did not immediately respond to’s request for comment.)

That bit in parentheses is a reminder that we only have Fisher’s word that this happened — along with Dodd and Kennedy’s reputation for “waitress sandwiches.” But note how nonchalantly ABC reported all this; if the senators had an (R) after each of their names, this would be reported as a front page hate crime and a sign of the Republicans’ War on Women™, of course.

Two Posts in One!

January 20th, 2015 - 3:39 pm

“The Washington Post Still Has No Idea If Dave Weigel Is Conservative,” Betsy Rothstein writes at the Daily Caller, linking to this quote from the Post’s Terrence McCoy on “How Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ stoked the American culture wars:”

The exchanges are just the latest eruption in a long culture war, analysts said, with lines clearly demarcated. “As screenings have sold out, conservative media has manned barricades against liberals who have attacked the movie or the idea of lionizing Kyle,” conservative David Weigel wrote for Bloomberg. He noted that much of the controversy involves the extended battle over guns — and gun control — and pits pro-Iraq war conservatives against anti-war liberals.

Conservative? After voting for Ralph Nader in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, Weigel was hired by the Post in mid-2010 to cover conservatism allegedly from the inside, but not surprisingly given his background, Weigel famously imploded a short while later. When archives from the “Journolist” listserv of 400 or so leftwing journalists, who described themselves in 2008 as the “non-official campaign” to elect Obama began circulating publicly, Weigel was caught using the following language, as the Daily Caller noted in June of 2010:

Weigel was hired this spring by the Post to cover the conservative movement. Almost from the beginning there have been complaints that his coverage betrays a personal animus toward conservatives.  E-mails obtained by the Daily Caller suggest those complaints have merit.

“Honestly, it’s been tough to find fresh angles sometimes–how many times can I report that these [tea party] activists are joyfully signing up with the agenda of discredited right-winger X and discredited right-wing group Y?” Weigel lamented in one February email.

In other posts, Weigel describes conservatives as using the media to “violently, angrily divide America.” According to Weigel, their motives include “racism” and protecting “white privilege,” and for some of the top conservatives in D.C., a nihilistic thirst for power.

“There’s also the fact that neither the pundits, nor possibly the Republicans, will be punished for their crazy outbursts of racism. Newt Gingrich is an amoral blowhard who resigned in disgrace, and Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite who was drummed out of the movement by William F. Buckley. Both are now polluting my inbox and TV with their bellowing and minority-bashing. They’re never going to go away or be deprived of their soapboxes,” Weigel wrote.

Of Matt Drudge, Weigel remarked,  “It’s really a disgrace that an amoral shut-in like Drudge maintains the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.”

In March, Weigel wrote that the problem with the mainstream media is “this need to give equal/extra time to ‘real American’ views, no matter how fucking moronic, which just so happen to be the views of the conglomerates that run the media and/or buy up ads.”

When Obama’s “green jobs czar” Van Jones resigned after it was revealed he signed a 9/11 “truther” petition, alleging the government may have conspired to allow terrorists to kill 3,000 civilians, Weigel highlighted the alleged racism of Glenn Beck – Jones’s top critic.

This forced Young Ezra Klein, founder of the “Journolist’ to offer a mea culpa of sorts a few days later titled “On Journolist, and Dave Weigel:”

At the beginning, I set two rules for the membership. The first was the easy one: No one who worked for the government in any capacity could join [so much for that idea -- Ed]. The second was the hard one: The membership would range from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left. I didn’t like that rule, but I thought it necessary: There would be no free conversation in a forum where people had clear incentives to embarrass each other. A bipartisan list would be a more formal debating society. Plus, as Liz Mair notes, there were plenty of conservative list servs, and I knew of military list servs, and health-care policy list servs, and feminist list servs. Most of these projects limited membership to facilitate a particular sort of conversation. It didn’t strike me as a big deal to follow their example.

And as as Moe Lane of Red State added at the time:

Nice of Ezra Klein to shaft his good buddy Dave Weigel on the way out by explicitly admitting that Klein wouldn’t let anybody on the Right onto JournoList in the first place, but that’s the Online Left for you.  You ain’t with them all the way, you ain’t worth nothing to them.

Klein’s response to Weigel’s meltdown appeared in…The Washington Post where he served as a regular columnist until Jeff Bezos purchased the paper in 2013. Terrence McCoy’s bio at the Post today describes him as “a foreign affairs reporter at the Washington Post. He served in the United States Peace Corps in Cambodia and got his masters’ degree at Columbia University.” Despite being a relatively young looking fellow in his bio photo, evidently, learning how to use a search engine wasn’t taught at Columbia during his tenure there. Or how to search a newspaper’s own archives.

Wiegel of course, landed on his feet; the Post was so alarmed by their hiring choice that upon being caught in mid-2010, they simply transferred Weigel a few months later down the hall to Slate, which the paper then-still owned. In 2014 Weigel eventually wound up at Bloomberg News, where today even he’s laughing at the paper’s latest gaffe. As Betsy Rothstein writes, “Weigel ran the excerpt [from McCoy] about himself, adding, ‘smdh,’ as defined by Urban Dictionary as “shaking my damn head.”

Heh. Good to see those layers and layers of fact checkers and editors at the Post still earning their keep. And Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” still very much in force there.

‘America The Murdering Psycho Sniper’

January 19th, 2015 - 4:22 pm

Caleb Howe on why Michael Moore has his giant panties in a twist over American Sniper:

Part One: he is not as close to people when he shoots them as other people are when they shoot. The blessed virtue of proximity, I suppose. By that reasoning, it is safe to conclude that Michael Moore finds the up close and personal beheading of a journalist to be far preferable to the long distance shooting of the beheader.

It is an addendum to this point that the reason it matters is that the sniper isn’t as much at risk of being killed as maybe he ought to be. If you’re going to war, expose your position and for heaven’s sake don’t wear body armor, or you might get a tsk tsk for not taking enough risk. Never you mind that these exact same people played moral scold over insufficient body armor not that long ago. Anything that might reduce your risk is “cowardly. All future military engagements, please take place in the nude using only staplers as weapons. For bravery.

Part Two: The sniper says negative or derogatory things about his targets. This is very important, because as you know, to all things there is an etiquette, and etiquette in all things. “I say, lovely chap I’ve got to shoot this morning. Smashing fellow. Real shame about the blowing people up thing, sad bit that. Still I daresay I’ll be sad to see him off. Dashing good looking too.” I am personally surprised a rugged tough guy like Seth Rogen is not aware of this, but in war, people say mean things about the people shooting at them. And the funny thing is? They also shoot and kill them, which turns out to be a tad more bothersome for all the participants, oddly enough. At least, though, we can say they are consistent and are outraged at any use of the word infidel. Right? Riiiiight.

Soldiers and Marines, especially those who have to pull a trigger, trash talk. Sometimes way more than that, they dehumanize. Is it pretty? No. But it’s real and it works. And selective hyperventilation from the knitting circle left isn’t going to change that.

To be fair though, one can understand why Moore took Kyle’s trash-talking about his enemies so personally, given his own past thoughts on America’s opposition in Iraq:


Related: My 2013 interview with Chris Kyle’s widow Taya, and his American Sniper co-author Jim DeFelice:

Update: Moe Lane sums up the left’s anger with Chris Kyle’s life story:

As the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday admitted in 2010, “creating a usable past” i.e., a simple, reactionary, anti-American, anti-conservative narrative is far more important for Hollywood (and DC) leftists than actual truth-telling. Kyle’s murder doesn’t permit the shaping of yet another 1970s-style boilerplate Hollywood violent war vet narrative to smear the entire American military, hence the anger by Moore, Rogan, and their ilk.

Much truth in this observation as to their roots of the Hollywood left’s anger as well.

More: “Chris Kyle was Charlie Hebdo with a rifle, not a pen,” Kurt Schlichter writes as he “detonates the [leftwing] narrative”at Truth Revolt. “This, of course, was unforgivable to the left.”

“Michael Steele: If Charlie Hebdo were published in the U.S., evangelicals would ‘raise up mightily,’” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air of the former Republican National Committee chairman’s visit to NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday:

Via NRO, I’ve watched this three times and still don’t see the point of the question or the answer. It seems to be a half-baked version of a tu quoque. Sure, says Chuck Todd, we laugh at French Muslims for being angry when Mohammed is mocked, but how would America’s Christians feel if there were a U.S. version of Charlie Hebdo goofing on their idols every week? Pretty darned offended, Steele concedes. There would be protests! Okay … and?

* * * * * * *

Guy Benson, reading a draft of this post, e-mailed with this recent clip from “Family Guy” about Peter Griffin trying to help Jesus lose his virginity. A magazine that’s a bit more crass in its mockery would be water off a duck’s back for most of them. Besides, a true American analog to Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t stop at Christians because Hebdo itself doesn’t. It would have to satirize Muslim sacred cows too, and I think Christians are more likely to cut a satirist some slack when they see that he really is an equal-opportunity offender.

Gee Michael, where have you been for the past 30 years? As I wrote in 2006 during Islam’s first round of cartoon wars, “Remember all the riots, looting and torching when Dogma and The Last Temptation of Christ played at your local multiplex? Me neither.” And the protests of religious conservatives haven’t stopped AP (until the Charlie Hebdo story broke) from selling photos of “Piss Christ” on their Website, or from the New York Times from hiring the “artist” who created it to illustrate their articles. Seinfeld co-creator Larry David would piss on Christ himself in 2009, and last time I checked, he’s also still very much alive and well. Similarly, far from even harassing the stars and director of 2005′s gay-themed Brokeback Mountain, as Mark Steyn wrote in National Review in 2006 regarding the hyper-politicized Hollywood of the Bush years, “The more artful leftie websites have taken to complaining that the religious right deliberately killed Brokeback at the box-office by declining to get mad about it.” Shortly thereafter, lefties at the L.A. Times were complaining about the lack of large-scale protests over the Da Vinci Code.

Heck, in the 21st century, conservative Catholics are so laid back, you can call them Nazis to their face on national TV and they won’t even attempt to slug you in response.

Just ask Michael Steele.

Nice catch by Scott Whitlock of NewsBusters:

In the wake of the massacre of journalists in France by Muslim terrorists, NBC has made an editorial decision to not show the cover of the new Charlie Hebdo cover featuring Muhammad, deeming it too offensive for viewers.

This is quite a contrast to the way the network promoted The Da Vinci Code in 2006. The movie (and Dan Brown book it was based on) insisted that Jesus Christ was not divine and had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene. Many Christians considered that offensive.

On Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell explained to her audience the decision to refrain from showing the Charlie Hebdo cover: “All of the networks of the NBC News group have made the decision, editorial decision, not to show it because we don’t publish things that are as provocative as Charlie Hebdo is.”

“Provocative” being code for “stuff that could our journalists killed.” Responding to similarly Orwellian code from the New York Times editor Dean Baquet over his  similar decision this month to censor news, just take this quote from Allahpundit this past week and substitute Catholics for Jews:

If Jews want the Times to take their feelings seriously, they can prove the depth of their injury by grabbing some AK-47s and machine-gunning a group of cartoonists. This moron is actually providing an incentive to overreact to blasphemy. Which is probably the closest he’ll come to acknowledging the real calculus in all this: To the extent that Times editors have more to fear from angry Muslims than they do from angry Jews, yes, it’s quite true that cartoons that offend each group don’t parallel each other.

As Glenn Reynolds warned a decade ago during the first round of Islamic terrorism inspired by European cartoons, “I’m sorry, but the lesson here is that if you want to be listened to, you should blow things up. That’s a very bad incentive structure, but it’s the one the allegedly responsible parties have created.”

And speaking of NBC and censoring images, “[Charlie] Hebdo Editor to Chuck Todd: When You Blur Our Cover, ‘You Blur out Democracy,’” as spotted by Mediaite:

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Charlie Hebdo’s new editor-in-chief Gerard Briard Sunday morning what he made of the decision of many American news outlets, including NBC News, to blur the cover of this week’s issue, which featured a caricature of the Islamic prophet Muhammed. Briard basically told Western media to grow a pair.

“Écoutez, we cannot blame newspapers that already suffer much difficulty in getting published and distributed in totalitarian regimes for not publishing a cartoon that could get them at best jail, at worst death,” he said.

“On the other hand, I’m quite critical of newspapers published in democratic countries,” he continued. “This cartoon…is a symbol of freedom of religion, democracy, and secularism. It is this symbol that these newspapers refuse to publish.”

“When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.”

But blurring out democracy and insulting America’s citizens is what MSNBC, CNN and the New York Times does, a “Progressive” journalistic tradition that’s as old as Mencken and just as shopworn. It’s their raison d’être, as the French would say. Why would they start viewing any of these as bad things now?

Allahpundit-esque exit quote: “An unintended side effect of Paris is the revealing, or perhaps I should say reminder, that the left really has a hard time with this whole ‘free speech’ thing. Right alongside grand and glorious declarations of the absolute right of free speech are inserted codicils that, if followed strictly logically, simply negate all of their olympian sentiments.”

Life Imitates Dark Star

January 15th, 2015 - 2:05 pm

“Smart grenade seeks out bad guys,” a headline at Fox News claims:

What if grenades could locate threats and detonate all on their own?

A new smart grenade can do just that.  With this grenade, soldiers will know with certainty that it will strike its target.

The U.S. Army is developing the SAGM, Small Arms Grenade Munitions round.

The SAGM is a new kind of grenade that can find an enemy hiding behind an object, a wall or other would-be cover. This is next-generation enhanced grenade lethality.

Oh the conversations we’re going to be having with our smart weapons in a few decades, to convince them of the purpose of their missions. The conclusion of the 1974-cult sci-film Dark Star (which launched the careers of a number of the folks who would bring you Star Wars and Alien a few years later) explores how this will all eventually play out, as smart grenades get smarter, bigger, and more neurotic:

Will it be titled “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Hitting on High School Girls?”

OK, sorry about that. But presumably, Jeff Bezos was prepared for plenty of bad jokes about the Woodman’s rather complex reputation these days. “Amazon Makes a Risky Bet on Woody Allen’s Tarnished Prestige,” David Sims writes at the Atlantic (a Website that’s no stranger to hiring names with tarnished prestige themselves):

Will the viewer boost outweigh whatever hit Amazon’s prestige might take? It’s hard to say. Thinkpieces will undoubtedly flood the Internet, but despite the chilling nature of Dylan Farrow’s public letter, when actors who worked with Allen were asked about it, they mostly referred to the matter as a complicated family issue too sensitive to wade into, and the furor eventually died down. Other networks have worked with unappealing creative personnel without really harming their brand—FX gave accused serial domestic abuser Charlie Sheen 100 episodes of Anger Management in 2012, but remains best-known for highly praised original programming like Louie, The Americans and Justified.

The even bigger question is whether Allen will produce anything remotely watchable. He won an Oscar just three years ago for writing the breezy Midnight in Paris, and within the past decade Blue Jasmine and Vicky Christina Barcelona have both won high praise for their performers. But Allen’s output has been undoubtedly scattershot since the mid-‘90s, with a series of duds usually surrounding every mild-to-moderate hit.

While I understand that the man needs to keep his cashflow up to live in New York (see also: subplot of Manhattan, a film whose gorgeous cinematography helped to make its creepy themes go down that much smoother with unassuming late-’70s audiences), as Sims writes, I’m not at all sure how Amazon benefits from this deal, other than, as United Artists and Orion bet in the ’70s and ’80s, Amazon hopes that Allen’s name will bring in younger, hotter directors looking to establish themselves.

A warning to Amazon: partially thanks to Allen’s increasing number of box office busts starting in his post-Annie Hall period, UA and Orion ultimately each lost that bet. And note that Allen is once again employing his self-deprecating shtick to discuss this new project:

Amazon Studios vice president Roy Price spoke of the decision in a statement, saying, “Woody Allen is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all-time, and it’s an honor to be working with him on his first television series.” He finished: “From Annie Hall to Blue Jasmine, Woody has been at the creative forefront of American cinema and we couldn’t be more excited to premiere his first TV series exclusively on Prime Instant Video next year.”

Allen also spoke of the opportunity, adding: “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”

That routine was charming when Allen was at the apex of career as a comedic cinema auteur with Annie Hall and Manhattan. These days, Amazon might want to take him at his word.

In the meantime though, might want to buy plenty of shares of whichever company produces the Windsor type font. Just to be able to short it in a few months.

Given the Allahpundit-esque headline this post started with, we might as go out with another of his trademarks. Exit quote:

Two NBCs In One!

January 13th, 2015 - 1:51 pm


● “Andrea Mitchell to French Amb: ‘Why Is It Permissible’ for Cartoons to be so ‘Provocative’?”

—The Washington Free Beacon, yesterday.


● “Brian Williams Weighs In on Daughter’s Televised Analingus: ‘No Animals Were Harmed.’”

Big Hollywood, yesterday.

Oh, and speaking of the intersection of nepotism, Hollywood, “journalism,” and  two NBCs in one:

But then the Farrow family is nothing if not inconsistent.

Two Time-Warner-CNN-HBOs In One

January 12th, 2015 - 8:35 pm

That’s the shot. Here’s the chaser:

Just a reminder of what one of America’s largest media conglomerates deems permissible — and not permissible — in its corporate boardroom.

For those who can handle it, here is the image that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO deems more shocking to the delicate souls who make up its audience than simulated analingus:


Quote of the Day

January 7th, 2015 - 4:36 pm


The First Reagan Democrat

January 1st, 2015 - 7:29 pm

At the risk of a little Blogospheric name dropping, a couple of years ago, at a party in the backyard of Roger L. Simon’s L.A. spread, Rob Long, Bill Whittle and I discussed the two long-running network TV shows that presented Republicans originally as the bad guy, but whom the audience quickly grew to love, simply because they were the only openly GOP characters at the time they could identify with on TV: Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, and Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker on Norman Lear’s All in the Family. As I think Bill noted, how many union loading dock foremen in Queens would actually have been Republicans?

In his new article at Commentary, both a review of Lear’s new autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience, and an explanation of why his career arc as a TV producer was effectively over the minute Ronald Reagan became president in 1980, Terry Teachout squares the circle:

“He was afraid of tomorrow,” he says of Archie in Even This I Get to Experience. “He was afraid of anything new, and that came through in the theme song: ‘Gee, our old LaSalle ran great/Those were the days.’” But he neglects to cite a more telling line from the lyrics to the All in the Family theme song: “Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.” The truth was that Archie Bunker would never have spoken nostalgically of Hoover. Rather, he would have been an FDR voter who had come at length to the reluctant conclusion that something had gone wrong with America—in other words, a Reagan Democrat.

Lear had already gotten out of the sitcom business before Ronald Reagan entered the White House. He ceased to function as what is now called the “show runner” of his sitcoms in 1978, and three years later he founded People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, thereafter spending the bulk of his time promoting political causes. But his shows had already lost altitude in the ratings and were headed for the scrapyard: Sanford and Son went off the air in 1977, Maude in 1978, and All in the Family and Good Times in 1979.

It is no coincidence that their decline occurred simultaneously with the emergence of Ronald Reagan as a national political figure. However sympathetically he was portrayed on the air, Archie was still a comic figure whose views were treated by Lear and his writers as benighted at best, dangerous at worst. Not so Reagan: His conservatism was the real thing, not a satirical burlesque, and he made the case for it unapologetically, presenting himself not as a Hoover Republican with a pretty face but as a New Deal Democrat who had changed his mind. Small wonder that blue-collar Democrats lost interest in All in the Family when Reagan came along. Instead of making fun of their inchoate conservatism, he took them seriously—and they responded in kind.

Read the whole thing. While many of the long-running CBS sitcoms of the 1970s, such as M*A*S*H (at least the early Larry Gelbart-produced years), The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and WKRP hold up well as repeat viewing today, I find All in the Family to be almost unwatchable.  The crude smeary brightly-lit appearance of the Lear’s trademark 1970s-era videotaped production style and the ultra-topical themes are strikes against it, but unlike the other aforementioned sitcoms, there isn’t an appealing character in the bunch. Even Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden is a far more likable working class Noo Yawwwwk figure than Archie ever was. As James Lileks wrote a few years ago:

If I ever stumble across a rerun of “All in the Family” I watch it with an anthropologist’s eye; it’s like a cave painting, a medieval tapestry. All long ago and far away. There’s Rob Reiner pointing and shouting; Jean Stapleton wincing and cringing. There’s lots of Carroll O’Connor bitching in De Queen’s English: Oh jees dere Edith wit de menapaas and de hoormones and de rest of dat commie plot to make yer jugs dere sag wudja stifle awready — Noted. It was groundbreaking for its time, but the ground having been broken, let’s shovel it back on the coffin lid. The day is past when you could get a studio audience to laugh for seven minutes because the star of the show has reacted with slack-jawed outrage at the sight of a mixed-race couple. Good. The show reeks of stagflation and Times Square porno row and Wadergate dere wit de hippies in de newspaper aw jees. I watched every episode when I was growing up. I’ve done my part.


From the Town that Invented the Cloaking Device

December 31st, 2014 - 5:36 pm

“Why People Keep Trying to Erase the Hollywood Sign From Google Maps” is the topic of a fascinating Gizmodo article on yet another example of what James Delingpole calls “the Drawbridge Effect.” In other words, “You’ve made your money. Now the very last thing you want is for all those trashy middle class people below you to have a fair shot at getting as rich as you are.” Or heck, even enjoying the same things you take for granted in your own neighborhood.

In this case, rich L.A. leftists who really don’t enjoy tourists dropping by their neighborhoods to take their photo in front of the legendary Hollywood sign, or hiking up the hills to see the sign up close and personal. They’re willing to go extraordinary lengths to make the sign as difficult as possible to be found for out-of-towners searching on the Internet for driving and walking directions. And Google Maps and Garmin are apparently more than willing to help build the real-life equivalents of Star Trek’s Cloaking Device or 1984′s Memory Hole:

No matter how you try to get directions—Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing—they all tell you the same thing. Go to Griffith Observatory. Gaze in the direction of the dashed gray line. Do not proceed to the sign.

Don’t get me wrong, the view of the sign from Griffith Observatory is quite nice. And that sure does make it easier to explain to tourists. But how could the private interests of a handful of Angelenos have persuaded mapping services to make it the primary route?

Anyone seen a Hollywood Sign around here?

To find out how this happened, I had a very nice conversation with Betsy Isroelit from the Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit which protects and maintains the sign, and has become in many ways the keeper of the sign’s public interests.

She admits that there was once a goal to “hide” the sign online completely, but it was deemed impossible. “At one point we were successful in getting Google to take the address down, but it appears so many other places like the city council offices and the city of LA that they put it back up.”

In the end, it was Councilmember [Tom] LaBonge who found a different solution. Working closely with Google and the GPS company Garmin, he was able to convince them to change the directions to the sign. Google did not respond to my requests for comment, but Carly Hysell from Garmin confirmed to me that the change was made in their spring 2012 map release. Update: Google’s Gina Scigliano confirmed to me on November 24 that although the location of the sign itself has remained the same, the driving directions were changed from directing drivers to the intersection of Ledgewood and Mulholland Hwy to the Griffith Observatory location in November of 2014.

As Alissa Walker, the article’s author concludes:

So what’s happening in Hollywood is a disturbing peek into the future of digital cartography. A few dozen homeowners in one of the city’s wealthiest zip codes—who bought their homes knowing (I assume) about the letters hanging just outside their bedroom windows—have found a way to keep people out of their neighborhood by manipulating technology.

This is the next iteration of a gated community.

Insert reminder that Orwell didn’t write 1984 to be used as a how-to guide here.

By the way, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been to the Hollywood sign, stopping by one weekend in 2011 after visiting PJ HQ in Los Angeles, and then driving over to see Bronson Canyon, which was used as a craggy location setting in the 1960s for episodes of Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. And every week from 1966 through 1968 it was the exterior of the Adam West-era Batcave. At the beginning of every episode of Batman, the Caped Crusader would rev-up the Batmobile’s atomic batteries, then tear-bat-ass out the interior of the Batcave, a set inside a 20th Century Fox soundstage, and then via the magic of film editing, exit through here:

The Batcave

What ABC viewers never saw in the 1960s is the view that’s immediately adjacent to the cave at Bronson Canyon’s entrance:

Ed Goes Hollywood

Of course, if the disgruntled residents who live under the Hollywood sign want to really mess with the tourists, they should have their councilman order Google and Garmin to send them to this not-quite-as-legendary Hollywood sign:


That’s the sign above the parking lot at the Hollywood & Vine Restaurant on Vine Street in Glen Rose Texas, where I was standing earlier today. C’mon effete Hollywood leftists, tell the peasants to eat their cake here. I’m sure the restaurant’s owners would love the additional business.

Related: “Three Former San Franciscans Explain Why They Moved to LA:”

In LA, you don’t need to wear three layers of clothing and bring an emergency sweatshirt with you, just in case it happens to be 45 degrees in July. People in LA are much better looking, much more fit, and also more inclined to dress like a two-year-old allowed to select her own wardrobe.

Presumably, that last observation is meant as a…compliment?

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage by Linda Moon /

Stacy McCain links to the story at the Daily Caller that “Gawker Thinks They Found Lena Dunham’s Alleged Rapist… And He’s A Democrat” and responds:

Whether or not [man named by Dunham in her book proposal] is a rapist, he is evidently a liberal Democrat, not a conservative Republican, so if Gawker’s story is correct, this has only further damaged Dunham’s credibility, exposing her as having engaged in a deliberate partisan smear.

There is no such thing as partial credibility. Once a source has proven that they are willing to lie — deliberately and consciously — they lose all credibility, and Dunham has proven herself a liar.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

If Lena Dunham says [man named by Dunham] is a rapist? This means [man named by Dunham] is probably a nice guy, even if he is a liberal Democrat.

Heh. As I’ve said before, starting with the New York Times’ “Fake But Accurate” headline, it’s been fascinating to watch the left, and leftwing journalists in particular discard objective truth as their goal — and openly admit that they’re pretty darn cool with lying when it suits their political needs. (QED: Vox, Jonathan Gruber, and of course, Barack Obama.)

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us, who don’t view politics as our religion, have to hold such low standards.

Update: “What looks like inexplicably staggering hypocrisy from the conservative perspective is actually remarkably consistent from the liberal perspective,” Jonah Goldberg writes, as he explores “A Year of Liberal Double Standards.”

A Home-brewed Dictator, On the Other Hand…

December 26th, 2014 - 8:55 pm


It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead

December 25th, 2014 - 10:38 am

“For New York leftists, Pottersville represents a wonderful life,” Paul Mirengoff writes this week at Power Line. And indeed it does, as I wrote in my “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead” post, originally posted last year:

From now until December 25th (and perhaps January 1st), Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life will be playing somewhere. It’s available on Blu-Ray. There’s currently a sharp-looking copy on YouTube. It will be on TV, where the film’s reputation was made during its many annual repeats; it was unexpectedly flat at the box office during its initial 1946 big screen run. And it will likely also be playing at a revival theater near you. My wife and I caught one such showing at the movie theater in San Jose’s Santana Row yesterday, which was actually the first time I had seen it on the big screen, in a beautifully remastered digital version. It was a vivid reminder that as popular as It’s a Wonderful Life is on TV, this was a film made to be seen by a large audience in a theater, and their knowing laughter during the film’s best moments — and likely, their weeping by the end of the film as we were — adds immeasurably to its impact.

The film is now a double piece of nostalgia, something not intended by its makers. Certainly Capra and company viewed its initial flashback scenes to the early 20th century, the 1928 high school dance and the 1932-era bank run, as nostalgia. But the film’s contemporary setting of post-World War II America is now almost 70 years in the rearview mirror, as are the morals of the people who made the film.

You certainly can get a sense of that merely from reading the film’s Wikipedia page, when you come to the section on how the film is viewed by leftwing urban critics today, particularly the scenes set in “Pottersville,” the segment in which small town Bedford Falls is transformed into Reno on the Hudson:

In a 2010 piece, Richard Cohen described It’s a Wonderful Life as “the most terrifying Hollywood film ever made”. In the “Pottersville” sequence, he wrote, George is not “seeing the world that would exist had he never been born”, but rather “the world as it does exist, in his time and also in our own.”] Nine years earlier, another Salon writer, Gary Kamiya, had expressed the opposing view that “Pottersville rocks!”, adding, “The gauzy, Currier-and-Ives veil Capra drapes over Bedford Falls has prevented viewers from grasping what a tiresome and, frankly, toxic environment it is… We all live in Pottersville now.”*

The film’s elevation to the status of a beloved classic came decades after its initial release, when it became a television staple during Christmas season in the late 1970s. This came as a welcome surprise to Frank Capra and others involved with its production. “It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984. “The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.”In a 1946 interview, Capra described the film’s theme as “the individual’s belief in himself” and that he made it “to combat a modern trend toward atheism”.

Of course, atheism doesn’t necessarily mean socialism — even if that’s how it invariably works out (more on that later); and after the page break, allow me to reprint my 2010 post titled “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead,” which compares Capra’s 1946 film with its very different contemporary, which was based on Ayn Rand’s novel about a young man who dreams of going to the big city, becoming an architect and building giant phallic symbols, and, unlike George Bailey, who has to reconcile never leaving his small town, succeeds on his own terms. Followed by some further thoughts and links from 2013, and a jaw-dropping moment at Wikipedia.

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What Could Go Wrong?

December 22nd, 2014 - 2:26 pm

“The apocalypse that is Hollywood gossip guru Nikki Finke may soon descend upon Washington like a dark mushroom cloud,” Betsy Rothstein writes at the Dailler caller. “The NYT reports that Politico is ‘in talks’ to bring her on as a political columnist:”

NYT Magazine writer and This Town author Mark Leibovich is all for it. “I’m for anything that injects discomfort into the system. Especially from a media platform,” he said.

But one former Politico staffer is aghast at the prospect of Finke coming to This Town.

“Nikki is brilliant but she is way more trouble than Politico needs,” the source said. “Who in that newsroom is going to have the spinal fortitude to deal with Nikki and the people she enrages routinely? Do they really want unhinged Hollywood types (including Nikki) screaming down the phone every day? Will they back her up? Let’s hope for everyone’s sake this doesn’t go through.”

That same ex-staffer referred to Finke as “so crazypants.”

When told that some former Politico staffers think a Finke addition could really work and that Politico could function under such drastically opposing viewpoints, the source replied, “WTF? Maybe they just don’t know the raging ball of crazy that is Nikki Finke. And let’s face it, Politico is not exactly safe haven for difficult women.”

I’m sure the late and sorely missed Cathy Seipp is loving this story somewhere. And it’s not the first time that the de facto Obama house organ has hired someone who was a little, um, on the edge — even by Politico standards — before. Fortunately, he didn’t last long there:

And as for crazypants? Well, Politico’s veteran columnist Roger Simon, no relation to our beneficent Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus, has had that base covered from time to time as well:

C’mon Politicomake this happen. And if things hit the fan between you and Nikki, we’ll be happy to BenSmith away the chaos. Trust us — just like we trust you.

God has quite a sense of humor when He wants to, as Box Office Guru notes this week:

Dropping heavily in its second weekend was the Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings which took in an estimated $8M this weekend a drop of… 66.6% from last weekend. You can’t make this stuff up folks. Any slight change up or down would make that percentage change as well but still, it’s almost as if someone planned it. The cume for Exodus now stands at $39M with a final total in the $55M range likely.

“Exodus, Stage Left,” John Podhoretz quipped in the headline of his review of Ridley Scott’s latest film at the Weekly Standard:

Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.

All right, I see a few hands raised, though maybe they belong to people who are still demonstrating about Ferguson. So let me ask you this: How many of you want to see how Hollywood has taken the story of the Hebrew departure from ancient Egypt—by far the most dramatic tale in the world’s most enduring book—and turned it into a joyless, dull, turgid bore?

I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie as self-destructively misconceived as Exodus: Gods and Kings, the director Ridley Scott’s $200-million retelling of the Moses story that has as much chance of making $200 million at the American box office as Ted Cruz has of winning the District of Columbia in the November 2016 election.

For one thing, Exodus: Gods and Kings is jaw-droppingly offensive in the way it bastardizes its source material. The God of Sh’mot, the second book of the Torah, manifests Himself in many ways—as the burning bush, as a cloud that follows the Hebrews on their journey, as rain and fire, even as a trumpet blast. But he most certainly does not manifest as a human being, since the incorporeality of the divine is a central feature of Jewish theology, the third of Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith. I know Jews make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population and are therefore not collectively a box-office consideration—but if you’re going to make a movie out of their holy book, shouldn’t you, I don’t know, be careful not to throw the holy book into the garbage can?

Well, yes; it’s not hard to understand what went wrong. While the motley young Turks who replaced the old guard in Hollywood in the 1960s had widely varied backgrounds, though with the exception of John Milius, identical left-leaning politics, as filmmakers, they shared one trait in common. As Peter Biskind wrote in Easy Riders Raging Bulls, they loved themselves plenty of genre deconstruction. On the surface, Warren Beatty’s Bonnie & Clyde was a rerun of a 1930s Warner Brothers gangster picture, but in the post-Hays Code 1960s, this time around, the gangsters were the good guys, and the cops and bankers the enemy.

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider subverted both the Roger Corman biker films of the 1960s, and John Ford’s westerns, to create a beautifully photographed American Southwest, albeit one filled with xenophobes terrified of two hippies on their Harley Davidsons and their football helmeted lawyer. (A few years later, Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles would really deconstruct the western and pummel it into the ground for good.)  Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown is on the surface, a Sam Spade-style private eye film, but its environmental subtext argues that Los Angeles should never have been built.

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