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The PJ Tatler

Christian Toto

Christian Toto is the Assistant Editor at Big Hollywood. Before joining Big Hollywood, he contributed to Pajamas Media, Human Events, the Washington Times, The Daily Caller, and Box Office Magazine. His film reviews can be heard on the nationally syndicated Dennis Miller Show.
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Play the MSNBC Drinking Game!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Watching MSNBC’s primetime lineup is akin to undergoing “enhanced interrogation tactics” for your average conservative.

Even without the illustrious Keith Olbermann, the channel’s array of progressive talking heads can leave one woozy from foggy political rhetoric.

With that in mind, here’s a new way to watch MSNBC that allows for minimal suffering. Whenever an MSNBC anchor mentions Halliburton, the Koch brothers or Dick Cheney you take a drink. If a host blames the current economic woes on tax cuts for the rich or the Bush Administration, bottoms up! If a conservative is called a racist or accused of employing coded language take another swig. And if the Rev. Al Sharpton delivers a monologue that plays fast and loose with the rules of grammer, well, you know what to do.

Choose your favorite alcoholic beverage, but shy away from the hard stuff since there’s a good chance you’ll be drinking a lot over the course of any given MSNBC show.

Now, be sure you’re in for the night before playing the MSNBC drinking game. We don’t want anyone driving while under the influence of alcohol or bogus political thinking.

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Perry Positioned to Pop MSM’s Global Warming Bubble

Friday, August 19th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Mainstream Media types were apparently giddy to hear Texas Gov. Rick Perry proclaim the theory behind global warming is unproven.

What a maroon, as Bugs Bunny might say.

The press’ unyielding allegiance to global warming theories in the face of one discrediting report atop another has been apparent for years. That means the general public is too often shielded from such news and must rely on the likes of former VP – and energy black hole – Al Gore for help.

That’s why Perry’s recent statements are so important. But it’s only a first step. The plain-spoken governor must cite the specific flaws in global warming theories, point to hoaxes within the movement and speak out on the “hide the decline” scandal that got scrubbed clean by the press.

Reporters will be eager to paint Perry as anti-science, so they’ll keep quoting every syllable he says on the matter. It’s the best chance the public has of hearing what many conservatives already know about the global warming moment. It’s full of mostly hot air.

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Let’s Play the CNN Game!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Who says being a news junkie isn’t fun?

Whenever news breaks that could be detrimental or damaging to the Left, my first instinct is to visit CNN.com.

No, it’s not to check out the site’s splashy design. I’m curious how long it will ignore or spin the material in question. Case in point: Vice President Joe Biden calls Tea Party members “terrorists.” Now, had Vice President Dick “Lord Voldemort” Cheney uttered those words about Moveon.org members, I bet the story would be above the cyber-fold.

But a quick glance at CNN.com Monday evening shows no sign of the slur. Yes, it’s possible the words “Biden” and “Terrorist” might be buried within a larger news item, but that only emphasizes my point. That superfast Internet news cycle sure gets slow when the subject in question paints the Left in an ugly hue.

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Don’t Get Mad, White House Press Corps, Get Even More Timid!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

When Sarah Palin refused to play the media game during the first part of her summer bus tour the press turned livid.

One outlet even accused Palin of inciting danger because she “made” reporters chase her at reckless speeds. Lesson? Anger the press, and you’ll pay for it with nasty, unfair coverage.

Think the same will happen to President Barack Obama?

The latest press clampdown from Mr. Transparency happened today when White House spokesman Jay Carney put a stop to the time-honored tradition of shouting questions to the Commander in Chief. The press erupted in anger.

“He’s capable of ignoring our questions. He does it all the time,” said Chip Reid of CBS to Politico.

But we’ve seen this mock outrage from the White House press types before. And what does it get us? Puff questions about the debt ceiling debate.

The press’ outrage over Obama’s opaque maneuvers won’t last longer than the next news cycle. But Palin remains fair game no matter the circumstances.


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‘Damages’ pulls off a Hollywood two-fer against the Right

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

If there’s one thing the entertainment industry loves it’s slamming people of faith.

Coming in a close second is portraying military contractors as Enemy No. 1.

The television show “Damages” pulls off a two-fer for its upcoming season. The show, formerly on FX but now seen on DirecTV for its fourth season, has cast the great John Goodman as a Blackwater-style military contractor who also happens to love Jesus Christ.

That’s two right of center targets taken down in one series. You can imagine the high fives in the writers’ offices when they stumbled upon Goodman’s character.

“Damages,” starring Glenn Close, returns to the small screen starting July 13.

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Weinergate: The DeVito has spoken

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Count Danny DeVito as another Hollywood player in disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner’s corner.

DeVito, currently starring in the FX comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” often shares his liberal views on Twitter. Note: The DeVito Twitter feed shows a “Verified” label, and nothing in the previous Tweets I’ve read indicate it’s the work of an impostor.

Today, DeVito Tweeted his defense of the embattled congressman in light of President Barack Obama’s message that he would resign if he were in Weiner’s shoes:

Anthony don’t listen to him. Don’t resign He’s a great president but he never lived in Brooklyn! Serve the people beg forgiveness from Huma.

The Weiner defense shouldn’t be shocking, but the “great president” line sure is. When Obama was elected Hollywood stars predicted greatness … and then some. Remember Spike Lee’s famous phrase summing up the new president’s seismic change factor, “You’ll have to measure time by `Before Obama’ and `After Obama.’

Two-plus years later? Can anyone realistically call him mediocre, let alone great?

DeVito’s Louie De Palma character from “Taxi” would snort over such nonsense.

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Just what does Alec Baldwin find unacceptable?

Friday, June 10th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

“30 Rock” standout Alec Baldwin had a pretty busy week.

First, his name came up as a possible mayoral candidate in New York City. Then, he took to the online pages of The Huffington Post to defend Congressman Anthony Wiener’s social media flirtations. Seems he doesn’t have a problem with Weiner’s penile-laden Tweets.

And now, in the wake of “30 Rock” co-star Tracy Morgan telling a stand-up audience he’d stab his own son if the youngster grew up gay, Baldwin is at it again.

“Oh that Tracy,” Baldwin Tweeted about the incident according to TheWrap.com.

Wow. Just what does it take to make Baldwin judge someone’s behavior? Oh, that’s right. You have to run a right-of-center Web site. Maybe a few.

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‘Why should we take your word on the case of the congressman?’

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 - by Christian Toto

… says CNN’s Randi Kaye to Andrew Breitbart during a mildly hostile interview regarding WeinerGate.

Hmmm. Can you imagine Ms. Kaye asking a liberal blogger this very question? Or any other prominent left-of-center journalist who breaks a story of consequence?

End of easy thought experiment.

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New pro-freedom flick out on Blu-Ray

Sunday, May 8th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Conservatives routinely grumble the film industry loves excoriating the U.S. while giving flawed organizations like the UN a free pass.

And they’re right.

So let’s sound the trumpets over “Mao’s Last Dancer,” the fact-based 2010 drama just released on Blu-ray and DVD. The film, based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin, recalls how he was plucked from a grade school classroom and trained to be the country’s next great ballet dancer. Government propaganda surrounded him and his fellow Chinese citizens, with pictures of Chairman Mao adorning every available space.

Years later, Li visits the U.S. on a cultural exchange program and learns firsthand the anti-U.S. drivel driven into him back home was all a lie.

The film is far from perfect, with unexamined subplots and a tepid romance which bruises the narrative. But the film keenly exposes Chinese propaganda while illustrating the freedoms Americans too often take for granted.

“Dancer” earned $4.8 million in theaters last year, an impressive figure for an indie effort. But the film’s home video debut means more people can savor its pro-American sentiment.

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Di Paolo on Showtime – take that, HBO

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Turn on HBO and there’s a good chance you’ll see a left-of-center program staring back at you. My recent piece at The Daily Caller details the pay channel’s programming tilt, including upcoming projects like the film version of the Palin-bashing book “Game Change.”

Might that open up some opportunities for HBO’s rivals? It’s too soon to tell, but Showtime serves up some conservative counter-programming next weekend.

“Nick Di Paolo: Raw Nerve,” debuting at 9 p.m. EST April 30, gives the conservative comic a TV platform to spout off on President Obama, liberal media bias and other politically incorrect subjects.

Is this the start of a trend? It’s only one hour of programming, but if Di Paolo scores big ratings it might coax the network, and maybe other channels, to give right-leaning funnymen some serious thought.

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‘Shrugged’ set to expand soon

Monday, April 18th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

The market place has spoken … and the film version of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” will  soon be playing at a theater near most of you.

“Atlas Shrugged” opened over the weekend on a relatively small number of screens – 299 to be exact – but ended up with the third highest box office per-screen average of any release behind “Scream 4″ and “Rio.”

Not bad for an indie film with no big stars, little marketing punch beyond Tea Party-approved groups and some withering reviews.

Movie-goers, on the other hand, seem to dig it. Visitors to Fandango.com mostly raved about the movie, and 85 percent of users checking in at RottenTomatoes.com approved of the screen adaptation.

The real test comes soon when the film expands to 1,000 theaters which should happen later this month. If the expansion succeeds, there’s a good chance we’ll see the second and third installments of what was planned as a trilogy based on Rand’s iconic 1957 text.

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‘Casino Jack’ not mean enough for film critics

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Few folks will go out of their way to defend Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who swindled Native American tribes out of millions, among other crimes.

But Kevin Spacey and co. did something unforgivable while making a film version of the Republican’s rise and fall. They made him human. That turned off critics who didn’t take kindly to a film showing Abramoff as a deeply flawed but complex man.

Here’s the Boston Globe echoing the thoughts of many other media outlets regarding the film: “‘Casino Jack’ is glib, fast-paced entertainment that barely leaves a mark – which, given the subject, is just plain wrong.”

“Casino Jack,” out on Blu-ray and DVD April 5, doesn’t sugarcoat Abramoff’s sordid behavior. But it does make him a bit less than a monster and tells his story in a rather entertaining fashion. That’s more than you can say about other political films of late, from the feeble “Lions for Lambs” to the strident “Fair Game.”

Films are typically applauded for bringing nuance to a particular subject. Actors routinely say, even when cast as very wicked characters, how vital it is to their performance to find the humanity within.

But when it came time to show a Republican punching bag as anything less than the devil incarnate, many film critics would have none of it.

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Is Drudge less biased than MSM?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Matt Drudge and his feisty Drudge Report site often illuminates the Left’s current woes.

It’s no accident that Rush Limbaugh regularly recites Drudge headlines on his hugely popular radio show. So while it’s fair to label The Drudge Report as a “right leaning” outlet, that doesn’t mean the site ignores stories that could damage the Right. Or, articles which paint the U.S. military in an unflattering light.

That takes us back to the Abu Ghraib scandal, the detainee abuse nightmare the Bush Administration endured at the height of the Iraq War. The press had a proverbial field day covering it, and it formed a media template that lasted for months, if not years.

The New York Times featured the scandal on its front page 50-plus times.

Earlier this month, a few news outlets broke a similar story regarding U.S. troops abusing dead Afghanistan civilians. Drudge has been there all along, linking to the various stories breaking on the subject. It’s awful stuff, no doubt. But where is the wall to wall media coverage? The damning editorials? The round the clock reports that tie the material inextricably to the war effort at large and, naturally, to the president?

Hmm. Could it be that the person in the Oval Office affects how the media covers news like this?

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Shearer can’t stick the landing

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Forgive me for getting excited at the thought of Derek Smalls laying the smackdown on the Mainstream Media.

Comedian Harry Shearer, perhaps best known as the bassist for the faux metal band Spinal Tap, spoke at the National Press Club March 14 to critique the assembled scribes and their profession. He’s promoting a new film, “The Big Uneasy,” which lambastes media coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

The liberal comic said media groupthink and false narratives permeate the MSM. He’s right, of course, but just how far would Shearer go? I read on, fingers double crossed that he would leap over the ideological divide to slam the press for its biased Tea Party coverage. Or, better yet, cry out against the media’s devotion to the “new civility” which ended when the Left started getting violent.


Here he is tackling a question about media bias, or as he might describe it, media laziness:

“Most journalists are vaguely liberal; most media owners are not so vaguely conservative,” he said. “The far more pervasive biases, I suggest, those of logistics of parachuting in and asking cab drivers, ‘what’s the mood here?’”

Nice try, Harry. You certainly started a conversation that needs to be had, but it’s clear your biases won’t let you finish it.

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Biased media coverage of NPR-gate in three … two …

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

News of a fresh video prank by ACORN-buster James O’Keefe hit the web this morning, and that can only be bad news for the folks at NPR. But that’s assuming the media will actually run it.

Seems O’Keefe’s Punk’d Army posed as Muslim sympathizers and got an NPR executive (Ron Schiller) to say all sorts of nasty things about conservatives. And, more importantly, Schiller directly contradicted NPR’s recent statements regarding its need for federal funding.

So what’s next?

When a liberal blogger prank called Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker it quickly made news across the MSM even though the governor didn’t say anything politically damaging. Will the same happen here?

Not likely. The story will probably play out this way. First, the MSM will try to ignore it. Then, a few outlets will begrudgingly air or post it, but with all sorts of labels attached to O’Keefe. The words “edited” or “highly edited” will appear regarding the video, and then the infamous Shirley Sherrod story will be brought up even though there’s no direct connection between the two.

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Armisen pokes fun at progressives in ‘Portlandia’

Monday, February 28th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

“Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show” take occasional shots at President Barack Obama, but humor aimed at liberals remains in short supply.

“SNL” regular Fred Armisen is trying to balance the ledger. His new series “Portlandia,” airing at 10:30 p.m. EST Friday nights on the IFC Channel, mocks the city’s uber-progressive citizens. The six-episode series serves up loosely connected skits starring Armisen and show co-creator Carrie Brownstein (of Sleater-Kinney fame).

It’s a gentle ribbing, to be sure, but it’s refreshing to see comedians traffic in material that doesn’t include obtuse swipes at Tea Party patriots, rednecks or other overused targets.

And “Portlandia” is often rigorously clever. Consider a scene where a couple quizzes a waitress about the organic, free range chicken they’re about to order. “His name was Colin,” the waitress tells them patiently as she describes the fowl’s local roots in painstaking detail. That isn’t good enough for the couple who insist on seeing where Colin met his untimely end before placing their order.

Not every skit is a knee slapper, but the show offers up some fun cameos by Aimee Mann, Jason Sudeikis, Heather Graham and Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) to make amends.

“Portlandia” is the first program of its kind since ABC’s short-lived “Goode Family,” another comedy taking tree hugger types to task for their liberal extremes.

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The last straw – for Hollywood

Friday, February 25th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

For a while, it seemed like Charlie Sheen could drive a bus full of nuns and differently-abled kids off a ravine and the suits behind Two and a Half Men would welcome him back to the set.

No matter how badly Sheen screwed up, be it drug or porn star-related, he always had a home back on his smash CBS sitcom. Now, we’ve learned where the line is when it comes to Sheen’s behavior.

Don’t diss the boss.

The comic actor lashed out at the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, during a rant on The Alex Jones Show that even Mel Gibson would deem “unhinged.” News broke today that Two and a Half Men is done for the season and may not come back at all next year.

Good to know Hollywood is able to draw a moral line in the sand.

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An Inconvenient shlock-fest

Monday, February 21st, 2011 - by Christian Toto

What do you get when you cross an Al Gore documentary with “Troll 2,” arguably the worst film ever made?

Something like “Birdemic: Shock and Terror,” a new horror film making its way onto home video this week. “Birdemic” quickly became a midnight movie favorite last year, that sacred slot where really bad movies find their audience.

Just how awful is “Birdemic?” Imagine you gave your 12-year-old nephew a sack of candy and a movie camera and told him to shoot a horror movie. Your nephew probably wouldn’t stop his story cold to explain why global warming is to blame for the killer birds, but “Birdemic” does that repeatedly.

Is the film mocking global warming alarmists? Who knows? To this critic’s eye, “Birdemic” represents a movie purposely gunning for cult status, not a bad movie shot with good intentions. But if you’re forced to watch a climate change polemic, you’re better off seeing “Birdemic” than “An Inconvenient Truth.” You won’t see any Power Point presentations or former vice presidents spinning tall tales about rising sea levels.

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Political movies then … and now

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Watching “All the President’s Men” today is more than a trip back to that edgy brand of ’70s-era filmmaking.

It’s a reminder how Hollywood could once nail a politically charged story without resorting to partisan cheap shots and other dishonest tactics. That’s something modern films like “Lions for Lambs” and “Green Zone” couldn’t manage.

“Men,” available today for the first time in Blu-ray format, also made me wonder how the public would assess a Watergate-style investigation handled by today’s Washington Post. The newspaper’s own ombudsman admitted its coverage of the 2008 presidential election favored the Democratic ticket, and the 2006 “macaca” incident showed what happens when the Post’s ideology trumps common news judgment.

The Nixon White House tried to paint the Post’s Watergate investigation as partisan politics, but failed. A future GOP administration would have a far better argument involving a future scandal no matter the facts behind the case.

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Memo to MSM: Liberals do more than lean left

Saturday, February 5th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Liberal media bias is so pervasive it gives Big Journalism and Newsbusters a constant stream of content. The folks behind those sites are likely typing as fast as they can to squeeze it all in.

But liberal bias also comes in the form of a lower case “b” – modest examples that nonetheless add up in the minds of the consumer.

Consider how often news sites can’t bring themselves to call liberals “liberal.” They’re left-leaning if they’re identified at all. So The Huffington Post is left leaning, while Andrew Breitbart, Bill O’Reilly and Marco Rubio are all tagged as conservative, no questions asked.

That matters when assessing the sources behind stories and legislation. Consider this recent dispatch tied to the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan which uses Ron Reagan to rip former Gov. Sarah Palin. The reader can trust lil’ Ron because he only “leans left,” nothing more. Withholding the “L word” gives him more credibility, as if he’s not driven by pure ideology.

But consider Ron Reagan’s liberal bona fides: He toils for MSNBC, once hosted a radio talk show on the now defunct Air America network and in 2004 spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Liberal media bias from supposedly neutral news sources remains a serious problem. But the more modest examples shouldn’t be discounted, or ignored.

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Eco-horror flick coming at ya

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Didn’t we all learn something from the debacle that was “The Happening?”

That 2008 “horror” movie told us what would happen if we don’t stop abusing the environment – we’d see arguably the lamest shock film of the past decade. Even star Mark Wahlberg disowned it (after the film’s release, of course).

Now, fading auteur Barry Levinson of “Rain Man” fame is prepping a new eco-thriller for 2012. The project, according to SlashFilm.com, is called “The Bay” and will show the results of a viral outbreak along the Eastern seaboard.

When two biological researchers from France find a staggering level of toxicity in the water, they attempt to alert the mayor, but he refuses to create a panic in the docile town.

Wonder if the Mayor will sport either a Sarah Palin or Fox News T-shirt during a critical scene?

Levinson could once do no wrong, witness a string of hits from “Diner” to “Good Morning, Vietnam.” But he hasn’t made a great film in ages. Will “The Bay” mark his comeback? The thought of another bloodless eco-horror romp scares me, frankly, but not in the way intended.

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Let’s get the old gang back together!

Saturday, January 29th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

What’s an activist Hollywood type to do when the president you cheered on is suddenly a shell of his campaign promises?

Why, you break out the old Bush-bashing rhetoric, that’s what.

Robert Redford, Ellen Barkin and director Doug Liman (“Fair Game”) gathered at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday to perform  “Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonies From the ‘War on Terror.’”

Presented by the American Civil Liberties Union, PEN American Center and Sundance, the event included readings of formerly secret government documents involving the detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects. Liman captured it all on film for an upcoming documentary, a project all but guaranteed to rake in “Fair Game” level bucks.

The “star studded” ensemble included America Ferrera; writers Sandra Cisneros, Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, Esmeralda Santiago, George Saunders and Naomi Wolf plus documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”).

Where were Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Matt Damon?

Wonder if Liman’s upcoming film will showcase President Barack Obama’s killer drone program, the still-open Club Gitmo or any number of other anti-terrorism policies kept in place from the last administration? Truth to power!

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‘Job’ has ‘Inside’ track on doc Oscar

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

I’m still smarting over the news “Waiting for ‘Superman’” didn’t earn an Oscar nomination this morning. Perhaps it was too much to ask that a well reviewed film eviscerating teachers unions would win over both critics and Academy voters.

That leaves “Inside Job,” which did nab a nom this morning, as the front runner to win the gleaming gold statuette Feb. 27. The film chronicles the country’s economic meltdown, arguing our economic system demands regulation to keep it on track. Most film critics nodded sagely in agreement.

Not Kyle Smith. The New York Post’s conservative film critic bucked conventional wisdom and savaged the film, directed by the same fellow who gave us the anti-Iraq War polemic “No End in Sight.”

WorldNetDaily also slammed the film, calling it pro-Obama propaganda that let government off the hook for the country’s economic crisis.

Politics play a major role in the Best Documentary category, so honoring a film that takes a swipe at our economic system and is embraced by Film Critic Nation seems like a sure thing.

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‘Reagan’ doc director admits bias

Monday, January 24th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Conservatives were rightly suspicious when they learned a new documentary on President Ronald Reagan would make its Sundance Film Festival debut this month.

The left-leaning festival, a major event for a left-leaning industry, hardly seemed the place for a celebratory look at the conservative hero. Or even a fair one. “Reagan’s” director, Eugene Jarecki, is an open liberal who contributes to The Huffington Post and previously gave us “Why We Fight,” a treatise on the military industrial complex.

But open minds are a beautiful thing, and it’s not good form to critique a movie until you’ve seen it. But we can note Jarecki’s intentions regarding the project. He spelled them out during a Q&A session connected to his film’s Sundance screening.

“I came into this film with an ax to grind,” reports the LA Times film blog 24 Frames.

In the end, he said his mind wasn’t changed despite the years of research and roughly two dozen researchers who helped him. “I didn’t get seduced by Ronald Reagan’s folksy thing,” he said. “A lot of it was stagecraft.”

We anxiously await Jarecki’s upcoming “Obama” documentary focusing on empty slogans and Greek columns.

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Will downsizing victims line up for ‘The Company Men’?

Friday, January 21st, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Who wants to see a movie about nice people getting pink slips? Anyone?

Writer/director John Wells of “ER” fame hopes audiences are game for his zeitgeist grabbing drama “The Company Men.” The film, opening today, stars Ben Affleck as a salesman who loses his high paying gig in a downsizing tsunami.

The cast includes a bevy of Oscar winners including Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner. The movie may hit too close to home for some, but that didn’t adversely impact “Up in the Air,” the 2009 George Clooney vehicle exploring the personal impact of our flagging economy.

I chatted with Wells earlier this week and was pleased to hear him defend both the American work ethic and our ability to rally to our neighbor’s side in times of duress. Movie goers may avoid “Men” for more flip fare like “No Strings Attached,” but Wells’ film boasts an optimistic streak that could resonate with a jittery public.

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Shock jock can’t jolt ‘Morgan’ show

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Has veteran shock jock Howard Stern run out of ways to get our attention?

Stern, who isn’t a fixture on the interview circuit, sat down with CNN’s Piers Morgan for the second night of Morgan’s new chat fest.

The charming Brit had Stern on for a full hour, far longer than most Stern-approved interviews. But the episode didn’t set the show’s ratings afire. “Piers Morgan Tonight” drew 1.3 million viewers with Stern, far less than the 2.1 million who tuned in for Morgan’s opening night Q&A with Oprah Winfrey.

Once upon a time a Stern TV appearance guaranteed boffo ratings. Today … not so much. Maybe Morgan should have opened the show with a parade of Stern-approved lesbians.

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Regis Philbin, exit stage center

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Still processing the news that Regis Philbin will be retiring from “Live with Regis & Kelly” by year’s end.

I’m not a regular watcher, but I often check in on Philbin when my morning schedule permits. It’s the equivalent of comfort food, a show you can count on to deliver a few chuckles and some cozy celebrity interviews. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Philbin can be hammy, or self-deprecating or even corny when the mood strikes, but he never sounds cruel to these ears. There’s little chance ol’ Reeg will insult my political beliefs out of the blue. The knack for transcending ideology is one reason he’s been a part of the entertainment landscape since the 1950s.

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SNL continues the narrative

Sunday, January 16th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Having a media narrative means never having to consult your gray matter.

Even “Saturday Night Live” got into the act last night. The show began with a Fox News sketch in which the network’s personalities tried their best to be more civil in the wake of the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting.

This civility blame game has already been discredited by everyone from President Barack Obama to Slate.com. That doesn’t matter to the intrepid writers at SNL, who used the meme to dream up a thoroughly unfunny sketch to keep the dishonest conversation alive. (Although Kristen Wiig’s spin on Greta VanSusteren was spot on).

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Columnist’s rush to judgment officially wrong

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Can a newspaper offer up a correction for an entire column?

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Tucson tragedy preview into 2012 media coverage?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

The mainstream media sunk to new lows in its collective coverage of the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting tragedy.

Selective media members may start backpedaling on their outrageous claims that a heady mix of talk radio and that rootin’ tootin’ Sarah Palin were to blame for the tragedy. That doesn’t dismiss their dereliction of duty.

The media’s ghastly performance may also be a window into how it will cover the 2012 presidential elections. Any attempt at criticizing President Barack Obama may be labeled “hate speech.” Any violence that breaks out during the campaign cycle, no matter the cause, target or provocation, may be labeled Tea Party-approved behavior. Who needs facts?

It’s too soon to say exactly how the media will misbehave over the next two years. One thing is clear — outlets from MSNBC to The New York Times and CNN are capable of just about anything to smear the Right. The Tucson coverage confirms it.

The 2008 “Slobbering Love Affair” coverage might seem quaint by comparison.

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Between Hollywood and Tucson

Monday, January 10th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

Hollywood just wrapped a year in which ticket sales slumped badly – the lowest totals since 1996.

Blame big screen TVs, the rise of addictive video games or even the wonders of the Kindle. So how do some of the industry’s players open 2011? By rushing to their Twitter accounts to pin the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting tragedy on former Gov. Sarah Palin, a beloved figure for many on the right.

Nice work! Alienating a huge swath of the movie-going public is the very best way to bring ticket sales roaring back.

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