Everyone knows that with all of the rampant campaigning going on, Hollywood’s Oscar season can get quite political, but this year it’s literally poliitics. And not as usual. An infusion of real politicians, and political issues, have been characterizing this Academy campaign season for several weeks and it seems to be ramping up to new heights just as ballots went out this week and voting is now going on in earnest through February 19. Of course real-world politics have often seeped into Oscar season but, whether it is the political nature of the films or some other reason, it’s careening out of control.
Starting with the October release of Warner Bros‘ Argo, several real-life Presidents have been used to either officially – or unofficially – make an endorsement of a contender or at least be used in ways we haven’t seen before. For Argo’s end credits former President Jimmy Carter turns up in an audio interview basically confirming the facts of the CIA mission he approved to get six American hostages out of the Canadian Embassy in Iran by creating a fake movie production. It was a very effective way of validating the events of the film set in 1979 and giving it added gravitas. It also didn’t hurt the film’s awards chances to have Tony Mendez, … Read More »
Only 69% of adults turned to the tube first for election news last month, the lowest percentage in at least 20 years, according to the weekly surveys taken for the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index. The latest figure is down from 72% four years ago, 78% in 2004, and 86% in 2000. Broadcasters are seeing the biggest losses. Just 32% of adults cited local TV news as their primary source for election news, down from 40% four years ago. The national nightly newscasts were down to 26% from 32%. Cable news channels held relatively steady at 36%, down from 38%. As you might imagine, a lot of people now are turning to the Internet for their political news fix. It passed newspapers to become the No. 2 source of election news, with 34% turning first to the Web vs 26% in the 2008 campaign and 13% in 2004. CNN.com ranked first for politics junkies on the Internet, followed by Yahoo News and Google News. Only 22% picked Read More »
It could – Newt Gingrich’s second wife made some sensational hypocrisy charges to ABC News’ Brian Ross in a report to be broadcast on Nightline tonight, just ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina primary. In her first interview since divorcing Gingrich in 1999, she says that while the one-time House Speaker was trying to impeach Bill Clinton for lacking moral leadership following his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Gingrich told Marianne that he was engaged in a six-year affair with an aide — his current wife Callista. ”He wanted an open marriage and I refused,” Marianne Gingrich told ABC. The news organization says that she’s speaking out now to show that “his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.” Marianne Gingrich also told ABC that Newt moved to divorce her shortly after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. “He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew,” she said. She added that her ex-husband has never apologized to her or said that he regrets his actions. ABC says that Gingrich did not comment on the allegations, although he has said on the campaign trail that he has “no relationship” with his ex-wife.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
What’s a liberal political activist Hollywood producer to do when the sitting president is a Democrat and the big news is dueling Republican hopefuls? Deadline asked producer Harry Thomason at today’s TCA in Pasadena, which focused on PBS. “I think it is well-known that most people in Hollywood are left-leaning,” said Thomason, who was here to participate on a panel about the miniseries Clinton. “They are concerned with getting Obama re-elected, and that means doing whatever they have to do.” Two decades ago, Thomason and wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women) were Hollywood’s premiere FOBs – that is, Friends of Bill Clinton. The producers advised Clinton on his media image and produced The Man from Hope campaign film that was shown at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Thomason says of the role of Hollywood in 2012: “I really think that Hollywood always has an effect on politics, because there is so much money here.”
Thomason declined to discuss the effect of Washington politics on public funding for always-beleaguered PBS. But another producer here for a panel wasn’t so shy. Said Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “I would hope that the Congress would realize what a disaster it would be if there were any further … Read More »
Cannes has never been a place to shy away from politics. It’s not enough that official competition entry Melancholia’s director Lars von Trier stirred things up Wednesday by singling out Hitler and Nazis for his admiration, forcing the festival to ask for an apology. The last couple of days have also seen presidential politics creep into the fest lineup in a very prominent way with eyebrow-raising equal-opportunity disses thrown at President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in two very different films screening in the official selection.
Before the Festival began May 11, we reported rampant rumors that Sarkozy might be attending the Cannes kickoff since his wife, Carla Bruni, was appearing in the opening-night film, Midnight In Paris. As it turned out, neither showed on the red carpet, but Wednesday Sarkozy finally made his debut in Cannes — sort of. The night’s main event, an out-of-competition premiere showing of The Conquest, launched the nationwide start of what can only be described as a French Primary Colors (a veiled story of Bill Clinton). Unlike that movie, this one, about Sarkozy’s rise to power, was not even thinly disguised, using real names and actors who look exactly like the real-life players. Sarkozy cannot be very happy with this portrait, which paints him as a master manipulator who was dumped by his wife of 20 years and then participates in a charade to convince voters he is still happily married in order to get elected – even though the “future” First Lady has shacked up with another guy. It may be tres scandalous but it is also very entertaining, surprisingly one of the best times I have had in the Palais the entire festival. Read More »
Fox has suspending two of its paid contributors with presidential aspirations, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, for 60 days. If the two don’t declare by May 1 that they won’t be running for president, their contracts will be terminated. Remaining on payroll at Fox News are two other potential presidential hopefuls, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. If a network contributor is running for office, their airtime could be considered a campaign contribution.
This is the third formal state dinner of the Obama administration and each time Hollywood has been invited. Last night’s was for Chinese President Hu Jintao and featured a list of 225 guests: Disney CEO Robert Iger and wife Willow Bay, Wendi Deng without media mogul husband Rupert Murdoch who reportedly was traveling, Barbra Streisand with husband James Brolin, action star Jackie Chan, and Law & Order: SVU shrink B.D. Wong were among the guests, with after-dinner entertainment provided by Herbie Hancock. Also on the list: GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt who doesn’t qualify as a media mogul anymore now that the FCC has okayed the Comcast takeover of NBC Universal.
Simon & Schuster today is about to market the heck out of O, its anonymously written and self-proclaimed provocative novel about Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. That’s right — the campaign that hasn’t happened yet. Supposedly, it’s penned by someone “who’s been in the room with Obama”. This is kinda different from Primary Colors, the thinly disguised roman a clef about Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and also written anonymously until journalist Joe Klein came forward to claim responsibility. That novel sold a ton of copies for rival publishing house Random House, and S&S is obviously trying to capitalize on that success. Will Hollywood bite? “We haven’t discussed it with anyone yet, but it’s early, and no one’s read a thing about it until today,” S&S publisher Jonathan Karp just told Deadline.
Primary Colors was deemed a stiff at the box office when Universal made it into a comedy in 1998 with Mike Nichols directing and Elaine May writing the adapted screenplay. Still, that script was nominated for an Oscar along with Kathy Bates for Supporting Actress. S&S is owned by CBS Inc, so maybe Showtime or even CBS Films might get a crack at it first. Meantime, here’s a (satirical) memo Karp just sent his authors:
On January 25, we’ll be publishing a secret novel simply titled O, about President Obama’s campaign for re-election in 2012. The author of the novel wishes to remain anonymous. You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If
I have a response to that Washington Postreport claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s transition to minority leader is being aided behind the scenes by Steven Spielberg. The paper makes it sounds as though Spielberg will become a veritable House Whisperer, helping “rebrand” Democrats in Congress. But when I reached out to Spielberg’s longtime publicist Marvin Levy, he wrote me back: “Today’s story regarding Nancy Pelosi made a reference to Steven Spielberg that requires a response. I can say as a long-time spokesman for Steven that he has made it his career to direct actors, not political figures.”
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay after it was revealed that he made three campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. Politico reports that the Countdown host donated $2,400 each to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and to Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway. “I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement. “Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.” NBC’s donation policy requires employees to obtain permission regarding contributions or activities that could be considered conflicts of interest. Here is Olbermann’s take on the issue:
“One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the reelection campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky. I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.”
Michael Moore today called for Democrats to run “beloved… smart… good” Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey as candidates and for the Obama administration to use Hollywood to “help fashion” its message. In an MSNBC interview with host Lawrence O’Donnell who was one of the writer/producers of The West Wing and other political TV shows, and Moore had this exchange about the midterm election results:
O’Donnell: Presidential elections have a movie star candidate to vote for. Midterm elections are like trying to open a movie on the weekend without a movie star. How do you do that? You’ve done that.
Moore: … [the Republicans] have actually run movie stars and won. They ran Ronald Reagan. Fred Thompson was a senator. Gopher from The Love Boat. Sonny Bono…
O’Donnell: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Moore: I don’t know why they hate Hollywood so much. When they run Hollywood, they win. When are the Democrats going to run Hollywood. For as much as they’re accused of going hollywood…
O’Donnell: Tom Hanks, step right up here for your nomination.
Moore: Seriously, if we ran Tom Hanks, if we ran Oprah, there’s a whole column of people who are beloved people, who are smart, good. But we have Obama, and he’s kind of like Tom Hanks, a nice guy. Why dont they make use of all the great communicators in Hollywood to help fashion a message? You don’t say things like, ‘Here’s your stimulus. What the hell, that sounds like a gynecological
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear drew tens of thousands to the National Mall in Washington DC yesterday and hundreds of thousands to the event’s live broadcasts on TV and online. Among the highlights: Colbert’s big entrance from his “fear bunker” via a capsule like the one used in the Chilean miners’ rescue, Stewart’s closing Moment of Sincerity, which produced the most sound bites from the event such as “We live now in hard times, not end times” and “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Sandwiched between them were bits that, as Stewart self-deprecatingly said “some would classify as comedy” that mixed comedy, silliness and some poignant moments. Here are some of the most memorable skits:
The View outspoken co-host Joy Behar who recently walked out in the middle of a Bill O’Reilly interview over disagreement with him on the subject of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, today took on a racially-charged ad by Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle. Behar called Angle a moron, a bitch and suggested she is “going to hell.”
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that five well-known Hollywood Democrats — David Geffen, Bob Iger, Peter Chernin, Haim Saban, and Ari Emanuel — are hosting a November 4th fundraiser for Ari’s brother Rahm Emanuel in his bid to become Chicago’s next mayor. Rahm, a former Democratic U.S. Representative from Illinois’ 5th Congressional District (2003-2009), resigned as President Obama’s White House Chief Of Staff on October 1st to throw his hat into the mayoral race following the retirement of Richard M. Daley whose last name more or less owned that political office the way most families would takeover the dining table. The Hollywood fundraiser will be held at Saban’s palatial Beverly Hills home.
For those keeping score, Geffen is the former DreamWorks SKG partner and longtime music and film mogul. Iger is the CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Chernin is the former No. 2 of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and now a busy Fox TV and film producer. Saban is a private equity investor and entertainment producer best known for making the Power rangers into a worldwide hit and co-owner of the largest Spanish language media company in the U.S., Univision, as well as one of the Democratic party’s single largest donors. And Ari is the co-CEO of WME Entertainment, one of the largest Hollywood talent and literary agencies and now expanding into marketing and investment banking. All the men are Democratic Party donors, with Geffen, Chernin, Ari Emanuel, and Saban the most … Read More »
With the economy still sputtering, his approval ratings slipping and the mid-term elections looming, President Barack Obama certainly has enough on his plate. But he surprisingly found time to appear on the December 8 episode of Discovery Channel’s series Mythbusters. In the episode, Archimedes Solar Ray, Obama challenges hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman to prove the ancient Greek myth that scientist and polymath Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun? I wonder if he is planning to use the knowledge against the GOP fleet that is threatening the Democratic majority in the upcoming November elections.
Foreign & Colonial, a British fund manager which controls shares in News Corp, is unhappy with Rupert Murdoch for allegedly using company funds to support the Republican Party. It will vote against the re-election of audit committee chairman Sir Rod Eddington to the board at the media giant’s annual investor meeting in New York on Friday. News Corp has given $2 million to the Republican Party in recent months – it recently gave $1 million to the US Chamber of Commerce, a lobbyist group which campaigns for Republicans to take control of Congress and $1 million to Republican candidates standing for election in the mid-terms. F&C represents investors angry that Murdoch is using News Corp funds for personal politics. “There is no evidence of a political contributions policy or process at News Corp and the board does not have an explicit oversight role,” F&C tells me. F&C’s corporate governance head Karina Litvack has expressed “concern” at News Corp using shareholder funds for political contributions. News Corporation declined to comment.
West Wing creator and An American President scribe Aaron Sorkin will make his feature directorial debut on a drama that chronicles the scandalous implosion of Senator John Edwards’ 2008 run to be the Democratic presidential candidate. It ended shockingly when a tabloid newspaper revealed that the married senator had fathered an illegitimate child with Rielle Hunter — a claim Edwards denied, denied, denied, and then finally admitted, much to the amazement of his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth who was blindsided. Sorkin has optioned The Politician, the book by one-time Edwards aide Andrew Young that was published last January by Thomas Dunne Books.
“This is a first hand account of an extraordinary story filled with motivations, decisions and consequences that would have lit Shakespeare up,” Sorkin said in a statement. “There is much more to Andrew’s book than what has been reported and I am grateful that he’s trusting me with it.” Sorkin is no stranger to the political arena with credits that also include A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson’s War. Sorkin optioned the project on his own and hasn’t yet involved a studio. He’ll write the script and produce the film in a deal just closed by WME and his attorney Richard Heller. Sorkin is coming off two high-profile scripting jobs: the David Fincher-directed The Social Network, which opens October 1, and Moneyball, an adaptation of the Michael Lewis book that is … Read More »
Rod Blagojevich was considering appointing Oprah Winfrey to the Illinois Senate seat to replace Barack Obama, according to a wiretap played today at the former Illinois governor’s corruption trial. Per news reports, on the tape recorded on Dec. 2 Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris go over replacement possibilities. The most intriguing ones raised by Blagojevich include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who doesn’t even live in Illinois and Winfrey.
“Oprah, by the way, is not far-fetched,” Blagojevich told Harris, noting her major role in the election of Obama to the presidency. “She’s up there so high, no one can assail this pick.”
Harris’ response? He thought making Winfrey a senator “was crazy.” “That’s where you’re wrong,” Blagojevich retorted.