Tags: Cold | War

The Cold War According to Hollywood

Tuesday, 18 Dec 2007 09:06 PM

By James Hirsen

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. TV Networks Downplay Baseball Steroid Report
2. The Cold War According to Hollywood
3. Conan O'Brien Gets Grief from Bodybuilder over Clay Aiken Joke
4. Writers' Strike Gives Golden Globes a Headache
5. John Edwards' Celebrity Flip-flop

1. TV Networks Downplay Baseball Steroid Report

The television networks are on P.R. overdrive over the release of the official report that claims lots of Major League Baseball players used steroids.

Network execs get nervous when names like Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada, Mark McGwire, and, of course, Barry Bonds are tossed around with the "S" word.

Baseball games experienced record attendance levels last season, and TV ratings shot up as well.

The steroid report drafted by former Senator George Mitchell indicates that the named players' use of performance enhancing drugs constitutes "a serious threat to the integrity of the game."

As a result next season's baseball ratings could be in jeopardy.

In an apparent attempt to remain sanguine, TV execs issued upbeat statements.

ESPN opined, "Major League Baseball fans are extremely passionate and we do not feel the report will change that."

Fox Sports expressed assurance that things will turn out okay, suggesting that "while today's news is unfortunate, we have every confidence that the leadership of Major League Baseball has already taken steps to address the issue, and will continue to adjust its measures as circumstances warrant."


2. The Cold War According to Hollywood

History indicates that a prominent conservative's steadfast actions are what led to the Cold War end.

It was the late great Ronald Reagan who was the key player in the engineering of U.S. victory following the prolonged tension-ridden period during which we were at odds with the then-Soviet Union.

A current film once again illustrates that acknowledging Reagan's triumphs doesn't sit all that well with liberal Hollywood.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame (who, incidentally, is up for a Golden Globe but is refusing to cross the writers' strike picket line) and director Mike Nichols, who's best known for "The Graduate," found a book to adapt to the big-screen that credits a Dem with the Cold War win.

"Charlie Wilson's War" is based on a non-fiction book by George Crile, which profiles a 1980s congressman named Charles Wilson, a.k.a. "the liberal from Lufkin." Representative Wilson was a pro-abortion, Equal Rights Amendment-supporting Democrat.

Tom Hanks plays the Texas rep who was involved with covertly funding Afghanistan's Mujahideen rebels in opposition to the Soviet Union. He was urged on by born-again socialite and mistress Joanne Herring, who is played by Julia Roberts.

Not surprisingly, the critics are heaping praise on the film. It has been nominated for 5 Golden Globes and is also on most of the Academy prognosticators' Oscar lists.

Entertainment Weekly gave the quintessential Tinseltown take on the flick, praising it as "a journalistic satire of realpolitik in which our jerry-rigged alliances, which looked strategic at the time, end up biting the U.S. in unforeseen ways."

But the publication did take a small swipe at the movie in the following way: "Charlie was right to fight his war…All of which sounds a little too close to recently made rationalizations for a certain other war."


3. Conan O'Brien Gets Grief from Bodybuilder over Clay Aiken Joke

Conan O'Brien is the target of a recent lawsuit against NBC Universal related to the talk show "Late Night," which O'Brien hosts.

About two years ago a picture of a top bodybuilder named Dennis "The Menace" James was used in a Clay Aiken gag.

James' lawyer filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, which alleged that O'Brien showed a Christmas card on the television screen that "featured the face of 2003 American Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken, smiling on the right side of the card, and the phrase 'All I want this year is a White Christmas' on a fold out flap on the left side of the card. O'Brien then opened the left side of the card to reveal the punch line, '...And a Black Body Builder,' above which was a photograph of Plaintiff posing at the 2004 IFBB Mr. Olympia Competition."

James' causes of action include "misappropriation of image and likeness" and "misappropriation of right of publicity."

Using a similar suit, Woody Allen was able to get an injunction to prevent a look-alike in an ad, and Laker great Kareem Abdul Jabbar was paid cash because his former name, Lou Alcindor, had been used in a TV spot by General Motors.

Aiken hasn't commented on the prank, but Conan is expected to invoke a routinely ignored and underused provision in the Constitution — the First Amendment.


4. Writers' Strike Gives Golden Globes a Headache

The Golden Globes may be a predictor of what happens at the Oscars in more ways than one.

Globe nominations were recently announced, but the six-week old writers' strike may all but eliminate any reason for the public to watch the telecast.

Writers, presenters, nominees and, of course, red carpet walkers could be agonizingly absent.

Globe producers are trying to get a waiver from the Writers Guild of America to exempt the January 13 ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, promising to use the event to express solidarity with the picketers.

If the requested waiver is denied, many of the nominees who don't want to be labeled Ellen DeGeneres-like strikebreakers have already declared that they won't cross the picket line and will therefore boycott the Globes ceremony.

David Duchovny, of "X-files" fame who's nominated for "Californication" told the Hollywood Reporter, "I would never cross picket lines. I would probably send a stunt double in."

"Grey's Anatomy" producer Shonda Rhimes, "Eastern Promises" director David Cronenberg and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" writer Ronald Harwood have also said they will boycott the Globes if there is no waiver.

"Samantha Who?"'s Christina Applegate who's nominated for the new comedy has decided to attend despite the picket lines. Applegate summed up her feelings about being nominated for a Globe while the writers are on strike.

The actress said, "It stinks."


5. John Edwards' Celebrity Flip-flop

It's been a banner year for celebrity endorsements.

As Oprah anointed Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee mugged on the trail with Chuck Norris, and Sean Penn semi-saluted Dennis Kucinich, candidates found themselves responding to press questions on the subject of celebrity influence.

Associated Press scribe Nedra Pickler reported the response on the subject from John Edwards. She offered no commentary but it turns out that it wasn't really necessary.

Pickler reported that Edwards said, "I don't think celebrity is going to sway them much." But Pickler also noted that the Democrat candidate was "bringing actors Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins with him to Iowa later this week."

Bacon was out stumping for Edwards over the past weekend. "I heard Senator Edwards speak a couple of months ago, and I was really knocked out by him," the "Footloose" star shared.

Bacon then started explaining the reason why he likes the Edwards campaign. "The thing that really struck me is that he's got a dream, and he's got a plan. That's what we need these days," the actor said.

Tim Robbins was campaigning for Edwards in Iowa City and took the opportunity to decry the celebrity culture.

"What if instead of 24-7 coverage of the most recent pop star's fall from grace we would see 24-7 reporting of veterans returning from Iraq," Susan Sarandon's main squeeze said. "How do they feel about occupying a country and being caught in a crossfire of a civil war?"

Robbins continued, this time by lecturing the media, saying, "We are owed information, not gossip. And yes, celebrity culture is part of the problem. It's not what I know, it's what you know. It's what the people who don't have access to microphones in front them know."

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