'Entourage' Wants Obama to Act; NBC Won't Court Casey With Cash

Tuesday, 26 Jul 2011 06:25 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. 'Entourage' Stars Offer Obama an Acting Gig
2. NBC News: No Payola for Casey Anthony Interview
3. Patriotic 'Captain America' Tops Box Office
4. Non-Murdoch U.K. Tabloid Accused of Hacking
5. CNN's Piers Morgan Denies Hacking Allegations

 

1. 'Entourage' Stars Offer Obama an Acting Gig

The final season of HBO's hit series "Entourage" kicked off this past weekend.

Series regulars Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon reportedly had wanted President Barack Obama to make a cameo before the last episode aired.

The president's handlers couldn't comply, though; certainly it's difficult to detect an upside for Obama's re-election efforts in showing up on the profanity-laced program.

"We thought maybe there was a chance we could get him to do something. But it didn't happen," Dillon told the New York Daily News.

Hope apparently springs eternal in the hearts of the president's Left Coast fans. Since the series is eventually slated to become a feature film, Piven hasn't given up on his dream of seeing Obama in the big-screen version of the Hollywood dramedy.

"We'll get him for the movie," Piven declared.

"Entourage" has boasted a host of famous cameos, including appearances by Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, Martin Scorsese, Kanye West, Whoopi Goldberg, Jessica Simpson, and executive producer Mark Wahlberg.

Reports recently circulated that the series wanted to bring on Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former Democratic congressman from New York, which would have been a much better storyline fit than the current occupant of the White House.


2. NBC News: No Payola for Casey Anthony Interview

After TMZ reported that Casey Anthony's lawyer was negotiating with the major networks for large amounts of cash, the network denied any offer of payment for an interview.

NBC gave a statement to the New York Post: "We've talked with Baez about getting an interview with Casey Anthony, but only under NBC News standards and conditions — no payment, and absolutely no job offers for any member of her defense team."

The statement has loopholes for hordes of media lawyers to jump through.

While NBC denies any "payment" for an "interview," it leaves open compensation for video footage, photo rights, life story rights, publishing rights and other sources of revenue that in some cases could be made by a subsidiary or sibling company of NBC News.

Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez, had reportedly set up a media negotiating center at New York's Mandarin Oriental Hotel to field offers from NBC, ABC and CBS for an exclusive interview with Anthony. Baez had been spotted in the hotel bar seeking advice on deal-making from celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos.

It seems that there's a whole lot of Casey Anthony wooing on the part of mainstream media networks.

Too bad they don't apply the same degree of energy toward getting the truth about what's going on in the country.


3. Patriotic 'Captain America' Tops Box Office

"Captain America: The First Avenger" topped the North American box office with a potent $65.8 million, according to estimates from distributor Paramount.

The wonderfully unapologetic patriotic film knocked kid wizard Harry Potter out of this past weekend's No. 1 slot.

The revenue intake ranks solidly with two other recent superhero movies, "X-Men: First Class" and "Thor," which brought in $55.1 million and $65.7 million respectively.

The Captain America character first appeared in 1941 as the alter ego of Steve Rogers, a sickly young man enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum to further the U.S. war effort.

Captain America fought the unequivocally evil Axis powers of World War II, donning a red, white and blue costume with an American flag motif. The indestructible shield that he flings like a Frisbee at his enemies is similarly marked.

The $140 million production turns out to be the best superhero film of the year and a defining contribution to summer movie fare. It additionally helps tee up next summer's sequel, "The Avengers."

The challenge of "Captain America: The First Avenger" is that it is a combination of period piece, war flick and superhero movie. Still, the elements flow together smoothly, with plenty of action and suspense.

There is something gratifying about seeing a larger-than-life character clad in the hallmark red, white and blue, who courageously takes on the enemy with the gallant motivation of unabashed love of country.


4. Non-Murdoch U.K. Tabloid Accused of Hacking

It may turn out that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. newspapers aren't the only publications with an alleged penchant for phone hacking.

According to The Associated Press, the left-leaning U.K. Mirror has been accused by a named source of the same charge leveled against Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World.

James Hipwell, a former journalist for the Mirror, said that hacking was a common tactic at the paper.

"It was seen as a bit of a wheeze, slightly underhand but something many of them did," the former Mirror employee told the Independent. "After they'd hacked into someone's mobile they'd delete the message so another paper couldn't get the story."

Trinity Mirror group is the publisher of the Mirror. The New York Times recently quoted five former journalists who said phone hacking was commonplace in the late 1990s at The People, another paper published by Trinity Mirror.

Hipwell has problems as a potential witness. He was dismissed from the Mirror in 2000, first aired the claim soon thereafter, and was reportedly convicted for financial market manipulation several years following his departure from the Mirror.

Hipwell's assertions have been given quite a bit of attention in light of the growing phone-hacking scandal confronting News Corp. And his claims have affected a U.S. anchor at CNN, who also happens to be his former boss at the Mirror, Piers Morgan.


5. CNN's Piers Morgan Denies Hacking Allegations

Piers Morgan, who recently began hosting his own show on CNN, "Piers Morgan Tonight," has been dragged into the News Corp. hacking scandal.

It all started when British blogger Paul Staines, who uses the pen name Guido Fawkes, claimed that a major Mirror scoop in 2002 — obtained at the time when Morgan was editor — came from a phone hack.

Morgan denies the claim and additionally has rebuffed an allegation made by a British legislator during the recent News Corp. hearing, which had the whole world fixated.

Louise Mensch, a Conservative member of Parliament, asked why lawmakers had not questioned Morgan, who was editor of News Corp.'s News of the World in the mid-1990s. Mensch claimed that Morgan had admitted in a book he had penned that phone hacking provided news stories for the Mirror. However, she seemed to confuse posts by Fawkes with a passage from Morgan's book.

Morgan subsequently denied involvement with phone hacking. "Ms. Mensch accused me of personal criminal activity, and I never broke the law as an editor," he told the The New York Times.

Among other material that Fawkes had posted was an old GQ exchange between Morgan and Naomi Campbell.

In response to a question from Campbell on the News of the World hacking of the royals' phones, Morgan said, "Well, I was there in 1994-5, before mobiles were used very much, and that particular trick wasn't known about. I can't get too excited about it, I must say. It was pretty well-known that if you didn't change your pin code when you were a celebrity who bought a new phone, then reporters could ring your mobile, tap in a standard factory setting number and hear your messages. That is not, to me, as serious as planting a bug in someone's house, which is what some people seem to think was going on."

In 2004 Morgan was fired from the Mirror after the newspaper published photos purporting to show British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. The pictures turned out to be fakes.

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