Jerry Brown Neglects Duties to Seek Publicity

Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010 07:21 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Piers Morgan Follows King Tradition as Obama Fawner
2. TV First: Spanish Univision Beats English Networks
3. Economic Pessimism Dulls Tinseltown’s Shine
4. Cheech and Chong Stoke Up a Pot Campaign
5. Jerry Brown Neglects Duties to Seek Publicity
 

1. Piers Morgan Follows King Tradition as Obama Fawner

It’s confirmed: Piers Morgan is carrying on the liberal Larry King tradition.

Upon being officially named heir to King’s cable talk-show crown, Morgan’s first public utterances were filled with praise for — who else? — President Obama.

In an interview with CBS’ “Early Show,” the British tabloid veteran who will become CNN’s chief prime-time interviewer hopped on the mainstream media’s Obama-fawning bandwagon.

“I’d love to [interview] President Obama,” Morgan said. “I like what he’s done for the reputation of America abroad, which I’m not sure many Americans fully understand. But he has restored the reputation of America, in my view, hugely.”

The president restored America’s reputation? Only with our enemies.


2. TV First: Spanish Univision Beats English Networks

It has never happened before.

Reflecting the demographic change in America and the immigration policies that ushered it in, Univision took the coveted position of most popular television network in the 18 to 49 demographic last week.

It is a striking indicator in the United States, which has been an English-speaking culture since its inception.

The 18-to-49 demographic is the group that advertisers love to target, and consequently it’s the one that’s most on the minds of entertainment executives.

Admittedly, Univision’s jump in rank occurred before the start of the fall season, the period during which networks put forward their best programming.

Like other TV networks, Univision has been working to attract young people, and it has succeeded to a great degree. According to Nielsen, 2.1 million of the network’s primetime average audience of 3.8 million was in the 18-to-49 range.

The programs that provide the lion’s share of the ratings are the Spanish prime-time soap operas called telenovelas, which air five times a week.

Incidentally, a consortium led by Saban Capital Group acquired Univision in 2007. Hollywood mogul Haim Saban is a longtime financial supporter of Democrat candidates.


3. Economic Pessimism Dulls Tinseltown’s Shine

Hollywood executives are scared silly.

Although 3-D movies inflated the take because of higher ticket prices, attendance was down around 3 percent.

The big-budget summer flicks brought in $4.22 billion at the domestic box office, but actual attendance hit its lowest point since 2007.

Summer is Hollywood’s most important season, with expectations that audiences will increase.

Since the entertainment business has a history of being recession proof, drops in attendance really hit the community hard.

The state of the general economy and decline of DVD revenues have shaken Tinseltown’s business leaders, resulting in a reduction in the number of new movies being financed and produced.

Adding to execs’ anxieties are the many new distribution paradigms, such as Apple’s 99-cent TV show rentals and Google’s expected expansion into television.

With longtime franchises such as “Harry Potter” coming to an end, studios have been trying to create new franchises with movies such as “Watchmen” and “Jonah Hex,” although without much luck.

Meanwhile, entertainment companies are cutting expenses, and agents are complaining that even big-name talent is being squeezed.

The question is whether a business so deeply dependent on innovation and creativity can function in an atmosphere of caution, cost-cutting, and growing cynicism.


4. Cheech and Chong Stoke Up a Pot Campaign

Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong are well known for their stoner humor.

The actor-comedians played it up in their pot-smoking scenes in 1978’s “Up in Smoke.”

In a prime case of life imitating art, the two launched a tour this year for the Marijuana Policy Project, an effort to liberalize pot laws in numerous states. The campaign is dubbed “Get It Legal.”

Cheech also appeared sans his partner at a medical marijuana convention in February. Organizers touted the three-day HempCon 2010 as the first such gathering devoted to the medical marijuana industry.

The next Cheech and Chong marijuana campaign is set to begin Sept. 24 in Redding, Calif.

The duo also will appear in Los Angeles on Sept. 30 for High Times magazine’s Stony Awards, celebrating pot scenes in movies. This will occur just days before Californians cast their votes on Proposition 19, which aims to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

If the initiative does pass, California will become the first U.S. state to legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana.

Strangely, the comic-activists were booked in Santa Cruz on Nov. 5 and in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, days after the election takes place.

Maybe the folks at the Marijuana Policy Project who booked Cheech and Chong were a bit confused — or it could be that they were high at the time.


5. Jerry Brown Neglects Duties to Seek Publicity

Jerry Brown is a busy guy, but unfortunately he’s not so devoted to his present gig.

Instead of fulfilling his attorney general duties to the citizens of California, he has been seeking publicity with high-profile celebrity cases.

Brown latched onto the Anna Nicole Smith case, the death of Corey Haim, and the criminal case against Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s doctor. He even spent time on the TV couch with Dr. Phil.

When Brown dropped elder abuse cases for no apparent reason, his opponent in the governor race, Meg Whitman, issued the following statement: “Jerry Brown has been using his official office to bolster his gubernatorial run, rather than protecting California's most vulnerable citizens. Instead of going after defendants who are suspected of elder abuse, career politician Jerry Brown has chosen to pursue celebrity headlines.”

In May, a fundraiser for Brown, formerly known as “Governor Moonbeam,” took place at a trendy Hollywood nightclub on Hollywood and Vine. The event was called “Generation for Change,” a name that smacks of the 2008 Dem presidential campaign.

In addition to movie producers Alan Ladd Jr. and Jerry Zucker, a host of young actors were present at the affair, along with Hollywood’s favorite former CIA operative, Valerie Plame, and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Brown told the crowd about three problems that he must face: “Now, we got a recession, and we've got a Republican actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. So I do know how to deal with these three problems: the recession problem, the Republican problem — and the actor problem.”

Needing more cash to take care of the “problems,” Brown went to the Venice, Calif., home of Jodie Evans in August for a $500-per-person fundraiser hosted by Sally Kellerman, Bill Press, Cindy Asner (wife of Ed Asner), and Gail Zappa (wife of Frank Zappa), among others.

Evans was Brown’s treasurer for his 1980 presidential campaign, finance director for his 1982 senate campaign, executive director of his political action committee, and manager of his 1992 presidential campaign. She is also the co-founder of Code Pink, has commiserated with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, and has put together trips to Gaza to support their friends in Hamas.

Evans and Code Pink even went to Iran at the personal invitation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It comes as no real surprise that Brown’s first TV and radio ads are misleading.

An ad trumpets Brown’s two-time veto of state employee pay increases. But it conveniently leaves out the fact that the legislature overrode the governor's vetoes. In the end, Brown caved to somewhat smaller pay increases instead.

The ad brags about a lower tax burden, which is technically correct. However, the greatest tax relief came from voters having passed Proposition 13, the initiative that limited property tax increases and one that Brown had vehemently opposed.

Brown’s current ad touts the 1.9 million jobs that he purportedly created. But it ignores the disturbing level of unemployment he left to his successor, a staggering 11 percent.

All of this undoubtedly will come up at the first Whitman-Brown debate, which is set to take place on Sept. 28.

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