Bush Punks Kutcher; Lady Gaga Lays Egg

Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 07:02 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

A Newsmax Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Has Bush Punk’d Ashton Kutcher?
2. Grammys: Lady Gaga Lays an Egg; Gwyneth Sings an ‘F’
3. Sandler Barely Beats Bieber at Box Office
4. Lindsay Lohan Could Escape Jail Time Again
5. Chris Dodd Eyes Gig as Hollywood’s Chief Lobbyist
 

1. Has Bush Punk’d Ashton Kutcher?

Ashton Kutcher, famous for pulling practical jokes on celebrities, is fretting about the possibility that former President George W. Bush dissed him in Dallas.

Seated directly behind the former prez at the Super Bowl XLV game, Demi Moore’s spouse seemed miffed by a palpable lack of fawning.

“I don’t think he’s very happy with me,” Kutcher told BBC Radio. “He just was not very nice to me. He just kind of snubbed me a little bit.”

Why would Dubya ignore the “That ’70s Show” star?

“I think I said some mean things [about Bush] during the election. I feel like he probably doesn’t like me very much,” Ashton said.

Despite having voted for Bush in 2000, Kutcher heartily supported the 2004 Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards; he and Demi gave their endorsement to Barack Obama in 2008.

Contrary to popular celebrity belief, things aren’t always about them. It just may be that the former president was there to watch a football game.


2. Grammys: Lady Gaga Lays an Egg; Gwyneth Sings an ‘F’

Notwithstanding the occasional expert performance, the Grammys painted a pitiful cultural picture.

For most of the former, we can thank the country music contingent. For example, Grammy winner Miranda Lambert delivered a terrific “The House That Built Me,” without any need for pyrotechnics or auto-tuning.

In contrast, Lady Gaga’s media exploits are wearing thin. After appearing on “60 Minutes” to discuss her “sociology of fame” theory and pot smoking habit, she arrived on the red carpet clownishly tucked inside a giant egg, carried by a group of guys in gold robes.

Gaga was apparently trying to best her MTV Video Music Awards stunt from last September, in which she sported a dress made of raw meat.

The un-Lady tested the nerves of network censors while accepting a Grammy for best pop vocal album, yelling out, “Oh, sh--!”

As I observed her antics, it hit me. She’s a smidgen of Madonna, a dash of Cirque du Soleil, and a pinch of PeeWee Herman.

On a semi-related Material Girl note, copyright lawyers are buzzing about Gaga’s new tune, “Born This Way,” and whether it sounds a bit too similar to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.”

Someone who expressed herself at the Grammys — and shoved her slip-sliding image a little further down the slope — was Gwyneth Paltrow, who appeared with Cee Lo Green to sing his nominated song “F*** You.”

Fortunately, Grammy producers had the sense to make performers substitute the words “Forget You” instead. Unfortunately, Green and Paltrow performed with Muppet-like puppets, Green even suiting up in puppet attire, to promote a song that most parents would bar their kids from singing.


3. Sandler Barely Beats Bieber at Box Office

Critics pretty much gave the thumbs-down to all of the big movies released over the weekend. What do you know, the public disagreed.

Adam Sandler’s “Just Go With It,” starring Jennifer Aniston and prominently featuring Brooklyn Decker, was the No. 1 film in the country by a slim margin.

Sandler’s flick took in $31 million, but Justin Bieber’s concert documentary, “Never Say Never,” was a close No. 2 with $30.3 million.

True Beliebers can take comfort in the fact that “Never” bowed in almost 500 fewer theaters than “Go With It.” Partially due to 3-D ticket prices, the tween phenom’s movie averaged $9,700 per theater vs. Sandler’s $8,700 per theater.

Disney had a pleasant surprise with solid numbers for the animated “Gnomeo & Juliet.” Execs expected between $15 and $20 million, but the garden figurines turned in a $25 million performance.

Hollywood can’t really take a whole lot of comfort in what appears to be a decent weekend box office of $149 million, because the trend is not Tinseltown’s friend. The numbers are around 27 percent less than they were a year ago, and since the start of 2011 receipts are down approximately 25 percent.


4. Lindsay Lohan Could Escape Jail Time Again

Reports indicate that Lindsay Lohan is willing to plead guilty to felony charges of theft as part of a plea bargain, as long as she doesn’t have to spend time in the slammer.

My professional legal take is that she has a pretty good chance of staying out of prison.

Judges will often approve plea deals in which the offense has been reduced to a misdemeanor and the defendant can be given the typical celebrity sentence: probation and community service.

Sometimes judges will also approve a plea bargain in which the defendant pleads guilty to the felony, receives a non-jail sentence and, following a successful three-year probation, is able to get the felony reduced to a misdemeanor.

Lohan could go to trial, and under the reported facts her attorney would only need to convince one of the jurors that she didn’t intend to steal.

Even if the jury did decide to convict Lindsay, the judge could choose a punishment other than prison since she arguably poses no threat to the public at large, much like the judge did in the Winona Ryder case a number of years back.

Lohan still may be deemed to have violated her probation in the previous DUI case, and if so, under normal circumstances, would have to face some jail time.

But hey, this is the Capital City of Celebrity Justice, the place where long ago the courts gave birth to a two-tiered legal system.


5. Chris Dodd Eyes Gig as Hollywood’s Chief Lobbyist

Looks like Democrat Chris Dodd may soon be headed to Hollywood. Since retiring from Congress, he’s at the top of the list to get a coveted $1.2 million per year gig as head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

If he nabs the top spot, not only would Dodd have his own private 70-seat theater in the nation’s capital from which he would get to host sneak previews for congressional members, he’d also be able to hobnob with Hollywood glitterati as one of their own.

Folks may be wondering how such a plum position could be within reach of someone who allowed the insurance colossus AIG to pay out bonuses of $165 million around the same time the company was being funded with taxpayer bailout money. Someone, moreover, who was investigated by a Senate ethics panel for allegedly taking below-market discounts (a.k.a. bribes) for mortgages given to him by Countrywide Financial.

Well, it is, after all, a Hollywood position, and Hollywood hearts liberal Dems. Dodd most certainly returns the love.

The former senator has experience on a movie set, having portrayed himself in the Kevin Kline comedic White House film, “Dave.”

Believe it or not, Dodd once dated Carrie Fisher of Princess Leia fame. He also courted Mick Jagger’s ex, Bianca Jagger.

The cagey politician has maintained good relations with powerful Democratic supporters in the entertainment business including DreamWorks’ Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, and the former heads of Miramax, the Weinstein brothers.

In the final campaign prior to his retirement, entertainment industry figures gave Dodd and his PAC almost $200,000. Hollywood donors included Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Universal Studios head Ronald Meyer, and Time Warner President Jeffrey Bewkes. Paul Simon hosted a fundraiser for then-candidate Dodd.

If Dodd does land the job, he will replace former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, who recently left the post.

Dodd has a little legal impediment, however. Under the law, the former senator cannot register as a lobbyist for two years. And the primary business of the MPAA happens to be lobbying.

The group spent $1.66 million in 2009, lobbying Congress and the White House. During each and every election cycle, the MPAA PAC stuffs big bucks into campaign coffers of congressional candidates. As a result, Glickman did register as a lobbyist.

If Dodd takes the MPAA reins, he will likely claim that he is engaged in consulting rather than lobbying, or that his lobbying activities do not rise to the 20 percent level that would mandate registration.

Such semantic gymnastics would allow Dodd to claim that at least he’s consistent.

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