Roger Ebert Slams Rush Limbaugh Over Haiti

Tuesday, 19 Jan 2010 04:07 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Poor Decisions at the Center of the Leno-Conan Debacle
2. Gene Hackman Quits Acting?
3. NBC Exec Slams Conan Over Leno Comments
4. Did a Legal Mistake Cause Conan's Departure?
5. Roger Ebert Slams Rush Limbaugh Over Haiti
 

1. Poor Decisions at the Center of the Leno-Conan Debacle

Hard to believe that it was only eight years ago that NBC was the most profitable network on television.

The Peacock is dropping feathers by the truckload and could lose more than a half-billion dollars this year.

One of the most durable television franchises in broadcast history, “The Tonight Show,” must now undergo rehab after being severely damaged by low ratings and high-profile feuding, which has taken place in both the news media and monologue smackdowns.

Poor decisions by executives, which created the late-night fiasco, are part of a broader malaise that is detrimentally affecting the television business at the management level.

One feeling in particular is a driving force behind a slew of bad executive decisions. Commonplace in the boardrooms of entertainment enterprises is the emotion of fear.

Obsessed with production costs and competition from cable and digital media, terrified management has all but eliminated sitcom and dramatic programming in favor of reality shows.

The scheduling of Leno at a 10 p.m. prime-time slot was merely part of a panic-driven pattern — save production costs at all costs.


2. Gene Hackman Quits Acting?

Gene Hackman has vanished.

The Academy Award winner for “The French Connection” and “Unforgiven” and one of the greatest actors of the last few decades suddenly decided to quit acting and flee the left coast.

Hackman's strange disappearing act has been virtually ignored by the press.

At a time when legendary actors glide right into directing and producing, why would Hackman leave a field in which he achieved such success?

In 2004 Hackman gave a rare interview to Larry King in which he said that he had no new film projects lined up and that he thought his acting career would soon come to an end.

A couple of years ago, when Hackman was promoting a novel he had co-written titled “Escape from Andersonville,” he suggested that there was a reason he had left the biz but didn’t want to reveal it.

He admitted to interviewers that he had quit the movie business but told a reporter from the Raleigh News & Observer that he didn't want to “keep pressing” and risk “going out on a real sour note.”

“I feel comfortable with what I've done,” Hackman shared.


3. NBC Exec Slams Conan Over Leno Comments

NBC executive Dick Ebersol didn’t mince words in an interview with The New York Times, using terms like “chicken-hearted” and “astounding failure” in reference to Conan O’Brien’s antics and performance.

The reaction came after O'Brien rejected NBC's plan to move his start time back 30 minutes.

The host publicly released a quasi-comedic but nasty letter attacking the NBC execs. He also put the “Tonight Show” up for sale on eBay.

Ebersol took O'Brien to task for dissing Jay Leno.

“[It was] chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn’t beat in the ratings,” griped Ebersol.

“What this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan,” he added.

O'Brien had also slammed Leno on a recent show referring to his “Tonight Show” host gig as a lifelong dream, but because he himself was given the job, anyone could achieve success in America unless, in his words, “Jay Leno wants to do it, too.”


4. Did a Legal Mistake Cause Conan's Departure?

Contracts in the entertainment business have their own language and legal interpretation.

Courts impose the customs and standard practices of the industry in agreements, if the language does not specifically contradict them.

This means that if Conan O'Brien's contract with NBC didn’t say anything about the time the “Tonght Show” was scheduled to air, NBC could determine the timeslot for the show.

Conan's contract reportedly had no specific provision that guaranteed the show would air immediately after the local affiliate news.

Television networks routinely change program air times, as fans of numerous dramas and sitcoms are fully aware.

This is why David Letterman's contract with CBS contains a provision that requires the network to air “The Late Show” at its current start time.

It could be that Conan lacked the clout for this type of deal at the time of signing.

For Leno fans, the reason they might soon be able to watch Jay host the “Tonight Show” at its old timeslot may be courtesy of that one missing contract clause.


5. Roger Ebert Slams Rush Limbaugh Over Haiti

Film Critic Roger Ebert, although outspoken about his anti-torture views, is not particularly consistent in his pacifist rhetoric.

In his review of the movie “Taxi to the Dark Side,” Ebert criticized Dick Cheney for the torture that is ascribed to the Bush administration in the film.

At the same time, though, Ebert called for talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh to be horsewhipped for questioning President Obama’s push of the White House government Web site as the way for a caring public to make donations to help Haiti.

Ebert penned an open letter to Limbaugh in the Chicago Sun Times, writing that “having followed President Obama's suggestion and donated money to the Red Cross for relief in Haiti, I was offended to hear you [Limbaugh] suggest the president might be a thief capable of stealing money intended for the earthquake victims.”

Limbaugh made no such suggestion. Ebert instead pulled the inflammatory words from his posterior but went on to reference a conversation that Rush had with one of his callers on his radio show.

In the discussion, Rush questioned whether donations intended to benefit Haiti that were made via the Obama directed Web site would be the best way to hasten assistance to the beleaguered country.

Rush wondered aloud whether names going through the government Web site might end up on a mailing list, which could later prove useful for obtaining donations of an altogether different kind.

Wild speculation? Not really, after a yearlong observance of the way in which the Obama administration operates.

Ebert continued to whinny in his diatribe, “You should be horsewhipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation,”

He claimed to have gone to the Obama suggested Web site, proceeded to click on a link and was routed “directly to the Red Cross.”

Which begs the question of why the president, instead of funneling people through the government Web site, wouldn’t have just advised people to go to the Red Cross site in the first place.

Guess if anyone dares to question the current administration, according to Ebert, torture is A-OK.

Well, that is, if they’re a conservative.

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