Oprah Shills for Obama; Jerry Lewis Dissed

Tuesday, 09 Aug 2011 07:54 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Hollywood Plots an October Surprise
2. John Kerry Rails Against Equal Time
3. DreamWorks' Katzenberg Counters GOP 'Extremists' With Cash
4. Comics Rally for Jerry Lewis After Telethon Diss
5. Oprah to Shill for Obama in 2012
 

1. Hollywood Plots an October Surprise

With the economic stats from the administration looking phonier than the spray tans on "Jersey Shore," the White House is hoping some Hollywood-style image manipulation can boost its sagging poll numbers.

Sony Pictures has announced that the release date for the yet-untitled film about the death of Osama bin Laden will be Oct. 12, 2012, just weeks prior to President Barack Obama's re-election attempt.

The flick is directed and written by the Oscar-winning duo of "The Hurt Locker," Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal. The fall release also perfectly positions the film for Oscar nominations.

Bigelow and Boal actually had the project in development before bin Laden was killed but reportedly have reworked the script.

The White House will be rooting for the movie to do well at the box office and is said to be granting the filmmakers unprecedented access to information.

Maureen Dowd of The New York Times commented, "The White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president's image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently — to the surprise of some military officers — at a CIA ceremony celebrating the hero SEALs."


2. John Kerry Rails Against Equal Time

John Kerry recently slammed the media for their coverage of the debt ceiling talks.

It would have made sense if the Massachusetts senator were chastising the media for having wrongly reported cuts as actually slashing the amount we will be spending, or for mischaracterizing the tea party, the Ryan plan, and cut, cap and balance as extreme.

No, Kerry is really worked up over the media's doling out of equal time to what he called an "absurd notion" during the debt debate.

"And I have to tell you, I say this to you politely," Kerry told MSNBC, "the media in America has a bigger responsibility than it's exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual."

"It doesn't deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do. And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what's real, of who's accountable, of who is not accountable, of who's real, who isn't, who's serious, who isn't," Kerry added.

Evidently, Kerry thinks it's wrong to give "equal time and or equal balance" to positions with which he and his Democratic colleagues disagree.

Maybe in the spirit of absurd notion suppression the media shouldn't have reported some of Kerry's own positions, such as the one in which he argued against tax cuts, claiming in February of 2009, "If you put a tax cut into the hands of a business or family, there's no guarantee that they're going to invest that or invest it in America."

He and his party asked the public to believe that when the government squandered a gazillion taxpayer dollars, shovel ready jobs would be plentiful. Of course, Obama later laughingly admitted that the jobs weren't so shovel ready after all.

Kerry, incidentally, gave himself a tax cut by docking his yacht in the tax haven of Rhode Island rather than in his home state of Massachusetts.

Then there's this: In January of this year, Kerry warned against making government any smaller than its current gargantuan size, asking rhetorically, "Do they want a government too limited to have invented the Internet, now a vital part of our commerce and communications? ... [Or a] government too small to give America's auto industry and all its workers a second chance to fight for their survival?"

Kerry's own absurd notions, which are shared by his Democratic cohorts, are what caused the nation's financial rating to be downgraded.


3. DreamWorks' Katzenberg Counters GOP 'Extremists' With Cash

As reported in last week's column, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has topped Democratic donations to independent groups with a massive $2 million check Priorities USA Action, a group run by liberals that includes some former Obama aides.

Now Katzenberg has explained his motivation for giving such large amounts to the party that is presiding over the dismal economic outlook, which has even affected the mood in Tinseltown.

Katzenberg cited the outside GOP spending in 2010 as leading to the election of, in his words, "Republican extremists," according to an email he sent to USA Today. The DreamWorks exec blamed the same "extremists" for taking the nation close to a U.S. default in the recent debt ceiling negotiations.

"The stakes are too high for us to simply allow the extremism of a small but well-funded right wing minority to go unchallenged," Katzenberg added.

The context strongly suggests that Katzenberg is reading from the White House talking points and that "Republican extremists" and "right wing minority" are just more code words for the tea party.


4. Comics Rally for Jerry Lewis After Telethon Diss

After the Muscular Dystrophy Association, in a terse two-paragraph statement, announced that Jerry Lewis would no longer host the MDA Labor Day Telethon, shockwaves spread across the entertainment community.

The 85-year-old Lewis has health problems; he also has a reputation for being difficult to work with at times. But the legendary comedic actor has been the name, face and emcee of the annual event since 1952, bringing in a staggering $2 billion to the organization.

A group of ticked-off comedians recently held a press conference at Hollywood's Laugh Factory to bring media attention to the Lewis issue. Supporters included Larry Miller, Paul Rodriguez, Tom Dreesen, and Norm Crosby, who co-hosted the telethon with Lewis for more than 25 years.

"If this is the way we're going, we should also tell grandpa we don't need him for Thanksgiving," Miller said.

Rodriguez noted that many of his fellow comics had made calls and sent supportive emails, including Dave Chappelle and Kevin Pollak.

"We're gonna host our own telethon," Rodriguez said, quipping, "We're trying to find a cure for disrespect and ingratitude."

Crosby characterized MDA's actions as "abrupt" and "cruel."

"If it was time for him to leave, that's debatable. If he was cranky and nasty and difficult, that's possible too," Crosby said. "But it was all because of the passion he had for these kids and the money they raised and for the telethon. Certainly there could've been a much more pleasant, easier way for him to go."

The comics insist that Lewis should be in attendance at the upcoming telethon and be given proper respect for his many decades of work with organization.

MDA has not responded to media requests for comment and has yet to announce the identity of the new host.

Ironically, a new Lewis documentary is set to debut on the Encore channel in October. "Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis" will reportedly feature vintage footage of Lewis and commentary from Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Quentin Tarantino, and Alec Baldwin.


5. Oprah to Shill for Obama in 2012

A lot of folks who were enthusiastic during President Obama's 2008 campaign have turned lukewarm. But not Oprah Winfrey.

The former queen of daytime talk appears to be ready to reprise her unprecedented chief political endorser role, this time for Obama's 2012 campaign.

Winfrey always had a habit of staying away from politics, but she supposedly changed her mind when she heard Obama's famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

She may have ended her daytime show and may temporarily be struggling with her new cable channel, but her endorsement power is still intact, particularly when it comes to Democrats and independent female voters.

She unequivocally declared in a statement to Politico that she will lend a hand once again to the upcoming Obama 2012 re-election campaign.

"I supported Barack Obama in 2008 because I believed then as I do now that he is the right man for the job," she said. "I wanted to share my enthusiasm for his candidacy in hopes that others would see what I saw in him."

"As for 2012," Winfrey added, "if the campaign needs me, I'm happy to be of service. I'm in his corner for whatever he needs me to do."

She is able to help him generate campaign funds, that's for sure. Last time around she held a cozy little gathering at her Santa Barbara estate and in one day raked in $3 million from the assembled celebrities.

Obama's Republican opponent is likely to characterize Oprah's support as proof that in a time of economic turmoil the president is way too busy rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

That won't change the fact that for 25 years Oprah has been building her brand with American women, and it looks like she'll be one of Obama's key campaign weapons in the 2012 battle.

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