Tags: Stewart | the | New | Cronkite

Jon Stewart the New Walter Cronkite?

Tuesday, 28 Jul 2009 06:14 PM

By James Hirsen

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. The Lowdown on Current Comedies
2. Denzel Washington to Play Obama in Biopic
3. Does Brad Pitt Believe in God? 'No, No, No!'
4. Obama Loses Ratings Battle
5. Jon Stewart the New Walter Cronkite?
 

1. The Lowdown on Current Comedies

We all have the need to laugh, especially during these times when our jobs are threatened, our bank accounts are depleted, and our freedoms are headed downhill.

The sad thing is that the comedies coming out of Hollywood these days are hurling downhill in a hand basket, and they’re dragging the culture along with them.

For the last several decades the industry has given us a bunch of sophomoric flicks that basically use the formula of stringing dirty jokes together and pairing the profanity with equally dirty visuals.

Over the years films have run the gamut from “Porky’s” on down to “American Pie.” But these movies seem almost tame when compared to the so-called comedies of today that Hollywood is grinding out, which frequently carry the previously dreaded “R” rating.

The downward spiral has caused PG-13 rated humor movies to push the boundaries of decency so far out it has parents exasperated and youth inured.

“The Proposal,” Sandra Bullock's latest big box-office flick, has taken in $128 million so far. Ryan Reynolds co-stars in the seemingly formulaic romantic comedy, but in this particular film one of America’s reigning sweethearts does her first nude scene, which Bullock incidentally chuckles off during promo appearances.

Filmmaker Judd Apatow has made a career out of pushing the laugh envelope. His latest movie, “Funny People,” hits theaters this week, and in assessing it, funny is not the first descriptive that comes to mind.

The movie stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, among others, and is about comedians who specialize in shock jokes. Sandler plays a stand-up comic who discovers that he has a terminal illness.

Universal is paying the actor a hefty sum, but the movie is being promoted as “the third film from the director of “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” so basically Apatow is the one being hyped.

Leslie Mann, Apatow’s wife who also happens to star in the movie, joked to the press about the flick while at the premiere, saying that “there was a lot of filth. Offensive filth, that wasn't family friendly.” She apparently felt the need to add that there “was a lot of dirty, filthy stuff going on,” as if repeated use of the word “filth” is a savvy promotional technique.

Apatow has this bit of advice for those wishing to follow in his filthy footsteps — if you are making these smutty movies “you might as well go all the way and have a harder R.”

A harder R appears to be what the bender film, “The Hangover,” was after. The movie is about a bachelor party gone bad, and it’s now the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever. Its current box-office take of $237 million passed up the previous record holder, “Beverly Hills Cop,” which in the 1980s made $235 million.

Newly released movie “The Ugly Truth,” which features lots of profanity, a jello/bikini scene and some vibrating panties, stars Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. It uses the battle-of-the-sexes formula, with the two main characters eventually owning up to the fact that they’re attracted to each other.

Of course, the worst flick on the offensiveness scale is Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno,” a movie that Christian groups, gay groups, and folks the world over find appalling.

The film was actually banned in the Ukraine because it had the potential to “damage the morality” of locals. The Eastern European country also specifically stated that shots of genitals and homosexual sex scenes were unacceptable.

Cohen routinely finds comedy fodder in patriots, Christians, Southerners, and now Orthodox Jews. Thankfully, moviegoers are dumping “Bruno” because of reverse word of mouth.

Today’s Hollywood’s has the talent to produce great movies and provide folks with the laughs they so desperately need.

Now if the town could only find its conscience.


2. Denzel Washington to Play Obama in Biopic

President Obama has expressed his wish that if a movie were ever made about him, he would want the starring role to be given to Will Smith.

Part of the reason for the Smith preference has to do with the size and shape of both men’s hearing appendages.

Casting, though, is an unpredictable activity particularly when the movie role is that of a current president.

According the U.K. Daily Mail, Smith isn’t going to get the Obama part, but instead it’s going to go to Denzel Washington.

The Oscar winner reportedly wanted the role, and Obama has apparently given his approval.

“It was at the president's suggestion,” Denzel said.

The actor did additionally mention one potential issue that may have to be addressed by the make up artist.

“The only problem is he has bigger ears than me,” Denzel divulged.


3. Does Brad Pitt Believe in God? 'No, No, No!'

Brad Pitt recently provided some insight into his views on religion.

When asked if he believed in God during an interview with the German magazine, Bild, he gave a simple three-word reply: “No, no, no!”

When asked if his soul was spiritual, Pitt responded that he’s “probably 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic.”

He went into a little more depth when talking about his agnostic side.

“I don't think anyone really knows. You'll either find out or not when you get there,” Pitt proclaimed.

“Until then there's no point thinking about it,” he added.

Like many other sages of our time, Pitt has apparently aligned himself with those who believe that something came from nothing, the cosmos is one big fat fluke and our better angels are nothing more than impulses.

For those who don’t think they need it, that sure is an awful lot of faith.


4. Obama Loses Ratings Battle

Looks like the Fox television network made a wise business call.

The network's executives decided not to air the Obama-care press conference. Instead they made the decision to stick with regular programming, which included the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

In the competitive world of TV ratings, higher ones equal more advertising dollars. Fox's dance show experienced a ratings increase of 8 percent in the 18-49 demographic and garnered 7.32 million viewers. For the first time in several weeks Fox also beat NBC’s juggernaut show, “America’s Got Talent,” by not airing the White House sales pitch.

The lap dog networks aired the Obama show but suffered the consequences of their actions.

NBC had the largest Obama viewing audience with 6.38 million viewers. ABC came in second place with 5.83 million viewers. And CBS placed last with a meager 4.28 million viewers.

Their combined audiences totaled 16.49 million TV viewers, 13 percent less than Obama's previous primetime appearance on April 29 in which 18.8 million people tuned in.

Maybe the ratings would have been better if the Obama show had been called “So You Think You Can Wing It.”


5. Jon Stewart the New Walter Cronkite?

President Obama received flak from all sides for his answer to a question at his healthcare press conference in which he said that the police officers involved in Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates' arrest “acted stupidly.”

But who could have predicted that “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart would do a presidential put-down?

“I wasn't at the press conference last night, and I also don't have all the facts, but I think it's fair to say that Obama handled that question — oh, what's the word I'm looking for — stupidly?” the Comedy Central star cracked.

In light of Walter Cronkite's recent passing, a Time magazine poll picked Stewart as the anchor now regarded as the “most trusted newscaster.”

Maybe it's a sign of the news-entertainment fuse, but Stewart actually topped the list.

Forty-four percent thought the comedian was Cronkite's heir and disregarded the big-name network anchors.

Twenty-nine percent picked Brian Williams; 19 percent chose Charles Gibson; and only 7 percent selected Katie Couric as the most trusted newsperson.

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