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Hugh Grant Slams UK Hackers; Russia Nixes Capt. America

James Hirsen By Tuesday, 12 July 2011 06:20 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Hollywood Yanks 'Captain America' Off the Marquee
2. China Decrees No Rivals for Propaganda Flick
3. Hugh Grant Slams U.K. Tabloids for Hacking
4. Report: Tony Blair Tried to Stymie Murdoch Probe

1. Hollywood Yanks 'Captain America' Off the Marquee

Is Hollywood trying to placate anti-American sentiment in exchange for some extra box-office cash?

It sure looks like it.

Reports indicated that Paramount and Marvel offered overseas distributors an alternative title for this summer's comic book superhero movie, "Captain America: The First Avenger," allowing them to shorten it to "The First Avenger."

So far Russia, Ukraine and South Korea are the only countries that have opted for the truncated title.

In several other countries, the foreign distribution companies had expressed concern that without the authentic name of the comic book hero, the movie may not be as successful.

The studio has also implemented additional changes that appear to be less than patriotic.

In Australia, the slogan "Heroes are made in America" has been replaced with "When evil rises, a hero will stand."

Such spineless stunts are akin to asking U.S. movie distributors to change the titles of "Chinatown," "The French Connection" or "The Italian Job."

2. China Decrees No Rivals for Propaganda Flick

Hollywood executives dream about tapping into China's potential 1.3 billion moviegoers, but those dreams won't come true this summer because despite all of the positive talk about China, a dictatorship is still a dictatorship.

Beijing's central planners have come up with a new kind of tyrannical marketing ploy, blocking out the competition using government censorship.

Not a single Hollywood summer blockbuster has been allowed to pierce a moratorium imposed by the Chinese dictators; the freeze is in effect so that the populace is only able to view the one movie that the government permits them to see.

That film, titled "Beginning of the Great Revival," is a communist propaganda piece that would make Joseph Goebbels crack a smile. The $12 million production uses top Chinese actors to reconstruct the communist record. As a matter of fact, Chairman Mao is depicted as a dashing romantic hero.

Conveniently left out is the monstrous devastation of life that is communism's true past, such as the Great Leap Forward, Great Famine, Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square, among wretched others. Tens of millions of people lost their lives at the hands of the malevolent Mao.

"Beginning of the Great Revival" will be shown in more than 6,000 theaters across China.

Even if critics hate it, it is guaranteed to top the Chinese box office.

3. Hugh Grant Slams U.K. Tabloids for Hacking

Hugh Grant views the end of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, News of the World, as a "watershed moment."

The now infamous newspaper was permanently shut down after reports surfaced that the paper's employees had hacked into voice mails of numerous high-profile individuals.

Among those listed as having had their private conversations monitored illegally: Prince William, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Also hacked was the cellphone of a missing 13-year-old girl, whose body was eventually found; meanwhile the deletion of voice mails from the account gave false hope to the girl's family that she was still alive.

"This is the watershed moment when, finally, the public starts to see and feel, above all, just how low and how disgusting this particular newspaper's methods were," Grant told CBS' "The Early Show." The actor referred to the story as an "enormous national scandal."

"The politicians will for sure try to push it into the long grass," Grant said. "They're going to say, 'We'll let the police do their inquiry and we won't have a proper, full public inquiry in the meantime.' But that's what we need."

Grant is not a casual bystander with respect to the News of the World saga. He is actually one of the victims whose phone information was illegally accessed.

He is apparently dissatisfied with the focus being solely on News of the World and made the following prediction: "What will emerge shortly is that it wasn't just this newspaper."

"Pretty much all" U.K. tabloids "were keen phone hackers," Grant said.

4. Report: Tony Blair Tried to Stymie Murdoch Probe

The New York Times has described mogul Murdoch as "a Wizard of Oz-like figure, moving the levers of British politics."

The political focus of the scandal's media coverage has been on current U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who brought in former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications director (the British equivalent of a U.S. press secretary).

In January Coulson resigned due to the newspaper scandal. Coulson was recently arrested in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

Despite his conservative reputation, Murdoch's loyalties have seemed more motivated by expediency than ideology. The past five prime ministers of England have sought to be in Murdoch's good graces. In the mid-1990s, an ambitious Tony Blair flew to an island near the coast of Murdoch's home country of Australia to speak at the annual meeting of News Corp. The visit may have made an impression on Murdoch.

In 1997 News Corp. began to back the Labor Party and Blair, who ultimately won the election. The association persisted during Blair's 10 years as British prime minister, and The Times, The Sun and News of the World supported Blair's policies. The News Corp. papers then moved back to the conservative Tories, who ended up winning in 2010.

Now comes a report that Blair attempted to suppress phone hacking revelations.

According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the former prime minister urged successor Gordon Brown to tell Member of Parliament Tom Watson, who led the campaign to expose the News of the World scandal, to lay off.

Sources indicate that Brown refused to comply with Blair's wishes.

Watson engaged in a persistent effort to uncover the details of the newspaper's improprieties for the better part of two years, and he was evidently a significant factor in causing Murdoch to shut down the publication.

Although Brown's office has declined to comment, a friend of Brown said, "There is no doubt about it, Tony wanted Gordon to intervene."

Blair's spokesperson has denied the report saying, "The allegation is categorically untrue."

Ironically, there are now claims that tabloid operatives attempted to access private information of both Blair and Brown – which, if true, shows that Murdoch's empire is an equal-opportunity offender.

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at HollywoodHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Hollywood Yanks 'Captain America' Off the Marquee 2. China Decrees No Rivals for Propaganda Flick 3. Hugh Grant Slams U.K. Tabloids for Hacking 4. Report: Tony Blair...
Hugh Grant,Slams,UK,Hackers,Russia,Captain America,China propaganda,Tony Blair,Murdoch Probe
Tuesday, 12 July 2011 06:20 PM
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