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Hollywood Confidential

Friday, 09 September 2005 12:00 AM

Personally, we're glad Warner Brothers is sweating this one out. This is the exact same constellation of people who got away with murder with the ultra-violent "Matrix" movies, for which the filmmakers were never taken to account. We remember Michael Moore and his fellow travellers blaming America¹s 'gun culture' for the Columbine massacre and related school shootings, but somehow Hollywood and its glamorization of violence (and especially "The Matrix"'s gnostic, 'it isn't real, anyway' ethos) is always left out of that mix.

This time Silver and the Wachowskis are taking on the volatile question of terrorism - with what appears to be their same, blunderbuss approach and uncannily clumsy timing.

Many defenders of the "V For Vendetta" film point out that it is based on a graphic novel series written in the 1980s and which had nothing to do with the present War on Terror. Yet, the LA Times article says the following:

"The movie is based on an acclaimed graphic novel - but that book's author has called the screenplay 'imbecilic' and wants nothing to do with the film."

There have been significant changes that pull "Vendetta" the film away from "Vendetta" the graphic novel (most notably, the entire ending is markedly different and the number of characters has been dramatically reduced) but the plot is still this: a mystery man who exhibits some superhuman abilities is on a rampage in London and his theatrically symbolic acts of destruction are meant to topple a repressive conservative government."

Regardless of when the graphic novel was written, the timing for this motion picture could not possibly be more tasteless or ideologically loaded.

A tendentious, humorless trailer is now available online at Yahoo! Movies for George Clooney's anti-Joe McCarthy screed "Good Night, And Good Luck," which just premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Feel free to watch it, but only if aspirin is readily available. You will learn a great deal about the 'horrors' of the McCarthy era, but very little about the actual communist menace of the time.

Note the utterly gratuitous reference near the end of the trailer to the dangers of 'sacrificing freedom at home' for 'freedom abroad.' One assumes this is Clooney's wink-wink/nudge-nudge shot at the Patriot Act, Bush, the Iraq War, etc.

At the Venice Film Festival this week, Clooney expressed fears about TV news programs that aren¹t willing to 'fly in the face of the corporations,' and also about the state of American civil liberties, in general. Comparing the post-9/11 era to the 1950s, Clooney asserted that now, as then, "We use fear to attack civil liberties." Of course, what loss of civil liberty Clooney himself has suffered went unspecified.

So Mr. Clooney, who was unable to finish his degree at Northern Kentucky U., now presumes to lecture us on the McCarthy era. That's Hollywood for you.

Our friend Larry Elder's film "Michael & Me" has finally made it to DVD, and Larry had a column out about it this week. We did the West Coast premiere of Larry¹s film at the 2004 Liberty Film Festival. Larry spoke before and after the film to a packed house, and the place went wild.

According to the distributor who picked up the film (who is a friend of ours), it was in large part due to Larry¹s successful screening at Liberty here in Los Angeles that he got distribution - so we¹re thrilled to have played a part in this film getting out to the public.

Here¹s Larry describing his documentary, in his own words:

"Michael Moore argues that America possesses too many guns - "Michael & Me" asks why, if America possesses too many guns, is the murder rate among Japanese Americans actually lower than in Japan. And why, in England, with severe gun restriction, is the English murder rate growing, and the violent crime rate ­ assaults, car thefts, hot burglaries ­ now exceeding ours?

"As Moore did in his entertaining film "Roger & Me," I sought out the director ­ some might say ambushed ­ in order to ask him a few questions. (You'll have to see my film to find out what happens.)

"My film interviews victims of crimes, those who protected themselves with firearms, gun owners, criminals, police officers, authors and academicians."

"Michael & Me" was Larry¹s first film - and hopefully not his last. You can buy a copy of it over at Amazon.com. If you care about our 2nd Amendment, you can't afford not to!

A forthcoming Showtime series called "Sleeper Cell" will apparently offer the most in-depth look Hollywood has yet taken at the phenomenon of the Islamic terrorist sleeper cell here in the U.S. Among this series' features will be a Muslim character who goes undercover for the FBI to spy on one such cell. Here are more details of the series, as reported in the New York Times:

"The lead character is an undercover FBI agent who has been able to infiltrate a Southern California sleeper cell. He is also a practicing Muslim.

"The leader of the cell, Farik, is depicted as a closeted adherent of a violent strain of Islam who has found cover in a synagogue, where he is accepted as Jewish. Later, he is shown herding his subordinates into a van, where he quizzes them about the driving directions to potential bombing targets, two California nuclear power plants, the Rose Bowl, UCLA and the airport.

"'We're showing a Muslim FBI agent, someone who is devout, who is so motivated by both his patriotism as well as his sincere faith as a Muslim, that he has to stop these criminals who are abusing his faith,' said Kamran Pasha, a writer on the series and a Muslim. Pasha was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in Borough Park, Brooklyn."

As was the case with Steven Bochco's disappointing Iraq War TV series "Over There," all this looks promising on paper. The issue will be what actually happens on a scene-by-scene, show-by-show basis. Hollywood hasn't exactly earned our trust covering subject matter like this - but we'll keep an open mind about this series for now.

In a Reuters article this week dealing with a possible re-teaming of Robert Redford and Paul Newman in a movie, it was mentioned that Redford still intends to do a sequel to "The Candidate" from 1972 (that's 33 years ago - wouldn¹t that set some kind of record? Isn't there a statute of limitations on sequels?). According to Reuters:

"Redford does have plans for a sequel to is "The Candidate" from 1972, in which he played a democratic party candidate for the Senate who has no hope of winning and who finds his ideals compromised by the realities of politics. Redford said in the sequel he will play the same character 30 years on, who is now president of the United States."

Whether it's Redford or Martin Sheen ("The West Wing") or Warren Beatty ("Bullworth") or Michael Douglas ("The American President") or now Geena Davis ("Commander-in-Chief") or about 100 other left-wing stars we could name, isn¹t it amazing how obsessed these people are with becoming politicians? Didn't Hollywood males just used to race Porsches along Pacific Coast Highway when they had a mid-life crisis?

Fox News is reporting that Jane Fonda is cancelling what was planned to be a nationwide anti-war bus tour, powered by "vegetable oil based fuels." Apparently this is being done to clear space for Cindy Sheehan¹s nationwide anti-war bus tour, which is being powered by fossil-based fuels.

This is a shocking turn of events. Frankly, we here at "Hollywood Confidential" are stunned that Fonda voluntarily backed out in favor of Sheehan. Cindy is apparently hot right now, with Fonda being discarded like yesterday¹s news.

This may mark the sad end to Ms. Fonda¹s career as a celebrity activist. She might actually need to go back to acting now.

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Personally, we're glad Warner Brothers is sweating this one out. This is the exact same constellation of people who got away with murder with the ultra-violent "Matrix" movies, for which the filmmakers were never taken to account. We remember Michael Moore and his...
Hollywood,Confidential
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2005-00-09
Friday, 09 September 2005 12:00 AM
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