Tags: Jazeera | Goes | Hollywood

Al Jazeera Goes Hollywood

Tuesday, 04 April 2006 12:00 AM

A Political Look at Hollywood

It's not often that a television series "on hiatus" due to plunging ratings finds its way back to the tube.

But that's just what's happening to the Geena Davis Hillary commercial "Commander in Chief."

ABC is bringing the weekly TV drama back from the grave despite having pulled it off the air last January because of its dismal numbers. The show surrounds the first woman president of the United States.

The show's production staff lays claim to several former Clinton aides including the sticky-fingered Sandy Berger.

Naturally, Hollywood showered the show with accolades and even gave Davis a Golden Globe for her pouty-lipped portrayal.

"Commander" is due back on April 13 and has landed the plum Thursday night timeslot following Simon Cowell's "American Inventor."

The Left Coast Report would just like to mention that ABC is owned by Disney whose chairman just happens to be former senate majority leader and Hillary fan George Mitchell.

After spending a decade and a half supposedly trying to avoid being part of a sequel to "Basic Instinct," Sharon Stone has been on a "Basic Instinct 2" PR rampage.

She's basically hit the airwaves to peddle the piece of soft porn and dispense perverse advice.

(Incidentally, she also said that Hillary is too sexy to win the White House, to which Bill must've said, "Huh?")

Maybe the feminists will be able to tone Stone down.

The New York Post has predicted that feminists will be irate at the new Stone movie not only because of its of violent sex scenes but because Stone's character likes it that way.

The group Women Against Domestic Violence (WADV) has already protested actor Keanu Reeves' comments where he said that he learned something while filming a rape scene with Hilary Swank for "The Gift." Reeves said, "Some of the ladies don't mind it ... Hah, that's awful to say."

WADV's spokesperson Melissa Rimel told Playboy that Reeves' comment made her "literally ill" and asked, "Why doesn't someone educate that man? ... women do not want that, nor do they like it."

The Left Coast Report is gratified that Stone and her ice pick were frozen out at the box office while the animated family flick "Ice Age: The Meltdown" scored 20-times the audience.

Guess it was bound to happen eventually.

An announcement was made recently at an Arab TV documentary festival in Doha, Qatar - the Arab news network Al Jazeera is going into the movie biz.

After honoring films that elevate suicide bombers, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is likely to have a bountiful supply of similar fare to further honor with the new Middle East venture.

Interestingly, the Al Jazeera network intends to start its English language service later this year as well. It will broadcast from four time zones and rotate locations throughout the day (Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London and Washington). As NewsMax reported, so far no U.S. cable company has agreed to carry the Al Jazeera programming. 

Back to the movie news, the company has launched a fund for independent film and television producers. The Al Jazeera Sponsorship Fund will award "grants to support and develop indie productions, and young directors and producers."

Starting with $1.4 million, the fund will also provide training and technical services for budding Michael Moores and George Clooneys.

The Left Coast Report thought we already had an Al Jazeera network and movie studio - CNN and Miramax.

I recently had the chance to screen a rough cut of Universal's upcoming film "United 93," a docudrama about the tragic events that occurred on the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11.

I plan to review the film in a future column when I get the green light, but I wanted to express my gratitude to Universal and writer-director Paul Greengrass ("The Bourne Supremacy") for bringing this incredibly important story to the screen.

The world premiere of the film will take place in May at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival.

Tribeca is an appropriate venue for the premiere having been founded by De Niro in 2002 to help revitalize lower Manhattan in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

A controversy has already arisen. One theater in Manhattan's Upper West Side has taken the unusual step of pulling the "United 93" trailer because of complaints.

And an equally liberal audience at the famed Chinese Theater in Hollywood reacted to the trailer by chanting "too soon!"

The Left Coast Report relays some cinema good news. Universal Pictures will donate 10 percent of "United 93"'s first three-days gross to the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The recent spectacle where students cut class to take part in immigration reform protests was disquieting to many Americans.

The sight of young people waving Mexican flags and professing loyalty to another nation spurred vigorous debate across the country. Media outlets, educational venues, business offices, worship centers and family abodes were replete with discussion.

Some were disturbed by what they saw. Some were puzzled, some infuriated, some torn.

Apparently, writer Victor Villaseñor did not share the same sentiments.

About the student walkouts, Villaseñor expressed to the San Diego Union Tribune, "This is a wonderful thing that's happening," characterizing the displays as "a win-win for the consciousness of Latinos."

Villaseñor, who resides in Oceanside, Calif., has written on the subject of immigration in books like "Rain of Gold," "Macho!" and "Burro Genius."

More importantly for the current discussion, he penned the underlying story for an HBO movie titled "Walkout," which debuted in March 2006, just days before the immigration protests took place. The film continues to be rerun at regular intervals.

Moctesuma Esparza (who also made "Selena" and "The Milagro Beanfield War") produced "Walkout." The movie tells the story of the protests that took place in 1968 by thousands of Mexican-American high school students in East Los Angeles.

Over the course of a week, the film's teens participate in a multi-school walkout in protest of alleged Mexican-American discrimination.

Could it be that the students who recently exited classrooms en masse to participate in the immigration reform protests were influenced by the HBO movie?

Well, it turns out that prior to the real-life protests director of the film Edward James Olmos predicted as much.

In a recent interview, Olmos was asked if Latino students of today were capable of engaging in activism similar to that of the students of 1968.

"I think the young are not only capable of doing it, but I think [the film "Walkout"] will inspire them to do more," Olmos said.

"Walkout" cinematically romanticizes student protest activities. The main character is a straight-A student who refuses to accept the status quo. Disobeying her father, she sneaks out of the house at night to attend protest-planning meetings in preparation for the big day, where students will gallantly march out of school and take to the streets. A revolutionary-minded teacher guides the teens in their foray into civil disobedience.

Villaseñor speculated that "the movie perhaps doubled the numbers [of students]" who participated in the recent immigration reform protests.

According to the writer, producer Esparza ran into a number of young people at his public appearances who said that the film was their inspiration to walk out of school.

The Left Coast Report believes that as the major political, cultural and societal issues of our times continue to take a more prominent place within our entertainment arena, the influence of product content, overt, implied and concealed messaging, and behavioral nudging must also be part of a truthful and salutary discussion.


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THE LEFT COAST REPORT A Political Look at Hollywood It's not often that a television series "on hiatus" due to plunging ratings finds its way back to the tube. But that's just what's happening to the Geena Davis Hillary commercial "Commander in Chief." ABC is...
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 12:00 AM
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