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Sean Penn to Play Einstein

Tuesday, 26 September 2006 12:00 AM

A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Sean Penn to Play Einstein
2. George Clooney Castigates the Media
3. Ted Turner's Mind Malfunction
4. This Weekend's Top Movie Pick
5. Madonna's ‘Crucifixion' Act May Get Go Ahead From NBC

1. Sean Penn to Play Einstein

Maybe it's because the critics have been brutal to his latest film, "All the Kings Men." Or maybe it's because he's been reading transcripts of his own political statements.

But Sean Penn is purportedly pursuing a highly cerebral cinematic role.

The actor, activist, and sometimes reporter is reportedly hoping to portray world famous brainiac Albert Einstein.

According to the Italian news agency, Penn would like to work with writer-director Liliana Cavani for the project, which will be a partnership between HBO and Italy's RAI network.

Penn appears to be enthusiastic about the project according to a RAI spokesman. Agostino Sacca told ANSA, "He's [Penn] read the screenplay and he likes it."

The Left Coast Report will watch with bated breath to see if Penn can make the transition from smacking his head with a pizza box to inventing the theory of relativity.

2. George Clooney Castigates the Media

George Clooney recently accused the news media of a breach of duty with respect to the content of their reporting.

The star of "Ocean's Eleven" and its offspring also admonished the public for its reality show proclivities.

One might think that Clooney would be delighted with the mainstream media's track record, particularly when it comes to their habitual hammering of the Bush administration.

But while in New York to speak to the U.N. Security Council about the problems in Darfur, Clooney told the press, "In the year-and-a-half or two years leading up to the war in Iraq, both in print and in broadcast journalism, the media took a pass on its responsibilities. I don't think there's anyone that would deny it — The New York Times certainly hasn't."

The actor and left-of-center activist also expressed his displeasure with three big-name liberal media sources and the local news outlets to boot, saying that "if The New York Times and The Washington Post and USA Today are all reneging on their responsibility, then believe me it's going down to the local news level as well."

Clooney also said that the failings of the media reflect on the public. "It took, what, three months after September 11 before reality shows became big again? There's a responsibility to be upheld," Clooney chided.

3. Ted Turner's Mind Malfunction

Media mogul and Daddy Warbucks of the U.N. Ted Turner is sounding off again.

Current blather from "the mouth of the South" is earning him a new nickname, "the man without a brain."

Appearing recently at Reuters' offices in New York and on "The Late Show with David Letterman," mindless Turner reflections included such notions as Castro's Cuba is just peachy, political office should be gender restricted for a stretch, and Iran should be permitted to have nukes.

Characterizing Cuba as a "a wonderful place," Turner added, "I think it's crazy that we don't have relations with Cuba when we made normalized relations with Vietnam after the Vietnam War."

On gender politics, Turner explained, "Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in every part of the world . . . It would be a much kinder, gentler, more intelligently run world."

On Iran being allowed to have nukes, Turner called the world's demand that the country end its nuclear weapons program a "joke."

His vapid reasoning? "We have 28,000. Why can't they have 10?"

Turner apparently believes he has the solution to the world's nuclear conundrum.

"One way to reduce such dangers in the world would be to leave women in charge," Turner said. "The men have had millions of years where we've been running things. We've screwed it up hopelessly. Let's give it to the women."

Turner called the war in Iraq one of the dumbest decisions in history and expressed his hope that former veep and global weather balloon head Al Gore might be persuaded to run for president in 2008.

The Left Coast Report says it's unclear whether when he made the suggestion Turner was aware that, according to his own "only women" decree, Gore would have to take some radical medical steps and emerge as Alberta.

4. This Weekend's Top Movie Pick

"Facing the Giants," a film that will have a limited opening this upcoming weekend, was produced by Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Ga. Costing only about $100,000 primarily because the cast, crew, and members of the church donated their work, the movie caught the attention of Hollywood and is being distributed in conjunction with Sony Pictures.

It is chock-full of the kinds of values that have for the most part been missing from the majority of left coast fare.

The movie's PG rating (as opposed to G) was problematic for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) because it gave the impression that the organization has a bias against movies with religious themes.

Having already personally screened "Facing the Giants," I find the PG rating puzzling, to say the least.

According to Carmel Entertainment, one of the distributors of the film, the MPAA gave the following PG rating explanation to the distributors of the film: "Religious movies that advocate for their religion or one type of religion or are proselytizing for one religion vis-à-vis other religions tend to get a PG — therefore it's to send an advisory via a PG rating to the parents that there is something in the film that you should examine further before you take your children."

The movie was co-written by two brothers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who also happen to be media pastors.

Alex directed the film and also plays the role of Coach Grant Taylor.

The film's plot revolves around high school football coach Taylor, who has never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season. After learning that he and his wife are unable to have children, Taylor also finds out that some of the students' fathers are plotting to have him fired.

He seeks help through his faith and, with a new attitude, ends up inspiring his entire team to take on what appear to be insurmountable odds.

"Facing the Giants" is an uplifting film that entertains while it provides valuable tips on succeeding in life.

On the Go or No Go meter, it's a Go.

5. Madonna's ‘Crucifixion' Act May Get Go Ahead From NBC

Two NBC television shows are receiving very different treatment.

The TV network is censoring one program that has positive religious content while at the same time it is resisting calls to exclude religious imagery of a derogatory nature, which appears in another one of its slated programs.

In the first instance, NBC eliminated faith-oriented material from a well-known and highly popular animated children's program called "VeggieTales." In the second instance, the network is reportedly still contemplating whether or not to air a Vegas-style crucifixion act, which is part of a Madonna concert that NBC plans on broadcasting during the November ratings sweeps.

Madonna is apparently irritated with the criticism that has come down the pike about her staged scene from her "Confessions" tour. Evidently, the material girl, who often asks for respect for her own faith, Kabbalah, doesn't understand why there would be hesitancy over the proposed TV airing of the centerpiece of her show, where she wears a crown of thorns while suspended from a large cross.

Many religious organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, have gone on record to let NBC know that including Madonna's rock-mock crucifixion is unacceptable and insulting.

Meanwhile NBC has removed religious references from "VeggieTales," which was recently added to its Saturday morning line-up.

Co-creator of the show Phil Vischer wrote this on his Web site: "I'm not at all happy with the edits. I didn't know I'd need to make them when I agreed to produce the show, and I considered dropping out when I found out just how much would need to be removed."

Vischer told the Los Angeles Times, "When the first edit notes came back, I thought, 'This is going to be difficult because the stories were going to fall apart.' This has implications for 'VeggieTales,' which would have been nice to talk about in the beginning."

Initially the network claimed that the religious references had to be removed from the children's show because of time concerns. But in a written statement NBC changed its story. It indicated that the reason for the cuts was that the network did not want to be seen as backing a particular religion.

"NBC is committed to the positive messages and universal values of 'VeggieTales,'" the statement said. "Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages, while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view."

Alan Wurtzel, an NBC broadcast standards executive, told The New York Times that there was no double standard at work with regard to the shows and that the network was evaluating each show separately.

"We had to make a decision about where it went further than we considered appropriate." Wurtzel said.

Madonna also spent some time issuing explanations to the press.

The singer's statement claimed that her appearance on Christ's cross in her concert "is no different than a person wearing a cross or 'taking up the cross' as it says in the Bible."

"My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious, or blasphemous. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole," Madonna explained, adding that she believed in her "heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing."

Madonna also said that she is using sacred Christian imagery "to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day [or] are living without care, without medicine and without hope."

Although NBC claims that it is still deliberating, TV Guide Magazine reported that NBC entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said that Madonna's crucifixion imitation would probably be in the show because Madonna felt strongly about it.

Liz Rosenberg, a spokeswoman for Madonna, said in an e-mail message to The New York Times that Madonna would not want this number to be censored. She predicted that Madonna "will not back down."

The Left Coast Report points out that if NBC does allow Madonna's Jesus imitation to be aired while justifying the removal of faith references from "VeggieTales," the tragic message the network will be sending is that it is fine to depict God on TV as long as you're making fun of Him.

The Left Coast Report is put together by James L. Hirsen and the staff of NewsMax — The Left Coast Report Archives

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THE LEFT COAST REPORT A Political Look at HollywoodHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Sean Penn to Play Einstein 2. George Clooney Castigates the Media 3. Ted Turner's Mind Malfunction 4. This Weekend's Top Movie Pick 5. Madonna's 'Crucifixion'...
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 12:00 AM
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