Judgment Day: Harvey Weinstein Scandal
Posted: October 18, 2017
Could Finally Probably Won’t Change Hollywood’s Culture of Secrecy
Brent Lang and Elizabeth Wagmeister report: Harvey Weinstein’s implosion has been cathartic for Lauren Sivan, one of the dozens of women who have come forward in recent days alleging that the once-celebrated mogul was a serial sexual harasser and abuser. It’s a moment of justice and public condemnation that seemed all but impossible to imagine mere weeks ago when Weinstein enjoyed a position as one of the most powerful figures in media, a skilled operator whose connections stretched from Capitol Hill to Wall Street and whose sense of entitlement knew no bounds.
“You reap what you sow,” says Sivan. “I know that he believed for years that he was untouchable, and a lot of people helped him be untouchable.”Weinstein’s precipitous fall has been stunning, if not a long time coming. He’s been fired from his own company, ostracized by his longtime friends and collaborators in the entertainment industry, transformed from power player to butt of late-night talk-show jokes, ditched by his wife and abandoned by the Democratic political leaders who once coveted his endorsement. The Weinstein Co. is weighing a sale to Colony Capital.
Along with Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and L.A. Reid, Weinstein is a sign that the old methods that stars and top executives used to cover up their sins isn’t working. Their praetorian guards of lawyers and spin-makers, their penchant for paying hush money to victims and making them sign draconian nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from going public, can no longer buy silence.
Hollywood’s veil of secrecy has been pierced, and such complicity and enabling may no longer be tolerated in a company town that has long protected its own.
“We are shining a bright light on aggressors and powerful offenders as an example to every other employee out there,” says TV commentator Wendy Walsh, one of O’Reilly’s accusers.
As the chorus of accusers grows daily and as Weinstein finds himself isolated and abandoned by the A-list stars and directors he once claimed as friends, the conversation in Hollywood is pointing to a major shift. The hope in the industry is that the alleged abhorrent behavior by Weinstein and the other perpetrators will trigger some genuine soul-searching across the entertainment business and beyond.
Instead of simply inspiring big names in the industry to release anodyne statements that are light on substance and heavy on synonyms for deplorable, there’s an urge to have a deeper conversation about how to improve the climate and culture in Hollywood so whistle-blowers are supported and predators aren’t rewarded with corner offices, private jets and a license to operate with impunity. Read the rest of this entry »
The Gunson testimony has been at the heart of attempts to resolve the case. Taken on a provisional basis when it appeared Gunson’s life might be in danger from illness, it touches on a supposedly broken promise by the late Judge Laurence Rittenband to limit Polanski’s sentence for a 1977 statutory rape conviction to time he served during a prison psychiatric evaluation. Only a month ago, Braun insisted that opening the sealed testimony was among his principal aims.
“I am only interested in obtaining the Gunson transcript and obtaining a ruling on whether a California court will respect the ruling of the Polish Court,” he wrote in a February 21 email, which referred both to the testimony and to a determination in a Polish extradition hearing that Polanski should remain free.
That Braun, at least for purposes of the Monday hearing, was pushing his Gunson demand to the side lent credence to what my colleague Dominic Patten has spotted: Rumors that Polanski’s lawyer and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, though still at loggerheads in court, have been talking. Read the rest of this entry »
Written and produced by Austin Bragg. Performed by Andrew Heaton and Austin Bragg
“Talking to Myself”: A segment from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Season 3, Episode 29, 1964, “Dear Mrs. Petrie, Your Husband Is in Jail“, displaying Dick Van Dyke‘s talent for solo comedic acting. Who needs dialogue? Who needs other actors, when you can get laughs by talking to yourself? A classic moment from TV sitcom history. Directed by Jerry Paris, writing credits: Jerry Belson, Garry Marshal, Carl Reiner….(more)
Just weeks after Debbie Reynolds’ death at age 84, the legendary entertainer’s most famous movie is dancing back onto the silver screen for a limited engagement. Singin’ in the Rain will screen Sunday, Jan. 15, and Wednesday, Jan. 18, in theaters nationwide as the first film in this year’s TCM Big Screen Classics series.
Reynolds landed her breakout role in the 1952 musical, playing a budding actress caught up in Hollywood’s transition from the silent era to the talkies. Though she had no dancing experience at the time, then-18-year-old Reynolds held her own with the likes of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in numbers like “Good Morning” and “You Were Meant for Me.”
Nick Gillespie: Thanks, Liberals! You Applauded Obama’s Imperial Presidency, and Now We’ve Got Trump RexPosted: January 9, 2017
If Trump makes good on his promise to ‘bomb the shit out’ of ISIS without even token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea.
Nick Gillespie writes: On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Along with the nation’s nuclear codes, he will be gifted presidential powers that have been vastly increased by Barack Obama.
Thanks a lot, liberals. It’s all well and good that Joe Biden is now lecturing us that “the worst sin of all is the abuse of power,” but where the hell was he—and where were you—for the past eight years, when the president was starting wars without Congressional authorization, passing major legislation with zero votes from the opposing party, and ruling almost exclusively through executive orders and actions?
“Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s ‘one-party autocracy’ as the model to emulate.”
Mostly exhorting Obama to act “unilaterally” and “without Congress” on terrorism, immigration, guns, and whatever because you couldn’t dream of a day when an unrestrained billionaire reality-TV celebrity would wield those same powers toward very different ends. Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s “one-party autocracy” as the model to emulate.
“Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids.”
There’s an old libertarian saw that holds “any government powerful enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take everything away.” The same is even more true for the president, the single most-powerful actor in the government. Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids. “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation,” Obama crowed in 2014, proclaiming a “year of action.” “I’ve got a pen… and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions.”
Consider his willingness to wage war. As The Cato Institute’s Gene Healy writes in the latest issue of Reason, Obama didn’t just commit the U.S. military to action in Libya without any sort of Congressional authorization, he did so after campaigning on the statement that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” But when it came time under the War Powers Act to either seek retroactive buy-in from Congress or pull out, Obama simply asked around the executive branch until he found a State Department lawyer who, unlike his attorney general and others, said dropping bombs on Libya didn’t require authorization.
If and when Donald Trump makes good on his promise to “bomb the shit out” of ISIS—and god knows who else—without even getting token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea. Ditto for “secret kill lists” and drone strikes in countries with whom we’re not at war.
And still, Obama has the temerity to counsel the president-elect not to overdo it with executive orders and actions, telling NPR recently that “going through the legislative process is always better in part because it’s harder to undo.” Unless, of course, actually working to build consensus keeps you from getting what you want. In fact, it is vastly easier to undo unilateral action, as Obama himself could tell you. Read the rest of this entry »
Albert Brooks, who cast Debbie Reynolds in the title role of his 1996 comedy Mother, reacted on Twitter to the death of the 84-year-old actress, which came just one day after the untimely passing of her daughter Carrie Fisher.
Mother marked Reynolds’s first major screen role in decades. Brooks, who wanted to cast an icon of 1950s cinema in the part, enlisted Fisher’s help to persuade her mother to play his. The role landed Reynolds her fifth Golden Globe nomination…(read more)
Debbie Reynolds, a legend and my movie mom. I can’t believe this happened one day after Carrie. My heart goes out to Billie.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) December 29, 2016
Mediate reports that “John Stossel will step down from hosting his weekly Fox Business program, Stossel, this month.” Separately, Stossel announced on Facebook that the special he is airing on Friday, 12/16 will be his last show on Fox Business.
Mediate adds, however, that Stossel will “be working with ReasonTV to start up a libertarian-themed internet platform. He’ll also serve as an educator with the Charles Koch Institute’s new Creative Fellows Program.” Stossel has been a prolific libertarian documentary filmmaker, and a few of his documentaries were reviewed over the years at MissLiberty.com. Many Stossel clips can be found on YouTube.
Thanksgiving Weekend Primatologist Browser Tabocalpyse
‘Across The Line‘ is the latest example of VR attempting to evoke empathy.
Alice Bonasio writes: There’s an iconic scene in Blade Runner where Harrison Ford’s character Deckard meets the replicant Rachel for the first time, but he doesn’t know she’s not human. He then uses a test called Voight-Kampff to determine whether or not she’s a real person. The test consists of a series of questions designed to elicit emotion. The idea – which is beautifully challenged later on in the film – is that machines are incapable of such empathetic responses.
Empathy, in other words, is what makes us human.
With an emerging consensus that the immersive nature of VR is particularly effective in triggering those empathetic responses, we’re seeing artists throughout the creative industries exploring new possibilities for storytelling – with a purpose. Chris Milk’s UN-Commissioned Clouds Over Sidra showed the plight of refugees through the eyes of a 12-year old Syrian girl, while the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio production HOME/AAMIR transported viewers to the infamous Calais ‘Jungle’ camp.
VR can even make people feel more empathetic toward more abstract things like the environment, as was recently shown with the Crystal Reef project – showcased this year at the Tribeca Film Festival by researchers from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) at Stanford. The simulation, where you watched the devastating effects of ocean acidification caused by man, served to connect people to the consequences of their own actions in a much more tangible way.
Journalist and Filmmaker Nonny de la Peña – Co-Founder of the Emblematic Group and affectionately known as the “Godmother of VR” – has long explored the power of Virtual Reality experiences to break through viewer apathy. Her pioneering work often transports viewers into uncomfortable situations – such as a line for food handouts outside a shelter in LA, where you see a man collapsing from hunger next to you – and makes them re-think their outlook on often controversial issues.
The latest of those projects is Across The Line, an experience which tells the story of a young woman going to an abortion clinic. I viewed it recently at London’s Raindance Film Festival – where it was selected for this year’s VR showcase Arcade – and spoke to la Peña and their partners at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) to find out more about how the project developed and what the reaction to it has been like so far. Read the rest of this entry »
The arrival of The Big Short in 2015 – available on streaming services now – and its subsequent nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, has reignited interest in the causes of the 2008 financial crisis.
The film would have you think that private greed on Wall Street and a lack of regulation caused the economic crash. While stories like this might make for a fun movie, The Big Short fails to align with the facts.
Learn more about the 2008 financial crisis in Peter’s book “Hidden in Plain Site: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again“
‘This Weekend Will Be Whiter Than the Oscars! Snowstorm to Hit NYC’ New York Post Front Page for Friday, January 21st, 2016Posted: January 21, 2016
Stephen Hawking, who joined Facebook just a few months ago, used the social media site to write a brief but touching note to Eddie Redmayne, who won the Best Actor Oscar Sunday night. In The Theory of Everything, Redmayne portrayed the world-renowned physicist and his struggle with ALS.
Shortly after the Academy Awards ceremony, Hawking shared the following post, saying he was “very proud” of the actor:
In his acceptance speech, Redmayne said, “I’m fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS.”
Read next: Stephen Hawking Wants to Be a Bond Villain
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Birdman is an incredible movie. If you haven’t seen it, see it. The script, acting, storytelling style, cinematography, and directing, risky, exciting, innovative, ingenious stuff. I admire it, a lot, though it’s not the kind of movie that lends itself to repeated viewings. The extended, impossibly long single-camera takes (only 16 shots in the entire movie) is reason enough alone to not miss this film.
I was, however, disheartened that the members of the Academy chose to give its top award to a movie that can fairly be described as an “insider” movie. A theatrical confection. An elite industry celebrating itself, rewarding an inward-looking movie within a movie, about movies. One that will never reach a wide audience. Many viewers will understandably feel that the Academy passed over movies with more heart and soul.
The predictable self-congratulating sanctimony of the 2015 Academy awards made it almost unwatchable, though it did have some good moments.
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— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) January 15, 2015