Posted by Hollywood Jew
This is a photo posted by journalist Steve North, a man whose mike seems to have been near every face of note in his long career as a radio and TV reporter, writer and producer. Steve hung on to this photo of him interviewing a 12 year-old Christian Bale when the actor was promoting his role in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. We’ll let Steve carry the story from here (it has a happy ending):
About 10 or 12 years ago, I was chatting with Christian’s new publicist about someone else, and mentioned that I had interviewed him when he was 12.
He said “I bet he’d like to hear that; if you still have it, here’s his address” (which was in Malibu, as I recall).
I sent Christian a cassette, told him I’d followed his career since that meeting, and got back the nicest note from him… thanking me for remembering him and sharing the interview, which he enjoyed hearing again.
So, I always thought of him as a major mensch (he was a really nice, smart kid) ,,,
What we find astonishing is how composed and intense Bale looks—he’s 12 for godsakes!—and, of course, how much cuter he is without the Winters Bones style beard…..
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February 27, 2011 | 11:38 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
It’s safe to say there wasn’t a single surprise at the 2011 Academy Awards, perhaps the most predictable ceremony in Oscar history, with all the usual suspects taking home gold.
“The King’s Speech” won best picture; Colin Firth, best actor; Natalie Portman, best actress; Aaron Sorkin, adapted screenplay and so on and so forth—the same names we’ve been hearing over and over since January, only tonight they get to finish with the Vanity Fair party.
When did the Oscars get so boring?
Even with all the self-conscious hullabaloo about being “young and hip,” Kirk Douglas and Billy Crystal were about the hippest things on screen tonight, making surprise appearances that added a little spice to an otherwise bland evening.
But since it is tradition, here come the top Oscar moments. All things considered, it was worth three and half hours just to glimpse Mila Kunis’s dress.
1. It was a mother’s night. From hosts James Franco’s and Anne Hathaway’s opening homage to their moms (Franco: “That would be weird if my Mom called me ‘Academy Award winner James Franco’; and Hathaway’s mom: ‘Annie, honey, stand up straight – Mr. Steven Spielberg is here), to best director winner Tom Hooper’s admonition ‘listen to your Mum,’ the woman who advised him to take on ‘King’s Speech.’
2. Kirk Douglas reminds us there was once a golden age of cinema. Introduced as a “living legend” the weekly Talmud student proved age hasn’t lessened his charm. And even at 94, he hasn’t lost his touch with the ladies: “Ms. Hathaway…where were you when I was making pictures?” (Apparently, she was changing her dress). The snowy-haired Douglas got some of the heartiest laughs of the evening, withholding the announcement of best supporting actress: “You know,” he began, futzing with the envelope and looking out to the crowd, “you know… three times and I lost every time!” Unable to resist one last come on, the iconic actor presented Melissa Leo with the supporting actress award and said, “You’re much more beautiful than you were in ‘The Fighter.’” Nonagenarian, married – no matter – the man’s got game.
3. Did I mention Mila Kunis’s dress? (Pronounced ME-luh) A flowy, lavender ensemble that evoked lacy lingerie and classic elegance at the same time. With this, Kunis proved her Russian-Jewish roots are not an ethnic obstacle, but the sultry chops of old Hollywood glamour.
4. Aaron Sorkin wins best adapted screenplay for “The Social Network.” And while his speech didn’t exactly crackle with the wit of “West Wing” dialogue, his uncharacteristic humility was duly noted. Sorkin gave nods to Ben Mezrich, author of the book “The Accidental Billionaires” on which “Social Network” was based; his agent Ari Emanuel, his publicist Joy Fehily, Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, ‘America’s best living producer’ Scott Rudin and the film’s director, David Fincher, whom Sorkin described as someone of “ungodly artfulness” who “has no business being the nicest guy in the world.” He also thanked Mom and Dad before concluding: “This movie is going to be a source of pride for me everyday for the rest of my life.” Indeed, in a season of many formulaic films, Sorkin has delivered the year’s cinematic zeitgeist.
5. David Seidler turns challenge into triumph with his deeply personal win that came late in life. “For writers, a speech like this is terrifying,” Seidler said, accepting the award for best original screenplay for “The King’s Speech”. “My father always said to me that I would be a late bloomer – I believe I’m the oldest person to win this award—and I hope that trend is broken quickly and often.” Seidler also offered encouragement to others with speech disabilities: “I accept this on behalf of all the stutterers around the world. We have a voice; we have The Academy.”
6. Susanne Bier wins the best foreign film award for her Danish film “In a Better World.” Though her speech was simple and concise, she shared some powerful thoughts with The Journal’s Tom Tugend. Speaking of her film and her heritage, she said: “I felt early on that even in the most secure life, there is always the potential for catastrophe.”
7. During Oprah’s presentation of best documentary to “The Inside Job,” the camera pans to the Coen Brothers, who are not at all paying attention.
8. In a surprise appearance by Billy Crystal, the former (and favorite Oscar host) introduces a clip of Bob Hope hosting the 25th annual awards in which Hope says, “Welcome to the Academy Awards – or as it’s known in my house: Passover.”
9. Natalie Portman wins best actress and does not embarrass herself by promulgating to the world how much her fiancé wants to sleep with her. We get it; you’re pregnant. He likes you. Mazel Tov.
10. Steven Spielberg, the reigning king of Hollywood, announces the best picture Oscar. And even though we’ve known who was going to win since December, we were still hoping for a “Schindler’s List” repeat.
February 24, 2011 | 8:04 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Charlie Sheen had some very nasty things to say about his showrunner, Chuck Lorre, which hours ago, prompted CBS to cancel the remaining season of “Two and a Half Men.”
The news has sent shockwaves throughout the industry—not only because Sheen made recent headlines about a return stint in rehab, but also because the show is one of the most successful on television.
If he’s sobered up from drugs—and that’s a big ‘if’—he hasn’t sobered his ego.
During a TMZ interview earlier today, Deadline.com reported that Sheen had the following things to say about the “Two and Half Men” creator Lorre, whom he was careful to lambast, not by his showbiz name, but by his, uh, real name: Chaim Levine.
“I violently hate Haim Levine,” Sheen said during the interview. “He’s a stupid, stupid little man and a p**sy punk that I’d never want to be like. That’s me being polite. That piece of s**t took money out of my pocket, my family’s pocket, and, most importantly, my second family—my crew’s pocket… You can tell him one thing. I own him.”
Sheen’s ego seems a bit out-sized for someone who can’t make it through the day without copious drugs. Otherwise why would he rush to play the anti-Semite card? In Hollywood, playing the anti-Semitie card is like pushing the eject button in the James Bond car. It’s a sure sign of Hollywood crazy when you’re going after Jews, because it’s such a Jewish environment; it’s biting the hand that feeds you. For Sheen, who is clearly off his rocker, spouting indignant, almost diabolical diatribes just to be heard, going after his showrunner is burning the last bridge. It’s pushing the red button that detonates the entire ship.
Raging verbal battles are also a way for the uber-fortunate to express what is most primal in them. As much as Hollywood can be a dog-eat-dog type of place, it isn’t Afghanistan and it’s not about survival. So expressing those fiery, angry urges in the form of hate speech is partly a survival impulse. And it wouldn’t be hard to argue that Sheen is hanging on by a very thin thread.
On the other hand, when you’re an addict and say vile things ‘under the influence’, that can be indicative of hate feelings harbored deep within.
Story continues after the video.
While Sheen has since kept quiet about his outburst, the studios responsible for airing the show released a joint statement effectively ending the show, according to TheWrap.com: “Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of ‘Two and a Half Men’ for the remainder of the season.”
This is a big deal, considering its popularity. The New York Times, which called the show, “the biggest hit comedy of the last decade” speculated that it “may never return.”
For his part, Lorre, creator of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Mike and Molly,” whom The Times refers to as “one of the most successful producers of television series in network history” has declined to comment on the matter. A smart move, considering that petty back-and-forth is an unsavory domain that usually gets people fired.
For CBS, the show would be an egregious loss, but a necessary one. “We had to do it,” a senior executive told the NY Times. Apparently, several attempts had been made by the studio to persuade Sheen to shape up. But instead of earnestly engaging in rehab, Sheen imperiously said he had cured himself “in a nanosecond.”
According to The Times, Sheen makes $1.2 million per episode. Which means, to support that expensive drug habit, he’ll have to start looking for work.
More on the story:
Who is Chuck Lorre and just how Jewish is he? Click here for Adam Wills’ blog, “The Real Chuck Lorre Is in the Cards” and interview.
February 23, 2011 | 9:10 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Maybe it was too fraught to be forthcoming about the J-word as Barack Obama’s chief of staff. But as newly elected mayor of Chicago? Rahm Emanuel is touting his tribalness.
This from Maureen Dowd’s NY Times column (appropriately laden with a “Black Swan” Oscar reference; perhaps two Black Swans will triumph this week?):
He knows it took awhile for Chicagoans to warm up to him. “The members that represented my district before me were Dan Rostenkowski, Roman Pucinski, Frank Annunzio, Mike Flanagan and Rod Blagojevich,” he said. “And along comes a guy named Rahm Israel Emanuel. I don’t know if I was loved, but they knew whose side I was on.”
He had hoped to become the first Jewish speaker of the House, but now he is destined to become the first Jewish mayor of Chicago.
“For me, as Rahm Emanuel, the grandson of Herman Smulivitz, who came to this city in 1917 from the Russian-Romanian border as a 13-year-old to leave the pogroms, and son of Benjamin Emanuel, who came here in 1959 from Israel to start a medical practice, there’s a personal sense of accomplishment,” he said, after polishing off a half-corned-beef, half-pastrami sandwich at the legendary Manny’s deli.
The other two members of the most competitive sibling trio on earth — his brothers Zeke, the oncologist, and Ari, the Hollywood agent — flew to Chicago to come to their brother’s victory party.
February 20, 2011 | 3:09 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I had this fantasy about Aaron Sorkin. It’s probably only natural that I should want to know him, because he is, after all, the most intelligent and sharp-witted writer working in Hollywood today. His prestige began with “A Few Good Men” (1992), surged with his creation of the 1999 television drama “The West Wing,” and was cemented with “The Social Network,” a movie that showcases both his superb writing talent (although he’s had a few flops) and his uncanny gift for cultural relevance. I thought, “This brilliant, mysterious man, who has publicly struggled with dark personal demons (a cocaine addiction), is at the crest of his career and will likely win an Oscar for his darn good movie about the invention of our age (Facebook) — and I want to meet him.” And not only that, he’s Jewish.
Here’s how I imagined it: We’d meet, one afternoon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We’d sit on the patio at the Polo Lounge but order milkshakes from The Fountain Coffee Room downstairs. We’d trade small talk for a time, then I’d dive right in, look into his eyes and ask those deep, penetrating questions I’d lost sleep coming up with — for example, about the ethics of writing about a young, living person who has become known not for who he really is, but according to Sorkin’s version of him. And, because I’m writing for The Jewish Journal — and am a Jewish woman — I’d ask him what the heck was up with some of the movie’s snide, subtle one-liners, in particular, the not-so-veiled references to the general unattractiveness of my cohort. We would talk, and laugh, and sip, and I wouldn’t have to stargaze, because there’d be one right in front of me. And afterward, I’d hand my editors a bang-up interview with Hollywood’s man-of-the-moment.
Because of the Jewish angle, I knew I’d ask him questions no one else was asking, and so, despite the fact that he has been giving a billion interviews, he might even enjoy mine. I mean, 4,000 years of shared history could at least give me that. And as an added benefit, said tribal bond might even make us friends.
I was so wrong.
Here’s how it actually went: On July 21, 2010, I used Sorkin’s personal e-mail, which I’d gotten from a friend, to directly request an interview. (A few years earlier, he had been kind enough to give me a “phoner” about his agent, Ari Emanuel, around the time brother Rahm was elected President Obama’s chief of staff.) This was the reply: “Aaron Sorkin’s e-mail has changed. Messages to this address are being checked, and he will reply to you soon from his new e-mail. Thank you.”
A week later, his publicist’s assistant wrote and asked that I please get back in touch closer to the time of “The Social Network” press junket, which would take place in late September, “so we can set something up.” In early September, I wrote again and was told they were “very sorry,” but Sorkin was leaving on a month-long press tour, and they were “not going to be able to make it happen.” This was a problem, because we had planned a “Social Network” cover around him. I wrote back and told her this was very unfair, as I had been so conciliatory at their request to wait, believing the interview was imminent. She told me that if I could make it to the junket — in New York — I would get 20 minutes with him. But seeing as how I was heading home from Los Angeles to Florida that weekend, I told her I could not make it to the junket, but, I wondered, could he do a phoner from the junket? Yes, he could! At which point I was overcome with such overwhelming elation that if I died after this interview, it would have been OK. (Was it just a tad ironic that our interview was scheduled during the 10 days in which the Book of Life was still open?) My only request, though I was reluctantly willing to compromise on this, was that we avoid scheduling the interview on Shabbat — but, alas, no such luck.
After 20-some additional e-mails, I had finally been “approved” for a 20-minute chat on Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. That Shabbat, I was in Miami because my 19-year-old brother was in the hospital after surgery. So at my brother’s bedside, while he self-administered morphine, I voraciously consumed profiles of Aaron Sorkin. He was everywhere, talking to everyone. That week, you couldn’t pass a newsstand, a TV or any other media outlet without hearing about “The Facebook Movie.”
By 1 p.m., I was waiting back home at my mother’s house, by the phone. Then, I got a call from someone at Sony telling me Sorkin was running late, maybe 15 minutes, maybe 45, and that I should wait. An hour later, they called again and said, “Sorry Danielle, we’ll have to reschedule.” Option 1: Could I fly to New York the following day, and they’d squeeze me in? Um, no. Option 2: Could I e-mail my questions, and they’d try to have him answer them? Yes.
So I e-mailed. But even that came with caveats — how busy he was, that he was leaving the country, etc., etc., — to which I replied, “I know what I’m going to write; just give him these six questions about the film’s references to Jewish women, and I’ll be happy.”
That was the end of all contact.
A month later, out of despair and longing and genuine fascination with the film, I wrote about him anyway. In a column, I addressed my own thoughts on exactly those six questions he chose not to respond to (or, perhaps, never even saw). I suggested that “The Social Network” implies a kind of latent hostility toward Jewish women. The headline (which I did not come up with) was “Who Does Aaron Sorkin Really Hate?”
I probably don’t have to tell you that Mr. Sorkin did not like my column. To which the obvious rejoinder might be, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But, in truth, what I wrote had nothing to do with feeling slighted by him; I honestly would have preferred to contextualize my claims with his insights. The mutual friend Sorkin and I share was also upset by my piece, and, in his defense, wrote a letter to The Journal’s editor, calling my piece “half-baked and bizarre.” Had those words come from someone anonymous to me, I probably wouldn’t have cared, but coming from one of my truly closest friends, it stung.
If there’s anything writing about Hollywood has taught me, though, it’s that perseverance sometimes pays off. So, three months later — this would be the day after Sorkin won his Golden Globe award — I wrote him again:
Dear Mr. Sorkin, I understand you were displeased with my column. I had hoped to bring my thoughts to you directly, but our interview was canceled. However, on the off chance you’re willing to give it another go, there may be an Oscar issue cover with your name on it.
An hour later I got an e-mail from Sorkin himself.
The first thing I saw in his reply — in big block lettering, copied and pasted from The Journal’s Web site — was: “Who does Aaron Sorkin really hate?” I briefly considered packing my things, absconding from Los Angeles, never to be heard from again. But to my surprise and delight, Sorkin followed up with a heartfelt, thoughtful response to my column — an itemized list, actually — of every point he took issue with.
“I don’t hate anyone,” he began, “or at least not anyone you know, and I’m dumbfounded as to how you got the impression I did.”
In response to my point that “The Social Network” suggests the creation of Facebook was, at least in part, motivated by Mark Zuckerberg’s “hot-blooded pursuit of women” — he flatly disagreed.
“While the precursor to Facebook — Facemash — was a revenge stunt against one woman … his building of the site had nothing to do with wanting to hook up and everything to do with wanting to distinguish himself. [Zuckerberg] has a eureka moment when he thinks of the ‘relationship status’ feature for the site but, again, that wasn’t about HIS hot-blooded pursuit of women, it was about heterosexual men’s.
“College guys want to meet girls — news at 11,” Sorkin joked.
My point, of course, had been that the depiction of Zuckerberg as an awkward outsider who is undesirable to women — he is outright flouted by the woman he wants in the opening scene of the film — is yet further impetus to “distinguish himself,” even among, as Sorkin wrote, “a population of people who all got 1,600 on their SATs.”
In the movie, Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity, is also depicted as an unfortunate place. The Zuckerberg character doesn’t really want to be there, and, frankly, neither do any of the other Jewish guys. Here, Sorkin allowed: “Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity at Harvard, is not considered a glamorous place the way the exclusive final clubs are. I was writing about a group of guys who see women as either prizes or enemies. These guys are deeply, profoundly angry that the cheerleader still wants to date the quarterback even though it’s the computer geniuses that are running the universe now.”
I don’t know what Sorkin was like growing up Jewish, in New York. On Wikipedia, it says that from an early age he liked the theater. How it felt to be a Jewish male in the high school drama club — we can only imagine. But my guess is, like those AEPi guys, he didn’t feel hot like the quarterback. And now, well, he’s that genius who can have his way.
But actually, the most interesting thing Sorkin wrote in his e-mail was that I shouldn’t extrapolate to all Jewish women my interpretations of “The Social Network’s” Jewish women.
“Danielle, movies, plays, television shows ... these things are different from Benetton ads where we get one from every column. I don’t want to be identified as a typical Jew (as if there is such a thing) … and I’d be surprised to find out that you want to be identified as a typical woman,” he wrote. “And any piece of art in any medium that begins with the mandate that all races, religions, genders and sexual orientations be represented in the best possible light is pretty much doomed unless it’s called Sesame Street.”
On that last point, I agree (and on that note, read The Jewish Journal!). But I would also argue that the images we see in Hollywood movies are representational — and, oftentimes, stereotypical — of people, of attitudes, of ideas about the world. Stereotypes are, by nature, “types,” and do not represent everybody, but Hollywood can’t control the way people perceive those representations, and Hollywood has a tremendous amount of power in influencing the way people think. Take Hollywood depictions of Muslims, or most Israelis, for that matter. Because he’s so good at what he does, Sorkin must know that.
In the last line of his e-mail, he added that he’d be happy to schedule another interview. But sure enough, 11 e-mails and one disingenuous publicist later, it didn’t happen. A week before deadline, I went back to Sorkin one last time.
He wrote: “Look, Danielle, you already wrote a story called ‘Who Does Aaron Sorkin Really Hate?’ in which you suggested that I was a misogynist, a self-loathing Jew and a bad writer — you’ve got to give me a reason why it would be a good idea to participate in another story.”
I figured that by this point, with the Oscars two weeks away, he had probably reached the point of PR ennui. Another, different mutual friend of ours saw him in a CBS interview and said, “He was completely joyless; he seemed tired and bored and mechanical — which isn’t like him at all.”
It’s possible that by that time, Sorkin was simply too exhausted for any more. Maybe he had come down with a horrific case of strep throat and lost his voice. But I don’t really buy that. Oscar nominees know those 11th-hour interviews help amass votes. So why, out of all those interviews he gave over the months, wasn’t I worthy? Was it because he thinks The Jewish Journal isn’t a significant enough publication? Too parochial? Or was I not distinguished enough to talk to?
Or was it that he thought my “hate” piece so off base he didn’t think he could trust me? That I wouldn’t give him a fair shake? On the other hand, maybe what I wrote had tugged at something deep and true, and that had struck a nerve. Instead of being just another reporter who’d drunk the Aaron Sorkin Kool-Aid, maybe he was afraid I might expose his rawness, his realness. I wonder if someone so brilliant and complicated is more comfortable elucidating the complexities of his characters’ interiors than exposing what they might say about him.
Then again, perhaps all this overwrought analysis reveals more about me.
In a final, desperate attempt to inspirit him, I launched a daily campaign of “Reasons to Interview With Me.” I reminded him of something he had said to New York Magazine, months earlier, about Mark Zuckerberg: “I feel like had I met Mark, I would have felt a certain obligation to make the character sound like Mark, walk like Mark, all of those things. And frankly, I probably would have had an affection for him that I wouldn’t have wanted to betray.”
“I already wrote the piece I could write not having met you,” I wrote as my last plug.
In the end, I didn’t get to make the tribal bond I had so ardently hoped for. But, at least in some sense, Sorkin and I bonded over The Tribe.
And if he ever decides he’d like to meet, I’m still waiting.
February 18, 2011 | 3:20 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Forgive me for not writing sooner, but it is after all, Oscar issue week. And for the past ten days I’ve been sleeplessly slaving away on deadline, which is why I haven’t written.
There is much to catch up on in the world of Hollywood Jews, but the bad news is I’m rushing off to Soho House for an interview (okay, that’s not exactly ‘bad’ news since the views are so lovely) and I’ll be interviewing a Hungarian-born HBO exec who’s a big supporter of the young cohort contributing to American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The annual AFIPO gala, which kind of like a Jewish Oscar party, is on March 1 at Disney Hall, so go get tickets!
The good news, on the other hand, is that while I’ve been away, I’ve been working on some exciting, provocative pieces for our Oscar issue (in print next Friday, but online sooner), including a first-person essay about Aaron Sorkin and a Q-and-A with producer Sid Ganis, four-time president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and its current first vice president.
I hope to blog some more in the coming days—after Shabbat, of course, so in the meantime, Shabbat Shalom.
February 8, 2011 | 2:57 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Last night the second floor of CAA played host to a group of Brandeis University alum who had come to salute the university’s expanding film studies program. On tap, along with the wine, champagne and tuna tartar, was a preview screening of Errol Morris’s latest documentary film “Tabloid,” about a 1970s sex-scandal —“Sex in Chains” as it was touted in the London tabloids—involving a beauty-queen, a Mormon, and eventually, five Korean-cloned pitbulls.
The daring non-fiction filmmaker, best known for his Oscar-winning portrait of U.S. defense secretary Robert McNamara in “The Fog Of War” appeared as a favor to Brandeis University president Fred Lawrence (ostensibly in town to raise the profile and likely needed funds for the new program). The event drew a handful of industry vets, including “Friends” creator Marta Kauffman, film and television producer Marshall Herskovitz (“Thirtysomething”, “Love and Other Drugs”), Janet Kurtzman Lonner (sister of CAA agent Rick Kurtzman and wife of former William Morris agent David Lonner) and producer Dan Adler.
Lawrence opened with remarks comparing Hollywood’s daring quest for “creative art and truth” to Brandeis’s academic mission. The university, which he depicted as a more progressive version of Harvard, was one of the first campuses in the country not to discriminate on the basis of race or religion.
“We got the American dream before America really got it,” he said.
Which brought him to Hollywood, that other bastion of the American dream, and, apparently, close ideological cousin of Brandeis. In fact the connection between Hollywood and Brandeis has deep roots: former studio mogul Lew Wasserman established a scholarship fund there, and legendary producer Sam Spiegel (“On the Waterfront”, “Lawrence of Arabia”) created a film fund in his name.
Morris, who is not a Brandeis alum but whom Lawrence said he considers “part of the family” introduced his latest doc as an “insane movie” that questions how we construct truth from reportage.
The film focuses on an ancient tabloid sensation in which a former Miss Wyoming, Joyce McKinney, was accused in the British press of kidnapping her Mormon boyfriend and raping him. But all is not as it seems, and the genius of Morris’s filmmaking technique is that he offers simultaneous but conflicting accounts of the story. In one thread, a virginal beauty queen tries to wrest the man she loves from the grip of a cult; in the tabloid version, a sex-crazed maniac assaults a pious man.
“I’ve always been interested in tabloid stories,” Morris told the crowd during an informal Q-and-A following the screening. But this one was especially compelling: “This is a two-part story: one about dog cloning, the other about a manacled Mormon. The combination of ‘A’ and ‘B’ was irresistible,” he said.
Morris compared his interest in the story to that of a film he made about a Holocaust-denying, electric-chair repairman. On their own, they’re not so interesting, he said, but together? Enrapturing.
Addressing questions about his leading lady’s sanity—McKinney is at once eccentric and effervescent, a real ‘character’ whose bizarrely endearing personality adds incomparably to the film’s entertainment value—Morris said, “I love Joyce – what’s not to love? She’s truly crazy.”
As to the veracity of her story? “I don’t know where the truth lies or if truth has any application in the story,” he said.
One of Morris’s apparent gifts is his ability to highlight the vagaries of human behavior, the point at which the distinction between truth and fiction is never clear. He is able to extract such blustering candor from his subjects—none of whom are actors – so much so, that their “real” feels more like a performance.
“I’m fond of saying in this town that the only difference between real people and SAG actors is that real people can act,” Morris quipped. As a director, he said, “My job is to elicit performance.”
It is in that kind of set-up staging that Morris blurs the line between what we think we know and what we may actually know. Truth and fiction are entirely subjective, he seems to be saying. Especially when it comes to the media.
“It’s not that truth doesn’t exist,” he explained. “It’s that we prefer not to know it.”
February 4, 2011 | 11:57 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The Huffpostess with the mostess cast her vote for Oscar front-runner “The King’s Speech” last night with a party feting the film at her Brentwood home.
Inside the sprawling, high-ceilinged mansion, an eclectic crowd of Hollywood meets Huffington spilled into four rooms, sipping sangria and clamoring for a glimpse of the stars.
In the parlour room, Arianna Huffington shrewdly positioned herself on the front lines of Oscar glory as she addressed special guests and nominees Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, director Tom Hooper and writer David Seidler (read The Jewish Journal interview here).
She commended the film for its historical importance.
“I can’t wait for Part Two,” Huffington said during brief but mostly bland remarks about the film.
Mixed in with an older crowd of industry-types, mediaites and cultural cognoscenti, actors John Cusack and Maria Bello were spotted, along with Earl Charles Spencer (brother of Princess Diana) and his arm candy, out in patriotic support of the British-backed film.
Despite the highbrow air, the soiree strangely resembled a college crush party, only, with fancier drapes. It was crowded and loud, but lush, with a steady stream of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres helping to induce gaiety.
“You have to understand,” one producer told me. “The Oscars are like an election. Those poor guys [the actors] will do this every day, twice a day, just to stay in the running.”
That said, Firth and Bonham Carter endured the throng of flunkies and flatterers remarkably well, considering they likely haven’t slept since August. The actress, who was stunningly self-styled, in an asymmetrical jacket-and-skirt ensemble, a half-eaten apple pendant hanging in her décolletage and sparkly antique rings covering her hands (I know nothing about how to describe fashion except that I like it) attended without her beau, the director Tim Burton, though she did bring along a date, her (Jewish) mother Elena, who radiated from her perch in a corner armchair, wrapped in pastel feather boas(!).
Director Tom Hooper seemed to be enjoying his limelight the most, hobnobbing about, chatting about the projects flooding his inbox (including a rumored biopic about Nelson Mandela) and generally basking in the glory-of-it-all.
If “The Social Network” – or any other Best Picture nominee – hopes to dethrone the royals, they’d better get started; because “Speech” is looking like an Oscar shoo-in.