Posted by Danielle Berrin
I'm not sure a Hollywood blog has any business writing about Yeats but I came across the most wonderful poem. And I've seen a fairly good movie about Keats, "Bright Star" (with the wonderful, wonderful Ben Whishaw), so I'm hoping an artistic concern with one poet might extend to them all. Anyways, there's probably a movie about Yeats I haven't seen since his romantic life was certainly cinematic -- "personal melodrama on an epic scale," The Atlantic once called it. He proposed to his great love Maud Gonne four times; though she refused each one. And when they finally consummated their relationship one night in Paris, it did not go well. He later married the much younger Georgie Hyde-Lees, with whom he had two children, and though she knew of his affairs, she was fiercely loyal: "When you are dead," she once wrote, according to Terence Brown's "The Life of W. B. Yeats: A Critical Biography," "people will talk about your love affairs, but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were."
I actually think this poem, "Ephemera" is well suited to Hollywood, land of many fleeting things, but enduring dreams.
'Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.'
And then she:
'Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep:
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!'
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves....
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes
In bosom and hair.
'Ah, do not mourn,' he said,
'That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual fairwell.'
12.12.13 at 1:01 pm | Light and wind poured in through the cracks in. . .
12.11.13 at 2:31 pm | Hollywood is answering historical tragedy with a. . .
12.10.13 at 4:28 pm | Sandy Einstein is not an easy man to deter. I. . .
12.5.13 at 10:57 am | Never underestimate the miraculous confluence of. . .
11.27.13 at 2:54 pm | Rabbis Adam Kligfeld and Ari Lucas answer probing. . .
11.24.13 at 12:15 pm | Meet the woman who turned Suzanne Collins' young. . .
12.11.13 at 2:31 pm | Hollywood is answering historical tragedy with a. . . (6101)
12.12.13 at 1:01 pm | Light and wind poured in through the cracks in. . . (844)
3.12.12 at 5:07 pm | According to critics, it isn’t Iranian-ness or. . . (255)
October 26, 2012 | 4:02 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I've always considered myself a Madonna fan. When I was growing up I admired her sexual courage, her unapologetic pushing-of-the-envelope. It made a lot of sense in an atmosphere of confusion and repression surrounding women's sexuality in America.
But her recent stunt, performed in Los Angeles no less, to make some kind of anti-Taliban statement by stripping to her skivvies and revealing the name, MALALA tattooed on her back, as a flimsy protestation against the gunning down of the 15-year-old Pakistani girl-activist, is strange and silly to be sure, but also deeply insensitive and downright stupid.
Just because sexual audacity may challenge the politicization of women's bodies and their rights here (see: Lena Dunham wearing shorts), does not mean that kind of resistance is effective elsewhere. Especially, for instance, in places like Pakistan, where wanton violence perpetrated by extremist insurgents against women is the norm, and the risk posed to women for such egregiously offensive provocations, like, for example, blogging about equal rights, far outweighs the danger posed to Madonna for stripping on a Hollywood stage. Here, Madonna makes a mockery of authentic political resistance.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but in 1980s America, very few women were in danger of being shot in the head for standing up for their rights, and certainly Madonna was in even less danger when she decided to try and hitchhike from a Miami Beach street while in the nude. But then, she is a master of self-delusion, turning the pornographic for pornography’s sake into a pseudo-philosophical point.
Since Madonna has been world-touring since the beginning of her career, she should know that cultures are different from one another. Affiliation with a group is based on distinction and difference. The U.S., to her shock, is not Pakistan. And what passes for culture shock and rhetorical opposition here is wildly irrelevant there. According to Leon Wieseltier, Madonna's stunt was an act of “pseudo-blasphemy” because no one would deny her ability to use sexual provocation as a political weapon here, in the land of the free. Doing so, as Wieseltier put it, is a "cheapening of the currency of dissent" (though he referred more directly to the classic Madonna deed of writhing-on-the-religious, as when, during her anti-Catholic days, she would "twist her flesh torridly over the altar.")
Instead of her intention to critique or dissent, Madonna's stunt only served to further stoke Taliban rage, and allowed them to co-opt the musical seduction (she strip-teased to her 90s hit "Human Nature") into ammunition for more disapprobation and hatred. Or, if her aim was to demonstrate her solidarity with Malala, she could have just called.
But as she makes clear in her song, she’s not sorry.
October 24, 2012 | 2:59 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
At her memorial service in the summer of 2011, they called her “a mother in a man’s world.”
It seems an apropos epitaph for the late producer, whose gift for making movies was fueled by the same bottomless ardor that marked her mothering. Ziskin wasn’t one of those women who “sacrificed it all” for her career; she had her cake — and a daughter, too.
It is often said of Ziskin that the qualities that made her one of the industry’s most vaunted producers — of fare like “Pretty Woman,” “As Good As It Gets” and the blockbuster “Spider-Man” franchise — were the selfsame qualities that made her a steadfast mother. In an industry of unstable sorts, Ziskin solidly parented. On Saturday nights when she couldn’t meet agents to sip spirits and talk properties at the Polo Lounge, she’d scour women’s magazines for more obscure titles or devise new story ideas herself.
It was often said she had impeccable instincts.
She knew, for example, that she had breast cancer before her doctors did. For five or six years before her diagnosis, Ziskin kept finding lumps and having mammograms. The doctors would tell her things were fine and send her home. “Eventually she started having things that if you have them, you should rush to the doctor’s office,” Julia Barry, Ziskin’s daughter, told me during a phone interview last week. “She knew something was really wrong.”
Barry, at the time, was a junior at Sarah Lawrence College and studying abroad. She finished out her year in London, at her mother’s request, though reports from home were dismal.
Ziskin had asked for an MRI; her insurance refused. But one benefit of a blockbuster is you can afford to pay out of pocket. With her “Spider-Man” money, Ziskin got to buy a cancer diagnosis: Stage 4 lobular breast cancer, which Barry described as “a growing, lacy network of cancer” right around the veins where breast milk comes through. Instead of new shoes, a “very massive tumor,” “an unheard-of number of lymph nodes affected.” Instead of summer vacation, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant.
Early on, one oncologist, Barry remembers, “basically looked at her like she was going to die.”
Once, she was the Pretty Woman “nobody could say no to.” She told The Hollywood Reporter that although she had never read a comic book, she won the “Spider-Man” project by imploring Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal to “just give me the biggest motherf----r you have.” Then, illness struck, and “nobody felt like we were going to come out of this,” Barry recalled.
But if there’s anything the movie business teaches, it’s lessons in fortitude. Ziskin brought her hard-charging career qualities to her cancer fight, a war she waged for seven years. “She became very lifestyle-focused,” Barry said, “changed her diet, practiced more yoga.” But for a Jew who had relaxed her Jewishness after her father died, spiritual sustenance didn’t come as easily: “There were some attempts at meditating,” Barry admitted, but “she was always saying she was a really bad meditator.”
Perhaps Ziskin inherently knew that some injustices can’t be quelled with quietude on a mountaintop; that they must be boldly battled in the world. An action producer by nature, Ziskin felt that one of cancer’s evils was the lack of cohesiveness within the medical community, with new treatments held hostage by competitive researchers and doctors stymied by bureaucracy from administering the best possible care.
“When people are dying, you can’t just sit around and have ego wars over whose paper is getting published,” Barry said.
So Ziskin co-founded Stand Up To Cancer, a nonprofit that encourages collaborative research in the development of cancer cures. It would be one thing to fight the disease in her body, quite another to fight an imperfect medical system. She enlisted the support of entertainment pals like Sherry Lansing and Katie Couric to launch the organization, which, along with her movies, became her living legacy.
“She wanted to stop the cannibalization of body parts,” Barry said. “Part of the problem in the scientific community is that people tend to work in silos, but they’re finding that mechanisms of cancer may be able to tell things to each other.”
For a woman used to owning her femaleness wholesale, “The gendered part of breast cancer frustrated her,” Barry said. Cancer is cancer, was how Ziskin saw it. It knows no gender; it consumes human cells. So while some women worry that breast cancer compromises their femininity, perhaps their very identity, Ziskin’s cancer awakened her to the indiscriminate torment of all cancers. “She was much more focused on what she could do to solve this problem for other people.”
That was the Ziskin way. Misfortune didn’t change her; it restored her to her essence: “She had an unwavering character, a drive, an unwillingness to compromise, an ability to collaborate. What she was able to do as a philanthropist and an activist was just an extension of what made her really great as a producer.”
But wherever there’s a Jew, there’s irony. Ziskin deplored the cliché about cancer being a good thing that has the potential to catalyze transformation. “She felt adamantly that this had not changed her, but all of us who were very close to her can look back and say, ‘Well, actually, it did.’
“If she were able to look back” — and had her life been about movies alone — “I think she would feel a little bit empty,” Barry said.
It wasn’t cancer that changed her. It was her aggressive, defiant, determined and hopeful response to cancer that intensified who she already was.
October 23, 2012 | 10:47 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
If you want to know what’s it like to be Steven Spielberg, there are three ways to intuit his psyche: 1) have a panic attack; 2) have a row with a parent; 3) feel shame over some aspect of your identity.
Because, at least according to a recent 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, those are the defining forces of Spielberg’s life, the vehicles that have driven his ambition, animated his movies and helped him evolve into an ostensibly well-adjusted adult.
Well, sort of.
“You’re a nervous wreck,” Stahl suggested at the beginning of the 13-minute segment which aired Oct. 21.
“Yes, it’s true,” Spielberg said coyly. “It’s much more of an anticipation of the unknown... it’s just kind of a level of anxiety having to do with not being able to write my life as well as I can write my movies.”
Ah, the perennial problem of the artist: How to reconcile the artist’s soul, with its depth of feeling and profound understanding, with ordinary human life. As countless writers have proclaimed (and they would know since many consider themselves artists), artists are sometimes simply unfit for life. In his essay on the evolutionary benefits of art (if there are indeed any), Adam Kirsch quotes from Nietzsche, who coined the pithy phrase “Art dangerous for the artist.”
It is more than that one’s art can be all-consuming, but that an artist has a certain temperament and certain cravings that conflict with societal standards.
According to Nietzsche’s “Human, All Too Human,” the artist craves excitements and danger, “believes in gods and demons, imbues nature with a soul, hates science, becomes unchangeable in his moods like the men of antiquity” and therefore finds himself at odds with others and inevitably dies in sadness.
But Spielberg is smarter. He told 60 Minutes he copes with existential angst by telling stories -- though he admitted it doesn’t quite abolish the affliction: “Well, it’s commercial,” he said, invoking Hollywood’s capitalistic upside. “I don’t want to lose it.”
Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Spielberg said he considered his mother, Leah Adler, a “big sister” and his father, Arnold, a workaholic. When they divorced, he blamed Dad (“I did pin it on him,” he said). Years later, his anger towards his father was expressed in his work and many of his subsequent movies featured disappointing or absent fathers. “E.T.” he said, was an attempt to tell a story about his parents’ divorce. But it would be years before he’d learn the truth: that it was really his mother who fell in love with one of her husband’s friends, because she was oh “so unhappy” (Arnold forgave her, he told Stahl, because he was “in love with her”).
But the demons of distant Dads and divorce had implanted themselves in young Spielberg, and so invested was he in the original dad’s-at-fault narrative, he admitted: “Even after I knew the truth I blamed my Dad.”
For the artist, easier to tell a story than surrender one.
“Even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “For some reason it was easier for me to blame [my father] than someone already exalted.”
Even a Hollywood icon needs an idol.
The gentlemen Spielberg eventually reconciled and the director then made movies painting fathers as heroes. “I stayed angry for too long,” Spielberg said, lamenting the “many, many wasted years” he and Arnold were estranged. By the time of their reconciliation, he had learned a thing or two about facing demons -- his movies, by gosh, were full of them: sharp-toothed sea creatures and extinct clawed-carnivores come to mind -- and through his work, he was able to expurgate the long-held family narrative that stifled his soul. For the creator of brave characters, helplessness would not do.
Spielberg would also have to contend with another source of deep shame -- his Jewishness. Having grown up in “an all non-Jewish neighborhood,” as his mother described it, Spielberg felt like an outsider. “People used to chant, ‘The Spielbergs are dirty Jews,’” Adler told Stahl. “And one night, Steve climbed out of his bedroom window and peanut-buttered their window.” Throwing her head back, she added, “which I thought was MAR-velous.”
Stahl asked Spielberg how he dealt with such “anti-Semitic attacks.”
“I denied it,” he said.
“Denied what? That you were Jewish?” Stahl asked.
“... My Judaism,” Spielberg affirmed.
“Were you ashamed?” she continued.
“Um-hm. I often told people my last name was German, not Jewish,” he said. “I’m sure my grandparents are rolling over in their graves right now hearing me say that, but I think that, you know, I was in denial.”
You can guess what he did when he overcame that plight: he made a little movie called “Schindler’s List.”
With “Schindler,” he explored one of the darkest blights on human history; with his next film, “Lincoln,” he illuminates another dark period -- the era of slavery and civil war in the United States -- but concerns himself mostly with its happy ending. “Lincoln” is not about the degradations of slavery, but Abraham Lincoln’s resolve to end them. His dogged pursuit of congressional approval to end that injustice is the movie’s primary focus, though it bespeaks its larger theme about the conflicting motives of one man.
“It’s about leadership and about telling the truth... about how you feel,” Spielberg said. “He was living with two agendas and I think there’s darkness in there.”
It’s difficult to hear him say this without wondering from whence it comes. Perhaps it is evidence of Spielberg’s psychological sophistication, the way he has worked to integrate his artist’s soul with his “ordinary” life (he has long been married to the actress Kate Capshaw and has six children) that he is able to extol the virtues of emotional truth. In Lincoln, he sees a great man whose soul was bound up in confusion.
If once he felt a similar discord, Spielberg seems to have found his footing. He has learned to live with the past without letting it beset him and found fulfillment in work and in life. Though it is exceedingly rare, he is both the artist who creates and the man who can love.
October 18, 2012 | 10:37 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The film by French writer-director Lorraine Levy is the most moving tale I've seen about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent memory. It is not so much about the conflict, however, as the story it tells exists within it, illuminating the profound religious and geopolitical issues that complicate the region. This film can (and likely will) be talked about.
It tells the story of two sons, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, accidentally switched at birth. They come of age in disparate worlds.
Yosef is raised in a beautiful Tel Aviv suburb where he moves freely about in a world that is open to him. He spends his time courting girls, playing the guitar and drinking with friends around bonfires at the beach. His father is a commanding officer in the Israeli military and his family enjoys status and respect. His little sister plays with dolls and his mother wears flowy summer dresses and maybe even fantasizes about other men.
Yosef is Jewish.
Yacine lives in a remote West Bank town and has just returned from Paris, where relatives have taken him in so he can study to become a doctor. He must obtain papers in order to pass through a checkpoint and cross the border in and out of Israel. His family is poor; meat is a luxury. His father is a mechanic and a broken man. His older brother is aimless, angry and rebellious, and spends his time with other discontented teenagers who seem on the brink of destruction. Yacine's youngest brother was killed. His mother is sensitive and soulful, but scarred. She does her best to placate miserable men.
Yacine is Palestinian Muslim.
And then one day he is not.
At 17, Yacine discovers he is really the biological child of Israeli Jews. And from the perch of privilege, Yosef has to face his ties to life inside the territories.
After years of studying at a yeshiva and becoming a bar mitzvah, Yosef's rabbi tells him he is not a Jew and must convert. He becomes a kind of stranger to his mother. His blood is not her blood.
Both mothers love the children they have raised but deeply yearn to know the other son they carried.
The film raises some of the most complex questions about identity and belief a person can encounter. At times it makes you squirm with discomfort, as it forces you to confront hard questions. Impossible questions: What if you had been born on the other side of everything you think you know? What if, but for the grace of God, you were born into another race, another class, another religion? How would you know yourself? How would you relate to your family? Can seventeen years be undone in an instant?
The Other Son seems to be asking: How flimsy are the labels we use to define ourselves, and how powerful the biological bonds that reside within us? What makes a person who they are -- nature or nurture? Is the human heart so bound up in blood, no other love can compare?
October 15, 2012 | 8:24 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Dear God, I gave up meeting Brad Pitt to attend a Shabbes dinner.
I thought this was a wise thing to do (and no one can ever say I'm starstruck). However, even though I enjoyed a delicious meal, observed one of your eminent Ten, and got to drink a lot of scotch, I think I made a mistake. You see, I missed a rare opportunity to report back to my readership on Brad Pitt's very esteemed opinions on the injustices of the drug war. And just last week, I wrote a column about this same problem, and Eugene Jarecki's documentary "The House I Live In", which is a deeply empathetic look at how U.S. drug laws have evolved into a dangerous, wasteful and unjust juggernaut (on this Brad and I agree!). Having thoroughly studied your Torah, God, I know that the moral imperative to restore human dignity to all your creatures would probably get me a hall pass for one Sabbath meal. Please forgive me, God (Please forgive me, readers!). Fortunately, you were prescient enough to include the role of Reuters in your great Creation:
(Reuters) - Brad Pitt has thrown his weight behind a documentary that blasts America's 40-year war on drugs as a failure, calling policies that imprison huge numbers of drug-users a "charade" in urgent need of a rethink.
The Hollywood actor came aboard recently as an executive producer of filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's "The House I Live In," which won the Grand Jury Prize in January at the Sundance Film Festival. The film opened in wide release in the United States on Friday.
Ahead of a Los Angeles screening, Pitt and Jarecki spoke passionately about the "War on Drugs" which, according to the documentary, has cost more than $1 trillion and accounted for over 45 million arrests since 1971, and which preys largely on poor and minority communities.
"I know people are suffering because of it. I know I've lived a very privileged life in comparison and I can't stand for it," Pitt told Reuters on Friday, calling the government's War on Drugs policy a "charade."
"It's such bad strategy. It makes no sense. It perpetuates itself. You make a bust, you drive up profit, which makes more people want to get into it," he added. "To me, there's no question; we have to rethink this policy and we have to rethink it now."
Read the rest here
October 11, 2012 | 10:05 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
With two long, draining wars on the decline, who wants to confront a third?
In this one, the longest running and one of the most expensive in American history, our enemies are fellow citizens and the frontlines are our city streets. Yet this four-decade draconian fight is so deeply ingrained in our society, it is perhaps easier to ignore, like a long marriage gone stale.
Even now, in the midst of an election season, the War on Drugs barely registers. Haven’t we got bigger problems?
“To ignore this issue is to ignore the 800-pound elephant in the room,” insisted author and filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, whose previous works, including HBO’s “Reagan,” “The Trials of Henry Kissinger” and “Why We Fight,” each deal with questions about American policy. His latest documentary, “The House I Live In,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, takes on the drug war in an unflinching and personal way. Not through the prism of addiction, because, although he’s tried them, Jarecki is “not a drug taker, no,” but through the lens of a much larger dependency that, he argues, has gradually and sometimes unwittingly been woven into the fabric of American life.
Jarecki first encountered this issue growing up in a New Haven Jewish home. Raised in tandem with the children and grandchildren of his African-American caretaker, Nannie Jeter, whom in the film he describes as “a second mother,” he came of age and headed for the Ivy League, while Jeter’s offspring faltered.
“I saw many of them struggling with poverty, joblessness, crime and worse,” he says in the film’s voiceover narration.
When he asked Jeter whence the cause, “drugs” was her answer.
What many might have ignored moved Jarecki to outrage. “I have a natural struggle-side mentality,” he said over coffee at the Chateau Marmont. “If one of the aspects of modern life seems inequitable or unfair or hypocritical, I’m deeply uncomfortable. It’s an asymmetry that I can feel.”
It’s also an asymmetry exemplified by his privilege (“I was a very lucky American,” he said), but experienced unjustly by his ancestors. “As an American Jewish person whose family fled persecution in foreign places” — his father fled Nazi Germany in 1939, and his mother’s family fled czarist Russia — “we were taught that we were children of flight, that flight was always around the corner, and that not only could it happen again to ourselves, it could happen to others.”
Call it a lucky reminder for someone born white and Jewish in late-20th century America, which provided Jarecki a powerful motive to pay forward his fortune. “Within the American story, our sisters and brothers in the struggle for dignity were black Americans,” he said. “A natural bond formed with these people we saw singing ‘Go Down Moses,’ thinking of themselves as having struggled the way Jews struggled under the pharaoh.”
But Jarecki became puzzled when he realized how the struggle stories had diverged. The trajectory of black Americans in their post-Civil Rights struggle does not mirror the path of Jewish ascension. What, he wondered, was getting in the way of black progress?
“The drug war, broadly speaking, is an immoral catastrophe,” he said. Without mincing words, Jarecki’s film takes on the economic, political, sociological and psychological consequences of the drug-war juggernaut. At times it comes off as agitprop, the same way Jarecki’s intellectual rants can sound like manifesto in conversation (capitalism, for instance, is “an enemy of democracy”), but its unswerving focus on the humanity of its subjects, and its indictment of all political stripes, not one party, saves it from one-sidedness.
Not only an artist, Jarecki is also an activist seeking reform. He taught politics at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies and is the founder and executive director of The Eisenhower Project, a public policy group. Film allows him to explore these issues and brings him into contact with the raging diversity of experience in America, though he is far more invested in influencing policy than scoring at the box office.
The War on Drugs, he said, “is a system that must be on trial at election time.”
“We have to ask what it means for America to be the world’s largest jailer, what it means that we’ve spent a trillion dollars in the War on Drugs, and yet drugs are cheaper, purer, more available and more in use today than ever before.”
At a time when resources are scarce, the cost of incarcerating American citizens for drug offenses is a mile high. Wouldn’t it make more sense to treat most drugs like alcohol? In November, Proposition 36 will seek to reduce the sentencing for the California “three strikes” law, which currently allows prosecutors to seek life sentences for a third felony, even if petty or nonviolent. “Right now, there is someone serving a life sentence whose third crime was stealing a slice of pizza in Redondo Beach,” Jarecki said.
If we’re honest, modifying drug laws is about more than economic logic and rationality; it’s also about fairness. “We should be smart on crime, not tough on crime,” Jarecki said.
Years spent interviewing just a few of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States — plus the jailers, judges and law enforcement officers who work to put them there — convinced Jarecki something bold must be done.
“When people on the outside criticize a system, OK, that’s important, but when someone on the inside is willing to risk their job security, risk their livelihood to step out and tell me the criticism they have about the system they are a part of? The courage of that is such a moment of human majesty that it behooves me to honor it.
“I think justice is something inside you,” he said. Indeed, his own history is awash in it. “I was taught from a young age [that Jews] had a role to play as messengers of human dignity, and in the struggle for human rights and the need to defend the voiceless. My whole life is versed in that.”
October 7, 2012 | 5:18 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Maureen Dowd and Aaron Sorkin "used to date," as Dowd coyly put it in a 2005 profile for New York Magazine.
In that same story, Sorkin told writer Ariel Levy that perhaps, one thing troubling their relationship was that he found Dowd “more independent than I would like.” How terrible!
At least Sorkin is mature enough to note his needs. And, evinced by Dowd's column today in The Times, they are both mature enough to carry on in friendship after a romantic failing. This is how it should be. One can get, it turns out, very good columns from a former flame:
AFTER the debate, I was talking to Aaron Sorkin, who was a little down. Or, as he put it, “nonverbal, shouting incoherently at a squirrel, angrier than when the Jets lost to the 49ers last Sunday without ever really being on the field.”
Aaron was mollified when he learned that President Obama, realizing things were dire, privately sought the counsel of a former Democratic president known for throwing down in debates. I asked Aaron if he knew how the conversation between the two presidents had gone and, as it happened, he did. This is his account.
The lights from the presidential motorcade illuminate a New Hampshire farmhouse at night in the sprawling New England landscape. JED BARTLET steps out onto his porch as the motorcade slows to a stop.
BARTLET (calling out) Don’t even get out of the car!
BARACK OBAMA (opening the door of his limo) Five minutes, that’s all I want.
BARTLET Were you sleepy?
OBAMA Jed —
BARTLET Was that the problem? Had you just taken allergy medication? General anesthesia?
OBAMA I had an off night.
BARTLET What makes you say that? The fact that the Cheesecake Factory is preparing an ad campaign boasting that it served Romney his pre-debate meal? Law school graduates all over America are preparing to take the bar exam by going to the freakin’ Cheesecake Factory!
OBAMA (following Bartlet inside) I can understand why you’re upset, Jed.
BARTLET Did your staff let you know the debate was gonna be on television?
OBAMA (looking in the other room) Is that Jeff Daniels?
BARTLET That’s Will McAvoy, he just looks like Jeff Daniels.
OBAMA Why’s he got Jim Lehrer in a hammerlock?
Read the rest at The Times.