Posted by Danielle Berrin
Sopranos creator David Chase will write and produce a new HBO miniseries about the creation of Hollywood. The series, titled “A Ribbon of Dreams” comes from the Orson Welles metaphor, “A film is a ribbon of dreams.” The story focuses on two men from different backgrounds who rise through the ranks of the incipient film industry, encountering a slew of Hollywood legends along the way.
The question is, will the Italian-mafia expert tell the story of the Jews who invented Hollywood?
None of the early reports on the show indicate Chase’s intentions with the project, other than establishing its basic plot. It is said that the two fictional leads will encounter D.W. Griffith, John Ford, Bette Davis and Billy Wilder (yes, a Jew). But other than that, word is mum.
From the New York Times ArtsBeat:
Having previously struck gold for HBO with his mobster series “The Sopranos,” the writer and producer David Chase is returning to the cable channel with a new mini-series about men who swear relentlessly and resort to ruthless tactics to get ahead, only this time, it’s set in Hollywood. In a release, HBO said that Mr. Chase’s mini-series would be called “A Ribbon of Dreams” (taken from Orson Welles’s famous metaphor for film) and would follow two characters through the birth and development of the American motion picture industry. The two protagonists, a mechanical engineer and a cowboy, will begin working for D.W. Griffith, and encounter the likes of John Wayne, Bette Davis and Billy Wilder as they rise through the business. No casting or premiere date was announced.
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March 17, 2009 | 12:14 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
That history-making Barack Obama is at it again with another historic “first.” As if becoming the first African-American president in U.S. history wasn’t enough, he will become the first sitting president—drum roll please—to appear on a late-night talk show. President Obama will hit the couch with Jay Leno on this Thursday’s “The Tonight Show,” presumably to discuss his economic recovery plan.
An interesting bit from the L.A. Times:
By taking a seat Thursday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Obama will become the first sitting president to appear in such an unlikely venue, erasing—perhaps once and for all—any vestige of the line that separates news from entertainment.
It will also extend Obama’s habit of speaking past the Washington press corps and ditching the capital for events that distance him from the Beltway status quo; for those keeping accounts, Obama may be sending a signal by going on the “Tonight Show” and then skipping Saturday night’s Gridiron Club dinner.
The evening of music and comedy hosted by an exclusive Washington journalists’ organization is a white-tie highlight of the capital’s social season. But Obama plans to spend the evening with his family, becoming the first president since Grover Cleveland not to show up for the first Gridiron dinner of his presidency.
“He’s kind of setting a tone that he’s not going to be restrained by the rules,” said Michael Dimock, associate director of Washington’s nonpartisan Pew Research Center
March 16, 2009 | 10:50 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Not exactly. The tabloid-clinging starlet who, weeks ago, was scouting synagogues in London for a rumored wedding to girlfriend Samantha Ronson (and who then announced she was converting to Judaism) averted an arrest warrant earlier today.
According to the L.A. Times (whose reports come from gossip website TMZ), all’s well in Lohan-land. The $50,000 arrest warrant for the “Mean Girls” star was rescinded and Lohan’s lawyer proved she actually did, in fact, attend those three “missed” days of post-rehab alcohol education. Or, perhaps the arrest warrant was due to her weekend road trip to Las Vegas, where she partied with aforementioned girlfriend at swanky nightclub. Apparently, after two 2007 DUI’s, her driving privileges are restricted and she can only commute to and from WORK. So, what in the heck was she doing seeking refuge at Jack Nicholson’s house???
More from the L.A. Times:
Despite a $50,000 warrant for her arrest and the cops being called to her house last weekend for a domestic disturbance, Lindsay Lohan was not in court today. Lohan’s attorney Shawn Chapman Holley was there on behalf of her client.
And everything’s OK. Much ado about nothing, reports TMZ. The LiLo arrest warrant has been recalled!
According to TMZ, the alcohol ed program director told them that Lohan missed three days of class in 21 days. But Lohan’s attorney apparently showed proof of compliance.
OK, so why did Lohan seek sanctuary at Jack Nicholson’s home over the weekend? If ever there was a bad place for an unbalanced, possibly inebriated and dramatic young girl to seek sanctuary, it’s gotta be at Jack’s shack.
“What the hell is going on out there?” a sleepy-sounding Nicholson asks. “What do you want me to do, honey?”
He opens the gate, almost crushing the paps shooting her.
March 16, 2009 | 5:46 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The new film “I Love You, Man” is a revelation. If only because, it introduces two hugely dorky Jews as leading men. Shouldn’t they be movie execs? Or own football teams?
Heck no, says the film: Jewish men are hot—even desirable—so what if they’re overgrown 13-year-olds with a penchant for pot, pornography and very sexy (not-so-Jewish) women? (For verification, see any Judd Apatow film.)
If the Judd Apatow films “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” pioneered territory where nebbishy, Jewish loser-types came across as cool, “I Love You, Man” takes that one step further: this film posits not one, but two decidedly handsome Jewish guys (who don’t have to pretend to be cool but actually are) in the lead. (Sorry Seth Rogen.) And this type of leading man—the Jewish one, that is—has a distinctive quality: he loves other men. Intimately.
The New York Times already touted the film a “bromance”—a new genre that centers on (purely nonsexual) emotional intimacy between men. In the upcoming film, it is not the dream of a smart, beautiful woman that drives Rudd’s character on an adventure journey, but the pursuit of a guy pal, a best friend. Finding a woman? Easy. But another man you can love and cherish through weddings and kids’ bar mitzvahs and college tuition payments? That’s the search for a Jewish man’s soul.
Read this NY Times piece for more on the “bromance” (even though it focuses on Paul Rudd as the leading man when I hear Jason Segel steals the show).
March 16, 2009 | 2:37 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Reading through the many obituaries written about the passing of Ron Silver, you’ll learn a few things about the guy: he was a Tony-winning actor (for his role as a producer in David Mamet’s “Speed The Plow”), a switch-hitting political activist (once a lefty, he converted to Republicanism after 9/11) and—boy!—he sure liked President Bush.
His is a typical Hollywood resume, blending politics and entertainment, lived out in atypical style.
An Emmy-nominee for his role on “The West Wing,” Silver’s real-life political activism was applauded, until he went to bat for the wrong team. The respected mid-level actor gained some enemies in liberal Hollywood with a post-9/11 about face. A disillusioned Democrat, Silver not only switched political parties but spoke out on Bush’s behalf—and, in support of his war plans—at the 2004 Republican National Convention. “It’s affected me very badly. I can’t point to a person or a job I’ve lost, but this community is not very pluralistic,” Silver told the Associated Press. “I haven’t worked for 10 months.” This, from an award-winning film, television and stage star. It’s a lesson in an unforgiving Hollywood.
But there are things about Silver you might not know; that he was fluent in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, for example, and that he was a staunch Israel activist.
A conservative at heart, Silver took a hard-line on an undivided Jerusalem and opposed the Oslo Accords. He co-founded a supporting organization “One Jerusalem,” along with a distinguished group that included David Bar-Illan, Douglas Feith and Jackie Mason, and was chaired by politician Natan Sharansky.
In addition to the “The West Wing,” Silver appeared on TV shows “Veronica’s Closet,” ‘‘Chicago Hope” and “Wiseguy,” and in big screen films “Ali,” ‘‘Reversal of Fortune,” and ‘‘Silkwood.” Yet, despite his reputable list of credits, Silver’s objectionable politics cost him a sense of belonging to the Hollywood community. Even when he found work, he faced taunting or teasing from colleagues, which cast him in the role of the inside-outsider. Silver’s life is an echo of the passionate debate in this country; a discourse torn between what is right and what is necessary, between this pole and that pole. His legacy reminds us that the plague of partisanship extends well beyond Capitol Hill and even in Hollywood, speaking your mind has professional reprisal.
Read more on Ron Silver’s career in Variety
March 15, 2009 | 9:57 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Every major news media outlet in the country is obsessed by the confrontation between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.” Picking up on the hype—or eager to create it, networks touted the faceoff as “the feud of the century”: Two highly educated Jews from middle-class backgrounds splashing their affluence, influence and intellect all over the airwaves. Writing on the Huffington Post, Daniel Sinker noted unusual newspaper coverage: The Chicago Tribune fronted the skirmish over the Governor of Illinois’s 50% tax hike; The New York Times ran a colorful photo on Friday’s front page. And this paper (smaller than The Times but just as enthusiastic) led with two editorials declaring the showdown an illumination of Jewish values: Editor Rob Eshman wrote that Stewart and Cramer “represent the twin poles of Jewish existence”—the need for wealth and security and the balance of ethics—and related a biblical metaphor of the Kings vs. the Prophets (I’ll give you one guess who’s who..).
Not to mention, “The Daily Show” saw its second-largest audience of the year with 2.3 million viewers, just shy of its 2.6 million record on Inauguration Day. Seems Stewart’s stock is going up along with his smarts.
But I keep wondering, why all the hullabaloo over two talk show hosts going at it? Doesn’t that happen every day? The easy answer, of course, is that it’s a welcome departure from the usual doom-and-gloom of the news day—we’re sick of hearing that the economy is in tatters and China’s pissed off and the Middle East has real problems. Duh. That this “basic cable dustup” (as Sinker put it) is being treated as a legitimately serious news item says something about the future of journalism—and why Jon Stewart keeps getting his indictments right.
You see, Stewart’s real critique wasn’t about Cramer, it was also only marginally about CNBC. Instead, Stewart’s real rage comes from the role the modern media has created for itself: the role of cheerleader instead of watchdog, of favoring surface over depth, of respecting authority instead of questioning it.
But none of these stories—Ana Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson tickets, Michelle Obama giving an interview to Good Morning America—pass muster either. None of them address the issues of our time with the fearless tenacity that Stewart brings to his show most nights, and he’s a comedian.
When we can’t compete with a comic in terms of speaking truth to power, then it’s more clear than ever that journalism in the US has lost its way. It comes as no surprise then when, as newspapers crumble around the country, a report like the one released by the Pew Research Center this week says that only 33% of people would miss their local newspaper “a lot.” When you lead with a story about an interview that happened on a comedy show—and it’s the very same story that almost everyone else is leading with as well—what’s to miss?
What’s to miss—the refrain is always repeated—is the investigative reporting that helps to keep our leaders honest, our water clean, our businesses pure. What’s to miss is people asking fearless questions to those that need them asked. What’s to miss is the deep pockets that can fund a reporter to dig and dig and dig until she’s able to uncover some fragile truth. And yes, that stuff is vital to the functioning of a democracy. It also, let’s speak the truth here, doesn’t happen very often.
March 13, 2009 | 6:40 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Well, no wonder she overdosed. Anna Nicole Smith’s nice Jewish attorney/boyfriend was helping her illegally acquire “thousands of prescription drugs.” Howard K. Stern, the L.A.-born attorney was charged alongside two doctors with three felony counts of conspiracy for furnishing the Playboy Playmate with the drugs that likely killed her.
According to his Wikipedia entry: Stern is always referred to as “Howard K. Stern” to avoid confusion with the popular radio personality with whom he coincidentally shares the same first and last names. Stern was born to a Jewish family and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990 and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He was admitted to the State Bar of California on February 25, 1994. Stern’s law firm first handled Anna Nicole Smith’s modeling contracts in the mid 1990s. When she fought for the fortune of her late husband J. Howard Marshall, Stern presented her direct examination at the trial. Stern’s law firm was dissolved around the time he became a co-star on The Anna Nicole Show. Stern maintains an apartment in Santa Monica, California, from which he operated a business called “Hot Smoochie Lips Inc” which is a talent agency that only had one client, Anna Nicole Smith.
With his talent agency’s only client six-feet-under and three counts of felony lopped onto his law resume, what will the law-breaking lawyer do now? Oh I know—request a cell next to Bernie Madoff.
Read more in the Variety report:
Stern and doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich were each charged with three felony counts of conspiracy. Prosecutors said the doctors gave the drugs - including opiates and benzodiazapines - to Stern, who then gave them to Smith over three years.
The medical examiner’s office has said Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and friend of the starlet’s, authorized all the prescription medications found in the Hollywood, Fla., hotel room where the 39-year-old Smith was found unresponsive shortly before her death in February 2007. Eroshevich had traveled with Smith to Florida.
Eroshevich’s attorney, Adam Braun, acknowledged his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith but that the intent wasn’t to commit fraud.
The three defendants also were charged with a combined eight other felonies, including obtaining fraudulent prescriptions and unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance between June 2004 and January 2007.
Eleven prescription medications were found in Smith’s hotel room the day she died, according to the medical examiner’s office. More than 600 pills - including about 450 muscle relaxants - were missing from prescriptions that were no more than five weeks old when she died. Most of the drugs were prescribed in the name of Stern, her lawyer-turned-companion, and none was prescribed in Smith’s own name.
March 13, 2009 | 6:20 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Jon Stewart ignited a talk-show feud when he said that if he’d listened to CNBC’s Jim Cramer’s financial advice, “I’d have a million dollars today—provided I’d started with $100 million.”
The two entertainers sparred between networks for days, until Stewart invited Cramer to the “The Daily Show” so they could spar in person. According to the L.A. Times, Stewart made mince meat out of Cramer. Then again, that’s what Stewart does best—with a whopping dose of humor and not inconsequential sex appeal.
From LAT Notebook blog:
Stewart’s point this time was much the same, that CNBC practiced irresponsible journalism,while selling itself as a source of superior insight and information. “You should be buying things and accept that they’re overvalued but accept that they’re going to keep going higher,” Cramer said in one of the clips Stewart had earlier hurled against him, noting “I probably wouldn’t have a problem with CNBC if Cramer’s slogan was ‘Cramer: He’s right sometimes,’ or ‘Cramer: He’s like a dartboard that talks.’ “
Although Stewart took some care to separate Cramer, personally, from his larger attack on CNBC—whose misrepresentation of the financial crisis as “some sort of crazy once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming” he called “disingenuous at best and criminal at worst” —the net he was throwing was certainly meant to include him.
Earlier in the day, Cramer had appeared on “The Martha Stewart Show” and had admitted that he was “a little nervous” about going on “The Daily Show.” “You should be nervous,” Martha Stewart replied, and indeed there was something in his bearing last night that reminded one of a small boy reluctantly called before the school principal. Cramer is a star in his own world, but in the larger hierarchy of cable TV and pop-political culture, “The Daily Show” ranks higher than “Mad Money.” And though he had told Martha Stewart earlier that “I’m going to have to fight back. I’m not a doormat,” he came off rather as chastened, conciliatory, pleading and overwhelmed:
“I try really hard to make as many good calls as I can.”
“I should do a better job.”
“I wish I’d done a better job.”
“I’m trying. I’m trying.”
Jon Stewart had a home-court advantage, of course, as well as a few damning clips, not meant for broadcast, of Cramer describing, in a positive way, certain barely to not-even-barely legal things a hedge fund manager might do to work the market to his advantage. And he also had editorial control—the interview that went out over the air was cut for time; Cramer comes off somewhat better in the complete exchange, which is available online. But what makes Stewart formidable is that he also has a passion greater than the irony in which it is often couched.
“I understand you want to make finance entertaining,” he said, “but ... you knew what the banks were doing and yet were touting it for months and months. ... These guys were on a Sherman’s March through their companies financed by our 401Ks, and all the incentives for their companies were for short term ... and they ... walked away rich as hell. And you guys knew it was going on.”
Closing the show, Stewart added, “I hope that was as uncomfortable to watch as it was to do.”
Who’s your money man now?