When talking points collide

As German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with President Bush at the White House today (both men presumably enduring the event with forced smiles and pseudo-affable buddy posturing), Number 43 let fly with a puzzling new iteration of one of his trademarked “Bushisms” as the two leaders discussed that whole war/crisis thing going on in the Middle East — specifically, the potential for democracy to flourish in the region.

“Bush and Schroeder also talked about the Middle East, with Bush stressing the need to put democratic institutions in place ‘that survive the whims of men and women.’
He didn’t offer specifics about what that meant, but repeated his belief that democracy and freedom can help stem terrorism.”

At the tail end, there, the AP’s Jennifer Loven was thoughtful enough to remind readers of the confusing tenor of the President’s remarks, but, in true objective journalistic fashion, neglected to take the opportunity to provide the most likely interpretation: his remarkable ability to stay on message all week long!
Of course, Bush seemed to have forgotten which event this was, and that he had already proposed his “marriage as a union of a man and woman” constitutional amendment earlier in the week, and that today’s particular remarks should have instead featured the President making the usual hyperbolic proclamations about making the world safe again.
Presumably, even, for homos, though we can forgive Bush for mixing up his discussions of conservative minority-as-majority regimes.


Slipped Right Through His Fingers

Mike Tyson, London, July 21, 1989, Courtesy: The Ring Magazine. (From Boxer)
“Bankrupt boxer Mike Tyson is financially down for the count, saying things have gotten so bad that he’s struggling just to put food on the table.”
BROKE TYSON: I’LL FIGHT FOR FOOD, by Adam Miller, The New York Post, Feb. 27, 2004
Whenever I read about Mike Tyson’s travails—rape convictions, ear-biting, arguments with reporters, acrimonious divorces, fist-fights in a Brooklyn hotel, facial tattoos, bankruptcy—I always think of the scene in Barbara Kopple‘s phenomenal, empathic 1993 documentary Fallen Champ in which Tyson, age 15, has a breakdown between bouts at the 1982 National Junior Olympics in Colorado and sobs to his trainer Teddy Atlas:

“It’s all right now… I’m Mike Tyson… everybody likes me, yes, everybody likes me… I’ve come a long way, I’m a fighter now, I’m Mike Tyson.”

Just beneath the tabloid spectacle of Tyson’s public decline is a very real tragedy. Unfortunately, Tyson is such an unsympathetic figure that it’s hard to feel bad for the guy. Sadly, his story’s gonna get a lot worse before it ends.


I disliked Big Fish, too, but I wouldn’t call it ‘crud’ (Or ‘Enthralling,’ actually)

Billy Crudup, who starred in Big Fish, has managed to make crud enthralling.”
Unabashed Stars Break the Shackles of the Name Game, by Virginia (insert your own lame joke about my last name) Heffernan, The New York Times, Feb. 27, 2004.


Absolutely Our Last Passion-Related Post (Today)

The early reviews are in:
‘Jews Killed Jesus’ Sign Causing Controversy: Pastor Refuses To Remove Or Change Saying On Outdoor Marquee, ABC News, Denver
[Thanks, Krusty!]


We hates the U.N….NO! We loves the U.N.!

from Reuters: Britain, Russia sweat as secret operations exposed

The British government was rocked by allegations by a former cabinet minister that it spied on United Nations chief Kofi Annan in the run-up to the Iraq war last year.


“Huzzah,” He Lied

How do you know a publicist is lying? His lips are moving.
Check out this hilariously deluded comment from Mel Gibson’s PR man, Alan Nierob (whom we’re told is “himself the child of Holocaust survivors”), in Sharon Waxman’s New Film May Harm Gibson’s Career (The New York Times, Feb. 26, 2004):

“I think Hollywood appreciates good art and will embrace the talent of a filmmaker.”

C’mon, Alan! Even you can’t believe that.


Lewis Black Can’t Lose (Actually, he has. And he’s still pissed.)

Lblack.jpgIf you thought Lewis Black was just that overly-caffeinated, disheveled comedian who does Back in Black on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, swing on by The LA Weekly to learn about his early career as a playwright. (In Love, Pissed, by David Shulman).
Like any writer, Black’s got a little creation myth about the moment he was first prompted to put pen to paper. Like his comedy, it’s half bitter, half funny as hell:

“I’d been living with an actress… And she went over and did a major motion picture in England. We’d been together three years, and now we were in Skid Mode. So she goes over there [England], and I don’t hear from her until she calls me up and tells me she’s met the man she’s going to marry. And I’m like, Are you out of your fucking mind? Because this is a girl without a mainstream romantic bone in her body. Less than a year later, she’s marrying the guy. All my friends went to the wedding. And I didn’t… I really loved her family. We got along really well, and I heard that all the family talked about at the wedding was me, and how they couldn’t believe she was marrying this other guy. So all I did was go, Wow — what if I had shown up? And that was really what the play became about.”

His lose is the audience’s gain, I guess.
Black’s show, One Slight Hitch, is playing now at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.


S-I-T-C-O-M Men

Method Man and Redman: The New Face of FOX?
The mainstreaming of Method Man and Redman continues with the announcement that the rappers will star in a new sitcom for FOX. (Fox Parties with Boyz N’ the Gated Hood, Hollywood Reporter, Cynthia Littleton and Nellie Andreeva).
Setting aside for the moment the awful, dated headline, here’s the story of the show’s premise:

The untitled Method Man/Redman project, now in production in New Jersey, is one of the heat-seekers on Fox’s comedy development slate this year… The project, described as a kind of edgier take on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme, was the brainchild of Method Man, the Wu-Tang Clan member who figured that his idea for a TV series couldn’t be any worse than a lot of the stuff he has seen in primetime in recent years.

I’ll withhold my judgment until I see it, mostly because Method Man is so fucking awesome. I still listen to Tical all the time and whenever I hear Meph’s growling, blunt-smoking frogman voice on a Wu-Tang album or side project (his verse on Raekwon‘s “Ice Cream” is a classic), I marvel at just what an amazing MC he is.
Redman‘s pretty great, too: Dare Iz A Darkside is the rare CD that holds up ten years after its release. And Redman’s sense of humor is evident in some of his more playful rhymes.
I’ve never seen How High, but I know from their videos and their short-lived Right Guard commercials that Method Man and Redman have great comic chemistry. (Maybe not the best taste in material, as a series of deodorant commercials suggests, but hey, they’ve got kids and college is expensive.)
It’s also interesting to see how the mainstream uses—and is used—by edgy rappers. Snoop Dogg set the template for transforming a frightening rap persona into a cuddly pose. (Even your mom says “Fo’ Shizzle” nowadays.) Ice Cube is following suit with Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back in Business. By this time next year, Method Man and Redman may be trading small talk with Regis and Kelly: time will only tell.
It’ll be interesting to see how this show is positioned by FOX. Can they make it into another Bernie Mac Show or will they drop the ball like they did with Cedric the Entertainer?
[via TV Tattle]


Kael, Kael, Spin, Spin

Pauline Kael and Shane Black: The Beautiful and the Damned
Shane Black, the poster boy for overpaid Hollywood hacks, is set to write and direct his first film for producer Joel Silver. According to Done Deal, the specifics are as follows:
Title: Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
Log line: A thief posing as an actor teams up with a tough-guy private eye and a frustrated actress. The three stumble upon a murder.
Writer: Shane Black
Agent: David Greenblatt at the Endeavor Agency
Buyer: Warner Bros. Pictures
Price: n/a
Genre: Action Comedy
Logged: 2/25/04
More: Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures will produce. Shane Black will make his feature directing debut. Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan will star.

Sounds like another classic Black film, fitting somewhere between The Last Boy Scout (a tough-guy private eye and a frustrated ex-quarterback try to solve a murder) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (a tough-broad former secret agent turned amnesiac mom and a frustrated detective try to solve the mystery of her past).
What bothers me is the title, which is boosted Pauline Kael‘s second book of movie reviews. Kael explained her title this way:

The words “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which I saw on an Italian movie poster, are perhaps the briefest statement imaginable of the basic appeal of movies. This appeal is what attracts us, and ultimately what makes us despair when we begin to understand how seldom movies are more than this.

(From Spicy Quotes)
One of Hollywood’s highest paid, most notoriously mediocre screenwriters lifting a title from the most respected film critic of all time? Not cool. Not even a little ironic.
Also, done, done, done, and done before.
Since she was smarter than I’ll ever be, I’ll give Pauline the last word, with this sideswipe at Black and Silver’s Lethal Weapon, by way of complimenting Jonathan Demme:

“Sometimes movies which you would think would be big box-office successes just don’t attract the wide audiences, either because of the way they’re promoted or because the audience is just drawn to Terminator and Lethal Weapon and doesn’t relate to the nuances of something like Married to the Mob or The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

(Kael on Demme)


Confidential to Dennis Miller: “Paki” is a racial slur

Pre-commercial bumper on Dennis Miller, CNBC, Feb. 25, 2004.*
“‘Paki’ is an extreme racial slur used to refer to people of South Asian origin. It is a South Asian equivalent of the term ‘Jap’ or the ‘N word.’ President Bush apologized after using the word last year at a press conference.”
(From, an open letter from the Asian American Journalists Association, March 4, 2003)
“Paki” is listed in The Racial Slur Database
To do: Send email to Dennis Miller to express your disapproval of racial slurs on television.
*Weird angle and TV screen-within-screen is the style of the bumper, not the screen shot