“Mrs. Clinton is losing this thing,” says Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan in a 2.8 piece called “Can Mrs. Clinton Lose?” “It’s not one big primary, it’s a rolling loss, a daily one, an inch-by-inch deflation. The trends and indices are not in her favor.
“She is having trouble raising big money, she’s funding her campaign with her own wealth, her moral standing within her own party and among her own followers has been dragged down, and the legacy of Clintonism tarnished by what Bill Clinton did in South Carolina. Unfavorable primaries lie ahead. She doesn’t have the excitement, the great whoosh of feeling that accompanies a winning campaign. The guy from Chicago who was unknown a year ago continues to gain purchase, to move forward. For a soft little innocent, he’s played a tough and knowing inside/outside game.
“The day she admitted she’d written herself a check for $5 million, Obama’s people crowed they’d just raised $3 million. But then his staff is happy. They’re all getting paid.
“Political professionals are leery of saying, publicly, that she is losing, because they said it before New Hampshire and turned out to be wrong. Some of them signaled their personal weariness with Clintonism at that time, and fear now, as they report, to look as if they are carrying an agenda. One part of the Clinton mystique maintains: Deep down journalists think she’s a political Rasputin who will not be dispatched. Prince Yusupov served him cupcakes laced with cyanide, emptied a revolver, clubbed him, tied him up and threw him in a frozen river. When he floated to the surface they found he’d tried to claw his way from under the ice. That is how reporters see Hillary.
“And that is a grim and over-the-top analogy, which I must withdraw. What I really mean is they see her as the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction: “I won’t be ignored, Dan!”
“Mr. Obama’s achievement on Super Tuesday was solid and reinforced trend lines. The popular vote was a draw, the delegate count a rough draw, but he won 13 states, and when you look at the map he captured the middle of the country from Illinois straight across to Idaho, with a second band, in the northern Midwest, of Minnesota and North Dakota. He won Missouri and Connecticut, in Mrs. Clinton’s backyard. He won the Democrats of the red states.
“On the wires Wednesday her staff was all but conceding she is not going to win the next primaries. Her superdelegates are coming under pressure that is about to become unrelenting. It was easy for party hacks to cleave to Mrs. Clinton when she was inevitable. Now Mr. Obama’s people are reportedly calling them saying, ‘Your state voted for me and so did your congressional district. Are you going to jeopardize your career and buck the wishes of the people back home?’
“Mrs. Clinton is stoking the idea that Mr. Obama is too soft to withstand the dread Republican attack machine. (I nod in tribute to all Democrats who have succeeded in removing the phrase ‘Republican and Democratic attack machines’ from the political lexicon. Both parties have them.) But Mr. Obama will not be easy for Republicans to attack. He will be hard to get at, hard to address. There are many reasons, but a primary one is that the fact of his race will freeze them. No one, no candidate, no party, no heavy-breathing consultant, will want to cross any line — lines that have never been drawn, that are sure to be shifting and not always visible — in approaching the first major-party African-American nominee for president of the United States.
“He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy — or professionally desirable — to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they’ve learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you. (I add that yes, there are always freelance mental cases, who exist on both sides and are empowered by modern technology. They’ll make their YouTubes. But the mad are ever with us, and this year their work will likely stay subterranean.)
“With Mr. Obama the campaign will be about issues. ‘He’ll raise your taxes.’ He will, and I suspect Americans may vote for him anyway. But the race won’t go low.
“Mrs. Clinton would be easier for Republicans. With her cavalcade of scandals, they’d be delighted to go at her. They’d get medals for it. Consultants would get rich on it.
“The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it’s fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.
“The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented — ‘He’s too young, he’s never run anything, he’s not fully baked’ — the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.
“The Democrats continue not to recognize what they have in this guy. Believe me, Republican professionals know. They can tell.”
Another article stating the plain-as-day conclusion that Heath Ledger, exercising his own free will, yanked the pulley that opened the Sweeney Todd trap door he was standing on… whoops!…ka-thunk. Same thing with Brad Renfro, who “accidentally” overdosed on heroin. Kind of like all those U.S. soldiers getting accidentally killed in Iraq due to being in the way of bullets and IED shrapnel.
Having read about this morning’s There Will Be Blood McDonald’s milkshake delivery, Toronto Star critic Peter Howell wrote just now to say that Canadians “know how to do a proper milkshake promo.
“Critics attending this morning’s screening of The Band’s Visit at the Varsity Cinema were intercepted going in by a rep for AMPR, the publicity firm that handles Paramount Vantage in Toronto. We were given printed invites to a special There Will Be Blood event after the screening, across the street at AMPR’s office.
“We were treated to high-quality milkshakes made from the milk of reputable Canadian cows — and we had a choice of vanilla or chocolate. No McDonald’s for us. A nice Canadian touch was the Timbits (tiny Canadian donuts) served with the shakes. A good time was had by all. We talked about how the only thing that could have improved the event was to go bowling afterwards.”
“At this point, it’s difficult to separate Juno hatred itself from a more general ennui inspired by the film’s marketing campaign. If anything, the sharply split popular opinion on Juno, and the depth of loathing it’s capable of inspiring, seems more reminiscent of Hillary Clinton. Both ladies are heading into a hotly contested election; it remains to be seen whether their champions or their haters will win the day.” — from Dana Stevens‘ 2.8.08 Slate piece, posted at 1:10 pm, called “How The Backlash Against Juno Started.”
I spoke to a guy a couple of days ago about the lopsided pro-Hillary Hispanic vote in Tuesday’s primary. I said I didn’t believe it was all about political allegiance or comfort levels, and that part of it had to be about black-brown racial resentment. A lifetime Los Angeleno who knows the pot inside and out, the guy said bluntly, “Blacks hate Hispanics.” And vice versa?, I asked. “Pretty much,” he said. I’d read that recent 1.28.09 Pew Research report that emphasized shades and complexities. I’d also read that 1.15.08 N.Y. Times report about Obama and Hispanics and race. I don’t know anything, but a voice was telling me that the blunt speaker was just saying it (or at least a part of it) while the columnists, bloggers and TV commentators were sort of pussy-footing.
This? This is it? An air-filled McDonald’s milkshake delivered in a generic blue plastic Dixie cup sent to journalists and columnists as a “joke” promotion for There Will Be Blood? Okay, cool, thanks…but if I’d been the Paramount Vantage publicist handling this I would have gone with a strawberry or chocolate shake (blood, dirt, oil). Vanilla seems kinda wussy in this context.
And the cup should have been specially designed with a photo of Daniel Day Lewis sucking down a shake with a bent straw…vif-vif-vif-vif-vif! And the shakes should have been come from Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s or some chi-chi ice cream shop in Beverly Hills — McDonalds is for peons! (Do you run a class shop or don’t you?) And the delivery guy should have worn a Daniel Plainview costume — wide-brimmed hat, brown lace-up boots, fake moustache, oil smears on his cheek and neck and shirt sleeves.
I don’t mean to sound snarly or ungrateful — thank you, Paramount Vantage! — but in the world of milk-shake delivery promos you should do it “right” (bucks-up, sky’s the limit, nothin’ but class) or not at all.
MSNBC bosses have caved to the Clintonistas over the David Shuster/Chelsa Clinton/”pimping out” flap. Shuster apologized this morning, which was probably the smart thing to do, but what he said wasn’t wrong. At all.
Chelsea Clinton; David Shuster; Howard Wolfson; Bishop Don Magic Juan, self-proclaimed “king of the pimps”
The hoo-hah exploded Thursday when Shuster, guest-hosting an MSNBC news program, suggested that the Clinton campaign had “pimped out” the 27 year-old Chelsea by having her make calls to three of the four cohosts of The View (Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd) and also call Democratic Party super-delegates on her mom’s behalf.
Yesterday Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson blasted Shuster for using the term “pimped out,” calling the comment “beneath contempt” and disgusting. Only an odious and disingenuous blowhard would say such a thing. Jumping through angry hoops and putting on the bluster because (I’ll bet $100 bucks here and now) Chelsea’s mom blew a gasket.
Wolfson knew exactly what Shuster was saying, which was that the Clinton campaign, looking to attract support from the View girls and a smattering of super-delegates, either prompted or at least approved of Chelsea using her fame and youthful charm and first-daughter aura to try and engage their support. Coarse as it may sound, this strategy was not all that different from a smart pimp telling his girls to strut down the street in front of a salesmen’s convention. Shuster chose an off-color expression, yes, but TV demands the use of simple colloquialisms and everyone got it without having a hiccup or a hissy fit.
The top-dog representative of a campaign that’s been run as connivingly, desperately and avariciously as Hillary Clinton’s calling Shuster’s comment “beneath contempt” and “disgusting” is pretty funny. It’s all the more offensive to me considering that Wolfson’s thug tactic (saying yesterday that “I, at this point, can’t envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network”) worked. This morning on NBC’s Morning Joe, Shuster apologized, regretting that some saw it as “pejorative.” All it was was candid and colorful.
This, ladies and gents, is the Hillary Clinton machine in action — snarling, slashing, harumphing, threatening. It’ll be a dark day in Mudville if she wins the Democratic nomination. If only there was some way to vote for John McCain.
In a friendly 2.7.08 profile of producer Mark Johnson (Ballast, The Chronicles of Narnia), Variety‘s Anne Thompson notes that Johnson “may have offended some people” by “openly expressing his outrage at the films omitted this year” by the Academy’s foreign-language committee, which Johnson co-chairs.
Johnson may have offended…? The retirement-village philistines who scratched 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days off the short list have offended God, culture, history, civilization…and made the Academy’s committee into an international joke. I’m not exaggerating. They will live in infamy for the rest of their lives.
“I’m not trying to impose my taste on the committee [and] I don’t want to denigrate the movies nominated,” says Johnson. “But some of the films undeniably among the best movies of the year didn’t make the short list of nine. I feel the committee doesn’t reflect the Academy at large and I have to do something to effect that. We can change things so we can incorporate some different voices.”
“After the Oscars, Johnson expects reform discussions to get under way,” Thompson reports. “An invitation-only committee more similar to the music and documentary branches (which also generate their share of controversy) may come into play.”
A 2.8.08 N.Y. Times article by Michael Ceiply asserts that screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Alexander), who is also a co-founder of the pro-WGA United Hollywood, was the “unlikely peacemaker” who provided a go-between connection between WGA negotiator David J. Young and Fox Newscorp. president Peter A. Chernin.
Did Kalogridis operate as a kind of diplomatic translator, Henry Kissinger-like Paris Peace Talks facilitator, soother or parish priest…? Ceiply’s account is too spare and dry. Let’s put it this way: as a result of Kalogridis offering counsel and (I’m winging it here, but at least I’m trying harder than Ceiply) serving both men metaphorical cups of chamomile tea, they “finally shifted ground, most importantly on the issue of new-media compensation,” which “cleared the way to a deal that will be reviewed by writers in meetings here and in New York on Saturday.”
WGA member John Aboud, posting last night on United Hollywood, wrote that “while it’s flattering that the New York Times would try to bestow such importance on Ms. Kalogridis and — ahem — ‘her friends,’ Michael Cieply‘s breathless account misses something obvious. A strike does not come to a possible (repeat, ‘possible’) ending thanks to one person or even one website, no matter how awesome the website.
“The outcome of a strike is determined by the strikers. By the sacrifice of thousands who march and pour their emotion and time into the fight. When the strike ends, it will be because the union as a whole decided to end it. This struggle is about the sacrifices of many, not the phone calls of a few.” Stirringly spoken.
“Some say Jack overacts — but they are the critics who always made the mistake of seeing him as a Method-based naturalist. Like Brando, he is a romantic and a wild risk-taker. For in Jack’s mind, The Shining is every bit as real as Ironweed or Five Easy Pieces. Jack believes in being taken over by spirits, and in not being a dull boy.
“And if you were to say to him that Hollywood acting is really a pretty stupid thing for a grown-up to be doing, he’d likely agree and say that was the curse that overtook Marlon: Brando lost belief. But no one’s taking it from Jack.” — from David Thomson‘s 2.8.08 Guardian piece, which begins with a statement that Nicholson is “at an age at which the critic begins to move over for the obituarist” and that “he knows he’s living on the margin of extra time. Call it sudden death — I suspect that’s all he’d ask for.”
A teaser for Uncle Festus and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be viewable in theatres on Friday, 2.14, attached to prints of The Spiderwick Chronicles. The spot will be online “shortly thereafter,” says Variety. If no one leaks it prior to 2.14, it will be pretty much essential to troop down to the Grove or the Arclight for the first Spiderwick show that day.
Just like Star Wars fans and journalists did, come to think, when the first teaser for The Phantom Menace played in front of Ed Zwick‘s The Siege on that film’s opening day — 11.6.98. (Or was it later in the run? Memory fails.)
I was there at Mann’s Village along with everyone else. The crowd was yelling “Siege! Siege! Siege!” like they were being directed by Anthony Mann doing a crowd scene for El Cid. Free Enterprise director Rob Burnett was there. Drew McWeeny was there. I spoke briefly to Paul Thomas Anderson in the lobby. Every hip person in the known Los Angeles universe with any interest or investment in film-geek culture was there.
And then the trailer hit the screen — cheers and whoo-woos (little did they know!) — and then it was over, and almost the entire crowd was gone ten minutes later.