After months of shadowing, it would appear that those tenacious big-game hunters from Lantana, Florida, finally cornered their prized North Carolinian leopard in the Beverly Hills hotel this morning and threw a net over him. Or so it would seem. This is the scenario that some (like Slate‘s Mickey Kaus, having heard the stories) predicted would happen sooner or later. The running-up-and-down-the-stairs and into-the-cellar part sounds so humiliating. We live in a diseased and predatory culture.
It turns out that Dark Knight star Christian Bale has been charged by London police only with “verbal assault” in last Sunday night’s incident between himself, his mother Jenny and his sister Sharon. In London verbal assault can be classified as a Class 4 or 5, with Class 4 being aggravated with “an intent to cause alarm.”
In other words, Bale was popped for the domestic American custom known as “arguing,” possibly with a loud and/or threatening tone of voice. By this curious standard Jeremy Piven‘s “Ari” character would be doing 10 years without parole, easy, if he lived in London.
I for one would love to read James Vanderbilt‘s forthcoming screen adaptation of “Truth And Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power,” the 2005 book by former CBS News producer Mary Mapes about the big 60 Minutes II brouhaha that hurt CBS news anchor Dan Rather when he and Mapes produced a story four years ago about President George W. Bush‘s…er, activities in the Texas Air National Guard. It eventually led to Mapes getting bounced from the network and Rather taking an early retirement.
“This was a corporate, political, and public relations operation,” Mapes has been quoted saying by the N.Y. Observer, “designed to take the heat off and allow Viacom to walk away unscathed, unencumbered by lingering anger from the White House or the various Republican-dominated committees that the corporation lobbied constantly.”
The price of drinks over the last ten or so years has risen to obscene levels at almost all nightspots. At many places you can easily drop $40 or $50 bucks on three or four glasses of wine, with tip and all. Even beer is ridiculous. Forget mixed drinks. So imagine my shock when I happened to wander into Barney’s Beanery last night and ordered a Miller Chill and the bartender held two fingers up. “Two dollars?,” I said. “Two,” she said. Astonishing.
Main dining room at Barney’s Beanery — Monday, 7.21.08, 10:05 pm
Peter Coyote has written a statement to all name actors regarding the possible SAG strike. Its has been posted on Nikki Finke‘s Deadline Hollywood Daily. The gist is an appeal to the multimillionaire set to join in solidarity with the working stiffs.
“Once an actor reaches the six or ten million dollar mark for several months work, they are financially secure for life unless they are morons or have extremely bad habits,” he writes. “By the time they’re earning 15 to 20 million, some measurable percentage of those earnings is meaningless. A major star on a film we were doing together once told me, √¢‚Ç¨≈ìHey there’s no difference between 17 and 18 million to me! My agent tells me so-and-so gets it and so should I.√¢‚Ç¨¬ù
“That ‘no difference money’ is the difference between earning a living or not for most of the rest of us. A modest return to insure the health of the entire community (the principle behind income taxes) hardly seems excessive. While this would not solve all the problems of our community, it would certainly remove much of the desperation and rancor from negotiations and make earning a living once again possible for far more of the membership. It cannot be legislated by law, only by custom, but as a custom it would lend a definite grace to our industry, and perhaps set a model that might inspire others. (Why do the words ‘corporate executives’ leap to mind?)
“You cannot grow roses without mulch. While stars represent the beautiful blooms of the industry, the soil of the industry, the medium of growth supplied by all those who surround you, is being starved for nourishment. Eventually, this lack of payback to the medium supporting all the growth will kill, if not the plant itself, at least its quality and vitality. Our industry is not secure while the majority of its players are not. To change the situation requires consciousness, solidarity, and power. We have the consciousness and solidarity. We appeal to you for help with the power.”
Politico‘s Jeff Ressner is reporting about a right-wing Obama hit doc called “Hype: The Obama Effect.” Made by conservative “provocateur and well-known Clinton antagonist” David Bossie, pic will be presented in Denver on the Sunday before the Democratic National Convention, and then come out on DVD on 9.1.
I really do think there’s something genetically different about hardcore right-wingers — something that unleashes the belligerent, territorial, selfishly guarded aspects of our nature. Like they have a genetic inheritance that hasn’t been passed along to others. Remember Lukas Haas‘s conservative-minded character in Woody Allen‘s Everybody Says I Love You (’96)? Whose political attitudes are traced at the end of the film to a small tumor in his brain that caused him to think and feel this way?
I was watching right-wing talk show guy Glenn Beck guest-host the Larry King Show last night. My God! The man is so relentlessly contentious (and in some cases willfully ignorant) about Obama-related issues and histories that he’s like some kind of animal.
The decision by ABC/Disney honchos to hire E! Entertainment critic Ben Lyons and Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz as the new Ebert & Roeper on a revamped At the Movies is one of those basic no-brainer moves that 50-something executives do when they don’t know what the hell else to do. A syndicated movie-review show starring two older guys (Roeper and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips) isn’t attracting the under-35 demo? Solution: Replace them with two young bucks with TV experience, engaging personalities and the royal genes of an entertainment-establishment family.
Ben Mankiewicz (l.), Ben Lyons (r.)
Lyons is the congenial, golf-playing, to-the-manor-born son of notorious easy-lay film critic Jeffrey Lyons, and the grandson of N.Y. Post columnist Leonard Lyons; Mankiewicz is the grandson of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and the great-nephew of the legendary Joseph Mankiewicz, director-writer of All About Eve and A Letter to Three Wives.
If I watch the show, Mankiewicz is the guy I’ll have an easier time with. He seems low-key, thoughtful, sardonic. I would prefer if, actually, if the show featured Mankiewicz and his Young Turks partner Cenk Uygur. I love that guy — blowhardy, smart, take-it-or-leave-it.
I don’t like Lyons because you can tell right off the bat that he’s too much of a glider and a gladhander. Plus he went to school with Ivanka Trump. Plus he once called Nikki Blonsky his good buddy. Plus there’s something inauthentic about a supposed film maven who plays golf. Golf has its own spiritual kwan and undercurrent, of course, but 90% of the people who play it do so because they want to schmooze their way into power. Golf courses and clubhouses are havens for conservative-minded ex-fraternity guys who love wearing those awful pink and salmon-colored Tommy Hilfiger polo shirts and trading insider info with their pallies over mixed drinks after the game. You can’t serve golf and movies any more than you can serve God and Rome. They represent entirely different theologies.
I also wonder if the era of sitting passively in front of a TV screen and listening to a couple of guys trade opinions about movies has the same vitality that it had when Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel started Sneak Previews on PBS in 1977. It was a whole different world 31 years ago. Audiences these days like to talk back and argue and engage interactively. I’m not sure that a show that basically says “we’re the cool-ass GenY film critics with the famous dads and granddads, and you guys get to listen” is going to connect all that well.
There are at least three circumstantial points to consider regarding Christian Bale‘s mystifying arrest in London today over allegedly assaulting his mother and sister. I mean, on top of the basic head-scratching reaction that is probably manifesting worldwide right now.
The three things are (1) the incident happened at the Dorchester Hotel last Sunday night, or the night before The Dark Knight‘s Euro premiere, (2) the two women made the allegation at a local police station “in Southern England” (where…Brighton? Dover?) and that the information was then passed on to London’s Metropolitan Police in London, and (3) London’s Sun tabloid has allegedly reported that the cops “didn’t question the actor Monday because they didn’t want to interfere with the premiere of the movie.”
I’m basically observing that there didn’t appear to be a huge sense of urgency or ticking-clock concern about this matter on anyone’s part. An alleged assault on Sunday followed by an arrest two days later because the police didn’t want to muck up the premiere? Mom and sis left London to some town in the south and then they reported the incident? Why not go to the local London police? And who assaults their own mother and sister, for God’s sake? Sounds more like a scuffle about something that escalated. A very, very weird story.
HE reader Evan Boucher has “more evidence that The Dark Knight may continue to do phenomenal box office this weekend,” he wrote this morning. “Your feeling of being exhausted at the end of it is understandable. It is a relentless assault on your senses at least in a physical standpoint. However, multiple people that I have spoken to have indicated that they loved the movie (‘awesome!’) but that in order to fully understand everything they’ll need to see it again — and soon.
“That’s a very unusual phenomenon. Let’s be honest and state that if you had to take a leak during this movie, you could go online in 3 minutes after the movie and find out what you may have missed through a streaming bootleg. If you didn’t understand why someone did something that they did (understandable given the complexity and the constant exploration of character motivations) you could find out by googling a plot synopsis. But those options won’t be good enough in this instance.
“I want to see The Dark Knight again in the theater, preferably in IMAX. And I’m almost betting that it will be better the second time, because I won’t be so worried that I will miss something. It was sooo good I don’t want to wait for the DVD (a Blu-ray release in early December, coupled with a price drop on Blu-ray players, will push the entire platform over the edge….just a prediction). It looked so good that online or bootleg copies couldn’t possibly replicate it.
“I want to see the truck flip over in IMAX, I want to see the pencil thing in IMAX, I want to see Ledger walk away from that hospital again in IMAX. I have a thousand productive things in my life I could be doing, but I am just trying to figure out a way to squeeze in three hours to see it again as soon as possible.”
“I am exaggerating probably, but I can’t remember the last movie I paid to see twice. I’m betting I’m not alone in that regard. If thats the case, between word of mouth from people who don’t trust critics and repeat action we could be seeing something exceptional as far as second-weekend TDK business is concerned.”