After discussing the Rich Raddon Proposition 8 brouhaha for hours and hours, the Film Independent Board of Directors has finally issued the following statement in an e-mail sent at 7:44 pm Pacific: “As a champion of diversity, Film Independent is dedicated to supporting the civil rights of all individuals. At the same time, our organization does not police the personal, religious, or political choices of any employee, member, or filmmaker.”
“LAFF’s Rich Raddon tendered his resignation last night [over the Proposition 8 issue],” MCN’s David Poland wrote a few hours ago, “and FIND did not accept it. So this morning the LAFF board met about how to move forward.
“In many ways, I am encouraged by this becoming a decision to be made by a group and not by one person, whether the person under fire or the top of FIND, Dawn Hudson. It is an opportunity to debate these issues in some detail and, surely, with great passion.
“This is, no doubt, a tricky slope. Can a person who works in a community with a strong history of supporting gay (and other minority) rights survive while differing from the group politically? Isn’t that at the core of freedom of ideas?
“On the other hand, isn’t one reasonable price to pay for the expression of one’s freedom to get a response from the other side? Did Mr. Raddon show cowardice in trying to exit FIND rather than fighting for what he believes?
“One group will debate that this morning, and an answer may or may not be forthcoming. But in choosing not to accept Raddon’s resignation, Dawn and those she consulted took a leadership role. Rich Raddon will not be simply swept under the rug.”
I tried to get a comment from FIND twice today, and nothing has come back yet.
“Why, my colleagues constantly wonder, are all the year-end awards contenders not being screened?,” writes Boston Herald film guy and columnist Stephen Schaefer. “Why has no one seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Australia, Cadillac Records, Gran Torino or Seven Pounds?”‘
Answer: Button will be screened next week in New York and Los Angeles. Clint Eastwood has only recently completed his final work on Gran Torino. Australia won’t be seen until l1.18 or thereabouts due to Baz Luhrmann doing last-minute post-production tweaks. And Cadillac Records (Sony, 12.5) …I don’t know what the deal is with this one.
Schaefer, however, feels that “the most obvious answer is the rise of the viral online community. That means once a movie is screened, instant judgment awaits. It’s not posting early reviews online [but] the buzz that concerns them.
“And when you have a risky $150 million prestige picture like Button or a risky epic like Australia with a star like Nicole Kidman who hasn’t had a domestic hit in far too long or Clint Eastwood‘s latest bid to continue his amazing record with the Oscar voters or Will Smith‘s reunion with the director who guided him to his Oscar nomination with Pursuit of Happyness, well, you have a lot of fear.
“Right now the studios can build buzz for all these movies, they can say they’re in the race for Best Picture and not be contradicted. But once they’re seen, reality immediately take over; the studios no longer have control. Weeks before a movie opens, its Oscar (but not necessarily its Golden Globe) chances could be over.”
I’ve been listing Kate Beckinsale as one of the Best Actress contenders in the Oscar Balloon for her Nothing But The Truth for a long while now. Not just because she’s delivered the best work of her life in this film, but because her performance as a Judith Miller-ish, Washington, D.C.-based journalist who goes to jail for refusing to give up a source is full of serious investment and quiet, toned-down believability.
At last night’s Peggy Siegal party for Nothing But The Truth at the Plaza Athenee, screenwriter Stephen Schiff and NBTT star Kate Beckinsale — Thursday, 11.13.08, 10:25 pm
And because I can’t think of another female lead performance this year that comes so fully from the eyes. Watch her in NBBT and tell me this isn’t so. They glisten with feeling in every frame.
Just as certain long-of-tooth actors have been nominated because they’ve been doing good work for three or four decades and it’s time for their gold-watch tribute, younger actors like Beckinsale deserve kudos also for suddenly going deeper and stronger, not just in their choice of roles but by nailing them cold.
Beckinsale starred in a string of commercial good-enoughers and in more than her share of vampire films starting in the mid ’90s, but then she turned a corner with her performances in Snow Angels (which almost no one saw) and Nothing But The Truth. And that warrants respect.
I was moved to write this, yes, because it came back to me after speaking with Beckinsale at last night’s Peggy Siegal party for Nothing But The Truth at the Plaza Athenee. But I feel this anyway so what the hell. I believe what I believe and say what I say when I damn well choose to say it.
The only thing going a little bit against Beckinsale is that Nothing But The Truth is a “tweener” — a gripping, efficient, first-rate political drama that is seen as not “indie” enough and at the same time not a high-concept, big-studio powerhouse presentation, which is what we’ve all been trained to give nominations to out of an ingrained instinct to show obeisance before power.
Nothing But The Truth director-writer Rod Lurie attended the event also, as did costar Vera Farmiga, with whom I spoke for ten or fifteen minutes. I spoke also with producer Jean Doumanian, who’s will bring forth the film version of August: Osage County sometime in ’11.
Screenwriter Stephen Schiff (Money Never Sleeps) and Ben Gazzara were there also, along with former N.Y. Times reporter Judith Miller (the half-model for Beckinsale’s character), Rush & Molloy’s George Rush and Indiewire’s Eugene Hernandez.
I arrived at the Plaza Athenee a bit early, and guess who I saw arriving at the hotel, all alone and carrying his own suitcases? Rudy Giuliani.
I missed yesterday’s Variety announcement about the sad passing of Falco Ink founder Gary Hill, 53, who died a week ago in New York of undisclosed causes. Gary was a man of great charm and perception and nerve, and a first-rate publicist by any standard. He was always extremely friendly and supportive of me and my stuff, and I will miss him enormously.
I always loved that Hill named his company Falco Ink, which is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the infamous Sidney Falco character in Sweet Smell of Success (1957), who was played by Tony Curtis. I arranged for Curtis himself to pay a visit to the Falco staffers in ’99 or ’00 (I forget which) at a Los Angeles party they threw a few months after starting business.
Hill began his career as assistant to Brian DePalma. He got into publicity in the mid ’80s, and worked for Clein + White for a long period. He helped found Falco Ink. in 1999, where he served as partner until 2005.
After moving to Lenox, Massachusetts in 2006, he became a founding board member for the annual Berkshire Film Festival in Great Barrington, Mass.
The Rich Raddon/Proposition 8 situation that MCN’s David Poland revealed yesterday afternoon is a bugger, no question. I don’t know what to finally think or say — I’m truly torn and feeling badly for the guy, but at the same time amazed that someone in the liberal Hollywood tent would declare himself to be in opposition of gay-marriage rights. It’s one of those “what?” situations.
L.A. Film Festival director Rich Raddon, producer Effie Brown.
Poland uncovered the fact that Raddon, director of FIND’s LA Film Festival, came up on a “Yes On 8” donation list to the tune of $1500.
“Rich is a well-liked guy,” he wrote. “He is not secretive about being a Mormon. And he could end up losing his job over this. FIND’s position is that no one can be fired from a job over their religious beliefs, so Rich is still employed.
“And I must say, positions amongst FIND insiders are widely varied. The phrase ‘witch hunt’ has been used…as has ‘I can’t see ever sitting down at a meeting table with him again.'”
Raddon is well liked and well respected. I’ve known and admired him for years. He cares about independent film, is very smart and politically adept (except for this mind-bending dip in the road), and has performed energetically and enthusiastically as the director of the L.A. Film Festival. But the fundamental political rule in every land and culture is “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” so what the hell? On a political-smarts basis alone, what Raddon did was extremely unwise.
Is there anyone who disputes that the now-voted-upon-and-passed Proposition 8, which denies the right of gay people in California to marry, is an expression of bigotry? I’m not aware of there being any basis for ambiguity about where Prop Hate is coming from. Ugly-spirited Mormons, Orange County righties and bigots of all stripes supported it. There are, I suppose, political causes more repugnant than supporting Proposition 8, but what would they be exactly?
(l. to r.) Raddon, Film Independent’s Dawn Hudson, actor Don Cheadle, Film Independent’s Rachel Rosen
There’s a way to make this all go away. Raddon, and I say this as a friend, needs to put out a statement clarifying his views on gay marriage — why exactly does he support the Mormon view on this measure? — and fully explain the basis of his (presumably) religious objections to same. Nobody wants to see him gone, but his financial support of Proposition 8 has put his neck in the wringer.
Am I saying that everyone in the Hollywood community has to be pro-gay marriage? No — I’m saying that because many strongly disagree with and are appalled at Raddon’s support for Prop Hate, he’s created a problem for himself and needs to do what he can do fix it.
Others in the liberal entertainment community have criticized Proposition 8, including, believe it or not, Elton John. A recent USA Today story quotes John as having said in 2005 that he and partner David Furnish are “not married. Let’s get that right. We have a civil partnership. What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage. I don’t want to be married. I’m very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership. The word ‘marriage,’ I think, puts a lot of people off.”
A connected industry friend was outraged this morning when told about Poland’s statement that Raddon “could end up losing his job over this.” He said, “This is McCarthyism. .I could not be more opposed to Yes on 8, but I am totally opposed to any sort of witch hunt. It’s pure and simple McCarthyism. I am not anti-gay. I am liberal enough and open enough to accept all sorts of views, to agree to disagree. This is a free country the last time I checked.
“The people who are behind Prop 8 probably are bigots. I find most of their views reprehensible. I find the whole Mormon business…the fact that Mormon culture condones multiple marriages and then turns around and condemns gay marriage. Look in your own house first. I think Rich is like Sherri Shepherd who said on The View that she had serious religious-based reservations about Proposition 8.
“If Raddon has said I support the American Nazi Party or the Ku Klux Klan, I would say get out of my life. Because we have to have standards that respect human life and basic morality. Peronsally I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them. But that’s not this . It’s ridiculous to associate these hate groups with Proposition 8. People who do so need to get a life.”
With a “Democratic official” having “confirmed to the Huffington Post that Sen. Hillary Clinton met with President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss her role in the new administration,” and with Clinton having concocted a cover story about being there on “private business,” it seems a fairly safe bet that she’ll be the next Secretary of State, as various news orgs are speculating.
The dominant reason for Obama offering the post to Clinton? In a nutshell, because it’s better to have the Clinton camel inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.
“The best reason for Obama to be looking for a place in his cabinet for Clinton is simple,” MSNBC’s First Read newsletter said this morning. “To get her out of the Senate. Just ask George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter what it was like to have a once or future presidential rival in the Senate serving as a one-person Roman tribunal. Remember how easily the press gravitated to John McCain in ’01 or Bob Kerrey in ’93 or Ted Kennedy in ’77 to allow them to be one-senator judge/juries on Administration proposals?
“The upside for Obama putting Clinton at State (or even the Pentagon) is that it gets her out of the Senate and gets her out of the domestic policy debates. Also, one other thing to keep in mind if Clinton does end up at State, she’ll be off the political circuit; it’s considered unseemly to practice politics while serving in one of the big cabinet posts, especially at State or Defense. So this would mean no more Hillary on the stump for candidates, no more Hillary raising money, no more Hillary collecting chits.”