Monday, May 04, 2020

TV: HOLLYWOOD and the reasons behind it

NETFLIX has had many misfires but finally it has a must-watch.  This happens as Al Franken becomes the poster boy for every guy who thinks groping should be okay.


Starting with NETFLIX, HOLLYWOOD is a huge improvement of Ryan Murphy's last NETFLIX series THE POLITICIAN.  With the earlier one, Jessica Lange delivered and the rest pretty much just smiled for the cameras.  This go round, Ryan has cast much better.  He's also written a much stronger and more involving storyline.

Let's start with that, the storyline.  This is one of those tributes to the MARVEL comic WHAT IF as HOLLYWOOD attempts to fantasize what might have happened if the first African-American actress to be nominated -- and to win -- an Academy Award for Best Actress had won in 1948 and what if, instead of Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres making news for attending the 1997 White House Correspondents dinner together being the 'public display' that got many talking, it had been a 1948 hand holding outside the Oscars -- and a kiss inside the ceremonies -- between actor Rock Hudson and screenwriter Archie Coleman?  In fact, what if long before Dawn Steel and Sherry Lansing ever reached pre-K, a woman, Avis Amberg, was running a film studio in Hollywood?

What if those things had happened in real life as they do in the series?  A lot of people would have had better lives, would have known of possibilities and had more options.  It would have been a better world.

More care appears to have been taken with casting this go round.  Only two roles are miscast -- and they are horribly miscast.  As Avis' husband Ace, Rob Reiner reminds everyone he's a director, not an actor.  He was never much of an actor to begin with, a one-trick pony.  Here, he nearly destroys every scene he is in.  David Corenswet plays aspiring actor Jack Castello and when Jack does his first screen test, he's yelling at the actress opposite him.  Those watching the test think it's some of the worst acting they've seen.  Did they not see Rob Reiner's scenes?  Rob does nothing but yell.  In fact, if this were a radio play, maybe it might work.  But it's not.  All Rob knows to do as an actor is yell and quicken the pace of his speech.  You never believe he's Ace, you always see Rob Reiner.

The other lousy performance comes from Mira Sorvino -- a woman who seems bound and determined to destroy her own career a second time  Here, she's supposed to be a successful film actress named Jeanne Crandall.  Mira's 52 and looks 59.  So sleeping with Ace or not, there's no way she'd be cast as the lead in a film if she wasn't a star.  But, here's the thing, poor Jeanne has never made the leap to star, she's never had that role that would carry her to stardom.  Do you believe that garbage?  No one else does, especially with Mira's performance.  A star commands attention.  Mira?  She plays Jeanne as a woman forever cowering, forever lowering her head -- when offered a role that should make her a star, she can't even project confidence then.  And when presenting at the Oscars, she's a horrible mess.  No one would be able to turn that into a star.  The looks are gone -- she agrees with Ace on that, after complaining about all the work being done to soften her looks on her new film -- and what's left is just a weak, little simp.  You wouldn't cast Jeanne as a background player, let alone as the star of the film.  And Mira's back to doing those weird voices -- you know, the thing helped destroy her career in the first place.

And with that, we're done with the negative portion of the critique.  Everyone else shines -- in all the roles, big and small.

Dylan McDermott, for example, has the supporting role of Ernie and he runs with it and brings it to life.  By the end of his story arc, he's moved you to tears more than once.  Patti LuPone can sing, everyone knew that.  She can also play a straight role (no singing) and does here as Avis.  This is a meaty role and one that a number of actresses probably wanted.  We can't picture anyone doing more with the role than Patti has.  This should be an Emmy nominated role for her.

Queen Latifah, Jim Parsons, David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Laura Harrier, Michelle Krusiec, Jake Picking, Jeremy Pope, Holland Taylor, Samara Weaving . . .  Everyone does an incredible job with their role and with bringing something new and real to the screen.

The seven episodes move far too quickly in retrospect because you wish there were more of them.

When will David Axelrod be over?  Apparently, he's a floater that the world just can't flush down.  Sadly.  Tara Reade has credibly accused Joe Biden of assault.  Along comes David last week to insist that Joe passed Barack Obama's vetting -- David wasn't part of the vetting process but finds it strange that Tara didn't go to those vetting Biden.  Is that not the stupidest thing you've ever heard?  How would anyone know who Barack had put in charge of vetting Joe Biden?  Second, she wasn't ready to come forward then and she's already noted several times that she supported Barack Obama.

More to the point, Barack's vetting team didn't do a very good job.  Forget Joe Biden, just look at Van Jones.  Van hails from our area.  We weren't surprised that he was forced out, we were just surprised that he was ever let in to begin with.

For those who've forgotten, let's go to POLITICO for Fred Barbash and Harry Siegel's September 6, 2009 report:

The White House, in an unusual pre-dawn announcement Sunday, said its “green jobs czar” Van Jones would resign after fierce criticism from Republicans about some of his statements and associations prior to joining the administration.
While the job itself is not that high-profile — special adviser on green jobs — Jones’ departure from the position is the first real scalp claimed by the Republican right, which stoked much of the criticism of Jones. 
Jones was under fire for his past affiliation with the 9/11 conspiracy “truthers” and for calling Republicans “a**holes” in a video before he was appointed to the Obama administration.
[. . .]
And in 2004 he allowed his name to be put on a letter requesting an investigation into whether the Bush administration allowed 9/11 to happen as a “pre-text to war.” Jones said Thursday he never believed in this so-called “Truther” movement, issued an apology for his past remarks, and said in a statement that his involvement with 9/11 conspiracy theories "does not reflect my views now or ever." 
[. . .]
 "Resigning was the right thing to do," said Dana Perino, former press secretary to President George W. Bush.
Perino, in a post at POLITICO Arena, said she was "curious how he made it that far into the administration when a Google search could have told you he believed that the Bush administration had allowed 9/11 to happen. It'd be like the Bush White House having a former Klansman or Holocaust denier in the West Wing."

We don't hold his involvement in the 9/11 movement against him.  But we were shocked, in real time, that it didn't appear to be a problem for the White House.  Forget GOOGLE, Dana Perino, this was all known to anyone in our area.

And, of course, there's Peter Orszag whose personal issues had even NPR talking.  There's the failed nominee -- rejected by Republicans and a few Democrats -- Debo Adegbile.  There are so many but we surely have to note Antonio Weiss -- the Treasury nominee that Senator Elizabeth Warren brought down.

Weren't they all vetted, David?

David really needs to go away.  He can take the hideous Kurt Eichenwald who took to TWITTER on Saturday to announce he had been raped -- yes, ugly men can get raped too -- and then use his new identity as The Most Important Rape Victim ever to argue that Tara Reade was lying.  (See "How lucky, as women, we are to finally have a man explain to us what rape's really like").

And this is what we're stuck with?  Sam Seder's nonsense below?

For those who've forgotten, Sam Seder allowed neoliberal Simon Rosenberg to get away with one talking point after another on THE MAJORITY REPORT when it was on AIR AMERICA RADIO.  Janeane Garofalo was off that night.  His co-host was the equally craven Bill Scher.  Days before, Rachel Maddow had stood up to Simon on air on UNFILTERED.  But Sam couldn't.  And he couldn't deal with the message board for the show being filled with people calling him out.

Were they right to call him out?  Sam's a failed comic and a failed actor.  On top of that, he's not very good at political analysis.

He's not the only one playing the 'poor' Al Franken card.  And everyone doing it loves to lie. Al-should-have-been-left-alone.  Oh, hell no.  Not only were the number of women coming forward mounting but there was the infamous picture.  More to the point, White Boy Sam, there's John Conyers.  A month before Al resigned, John had been forced to resign with far less proof. And once a legend was forced to resign, there was no way Al was going to be safe.  Once an African-American legend was forced out of Congress, there was no way funny-boy Al was going to stay.  (Al actually announced his 'intent' to resign two days after Conyers was forced out but he did not resign until a month later.)

Unlike John Conyers, Al supported the Iraq War -- he was part of a meeting in 2002 where he argued those in Congress should vote for it to avoid being defeated in the 2002 elections.  He went on to host  an insipid talk show where he attacked anyone -- Meg Ryan, moments after she was off the show -- for calling for US troops to leave Iraq.  Then he got into the Senate and did . . . nothing of value.  And Al had a long history at SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Laraine Newman ignored it because she herself was always grabbing Al's ass and Jane Curtin ignored it because she hated John Belushi and her whole purpose in life today is taking down John Belushi (and praying no one ever digs into the trouble she made for Susan Saint James -- a story that would really harm her I'm-just-a-woman-who-supports-women pretense).

It's so typical of the male mind-set to present Al Franken as the victim.  Al was a sitting US Senator.  He had all the power.  Unlike Conyers, he was not about to be up for election (Al would be facing re-election this November if he had stayed in Congress).  Equally true, in 2019, another woman came forward.  Al's 'defense'?  He told THE NEW YORK TIMES he couldn't believe that he'd done things to make women uncomfortable.  Here's a tip for Al and his supporters like Sam -- groping women makes women uncomfortable.  Keep your hands to yourself.  People who can't understand that are the whole reason a show like HOLLYWOOD has to exist.

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