The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Happy Weekend Widdershins!

Oy! Trump is still trying to stage a coup. Of course a melting Rudy Giuliani is not helping his cause. Nor is the fact that every time his lawyer get in front of a judge – where lying to a judge is a crime – they admit they have no evidence of wrongdoing in the election. But those are all just minor details in Trump’s scheme to destroy the country on the way out and the entire GOP is happy to play along. As one of them pointed out in an interview, since there was no “bloodbath” down the ticket in the election and they gained some seats in the House, they think supporting Trump is working. And so – here we are. Biden/Harris are asking private donations to help fund the transition. This is not actually unusual. Since at least the 1992 all Presidents have had to raise funds for the transition because the money provided by the government is not enough. (Seems like something they should fix, no?) But this is the first time, it seems, that the campaign has appealed to the people directly instead of just big donors and bundlers. Interestingly enough, a lot of the same people who complain about big money in politics on social media, are absolutely livid at the fundraising attempt because, they say, people have no money (fair) and Biden/Harris should just go to their rich friends… But these same people would set their hair on fire if Biden/Harris did that. So, everybody loses.

Millie Bobby Brown and Helena Bonham Carter in “Enola Holmes”

In any case, as a way to distract myself from the madness of it all, last night I watched on Netflix a charming movie called “Enola Holmes” that I highly recommend. Intended for a theatrical release, but landing at Netflix because of the pandemic, the film was co-produced by and starring Millie Bobby Brown – one of the breakout stars of “Stranger Things” on Netflix – it is an adaptation of a novel in a series about the youngest Holmes child, Enola (Brown), her two older brothers being Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Helena Bonham Carter is their mother and other wonderful performances feature Fiona Shaw and Frances de la Tour. Millie Bobby Brown is marvelous as the young heroine and aspiring detective who finds herself abandoned by her mother and with two indifferent brothers who haven’t seen her in so long they don’t even recognize her.

So I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Dump did crazy shit and now the media is making excuses for him. But –

Did you also know that Brad Pitt’s first name is actually Bill? Brad is his middle name.

Chuck Norris’ first name is Carlos.

Justin Bieber knows how to juggle.

Once upon a time Madonna worked at Dunkin Donuts, but was fired after squirting jelly at a customer.

Tom Hanks is a third cousin, four generations removed, of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyoncé has a species of horse fly named after her. Australian researchers named a

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Larry Fishburne

golden-bellied insect Scaptia beyonceae in 2012.

Elvis Presley was a natural blond.

Dr. Ruth is a trained sniper.

James Earl Jones stuttered when he was a child.

When he was 37, Jack Nicholson discovered that the woman who he thought was his sister (16 years his senior) was actually his mother. Puts “Chinatown” into some sort of perspective.

In 1933 Lucille Ball was asked to shave off her eye-brows for a film role (Marlena

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Dietrich shaved hers.) They never grew back.

Actor Larry Fishburne (later to rename himself Laurence Fishburne) was 14 years old when he was cast to be in “Apocalypse Now.” He lied about his age. By the time the film finished filming, he was 17 (the age his character is in the movie.)

Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) was the first American film to show a flushing toilet.

The first series to show an abortion (illegal) on TV was the soap opera Another World in 1964.

Michael Myers’ mask in the movies “Halloween” is Captain Kirk’s face painted white.

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William Shatner’s face

This is an open thread!

In Brief

Posted on: October 18, 2017

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Hello Widdershins,

My apologies for being an absentee poster. I run out of hours in the day and have no computer at work. Only a very weak signal on my iPhone. But I’m sure the news keeps everyone busy. I’ll be back to my regular schedule in a week!

The worst thing I read all day is Dump’s awful phone call to the widow of slain U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson. After ignoring the 4 American soldiers killed in Niger for weeks (he golfed though), he finally brought himself to call a family. And he told the pregnant Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” There truly is no end to Trump’s depravity. But we should read the names of the 4 soldiers killed and a hold a moment of silence because our president doesn’t care.

From one kind of depraved to a very different kind of depraved, the story of Harvey Weinstein is continuing to reverberate in the entertainment industry. There are now at least 47 women who have accused Weinstein of harassing or assaulting them. Of the well-known actresses the most recent story comes from Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.” The story, of course, is bigger than Weinstein. The singer/actress Björk, who has starred in only one movie, critically acclaimed “Dancer in the Dark,” wrote a letter in which she referenced being abused by a Danish director. Since she only appeared in one film and that film was made by a Dane, the unnamed director is Lars von Trier. Von Trier makes controversial films (I personally detest each and every one of them). In 2011 he stunned the Cannes Film Festival when he announced during a press conference:

“I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit.”

Molly Ringwald has also said she’s had “plenty of Harveys of my own.” She says she was first assaulted when she was 13. Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16. And America Ferrera said that she remembers the first time she was assaulted was when she was 9.

On Monday I went out to grab a Starbucks while at work. Crossing the street on 49th St and Park Avenue (a short distance from Grand Central station), I saw an SUV almost run over a young woman. He was backing up against his light and not paying attention. He side-swiped this woman (she was not breaking any laws), and only reason he didn’t actually run her over was because she jumped out of the way in time. So she started yelling to him to watch it, he hit her with his car. This man, big man, in his late 40’s, looked out of the window and said: “Oh did I hit you? Let me see. Where? In the back? Show me. Turn around baby, let me see you from the back.” As she began to turn to show him…she froze. I think all the witnesses did. It became obvious he was literally trying to see her ass. He was sexually harassing woman in the middle of the street that he just literally hit with his car… You could see her face changing as she realized what was happening and that dumbass grinned at her. It was truly breathtaking.

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To make you feel maybe 1% better about all this insanity – there is the story of the immortal Carrie Fisher. After being told by a friend, screenwriter Heather Robinson, that a studio executive sexually assaulted her, Carrie Fisher took matters into her own hands. She personally delivered to the executive a Tiffany box. Inside the box – a cow tongue. And a note: “If you ever touch my darling Heather or any other woman again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box.”

And finally, if you follow reporters on social media you may have noticed that a few voices have been oddly missing for several days. New York Times voices. The normally rambunctious Maggie Haberman has been MIA. Glenn Thrush quit twitter altogether. And then we found out why. The bosses have slapped down their on-line behavior. Dean Baquet (a man who has a lot to answer for as far as the 2016 coverage) announced new social media rules for his reporters. And poor Maggie and Glenn, their entire gig is up. The stuff they are best at – snide condescension and sarcasm are discouraged. I think these rules broke Maggie.

So what’s on your mind Widdershins?

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Harvey Weinstein is a very important man in Hollywood. As the co-founder (with his brother Bob) of the film production company Miramax in the 1980s (named after their parents Mira and Max), and then of The Weinstein Company in 2005, they (with Harvey as the real creative force) have produced and/or distributed some of the most recognizable and prestigious films of the past 30 years. The list is extraordinary for just two men from Buffalo: The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Cinema Paradiso, The Piano, The Crying Game, Good Will Hunting, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Queen, The King’s Speech, Pulp Fiction and every other Quentin Tarantino movie, Scream, There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, Aviator, Chicago, Muriel’s Wedding, Madonna: Truth or Dare, Amelie, My Left Foot, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Bullets Over Broadway, Clerks, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Hours, Sling Blade, Life Is Beautiful, Fahrenheit 9/11, Dogma, etc. He also produced Broadway shows like The Producers, The Color Purple, La Cage aux Folles, Bernadette Peters’ Gipsy, The Addams’ Family, Al Pacino’s revival of Glenngary Glen Ross. And one of TV’s most famous shows: Project Runaway.

Look at that list! It’s understandable why this story has become so huge in the news and entertainment industry. Harvey Weinstein is a cultural giant. Whether or not anybody outside of the entertainment industry truly cares is a different matter. The larger story of a powerful man sexually abusing women for decades (famous women to boot) and getting away with it is an important one. Coming on the heels of exposure and falls of Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, Weinstein is another reminder that these men have existed for many years – and continue to exist now. Perhaps Louis CK will be next, who knows. These men exist in every industry, not just entertainment. Does this put the fear of god into any of them? I don’t now… I fear not. Beyond the reaction to Weinstein himself, the reaction to the women has also been shocking. The media’s demand that Hillary Clinton comment, and that Meryl Streep’s comment wasn’t good enough, is a perverse cycle of blaming victims. The story has stopped being about Weinstein abusing women and now it’s more about “what do famous women think about Weinstein abusing women?” It’s sick.

I worked at Miramax back in its heyday of 2000 in a very unimportant position. Shakespeare in Love was in production (code name: Project Plague.The Lord of the Rings (code name: Jumboree) was just a script collecting dust in the closet, soon to be sold to a different studio, though the brothers retained their producer credit. What everybody knew about Harvey then is that he was an awful bully. His emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse of employees (throwing things, like a phone or a book) was known to all. In the 1990s Premiere magazine (now gone) published an article about the worst people in the industry to work for. Harvey competed for the top spot with producer Scott Rudin (also producer of some of the best films of the past few decades like Clueless, Regarding Henry and Wonder Boys; as well as huge Broadway shows like The Book of Mormon.) Rudin is gay and I have no doubt there are many demons there which perhaps some day will also land on the front pages of newspapers. But Harvey did more than just produce big movies, he dominated the industry in a way no other film producer had in decades. He inspired awe and fear from other studio heads because of his knack for picking remarkable films and turning Oscar campaigns into both an art form and a brutal contact sport. He was a throwback to the old, golden Hollywood age when studios developed, nurtured and made stars, and then reaped the rewards: people like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Quentin Tarantino were synonymous with Miramax, and they owe big parts of their careers to Harvey. Without Weinstein turning Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love and Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction into cultural phenomenons, it’s very likely they would not have turned into the superstars that they are today.

While Harvey’s explosive temper and rage were known by all, his sexual deviancy was better hidden. I had heard jokes about prostitutes. But anything beyond “paid companions” was not widely discussed at the time. So Meryl Streep’s comment that she didn’t know – which so many have attacked her for – is quite credible to me. One must also realize that celebrities – often through no fault of their own – live in a bubble. There are people in their lives who protect them and make sure they are uninformed. One example: One day Ben Affleck came to the office and the producer I was assisting who had an Israeli poster of Good Will Hunting on his wall. The writing was in Hebrew. Affleck said: “Oh that’s so cool! I’ve never seen that!” When he left 20 minutes later all hell broke loose as about 5 assistants spent two days trying to find another copy of that poster. Affleck didn’t now, he didn’t especially want it, but we turned the place upside down looking for another copy of the poster because Ben mentioned in passing that it was cool. Taking care of celebrities this way is an entire industry in entertainment. When I hear about celebrities being difficult I almost don’t blame them. Can you imagine what being treated this way can do to your brain?

As the media descends on the women in the industry, it’s obvious why people like Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t speak out against him in the first place. It wouldn’t just be a matter of telling someone and it’s over. No, look at the way Harvey’s victims are being treated by the press. They are torn to shreds. I wouldn’t have said anything either. Paltrow describes how Weinstein abused her before she became a star and it seems that only the interference of her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt saved her.

When Mr. Weinstein tried to massage her and invited her into the bedroom, she immediately left, she said, and remembers feeling stunned as she drove away. “I thought you were my Uncle Harvey,” she recalled thinking, explaining that she had seen him as a mentor.

After she told Mr. Pitt about the episode, he approached Mr. Weinstein at a theater premiere and told him never to touch Ms. Paltrow again. Mr. Pitt confirmed the account to The Times through a representative.

Soon after, Mr. Weinstein called Ms. Paltrow and berated her for discussing the episode, she said. (She said she also told a few friends, family members and her agent.) “He screamed at me for a long time,” she said, once again fearing she could lose the role in “Emma.” “It was brutal.” But she stood her ground, she said, and insisted that he put the relationship back on professional footing.

Even as Ms. Paltrow became known as the “first lady of Miramax” and won an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999, very few people knew about Mr. Weinstein’s advances. “I was expected to keep the secret,” she said.

Besides Paltrow, other actresses openly accusing Weinstein of assaulting them are Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Asia Argento, among others.

Though she never mentions Weinstein by name, Tori Spelling wrote in her book in 2009 that a refusal to do a nude scene in a Miramax film led to the studio nearly cutting her out of the film altogether, and turning her starring role into a cameo.

It’s also important to note that while the NY Times might claim to have brought Weinstein down (along with a near-contemporary report from The New Yorker, which includes an audio recording of Weinstein harassing an Italian model; Ronan Farrow wrote the story for New Yorker because his bosses at NBC refused to air it), Times are also the paper that helped keep Weinstein in power for so long. They killed a story in 2004 about Weinstein, as detailed by the author of that story and founder of The Wrap, Sharon Waxman.

I also tracked down a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein. She was terrified to speak because of her non-disclosure agreement, but at least we had evidence of a pay-off.

The story I reported never ran.

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly […] the story was gutted.

I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.

But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?

Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?

The Times’ then-culture editor Jon Landman, now an editor-at-large for Bloomberg, thought the story was unimportant, asking me why it mattered.

So now the fallout is: Weinstein has been fired from his company. The company just announced that they will have a new name shortly. (And if anybody knew everything – it would have been his brother Bob.) Weinstein’s wife has also announced that she has left him.

There are a lot of powerful people in Hollywood afraid tonight. Hopefully there are a lot of powerful men in all industries taking note of how quickly and how hard they might fall.

What’s on your mind Widdershins?

 

It’s Sunday. Another weekend down, another week coming up. Fredster will resume his Sunday activities next week, I am filling in today. Let’s try to unwind our exhausted brains before we hurl ourselves into a new week of insanity.

As everybody (?) knows, I’m something of a movie buff. I studied film in college and currently work as an editor in television. I thought we would spend this Sunday combining movies and music with some of our favorite movie music! It could be orchestral melodies or songs from musicals. Whatever your hearts desire. It just has to either come from a movie or have been featured prominently in a movie.

Here are a few of my favorite things to get things started (I have sooooooo many):

 


Biden illustration: REBUILD WITH BIDEN

Nice picture of our gal

Madam Vice President

Our President

It’s here: QUARANTINE BINGO!

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