Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
A Documentary ‘Pro’ Trump on Russiagate Coming Soon?
Will wonders never cease? Have you read Lee Smith’s 2019 best-seller The Plot Against the President? According to The Hollywood Reporter, there’s a “hush-hush Russiagate documentary on the horizon” stemming from that very book. Currently sharing the same title, the film is being converted to screen by Amanda Milius, the daughter of John Milius, legendary screenwriter of such big hits as Apocalypse Now and Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry.
Last summer, Amanda Milius obtained the manuscript and in March left her post as deputy assistant secretary for content in the State Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs so that she could work on the documentary in secrecy. For three months, she interviewed some of the top players in Russiagate, including Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., Mike Cernovich, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Roger Stone, and Sidney Powell, Gen. Michael Flynn’s attorney.
The film will be appealing to those on both sides of the aisle and will “offer several additional bombshells that weren’t included in the book,” according to Milius, who added:
“I definitely think this ought to be of extreme interest to all Americans because surveillance and law enforcement abusers are not a partisan issue. This isn’t about the campaign. It’s not even really about the president exactly. It’s about people with power behaving badly and the destruction of democracy and American institutions.”
Milius did not disclose the private investors; however, the companies include Wollman Productions and 1AMDC Productions. The producers are working to release on Oct. 1, just before the 2020 presidential election.
Fallon Got It Right? Mocking Social Context Disclaimers
Lately, iconic films from decades past have come under scrutiny for having racist or inappropriate themes. The Civil War epic Gone with the Wind and comedy spoof Blazing Saddles now have warning labels attached to them, provided by Jacqueline Stewart, TCM host and cinema and media studies professor at the University of Chicago. For Blazing Saddles, Stewart’s disclaimer is just over three minutes long:
“[A]s the storyline implies the issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles. And racist language and attitudes pervade the film. But those attitudes are espoused by characters who are portrayed here as explicitly small-minded, ignorant bigots. The real, and much more enlightened, perspective, is provided by the main characters played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.”
Apparently, people need to be told what is comedy, what is a war epic, and when to be offended. Jimmy Fallon, host of The Tonight Show, decided to poke fun at the social context warnings by taking on the persona of Clyde Darwell to introduce the faux 1946 film Passion on the Prairie. “It’s worth noting this film is a product of its time,” Fallon, playing the part of Darwell, told the audience. “By today’s standards, it contains outdated, insensitive portrayals of African Americans. But keeping that in mind, we hope you can look past those flaws and enjoy this American classic – which I should also note is offensive to Native Americans, Asian Americans, Lebanese Americans, the Inuit, and Estonian Americans.”
The comedy sketch continued with Fallon/Darwell repeatedly trying to start the film but instead having to pause numerous times to offer more warnings. “There is a graphic whale hunt midway through the film and what some may consider a gratuitous kicking of a beagle,” he said. After removing all offensive material from the fake film, the host played it for the audience, but it lasted only a few seconds before the credits appeared.
Sexual Misconduct and Rape Allegations in HollyWeird
In last week’s Politics of HollyWeird column, LN discussed the three friends of R&B singer R. Kelly who have been charged with trying to silence the singer’s sexual assault accusers with threats and other misdeeds. This week, Kelly’s manager, Donnell Russell, 45, also was charged with conspiracy and with threatening physical harm by interstate communications after reporting that a mass shooting would occur at a Manhattan theater if it screened a documentary about Kelly. The 2018 incident effectively closed the theater, and the guests evacuated the building.
Russell attempted several times to get the Lifetime production of Surviving R. Kelly canceled, but each endeavor failed. The singer’s manager, in a phone call, reportedly warned that “someone at the screening had a gun and was going to shoot up the place.”
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Cuba Gooding Jr. is currently facing several sexual misconduct and harassment charges from various women. Now, however, another woman has broken her silence and delivered a much more serious accusation: rape. The alleged victim said that in 2013, she met the actor at a lounge and followed him to his room after he invited her there so that he could change clothes. According to the allegations, Gooding proceeded to rape her.
The actor’s legal defense team says the charges are simply not true and argue that there had never been a report of the alleged incident. Regardless, the Men of Honor star still has to prove his innocence in all the other charges still pending before he can tackle this latest claim.
Poor Ellen: Is Her Reputation Shattered Beyond Repair?
The Ellen DeGeneres Show, including the 62-year-old hostess herself, has been coming under fire recently for having a “toxic” working environment and repeated incidents of sexual harassment and racism. Liberty Nation has been covering the changing drama. The bad publicity hasn’t been helpful to the show or comedian’s image, so it is no surprise Ellen has been seeking ways to eradicate the negativity and restore the stellar reputation they once enjoyed.
During a Zoom call with staff this week, Ellen made apologies, explained her actions, and announced the firing of three top personnel who’ve been accused of gross misconduct: executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
Several former employees reported that they had been instructed not to make eye contact with the star or speak to her unless spoken to first. Dana Dimatteo, a guest from the “Make it Rain” segment in 2018, said, “We were told to act in a very specific way and to only speak if she asked us a question. They made us scream and jump around backstage as a test, it was pretty humiliating.” She said they were also told by executives “not to be funnier or smarter” than Ellen and to remember “she is the star and the comedian, not us.”
During the Zoom conference, Ellen told about 200 staff members that she is an introvert and sometimes needs to escape to private areas of the set, and she understands how that could be seen as rude. She said she has “good days and bad days,” but as far as the mistreatment of employees, Ellen claimed, “I don’t know where it started. Please talk to me. Look me in the eyes. It’s crazy, just not true, I don’t know how it started. [It’s] not who I am.”
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.