How Hollywood Fights Anti-Semitism – and All Manner of Religious Intolerance (Guest Blog)

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If you happened to be at Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre on Friday night, you would have been shimmying and shaking to the combined voices of former Broadway performer and now cantor Ilysia Pierce, four-time Emmy-nominated composer Sharon Farber and an inner-city African American ensemble called The Spirit of David Choir. Their voices united against religious intolerance as they celebrated our shared heritage of freedom and memorialized the 50 people killed in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

So how does an entertainment industry-heavy Jewish temple fight against anti-Semitism? According to Rabbi David Baron, start by taking a holistic approach. “Many cultures share a common thread of oppression,” said Rabbi Baron. “As we celebrate Judaism in music and dance, we also fight against hate in the same way. Every year we celebrate with Patrick Bolton and the Spirit of David Choir because it brings our communities together. It is especially needed now.”

Friday night’s services drew actors Elliott Gould and Anne-Marie Johnson as well as Holocaust survivor and former tailor to the stars David Lenga, whose clients included everyone from Paul Newman to Groucho Marx.

Also Read: Tucker Carlson Guest Accuses ‘Ice Cube, Jay-Z, Scarface’ of Anti-Semitism

“I was amazed at the passion and comradeship that the inner city singers had with Temple of the Art’s congregation. My grandfather might have been appalled, but this is the way we fight against anti-Semitism now — with our brothers and sisters of other cultures,” Lenga observed.

Rabbi Baron opened Shabbat services with a prayer for the 50 dead from Christchurch’s Muslim community. His sermon bound together the communities that were sitting in the congregation. “We must recognize that when we call out anti-Semitic comments we are also fighting racism, and that if we permit a Congresswoman to spew hateful comments it sets the stage for hate filled fanatics to kill and maim. This poisoned fruit is sourced from the same poisoned tree of bigotry toward any minority.”

Also Read: With Anti-Semitism on the Rise, the Jewishness of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is a Marvel (Guest Blog)

When asked what is the most important thing that we can do to fight hate, Rabbi Baron advised, “we need to unify our voices. We are splintered within Judaism along political divides, and it’s gotten to a point where we have refused to speak with each other. We have to get over this, join with other cultures who have experienced oppression, link arms and speak out.”

The evening also recognized Zubin Mehta, Rabbi Baron, Holocaust survivor and hair dresser Bill Harvey and Leon Bass, an African American serviceman who was among the liberators who freed prisoners of Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of World War II. They all received a Mensch Award from Mensch Foundation founder Steven Geiger.

Why Social Impact Entertainment Is Ready for the Spotlight in Hollywood (Guest Blog)

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Last month’s Oscars represented a breakthrough — not only for the diversity of winners, but for a larger idea that has been gaining momentum in recent years: that mass entertainment and deeper social messages are not mutually exclusive, but rather an opportunity for Hollywood to do well and do good at the same time.

The extraordinary range of winning films, which addressed themes of racism to social class to sexual identity, put a spotlight on the growing desire of large audiences to grapple with — and in many cases influence — some of the world’s most thorny issues. Winners and nominees like “Green Book,” “Roma,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “The Wife,” “BlackKklansman,” “Vice” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” show us that in a world of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” people are hungering for more reality.

“The State of Social Impact Entertainment” (SIE), released on March 5, is a landmark report that explores this emergent field in depth, examining what actually works to capture and engage audiences in this noisy and mobile age; why social impact entertainment’s financial potential keeps growing; and how creators can learn from the successes and failures of others.

Also Read: Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler Reflect on Being First Black Winners in Their Oscar Categories

SIE comes in many forms. From digital short form to feature films, TV series, plays and virtual reality, the increasing diversity of media gives social conscious creators great flexibility to tell their stories in ways that maximize engagement and impact with target audiences. Of course, good intentions are not enough — a great story is still of paramount importance. And so is building strong and early partnerships with leaders, organizations and communities to enable organic support for a project to grow and flourish. After all, buzz drives distribution, especially in the age of social media.

In the run-up to the Oscars, I was struck by a February 12 essay by Carvell Wallace in The New York Times Magazine, anticipating the opening night of Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” for which Wallace bought eight tickets “as soon as they were available — the first time in my life I’ve done that.” He added, “Beyond the question of what the movie will bring to African-Americans sits what might be a more important question: What will black people bring to ‘Black Panther’? The film arrives as a corporate product, but we are using it for our own purposes….”

Also Read: Why the ‘Green Book’ Oscar Victory Has Divided Hollywood

That’s the promise, potential and power of social impact entertainment — to engage audiences in larger ideas, and empower them to translate emotions into actions in the world around them. As Leonardo DiCaprio — himself a champion of SIE — writes, “you want to make sure that your audience walks away with a clear understanding of the steps they can take in their own lives to be part of the change you are seeking to create.”

Of course, there is no formula for success in SIE. As “The State of SIE” reveals, however, there are approaches that tend to yield greater dividends. Ultimately, this report is intended as a guidebook for current and future industry leaders and storytellers who want to engage others in addressing issues that are too complex for any single person to solve. And for those hoping to make a difference in this world, the spotlight has never been brighter.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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How ‘Black Panther’ Designers Hannah Beachler and Ruth E Carter Built Wakanda With ‘a Root in Africa and Functionality’

Is ‘Black Panther’ About Survivor’s Remorse? (Podcast)

Alyssa Milano: This Women’s History Month, Let’s Celebrate the Women Making History Today

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the rich legacy of women whose courageous efforts for equality secured the many gains that we take for granted today. It is a time to remember just how hard-fought those battles were, and just h…

Why Will Smith Is Black Enough to Play Richard Williams (Guest Column)

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Back in 2016, Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, marched to the front line of the #OscarsSoWhite movement. The couple, among others, boycotted the Academy Awards that year in response to actors of color, including “Concussion” star Will, being shut out of the nominations in all four acting categories for the second consecutive Oscars.

Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have been trying to do better since then. “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” were two of the biggest box office hits of 2018, and the Oscar ceremony rewarded more black artists and craftsman than ever before.

Suddenly, though, to some, Will Smith isn’t black enough. The actor has landed at the center of controversy over casting as Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena, in the upcoming biopic “King Richard.” According to the movie’s early critics on social media, Smith, a former rapper who earned his first Oscar nomination for his role as boxing great Muhammad Ali, is too light-skinned to play dark-skinned Richard.

Also Read: Idris Elba in Talks to Replace Will Smith as Deadshot in ‘Suicide Squad’ Sequel

As they see it, the casting is colorism in action. The word “colorism,” which, in the context of Hollywood, is related to “whitewashing” but not the same thing, refers to the hierarchical categorization of nonwhite people according to skin tone. Those who are lighter head to the top rung, while the darker ones languish at the bottom.

Colorism is a significant problem in Hollywood, especially with black performers. Directors, producers and casting agents often seem to favor biracial and light-skinned blacks, presumably because they are closer to the idealized white beauty standard and therefore more acceptable to white audiences. The bias was notable last year in the multicultural casting of director Greg Berlanti’s LGBTQ comedy “Love, Simon.” All three of the black-ish actors in main supporting roles, including the one who played the title character’s eventual love interest, were biracial and could pass for off-white.

It’s also why the new Netflix series “Sex Education” is so groundbreaking. Not only does it have two black actors in central roles, but both are dark-skinned. One character is gay and the other is straight. They each have onscreen sexual encounters with white characters, and there’s nary a mention of race. That’s progress.

So is Smith snagging the Richard Williams role a step back? It feels more like a sideways move. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about Smith as the top-billed title character in “King Richard,” but he’s certainly black enough for the job.

Some have suggested that Mahershala Ali or Idris Elba would have been more suitable choices. Maybe so –  if a close physical approximation to a real-life subject was mandatory. In recent decades, however, both Anthony Hopkins and Frank Langella have scored Oscar nods for playing 37th U.S. President Richard Nixon despite looking absolutely nothing like him, proving that sometimes it’s more important to capture the spirit and essence of a real-life character rather than the exact physicality.

Also Read: Will Smith Checks Skydiving Off His Bucket List in New Facebook Watch Series

After all, Smith earned his second Oscar nomination playing businessman Chris Gardner in the 2006 film “The Pursuit of Happyness even though the real-life Gardner was several shades darker in skin tone. Maybe it was because few people knew what Gardner actually looked like or because social media wasn’t really a thing yet, but there was no “Oh no, he didn’t” outcry back then.

It’s not like Mahershala Ali, who just won his second Oscar, and Elba, who is at the top of so many wish lists to be the next James Bond, are too black to find gainful employment in Hollywood. Smith’s casting probably has more to do with his bankability and box office potential than fear of a too-black actor. (Ironically, Elba will replace Smith as Deadshot in the next “Suicide Squad” film.)

Smith as Williams is hardly the same as the egregious casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic “Nina,” which required the actress to wear skin-darkening makeup to appear more acceptably Nina-esque on screen. The late singer and civil rights activist’s chocolate beauty and strong black features were essential parts of who she was as an artist and as a woman. They were indivisible from her narrative. Only a comparably darker-skinned actress  —  say, a Mary J. Blige or a Jennifer Hudson —  would have been appropriate in the role.

Casting the more caramel-colored Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican parentage, in such a quintessentially “black” role inadvertently excused and perpetuated the colorism that hindered and haunted Simone her entire life. It was like casting Cardi B to play a young Aretha Franklin.

Also Read: Will Smith Explains Why He Turned Down ‘The Matrix’ to Star in ‘Wild Wild West’ Instead (Video)

When literal blackness, and not simply race, is such a crucial part of the narrative, the casting should reflect it. Williams must have been up against seemingly insurmountable racism while trying to break his daughters into the predominantly white world of tennis, but if any of the Williamses suffered the distinct disadvantages of colorism, it would have been the far more visible Venus and Serena. As a behind-the-scenes player, Richard Williams’ particular shade of black would have been less of an overt issue, so to re-enact his life, times and trials convincingly, Smith shouldn’t need to darken his skin.

Interestingly, Will and a color other than black was at the center of another recent social media conversation. That one revolved around his starring role in “Aladdin,” the upcoming live-action remake of the 1992 animated film of the same name. Back in December, viewers got a first look at Smith’s Genie, minus the coloring of the cartoon Jinn that Robin Williams voiced in the original, and many recoiled in horror. Um, but where was the blue?

Then the trailer dropped during the Academy Awards, Smith’s blue Genie made its official debut, and Twitter erupted again: “Too blue!” Some unfavorably compared Smith’s computer-generated hue to “Avatar,” the Smurfs and other unflattering things.

Hollywood, like the rest of the country, probably never will get color just right. Despite the multicultural casting of “Aladdin,” Disney has been criticized for straying too far from the Middle Eastern origins of the story by using a half-Indian British actress, Naomi Scott, to play Princess Jasmine. Accusations of “whitewashing” and “colorism” have followed.

Yes, Hollywood can do so better —  more leading roles and Oscar nominations for Asians would be a nice next start  — but it helps to focus on the fact that movies no longer seem quite as white as they did even a few years ago. Black, regardless of the black actor representing it, has never been more beautiful or bountiful on screen.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Idris Elba in Talks to Replace Will Smith as Deadshot in ‘Suicide Squad’ Sequel

Will Smith Explains Why He Turned Down ‘The Matrix’ to Star in ‘Wild Wild West’ Instead (Video)

‘Aladdin’: Here’s the First Full Look at Will Smith’s Genie (Video)

Luke Perry Was Way Too Cool for Me, But He Still Loaned Me His Jean Jacket (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A little over 25 years ago, I spent some time with Luke Perry for a cover story in a now-defunct magazine. This was back in the days of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” when he was getting mobbed everywhere and had to be snuck out of mall appearances in a laundry hamper.

I remember sitting in my room at the Sunset Marquis while I waited for Luke to show up for the first interview and worrying that he wasn’t the kind of guy who would like me — i.e., I was a shy nerd and he had those sideburns and also a pot-bellied pig for a pet.

I was surprised to find how real and funny he was, how skeptical he was of his sudden fame, how he thought the whole laundry-hamper thing had probably been staged without his knowing.

He thought about taking me to a strip club for the first interview, but decided against it, telling me that I’d just end up writing something like, “Luke knew all the dancers and called out to them by name as we entered the club.”

Also Read: Luke Perry, ‘Riverdale’ and ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Star, Dies at 52

Instead, he took me to a shooting range. It was cold so he lent me a jean jacket. I almost hit the first skeet and Luke was so excited for me. When it became clear that it’d just been a lucky accident and that I had no idea WTF I was doing, he was cool about it, though obviously a little bummed that I sucked.

When he was driving on the freeway in L.A., he pulled close to a woman in another car and asked if he could borrow her sunglasses. She handed them to him happily. I pointed out that she’d obviously recognized him. This hurt him a little. He didn’t want to believe it. He wanted to believe it was a just a cool, serendipitous human interaction. I said, “OK, then I’m gonna ask someone else for her sunglasses and we’re gonna see how that goes.” Luke loved this idea and immediately started looking for a woman in another car. I chickened out because I’m somebody who chickens out. He was cool about it, though (again) obviously a little bummed that I sucked.

When he was taking me back to the hotel after a long day, he told me about how he wanted to make a movie about a famous bull rider named Lane Frost. I was sleepy from the drive and said, “What is about bull-fighting that interests you?” And he was, like, “Not bull-fighting, man! Bull-riding!” I felt like an idiot. He really cared about the project — which became the 1994 movie “8 Seconds” — and had been dying to do something real, something beyond “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

Also Read: Luke Perry Tributes Pour in From Ian Ziering, Molly Ringwald: ‘My Heart Is Broken’

Lastly, I remember that I forgot to give him his jean jacket back, so as he drove away, I chased his SUV down North Alta Loma Blvd. in the dark shouting, “Luke! Luke!” He didn’t hear me. I went into the Sunset Marquis and asked the guy at the desk if I could leave something for someone to pick up. He gave me a brown paper bag. I put the jean jacket in it and wrote LUKE PERRY on it with magic marker. I gave it to the guy, who looked at me like I was nuts, but whatever. I liked Luke and didn’t want him to think I’d stolen his coat.

Anyway, I’m remembering Luke Perry today because it’s so, so sad and messed up that he has passed away. He seemed like a tremendously good guy. Even in the midst of absolutely crazy, indecipherable fame, he was open and honest and didn’t give me any crap about being a shy nerd. I should also say that he gave the woman on the freeway her sunglasses back. He didn’t want anything (not even fame) for free.

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Deepfake Technology Is an Attack on Consent and Actors’ Rights to Control Sex Scenes (Guest Blog)

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Deepfake porn may seem novel, but it is only the latest example of creators depicting actors in sexualized scenes without their consent. These nonconsensual depictions are not a victimless crime. They cause real harm. Even if it is not really his or her body, an actor depicted as participating in a sex scene may find it difficult to get cast in more family-friendly productions. Moreover, he or she may endure considerable emotional trauma as a result of being exploited in this horrific way.

Imagine having to see yourself in a sex scene you never freely and knowingly agreed to — whether it is your actual body or the product of special effects. Worse, knowing that this “performance” will live forever on your IMDb page or on websites like Mr. Skin that exist for the sexual gratification of millions of viewers. To put it plainly, these technologies allow a filmmaker, an internet troll or an ex-lover to own a person’s body and remove any opportunity for meaningful consent. This is indefensible.

The fact is, actors’ rights in this area have long been trampled on. We are all sadly familiar with the situation in which an actor gives one performance only to discover later that the filmmaker has transformed it by using a body double and/or special effects to make it seem as if the actor was nude or performing sexual activity. What is new about deepfake porn is how realistic the depictions can look, how many such videos are floating around on the internet and how easily a creator can use a cheap laptop and free software to pull this off, without ever hiring the actor in the first place.

Also Read: Deepfake Videos Could Become Undetectable Within the Next 2 Years, Experts Say

So what can be done? To respond to this new form of sexual abuse, California State Sen. Connie Leyva is working with SAG-AFTRA to introduce legislation that would empower individuals to sue anyone who creates or distributes digitally produced sexually explicit performances without their permission.

Some have suggested holding exploiters accountable under existing state laws. Under California’s current right of publicity law, for example, professional performers may be able to claim that a nonconsensual sexually explicit depiction is really an unauthorized digital performance.

But that’s because performing is the activity for which the individual is known. If you are not a professional actor or porn star, this approach is unlikely to protect you. Defamation law is of similarly limited utility. You might be able to win a defamation lawsuit if the depiction is presented as true and causes harm to your reputation. But if you are victimized by a deepfake porn video that does not pretend to be true, you are out of luck. Even the protection of a union contract goes only so far.

Although victimized union members may be able to pursue some remedies through labor arbitration, they are still going to need the ability to sue in open court in order to be compensated for what may be considerable economic, emotional, or reputational harm.

Also Read: Scarlett Johansson: Fight Against ‘Deepfake’ Porn Is a ‘Lost Cause’

That’s why we need legislation like Sen. Leyva’s upcoming bill. It is particularly effective because it directly addresses nonconsensual depictions in a way that covers all types of survivors. Moreover, her legislation defines what is meant by meaningful consent, establishes special rules on how to obtain consent and gives a survivor options, such as whether to elect statutory damages and to file a lawsuit anonymously.

Some commentators insist that no law can fix this problem given the free speech protections of the First Amendment. This is simply not true. No one knows with certainty what the First Amendment does and does not protect until a judge makes a legal determination. While creators will certainly mount a free speech defense, American jurisprudence has long balanced the right to free speech with powerful competing interests, including privacy, truth, the right to live free from harassment and intellectual property rights such as copyrights, right of publicity and trademarks.

Society benefits from putting reasonable limitations on how freely creators and individuals can speak, including necessary prohibitions on the creation and distribution of nonconsensual deepfake porn. No one but the creators of this content themselves benefit from the suggestion that these videos are all protected speech and that nothing can be done to prohibit them. Something can be done and must be done. It is the moral responsibility of lawmakers, internet platforms and content creators to commit to real action before this “Hollywood actor” issue becomes everyone’s problem.

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Deepfake Videos Could Become Undetectable Within the Next 2 Years, Experts Say

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What Hollywood Can Teach the Catholic Church About Confronting Longtime Sexual Abuse (Guest Blog)

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Pope Francis has called an unprecedented “summit” of bishops to the Vatican to discuss for the umpteenth time the problem of sexual abuse by priests — this one is focused on the abuse of children. The summit starts Feb. 21 and ends on the night of the Academy Awards, Feb. 24.

I cannot help but see the significance between the revelations about abuse and power in the Roman Catholic Church mirroring the revelations of abuse and power in our community out here in Hollywood. Clergy sex-abuse survivors have been coming together and speaking out since 1988 through SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In 2002, the group helped the Boston Globe investigative team expose the Boston diocese’s practice of covering up for predators and moving them to new, unsuspecting parishes. Hollywood immortalized that moment in the 2016 Oscar-winning movie “Spotlight.”

In Hollywood, the silence breakers of 2017 had their own “Spotlight” moment. They gave a new and different focus to the issue covering up and ignoring sexual abuse in our society, and the #MeToo movement gained serious momentum.

Whether simply a coincidence or the result of the burgeoning #MeToo movement, this past year a Pennsylvania grand jury exposed more than 300 “predator priests” in just six dioceses in that state and found more than a 1,000 victims. Since the report was released, more survivors have come forward and more clergy have been exposed.

Also Read: Franco Zeffirelli’s Son Dismisses Actor Johnathon Schaech’s Molestation Accusation: ‘Not Credible’

Investigative reporters in Boston and Philadelphia determined that as many as one in three American bishops have failed to respond appropriately to cases of sexual abuse. The attorney general of Illinois revealed that close to 75 percent of allegations reported to the Catholic Church in that state were either minimized or never even investigated in the first place. The FBI observed in the Pennsylvania report that the Church had what was akin to “a playbook” for concealing and covering up the truth.

Last year, when I spoke out about two-time Oscar-nominated director Franco Zeffirelli abusing me in 1993 I didn’t understand he was using the same playbook. [Editors note: Zeffirelli’s son, Pippo, has denied that his father, now 96, verbally or sexually abused Schaech on the set of the 1993 movie “Sparrow” and called the actor’s accusations “not credible.”]

In Zeffirelli’s autobiographies, he recounts an early sexual experience with a priest when he was a boy. But Zeffirelli was outraged by the way the accused priests were being treated, not the way the victims were being treated.

“Molestation suggests violence, and there was no violence at all,” Zeffirelli wrote. Zeffirelli doesn’t consider himself part of the flock; he feels integrated into the very culture and power of the Catholic hierarchy. In Zeffirelli’s youth, Pope Paul VI was instrumental in developing Zeffirelli’s aspirations of being an artist, and later in life even helped him launched his movie career.

In 2016, Pope Francis hosted Zeffirelli in the Vatican. Franco’s abuse by a priest happened nearly 80 years before Francis became pope, but it’s clear that nothing has changed within the culture in the intervening time. The Church hierarchy spends millions on lobbyists and lawyers who fight to keep justice from all survivors by opposing needed judicial reform.

It’s even much simpler than any lawyer I’ve talked to can put it.

Also Read: Catholic League President Accuses NBC of ‘Phony Outcry’ Over Megyn Kelly ‘Blackface’ Comments

The Vatican’s endless wealth and its “playbook” is directed to silence victims, deny them rights or the church will go out of business.

Recently, Pope Francis acknowledged that the church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops. Members of his flock have told me that it’s not fair to say #TimesUp to Pope Francis because he doesn’t have the power to get rid of the “old-boys-club network” and give women positions of power within the church.

I have been told that this pope is the nicest one when it comes to the LGBTQ community, but it’s very clear that factions within his powerful hierarchy don’t want to address their internal issues, preferring to blur the lines and blame homosexuality for what is clearly child abuse. Why else would Bishop Robert Cunningham, leader of the diocese in Syracuse, N.Y., testify that the child victims were partly to blame in priest sex-abuse cases?

Also Read: #MeToo Starts 2019 With Milestones, From ‘Surviving R Kelly’ to Kevin Spacey’s Charges

It may be beyond the power of Pope Francis to simply protect the next generation of children at the summit meeting this month — but it would be great if someone on the Academy stage told him to do just that.

I believe the collective courage of our industry is way stronger than that of the church, but we still have ways to grow. It’s essential for the industry to embrace those brave individuals who’ve spoken out, and incorporate their learnings for the future generations of storytellers.

It’s a Hollywood tradition to write a new ending. That’s precisely what I did when I spoke out. I’m writing a new ending for the people I’m meant to serve and support and for the culture I’ve been embedded in for the last 30 years.

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What Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill Can Still Teach a New Generation of Journalists (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It’s been quite a week for the fourth estate, or the enemy of the people, depending on your viewpoint. Most notably, BuzzFeed has had a bipolar ride and NBC’s Savannah Guthrie took heat for being either too tough or too soft on the Kentucky high school student accused of harassing a Native American man. So consider it a momentary balm that three classic 20th century journalists — about whom few questioned their honesty and craft — are back in the news.

Speaking about Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill in the HBO documentary “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists,new Oscar nominee Spike Lee says, “These guys were superstars.” Breslin and Hamill were as colorful as any characters they covered in their long New York City newspaper careers. They — and the film — were even mentioned in the New York Times obit for Russell Baker, another award-winning New York-based columnist, who passed away this week at age 93.

HBO threw a classy bash for “Breslin and Hamill” last Tuesday week at New York’s Columbus Circle, a who’s who (or, let’s face it, a who’s he) of every name in legendary East Coast journalism. Gay Talese, Carl Bernstein, Jeffrey Toobin, Robert Caro, Phil Donahue and Dan Rather were among the guests enjoying the film, swapping stories about their onscreen appearances. Breslin, who died in 2017, was represented by his widow and son. (His first wife and two daughters died tragically.) Hamill is still alive but was unable to attend.

Also Read: Russell Baker, Pulitzer-Winning Author and ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ Host, Dies at 93

While Hamill was the more dashing figure — he dated Shirley MacLaine, Linda Ronstadt and Jackie Onassis — Breslin’s Queens-born personality proved to be truly inimitable. He wrote a popular novel called “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” which became a 1971 movie starring Robert De Niro (who appears in the movie) and even hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

Neither Breslin nor Hamill were college graduates — Hamill didn’t complete high school — but they became famous for seeking the stories behind the stories. Breslin’s signature piece of reporting was his coverage of John F. Kennedy’s funeral. While virtually every reporter in Washington followed the details of the ceremony, the investigation into the assassination and the First Lady, Breslin went to Arlington National Cemetery to interview the gravedigger assigned to prepare the grave for the slain president. The man, who made $3.01 an hour, called that task “an honor.”

The documentary, directed by journalists Jonathan Alter, Steve McCarthy and John Block, comes at a crucial moment in the history of American media, which is why they were able to sell it to the usually forward-thinking HBO. “We made a six-minute sizzle reel and showed it to Richard Plepler [CEO of the network] and he bought it on the spot,” says Alter. “It helped that our film is loaded with celebrities.”

Also Read: BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Mic: Inside the Crisis in Digital News

Not surprisingly, a younger and thinner Donald Trump is featured in one section, calling for the death penalty for the five young men of color arrested for the 1989 attack of a Central Park jogger. (They were later acquitted.) But the most spirited and touching parts of the film are the joint interviews with its two subjects, both looking frail and old but with memories sharp. Breslin’s account of the deaths in his family will generate the viewers’ tears, tears he himself had trouble ever showing.

There were demons aplenty: alcohol, for one. Hamill speaks of his neighborhood where “the favorite bar was the nearest bar.” Hamill wrote a memoir called “A Drinking Life” and gave up booze in the ’70s. Breslin got in his most serious career trouble when, at Newsday in 1990, he faced backlash for his treatment of an Asian American co-worker. Breslin, too, gave up drinking in his later years.

Like “The Front Page” and “All the President’s Men, the doc affectionately recalls the time of competing big-city papers, when newsrooms were filled with the clacking of typewriters and the yelling of voices (“Copy!”)

Also Read: Insiders: HuffPost Layoffs Hit 20 Employees Throughout Editorial

These days, as the late Tom Wolfe says in the film, newsroom co-workers are “sending messages six feet away.” Breslin never liked the term journalist, preferring “reporter.” Both men had what “Goodfellas” author-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi calls “street sense.”

“You’re not important enough to have writer’s block,” a self-pitying Hamill was once told. He got back on track and went on to one of his greatest achievements — being named on Nixon’s enemies list. Breslin, who won a Pulitzer for his commentary, also took pride in the enemies he accrued over the years. He became such a powerful figure that even David Berkowitz, the city’s notorious Son of Sam serial killer, wrote a letter to the columnist while the hunt was on. “He was the only killer who understood how to use the semicolon,” Breslin later pointed out.

Breslin, Hamill, Baker: three names everyone on deadlines should be required to study. Who would have ever thought that documentaries about old journalists — and new ones, like those in Showtime’s “The Fourth Estate” — would be the vehicles to teach a new generation of digital reporters how it must be done.

Perhaps new dogs can learn old tricks.

“Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists” is scheduled to premiere on HBO on Monday.

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Insiders: HuffPost Layoffs Hit 20 Employees Throughout Editorial

James Woods Celebrates BuzzFeed, HuffPost Layoffs: ‘Victories for Real Journalism’

Alyssa Milano: In Trump’s America It’s Not Enough To Not Be a Racist – We Must Be Anti-Racism (Commentary)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Last week, a group of boys engaged with a Native American man beating a tribal drum. The exchange was caught on video. And watching that video, each of us saw what we wanted to see. Because the divisions in this country are so deep they’re fossilized.

Still, some things in that video cannot be disputed–no matter what angle or how extended the cut is. These boys, who attend a religious school, were there on a school trip protesting against a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. Several of these boys were wearing red MAGA hats, a hat that has become synonymous with white nationalism and racism. Several were doing a “tomahawk chop.” Several were laughing.

When I saw that video, I saw boys flaunting their entitlement and displaying toxic masculinity. It seemed to me like they were reflecting the white nationalism and racism that the hats on their heads have come to represent.

Also Read: Alyssa Milano Calls for Accountability, Rehabilitation ‘Protocol’ Amid John Lasseter Backlash

I sent out a tweet that read, “The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.” Right-wing pundits and anonymous trolls alike screamed for my head–literally and figuratively. My husband received death threats on his cell phone. Many demanded an apology.

Here’s the thing: I was right.

So, I won’t apologize to these boys. Or anyone who wears that hat. But I will thank them. I will thank them for lighting a fire underneath the conversation about systemic racism and misogyny in this country and the role President Donald Trump has had in cultivating it and making it acceptable.

Trump comes by his white nationalism honestly. Maybe even genetically. In 1927 his father Fred Trump was arrested along with six other men after a Klan parade in Jamaica, New York, aimed at keeping Catholic immigrants out of America. While the younger Trump denies his father was ever there, arrest records are clear, and a news report of the time reported that all seven men arrested were “berobed.” It appears irrefutable that the father of the President of the United States was in the Ku Klux Klan.

Fred Trump’s racist practices in his residential real estate holdings caused iconic American songwriter Woody Guthrie to write about the “color line” that “Old Man Trump” brought into the neighborhood. And by the time the President took over management of the business, multiple lawsuits were filed against it for racial bias in housing.

Also Read: Woody Guthrie Wrote a Poem Calling Donald Trump’s Dad a Racist – Here It Is

And by the time he ran for President, Trump bleated themes that would have appealed to those same Klan marchers who were arrested with his father in 1927: Build a wall to keep immigrants out. Ban Muslim immigrants. America first.

Make America Great Again.

David Duke endorsed him (which Trump initially refused to disavow). Racists flocked to his rallies. And they proudly put on the red hats.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. I’m saying that everyone who proudly wears the red hat identifies with an ideology of white supremacy and misogyny. Everyone who proudly wears those hats gives a tacit endorsement for the hatred and the violence we’ve seen these past few years.

When the Unite the Right chanted “Jews will not replace us,” the Red Hats were there.

When young children were being torn from their families at the border and forced to represent themselves in immigration court, the Red Hats were there.

When Muslims were banned from coming to live in this country, the Red Hats were there.

When there was a white lives matter rally, the Red Hats were there.

When black protestors were assaulted at a Trump rally, the Red Hats were there.

When the Proud Boys teamed up with Neo Nazis, the Red Hats were there.

When a terrorist mailed pipe bombs to prominent political leaders and activists, many of whom were Jewish, the Red Hats were there.

And when a boys school sent a group of students to protest against a women’s right to bodily autonomy, the Red Hats were there.

This isn’t like wearing the hat of a sports team you love. These hats symbolize hate. They signal to others an embrace of policies of discrimination, oppression and exclusion.

The Red Hats are demanding an apology from me for a tweet that compares red hats to white hoods. And maybe it isn’t the same. After all, years ago, racists like Fred Trump put on the hood to hide. There is no hiding with the Red Hats. Only pride.

Still, you know what? I am sorry. I’m sorry for the decades and decades of oppression and abuses people of color have faced in this country. I’m sorry that as part of a privileged white majority we did not stop this Administration from happening. I’m sorry to those who have suffered at the hands of the Red Hats and the policies their leadership implements. See, I’m not apologizing to the Red Hats. I’m apologizing for them.

Part of making amends with our history is making sure it doesn’t repeat itself. I will not be silent. I will not be intimidated. Everywhere these hateful acts occur, everywhere I see a Red Hat stop a person of color from thriving, everywhere I see a Red Hat get between a woman and her body, a person needing asylum and the safety we can offer, a child and her parents–I’ll be there. I’ll be loud. And I know I’m not alone.

Sorry not sorry.

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I believe animals in film bring a sense of reality to the scene. They make us more conscious about the actions and decisions of our heroes.
There’s a beautiful scene in “Panic in Needle Park,” when Al Pacino and Kitty Winn play addict…

Muslims in Hollywood: Making the Moment a Movement (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

By now, most in the industry will have heard about “Green Book” screenwriter Nick Vallelonga’s tweet and its subsequent retraction. Vallelonga apologized for a 2015 tweet in which he shared the false narrative that American Muslims were seen cheering on 9/11, a claim that has been debunked repeatedly.

Just a few years ago, there would have been no apology; there would have been no public shaming for perpetuating an Islamophobic urban legend. But Hollywood seems to be moving in a new direction. As belated as Vallelonga’s apology was, in an odd way, it represents progress.

Watching the 76th annual Golden Globes last week reinforced a feeling that the current state of the industry is not just a Hollywood moment, but an actual movement towards more diversity. From the red carpet arrivals to the awards themselves, we saw the representation of communities that just a few short years ago were mostly invisible.

Also Read: ‘Green Book’ Writer Apologizes for 2015 Anti-Muslim 9/11 Tweet: ‘I Will Do Better’

In 2017, we were so proud to see Mahershala Ali (pictured) become the first American Muslim to win an Oscar (for “Moonlight”), and a week ago, he became a two-time Golden Globe winner for “Green Book.” Not to mention this past Sunday night’s win at the Critic’s Choice Awards. We have no doubt that Ali’s name will be called when the Oscar nominees are announced on Jan. 22nd.

Here at the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)’s Hollywood Bureau, we want to make sure that this movement includes more American Muslim creatives and we continue moving the industry in a more inclusive direction.

The last three years have seen an influx of Muslim talent — both in front of and behind the camera — at major network and film studios, leading to more authentic characters and portrayals of our experience. Legendary show runner Dick Wolf’s new drama FBI features a Muslim lead character, portrayed by Muslim actor, Zeeko Zaki.

Comedian Hasan Minaj’s meteoric rise — from “The Daily Show” to his Netflix special to his acclaimed new series “Patriot Act” — has shown an appetite for perspectives not traditionally seen on television, including those of a son of Indian Muslim immigrants.

Also Read: NY Times Media Critic Blasts ‘Netflix’s Supine Compliance’ in Pulling ‘Patriot Act’ Episode in Saudi Arabia

After years of lobbying by Azita Ghanizada’s MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition (MAAC), SAG-AFTRA now has a MENA (Middle East and North African) category under its producers’ theatrical contract, the first new diversity category in 37 years. Even a mainstream show like The CW’s “Roswell,” which premiered this week, has a Muslim woman, Carina Adly Mackenzie, taking the helm as showrunner.

I believe that this current trend towards diversity and inclusion is not a fleeting moment but a movement, as it has been for other underrepresented communities. It would be easy to see any success that we’ve had as a reaction to our current political climate, but that would make our community the outlier amongst other underrepresented groups that now are more of a mainstay in media. The blockbuster success of shows like “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat,” and movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Black Panther,” have proven that diverse casts and cultural perspectives do not relegate a project to niche status — they can actually add up to ratings and box office gold.

Audiences are hungry for stories that reflect their communities. Despite what some will still say, even white viewers are tired of seeing the same old characters and stories, whether they look like them or not. The industry must continue to provide opportunities for diverse voices (including Muslim voices) to be heard. The previously mentioned success stories illustrate how large the current audiences are for this content, and those audiences will only grow as the demographics of this nation become less and less homogeneous. In short, diverse content is simply good business.

At MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau, we’re making sure that Muslim content creators can hone their craft with our screenwriter labs, but for this to be a movement, the industry must provide opportunities for their voices to be heard. There is a plethora of great content from Muslim creators that is finally being produced, such as Maysoon Zayed’s “Can Can” being optioned by ABC, and Farhan Arshad’s “Amerikhans,” which will be developed by CBS and produced by Imagine Entertainment.

While there have been great strides in representation, of the myriad diversity studies focused on the entertainment industry, very few — if any — of those have focused specifically on Muslims. We don’t need hard numbers to know how vilified Muslims have been since the inception of the industry, but we do need studies to better understand where we are now. As we move forward in this moment, we need to know where we are starting from.

The film industry creates art and entertainment, but it is still governed by the basic economic law of supply and demand. The world is shifting and we are at a tipping point where what has always worked in the past will not continue to be viable. As demand continues to grow for diverse and inclusive content, industry decision makers will have no choice but to adapt and provide what viewers are asking for.

I personally have no illusions that this will happen overnight, as change is always a process, not a destination. But when we reach a point of true inclusion for Muslims in Hollywood, it will have been worth the work and challenges.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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Why Moviegoing Matters More Than Ever in the Trump Era (Guest Blog)

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With the 91st Academy Awards upon us, the time feels right to recognize the crucial role that movies have played in our lives, particularly in troubled times.

The first decade of the Oscars brought both the Great Depression and the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. This was no coincidence. During that bleak period in America, millions would skip a meal and spend their last dime to sit in the dark and be transported to a saner, safer, happier place.

Movies have served as an escape and a refuge ever since. The best of them can also inspire and motivate us. And we desperately could use some inspiration right now.

As this New Year began, a headline in The New Yorker posed the stark question: “Is Optimism Dead in the Trump Era?” The piece went on to note that a combination of factors is undermining that “clean slate” feeling we usually experience in January: the government shutdown, trade tensions, a volatile stock market and the never-ending flow of divisive rhetoric flowing from the White House.

Also Read: 2018 Domestic Box Office Finishes With Record $11.85 Billion

Overall, our nation seems polarized, unmoored and adrift. And we still don’t know what’s in that Mueller report.

In the dark, cynical age of Trump, we need positive, illuminating films more than ever. They served as vital therapy to a hurting nation ninety years ago, and can perform the same function now.

Beyond just entertaining us, in uncertain times great movies remind us of fundamental values that may get lost in all the commotion but that time and again have seen us through. Qualities that sound almost quaint when you name them, like integrity, courage and compassion.

From our first bedtime story, we’re taught about heroes. Our need for them never really goes away. And when authentic heroes are missing from our lives — whether at home, school or work, whether in the halls of Congress or the Oval Office — movies provide them. These onscreen heroes tend to be real people like ourselves, people we relate to. By communing with them, we rediscover the best in ourselves and perhaps glimpse a brighter future.

Also Read: Inside Black Filmmakers’ Record $1.5 Billion Year at the Box Office, From ‘Black Panther’ to ‘First Purge’

Happily, these cinematic paragons never die. Think of Gary Cooper in “High Noon.” Henry Fonda in “12 Angry Men,” Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” These familiar characters are like old, reliable friends, offering support and solace whenever we need it.

Today, our onscreen heroes are no longer just principled white men. True to life, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They can be young (Elsie Fisher in “Eighth Grade”), old (Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years”), gay (Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”) or transgender (Daniela Vega in “A Fantastic Woman”).

We may see the best or worst of ourselves in them. Regardless, we care about them, because like us, they are trying to make their way in a complex, unpredictable, often unforgiving world.

The films these characters populate may require a bit more of our focus and attention, but they offer rich rewards in return. They entertain and enlighten. They make us feel smarter for having watched them. And they stay with us; we wake up thinking about them.

Also Read: Did Andy Griffith Pave the Way for Donald Trump? (Guest Blog)

Our best movies both reflect their time and transcend it. Sometimes (spoiler alert!) movies even predict the future. Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd,” released more than 60 years ago, seems positively prescient today, with Andy Griffith’s ruthless Lonesome Rhodes rising to power by manipulating a gullible TV audience he secretly has contempt for.

Movies also bring history alive, providing an immediacy no other medium can match. It’s one thing to read about Watergate, quite another to experience it with a screening of Alan J. Pakula’s “All the President’s Men” or Steven Spielberg’s “The Post.” You likely followed the hunt for Osama bin Laden in the news, but watching Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” actually takes you there.

It’s not just about older films, of course. As hard as it is to make a movie, much less a great one, new “instant” classics get released each and every year. Movies big and small, domestic and foreign, narrative and documentary.

Also Read: 11 Best Documentaries of 2018, From ‘Minding the Gap’ to ‘Monrovia, Indiana’ (Photos)

This year alone, we have a bumper crop, starting with the triumphant “Black Panther,” a movie that signals a greater consciousness of diversity and racial inclusion in the industry, while demonstrating that a superhero film can be not only exciting, but also intelligent and distinctive.

Then there’s the not-so-small miracle of “A Star Is Born,” where first-time director Bradley Cooper manages to make a story filmed four times before bracingly new. Meanwhile Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographical “Roma” gives us a master class in evocative filmmaking, in gorgeous black-and-white no less.

While the industry still needs more female directors and studio executives, movies built around female characters are on the rise — among them, the fabulous “Twentieth Century Women,” “Hidden Figures,” “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “My Happy Family” and “On the Basis of Sex.”

The movies we turn to for inspiration or evasion need not be serious affairs. After all, what better tonic for troubled times than laughter? Comedies soothe and reassure us. They make us laugh at — and with — ourselves. Nothing could be healthier.

Though I treasure the wit and style of old screwball comedies like “My Man Godfrey” and “Bringing Up Baby,” more recent releases like “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Superbad,” “Bridesmaids” and “The Big Sick” remind us that smart cinematic comedy — which provides a much-needed diversion from the dramas of the day — is alive and well.

Also Read: 11 Best Movies of 2018, From ‘Paddington 2’ to ‘Eighth Grade’ (Photos)

Old or new, all these titles are worthy of repeat viewings — especially if your faith in a just world has been torpedoed by (choose one) the government shutdown, the border wall or this week’s latest political fiasco. Fifteen years ago, I got to interview director Robert Altman at Stamford’s Avon Theatre. Right before we went on stage, he passed on some valuable wisdom. “It’s always better to see a great movie again than an average one the first time,” he told me. “Because even though the movie hasn’t changed, you have, and you always see something new.”

Amid all the debate on how technology is transforming our lives, one indisputable benefit is our ability to access so much quality content on-demand. We can go back and watch the movies we’ve loved whenever we choose to, an advance the industry pioneers who attended that first Oscar ceremony could never have imagined.

Great movies also generate stimulating discussion and debate, one reason they’re best experienced as a group. Over the years, I’ve hosted countless movie screenings and interviews with directors and actors at a variety of venues. There’s always electricity in the air at such events. And bearing out Robert Altman’s insight, people are actually surprised at how much an older movie they’ve seen before can affect them. Beyond this, we all share a fascination with how the film got made and why it still works.

As an exhibitor, I believe that theaters remain the best way to see films. Not only is the experience of sitting in a quiet, unlit screening arena immersive, but somehow a film’s impact is augmented when experienced with an audience. It also creates community, which is in itself both reassuring and necessary. And if there ever was a time when we needed community, it is now. (Movie theaters as brick-and-mortar envoys of peace and good will? I’ll take it!)

Grim prognostications about the future of movie theaters abounded at the end of 2017. Box office revenue was down 2 percent from the prior year, particularly disconcerting since both the population and ticket prices rise every year. The number of tickets sold dropped 6 percent, the lowest level of movie tickets sold in nearly a quarter century.

Also Read: Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres Sold to Cohen Media Group

Then 2018 brought a comeback, with domestic box office revenue rising an astonishing 8 percent. Several factors were at play, including better movies that people wanted to see and, I maintain, a profound need for distraction and downright escape from the news of the day.

Will movie theaters ultimately survive? The current consensus seems to be yes, yet the “Netflix effect” is undeniable. Streaming is not only convenient, but gives consumers greater control over the experience of watching films. It is, undeniably, the future.

Recent Netflix titles like “Roma,” “Private Life,” “Mudbound,” “The Kindergarten Teacher,” and “Sunday’s Illness” should make movie lovers optimistic about what’s to come.

Every year, the run-up to the Oscars gives us the chance to celebrate the power and infinite variety of cinema. We watch past Oscar winners, and catch up on current nominees we may have missed. We honor The Best.

On Sunday, February 24, during the Academy Awards broadcast, we will have even more reason to do so, as the powerful and motivating films of 2018 provide the emotional sustenance we need to get through this dispiriting moment in our country’s history. Through the stories they tell and the heroes they present, we take strength in our shared humanity once more, and regain that most precious commodity: hope.

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5 Things Every Indie Film Director Can Learn From Her Art Department (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Long before I made my first feature, this month’s “All These Small Moments,” I worked in the art department on such films as “Indignation,” “Precious” and “The Fighter.”

My first art department job was on the movie “Beer League” starring Artie Lange. I got the job because a production designer I know, Kelly McGehee, asked me if I knew any art department coordinators. I had no idea what the job entailed but that never stopped me before. I told her I was available to do it, and I was able to get the producer to write a letter to the union to approve me.

Working on the look of a film has given me a fresh perspective on the filmmaking process as I’ve begun to write and direct my own projects. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned in the trenches.

Also Read: Molly Ringwald, Brian d’Arcy James Drama ‘All These Small Moments’ Acquired by Orion Classics

1. The location may not be exactly what you had in mind… get over it.

I had a scene in my film “All These Small Moments” in which the father, after being shunned from the home, has a disastrous time trying to take his kids out to dinner. They convince him to come back with them for eggplant parm leftovers.

The younger son was supposed to lean a plate of food out the window to his dad, who was supposed to eat his food alone in the yard, as he watched through the window as his family enjoyed life without him.

As much as we tried, we weren’t able to find this type of backyard/window set up. I’m sure it exists, but we didn’t have the time or money to find it. Of course I was discouraged but then, my production designer Meredith Lippincott and I started to put our heads together and began to start sentences with “What if…”

We ended up finding a brownstone with a sort of metal platform with stairs leading down to the ground. We added a few potted plants, and some patio furniture to make it feel more lived in, and from there I was able to re-stage the scene, which ended up being much better than what I had originally conceived.

Also Read: 5 Things Every Indie Filmmaker Should Know: Beware of Crowdfunding and Free Tickets for Grandma (Guest Blog)

2. They won’t see it if you don’t show it.

One day soon, you’ll be on the set of your big-budget film and your AD will ask, “What are we gonna see?” And you’ll respond, “Everything, we’re going 360 degrees on this bitch.”

But until then, you will most likely be working on a smaller scale and your options for locations will be limited. The best thing you can do to help your art department, and in turn your producers, is be strategic with your shots.

If you plan ahead and tech-scout, you can discuss what direction you are going to shoot in. Then the art department will only need to dress a portion of the room. You win and your producers win.

Along those same lines, if a space is too big or you need to imply there is an additional room that actually isn’t there, you can opt for a wall or door plug, respectively. This is basically a flat that you can paint or wallpaper to match the rest of the room, to make it appear that it’s where the room ends. If you need a door, you can build a door into the flat and, voila!, you have a two-bedroom apartment.

This may sound expensive but plywood is not pricey and you can buy a door (or a sink, a toilet or window) from various recycle centers like Big Reuse that are very entertainment-industry friendly.

Also Read: Indie Filmmaker Spills the Beans: How I Raised $150K for My 1st Movie and Never Saw a Dime Back

3. Window treatments and practical lights are your friends.

You will soon discover that the production designer and DP spend much of their time with their heads together. All departments work very closely but especially these two. If you ever listened in, you’d be guaranteed to hear the word “sheers,” probably more than once.

If soft diffuse lighting is your goal, then window sheers can be a very useful tool to diffuse the daylight and allow the windows to bloom. Translucent white and off-white window treatments allow an additional softening effect and can bring a dreamlike quality to the set.

Conversely, using opaque curtains to limit the sunlight can create more contrast. Either by creating shafts of hard dramatic light or intentionally making it darker on set by keeping the curtains mostly closed. Similarly, the design team can work with the DP to strategically place practical lights (decorative lights) to create a mood on set instead of having to use set lights.

Especially now with everything you can do in post, you don’t need as much heavy rental lights. You can simply get your lighting at West Elm.

Also Read: Indie Distributors So White?: How Lack of Diversity Impacts What Films Get Released

4. If you ask them, people will give you free stuff.

Companies are dying to put their products in your movie. You’ll find that many companies are down with the indie film struggle, from Q-tips to condoms to tomato sauce. All you have to do is ask.

There are several ways to do this. You can reach out to companies directly and tell them why you think partnering would be beneficial. In my film, we worked with some amazing local Brooklyn artisans and showcased beautiful pottery and quilts while saving money.

You could also reach out to a company like Aim Entertainment that represents several clients interested in placing their products in films. They will break down your script and find the right products for individual scenes. You’d be surprised how fast coffee makers, sugar and ketchup add up.

Be forewarned, many times a company will only play ball if you have a big name actor, but I’ve found that if your passion comes through and your ask is clear, people will want to help, even if it’s just for social media posts or some sort of mention in the end credits.

Also Read: How to Be a Hollywood Multihyphenate in 5 Easy Steps (Guest Blog)

5. Everything can be solved with Joe’s Sticky Stuff and a great big ball of tape

If all else fails, a giant tape ball and a bit of Joe’s Sticky Stuff can be your savior. If you want to put framed artwork on the walls but your DP rails against the glare, you can gimbal the painting — hang it at an angle to lessen the glare — by sticking a literal ball of tape under the painting until it angles just enough to lose the glare.

In most locations, you won’t be able to drill holes in the wall or have the money to restore any holes you make. Enter Joe’s Sticky Stuff, which is strong enough to keep artwork from falling down in the middle of a take, but comes off clean without ruining the location’s walls.

And finally, stop asking the art department if they “just found it this way.” They didn’t! They worked their asses off to make it seem that way.

Miller’s “All These Small Moments” opens in theaters on January 17, and on demand and digital HD the following day.

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With Anti-Semitism on the Rise, the Jewishness of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is a Marvel (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If the cast and crew of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” take home a Golden Globe on Sunday, it will obviously be great for Amazon Studios, the performers and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. But at this moment in time, it’s also great for those of the Jewish faith. And perhaps even necessary.

Anti-Semitism is, once again, rearing its ugly head around the world: A gunman killed 11 people and injured seven others during a Shabbat service last October at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The Cleveland Clinic fired a resident after she made anti-Semitic comments on social media and threatened to give Jewish people “the wrong meds.” And according to the New York Times, even the Women’s March movement has become embroiled over accusations of anti-Semitism by some of its organizers.

Hollywood figures have not been immune. Hate-filled graffiti (“Kill All Jews”) forced Ilana Glazer, one of the stars of Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” to cancel a midterm election event at a Brooklyn synagogue.

Also Read: ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’: Zachary Levi on Midge’s Season 2 Finale Choice and What It Means for Benjamin (Video)

Amid all this, much of America is falling in love with a brash Jewish woman who, against all odds, follows her dream of being a standup comic. Midge Maisel is neither your typical Jewish mother (though she has one) nor the Jewish princess she often mocks on stage. (When a heckler tells her to go home and clean her kitchen, Midge responds, “I pay someone to do that.”)

While the series may not explicitly be about religion, and places itself in the late 1950s, Judaism infuses every frame, every hallah-day, every summer in the Catskills. This past season, Midge had to decide between staying at a Yom Kippur dinner with her family or sneaking off to a gig. (She did the gig.) And amazingly, the series not only feels funny and fresh, but #MeToo current. Here, after all, is a sharp-tongued woman finding her self-confidence, staying true to herself and standing up to the men in her life.

The show isn’t the only one to grapple with the Jewish faith. ABC has the ’80s-set sitcom “The Goldbergs” and Amazon provided a televised home to the Pfefferman clan for four seasons on “Transparent.” Yet it’s worth remembering that there was a time when, aside from comedians like Milton Berle, and, later, many Holocaust-themed movies of the week, few networks dared to go too Semitic.

Lynne Littman, who won an Oscar for her 1976 short “Number Our Days,” about a group of elderly Jews living in Venice, Calif., recalled that when she was approached by a network to adapt it into a series one executive asked, “But do they have to be Jewish?”

Also Read: Amy Sherman-Palladino to Receive PGA’s Norman Lear Achievement Award in TV

The same year that “Seinfeld” debuted in 1989, “Anything But Love” creator Wendy Kout said she pitched her pilot to an NBC executive (also Jewish, by the way) who explicitly told her the lead male character couldn’t be named Marty Gold.

“He told me, ‘They [the audience] don’t like us out there,’” Kout recalled. “I told him, ‘Well, maybe if there were more of us in their living rooms, they’d learn to love us.’” She refused to make the change, NBC passed on the series and ABC picked it up right away — with Richard Lewis cast as Marty Gold.

“I have always loved well-crafted, non-stereotypical sitcoms featuring actors from every race and religion,” said Lewis, who later became a regular on Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “When I was co-starring with Ms. [Jamie Lee] Curtis in ‘Anything but Love,’ I never held back my Jewishness. In fact, I figured if King Solomon could marry an Egyptian, I could be allowed to make love to a brilliant, beautiful Gentile.”

Also Read: NY Times Under Fire for Letting Alice Walker Tout ‘Anti-Semitic’ Book Without Comment

Leslie Bennetts, author of the 2016 Joan Rivers biography “Last Girl Before Freeway,” credits “Mrs. Maisel” for a recent uptick in sales — and indeed there are many parallels between the fictional Mrs. Maisel and the barrier-breaking comic who emerged at roughly the same time. “Jewishness was one of [Joan’s] most important formative experiences, and it never left her,” Bennetts said.

There are other signs of hope. This week’s newly crowned Rose Parade Queen, Louise Siskel, shared that she was said proud to be Jewish. “I feel an additional responsibility to myself, and to this tradition, to share that I am bisexual,” she added.

All those Midge Maisels, standing up for themselves in 2019, must be kvelling.

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‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’: Zachary Levi on Midge’s Season 2 Finale Choice and What It Means for Benjamin (Video)

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Why ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino Loves Torturing Actors

NY Times Under Fire for Letting Alice Walker Tout ‘Anti-Semitic’ Book Without Comment

Chris Burrous Appreciation: Why I’ll Miss KTLA’s Citizen Journalist (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

There used to be a term for people like Chris Burrous, the KTLA news anchor and field reporter who died Thursday at age 43. This term pretty much disappeared when everyone with WiFi and a WordPress blog site considered themselves a communicator. The term is “citizen journalist,” and that’s what Chris Burrous was, and that’s why he will be missed.

Chris was the weekend anchor at KTLA, a Los Angeles-based TV station whose morning news became a juggernaut in content delivery. The news was personality driven, and Chris’ place in the motley crew that occupied living rooms, kitchens and cars every morning was a testament to brilliant programming. He was like the kid brother whose role was eclipsed by the more stalwart, fame-familiar older siblings, and that’s the feeling I got about him when I watched him anchor.

Such is the role of the second-string star whose adeptness at communication was on a par with those who rule morning drive.

Also Read: Chris Burrous, KTLA Morning News Anchor, Found Dead at 43

Chris, however, was more than a deliverer of news. During the recent wildfires, I remember watching him through the haze of smoke, his arm around a recently displaced home owner, coaxing information while embers scuttled around him.

He would bond with people — returning military veterans, parents of ill children, immigrants. His microphone, when angled in the direction of his subject, was like a bridge of tolerance and understanding.

When Chris turned back to the camera, and finished with, “Back to you,” the subject of his interview would stay huddled with Chris, not willing yet to break that temporary bond.

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I remember briefly meeting Chris a few years ago. I was in Riverside, sharing a burrito and a plate of stale chips with a friend. Chris was doing a segment called “Burrous Bites,” in which he would promote a local restaurant, often a dive, with an encouraging if not sympathetic review.

“Who is that guy?” asked my friend, nodding in Chris’ direction.

“Dude, that’s Chris Burrous.”

He shrugged, and wiped some congealing salsa from his mustache. “What’s up with the haircut?”

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Chris did present a rather nerdy first impression. The son of a farmer and a NASA engineer, it’s no wonder that there was a duality to Chris. Gushing over some limp taquitos one day, and the next deep into a local tragedy, holding his emotions at bay while reporting dispassionately, professionally… such a loss.

I’m going to miss this guy. When I turn away in disgust at the ungodly news coming from the Oval Office, with the announcement of “Breaking News” heralding a rehash of the same sad story, I would often flip over to KTLA, and see Burrous sitting next to his co-anchor Lynette Romero.

Sam Rubin, the famed entertainment reporter, called Chris “a terrific broadcaster,” and he was.

Rest in peace, Chris. I hear the taquitos in heaven are waiting for your review.

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Is Trump Fatigue Killing Any Movie or Show With a Political Edge? (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Even Murphy Brown has Trump fatigue. In last week’s episode, she threw down her remote and said, “I’m not watching anymore!” Ironic, of course, since millions of viewers stopped, or didn’t start, watching the new edition of CBS’ “Murphy Brown.” Conservatives figured, correctly, that she’d be trashing their leader weekly, and it seems liberals would rather watch Rachel Maddow.

Creative folks are learning they need to tread carefully doing anything dealing with politics these days, even if only tangentially winking at the chaos in the current White House. Despite possible resonance with the Stormy Daniels brouhaha, “The Front Runner,” a movie about the sex scandal that brought down Sen. Gary Hart, was a quick bust at the box office. Despite constant Nixon-Trump comparisons, Charles Ferguson’s documentary “Watergate” made little noise. “The Parisian Woman,” a Broadway show from the man who gave us Netflix’s “House of Cards,” made several poorly veiled references to the Trump administration. It was a dud.

Still, some persist. Among the films selected by Sundance for its festival next month is “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” The title of the documentary is a quote from the current president. Trump idolized the man profiled in the film, which Sundance describes as revealing “how a deeply troubled monster manipulator shaped our current American nightmare.” But will potential audiences want to pay for it, let alone distributors pick it up?

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“It’s risky, especially since the real unfolding drama on cable is more compelling,” says Jonathan Alter, political reporter and co-director of an upcoming HBO documentary called “Breslin and Hamill.” That network suggested (“smartly,” Alter says) that although New York legendary journalists, Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, covered Donald Trump as a businessman, any specific mention of his presidency would be unnecessarily explicit.

As The New Yorker’s humorist Andy Borowitz points out, it’s easier for journalists and even stand-ups to respond to daily events as opposed to creators of long-form entertainment. “Though every now and then,” Borowitz says, “there has been a joyous accident like ‘Wag the Dog,’ where something mirrors contemporary events with eerie perfection.”

Now, all multiplex eyes are on Adam McKay’s “Vice,” which follows the long and winding road of Dick Cheney. In the freewheeling style of writer-director’s “The Big Short,” the $60 million film features Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Steve Carell. The performers are popular with both boomers and millennials, but will the former be reluctant to relive unpleasant times, and the latter interested in a man who largely called the shots behind a president seen as intellectually limited?

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Cheney, in fact, also features in another upcoming Sundance selection called “The Report,” starring Annette Bening as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The film deals with her investigation of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program during the second Bush administration. (Still awake?)

Eyes will also be on a Broadway show coming in the Spring called “Hillary and Clinton.” John Lithgow and Laurie Metcalf may be stellar as the former first couple, but will they be enough to overcome not only Trump, but Clinton, fatigue?

Also Broadway-bound is “Dave,” a musical based on the 1993 film about an “imposter” in the White House. Producer Allison Thomas, who oversaw a successful trial run in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, said she’s aware of the potential challenges in presenting politically themed material. “We do not want to do the ‘SNL’ version,” she says. “The movie was written about Reagan, filmed during Bush, released under Clinton. The lines that got the most laughter and applause in Washington were all from the movie.”

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Bryan Cranston is single-handedly turning the theatrical version of “Network” — based on the 1976 film — into Broadway’s toughest ticket to get. But the truth is, while the original film now seems remarkably prescient (TV show begets a man who taps into public anger), the play has lost much of its satirical bite and plays more like a preachy parable about the dangers of television.

Dangerous or not, it is television that has arguably been best able to navigate merging the Trump era with political history. A&E’s recent documentary “The Clinton Affair” was well received, largely because we all wanted to hear Monica Lewinsky’s side of the story. The Kiefer Sutherland series “Designated Survivor” has been picked up by Netflix, and its upcoming Season 3 will deal with that TV president’s election campaign, fake news and all. What those shows, wisely, do not do is pretend there is a buffoon currently occupying the White House.

Perhaps the safest way to dramatically show what is — or is not — happening in today’s White House is through unfiltered written history. In Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest book, “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” she speaks about the empathy of past presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, who once blamed “a very large part of the rancor of political and social strife” on the fact that different subsets of the population “are so cut off from each other that neither appreciates the others’ passions, prejudices and point of view.”

Not a word about you-know-who, but we get it.

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How New AI Technology Is Revolutionizing TV Viewing (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Live TV, traditional cable channels, streaming services, YouTube, Instagram stories. Today’s consumers have a staggering number of ways to consume video content — and new services seem to hit the market in real time. What’s more, the types of content available are wildly diverse, ranging from reliable blockbuster dramas (“Game of Thrones,” anyone?) to quirky cake-decorating how-to videos.

Just this month, Disney revealed details about its new streaming service, which will debut a live-action “Star Wars” series. Another new service, Quibi, is a Hollywood-meets-Silicon Valley collaboration led by entertainment and digital veterans Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman that will offer quit-hit, big-budget content catering to mobile users. And consider that on Netflix alone, categories are no longer limited to familiar favorites like Comedy, Action and Horror; they now also include uber-niche genres like Understated Courtroom Movies.

Wherever — or however — viewers get their video content and whatever they choose to watch, one thing is clear: We’re at a pivotal moment in the industry.

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This sea change may bring some confusion for viewers, as they face an ever-growing avalanche of options. But as a veteran in the technology and media business, I see a host of exciting possibilities ahead — including the chance to shape video-entertainment viewing for the next generation of consumers.

The technologies that industry leaders will bring to bear, along with the business models we are evolving right now, will be essential to guiding viewers through an increasingly fragmented but rich media landscape. With the right tools, we can help consumers navigate an avalanche of content and find the TV, movies, and other videos they care about most, whenever they want them. To that end, Tivo is currently pioneering an interface that will aggregate live TV, linear cable content and streaming video in one guide.

As the overall paradigm for video viewing shifts and more platforms and content creators enter the market, data, media, social and technology companies are all jumping into the game. For example, AI is now being used to tailor recommendations to individual viewers. As one primary tool for helping consumers surface personalized content, AI helps refine the recommendation engine by using metadata to track customer preferences.

Also Read: How Artificial Intelligence Might Change the Way Hollywood Tells Stories

So, a viewer who faithfully watches “This Is Us” might see similar family dramas like “Parenthood” pop up in her queue. This rapidly evolving technology is only getting more refined, expanding from curation toward using information to determine the types of content creators should consider.

Would a “Law & Order” die-hard who also likes Bruce Willis movies want to see the actor in a cop or courtroom drama? Those are the types of questions AI can surface — and address. In a future scenario, AI might even provide the information to tailor the ending of certain shows to particular viewers. The content and viewing guide possibilities are mind-boggling. And they’re in the works.

Also Read: Taryn Southern on Being First to Use Artificial Intelligence to Make Album: ‘Sky Is the Limit’

While it’s thrilling to consider the new frontier of video viewing, several technological and business-model challenges remain. These include:

  • All of these great new content sources have disparate and at least seemingly incompatible business models. What is the incentive, for example, for Disney to offer its content over Amazon Prime or through a cable network?
  • Even if viewers can access Netflix over their cable service, for example, it’s still a subscription program. If a customer is not subscribed, they could perhaps see all the titles but not view the content.

Despite these obstacles, I believe that interface technology is a powerful force to change business models, especially when doing so unlocks amazing content — the way Google worked to transform the internet. Current and emerging technology is already revolutionizing the TV viewing experience, ushering in an exciting new era for the industry and consumers alike.

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When Will Washington Catch Up to Hollywood’s Vision of Women in Power?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Powerful political women are becoming more common on our screens.

Robin Wright is playing the president on “House of Cards,” Elizabeth Marvel’s character sits in the Oval on “Homeland,” and on CBS’ “Madam Secretary,” Téa Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord is planning her move from Secretary of State to the White House. Selina Meyer may have lost the Presidency on “Veep” in Season 6, but she’s back on the presidential campaign trial in Season 7.

America is not there yet, but Hollywood may be moving it closer. The popularity of these story lines, combined with celebrities willing to tell their #MeToo stories and create the #TimesUp movement, has infiltrated the public zeitgeist and arguably left a mark on the midterm elections.

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Over 100 female politicos will soon be pouring into Congress. Future stars in this unusually diverse, youthful and winning class will include Katie Hill, Sharice Davids, Elissa Slotkin, Mikie Sherrill and others.

They will be watched closely. Needless to say, it was not always thus.

We think back to the 1940s, for example, when there were fewer than a handful of political women to watch. Yet, even when they were surrounded by teeming testosterone, two women, in particular, drew attention, albeit not always for the right reasons.

Clare Boothe Luce and Helen Gahagan Douglas were glamorous and mediagenic, and happened to be married to famous men. Luce, wife of media magnate Henry, was a Republican from Connecticut, and Douglas, wed to the movie star Melvyn Douglas, was a progressive from California.

The two actually enjoyed each other’s company, but the press corps had little interest in that. Reporters tried constantly to create a Congressional “catfight,” no matter how many times the charismatic pair crossed the aisle.

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Maybe the press was confusing Luce and Douglas with the gossipy gang of Luce’s 1936 play, (and subsequent star-studded film) “The Women.” As for Douglas, despite her obsession with issues like women’s health care, and prices at the supermarket, press conferences included piercing questions about her dress and hat size. Her “friendship” with LBJ was more than hinted at.

Both women were generally perceived as dilettantes, serving in one kind of “house” until the hubbies came back from the war. In fact, Luce was an accomplished writer, and Douglas had been an international opera singer and star on Broadway. (With top billing over Melvyn when they met on a show.)

Luce went on to become the first female ambassador to a major world power (Italy), and Douglas to enter the 1950 race for U.S. Senate against her California colleague, Richard Nixon. He announced his candidacy by noting, “My opponent is a woman” and pledged, “There will be no name-calling, no smears, no misrepresentation in this campaign.”

Then, of course, Nixon began his incessant accusations that Douglas was too close to Communism, “pink right down to her underwear.” Among other contrasts to the elections just completed, think of what that color meant then, versus what the pink pussy hats and pink wave represented this time around.

As for similarities? Yes, that was the time of McCarthyism, with fear, fury and divisiveness being engendered in high places. Well, caravans and collusion are instilling many of the same emotions.

We can only imagine what those two lonely, lovely congresswomen would have thought of a time when so many women would be entering their House. They would surely have applauded the current group, which comes in all colors, is involved with a multitude of local issues, includes many who served in the military, and are balancing careers with families.

If journalists would dare ask them some of the questions asked in the ’40s, they’d be thrown out of the newsroom. (Or should be.)

Though that hasn’t stopped some pundits from already cloaking their misogyny in snide fashion commentary. On November 15, one male reporter for the Washington Examiner tweeted, “that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles,” along with a photo from behind of newly elected Bronx congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a tailored suit ensemble. That tweet has since been deleted.

As Vox’s Liz Plank sharply pointed out, in a response to the Examiner reporter, “Would you call a male member of congress a boy?”

Like their predecessors, Luce and Douglas, this new class of women entering Congress will be watched closely — from their political moves to their sartorial choices. Fortunately, they will be surrounded by many other women doing the same thing for the first time. They may not always be on the same side, but we predict debates, not catfights, and maybe even the real-life versions of our current reel-life leaders.

‘Watergate’ Director on Why We Need to Revisit the Saga of a Rogue President (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

So what does Oscar-winning documentary maker Charles Ferguson know…and why does he think we should know it?

There are many who may be wondering why Ferguson has not only chosen to re-tell the entire Watergate story — from the 1972 break-in at Democatic National Committee headquarters to President Richard Nixon’s resignation two years later — but to ask viewers to sit for four hours through his account.

That’s how long “Watergate” plays in a movie theater, which it did briefly to qualify for a possible Oscar nomination. Beginning this weekend, it will play over separate installments on the History Channel. Ferguson explains that when he looked back over the last 46 years, “I found it amazing that no one had ever done a really comprehensive telling of what can only be called a true thriller.”

Also Read: ‘Watergate’ Director Says John McCain Used His Film to Send a Message About Trump

Now, especially with the subtitle “How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President,” the plays like a warning. As one critic wrote, after seeing the film at the Telluride Film Festival, “the parallels between Watergate and Trumpocalypse are so boggling, they preclude any other reason for making the film now.”

Ferguson said that Trump hadn’t even declared his candidacy when he started collecting materials. Still, he concedes that his approach began to change as the new administration emerged: “Suddenly, it became much more grave.”

“This documentary is more vital now than ever,” says former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who sat on the House Judiciary Committee that passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon over his involvement in the break-in. “It shows that our country was able to recapture our democracy in the face of a president who put himself above the law.”

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Ferguson interviewed most of the surviving players in the scandal, except for a few who turned him down, notably Nixon campaign lawyer Donald Segretti and secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

Many of the principals have passed on, of course, but his talking heads include John Dean, Sen. Lowell Weicker, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and numerous prosecutors who were involved.

A master documentarian who won the Academy Award for 2010’s “Inside Job” about the financial meltdown, Ferguson strategized on who to ask — and when. “I usually do the less famous ones first, who often have great stories,” he explains. “So when I go to the really key ones, they realize I already have a lot of stuff and am not going to go away.”

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While boomers still recall a medley of the greatest moments of the scandal, younger generations know only that it introduced “gate” into our lexicon. Ferguson is already showing the film at universities, where he asks students to guess how many Watergate figures they think went to jail. The guess is usually zero.

“It blows their minds when I tell them that 41 people did,” he says, pointing out the cynicism already steeped in young minds.

“I don’t think my students have any idea of what was happening beyond a vague awareness,” adds historian and USC professor Richard Reeves. “‘All the President’s Men’ is as close as they come to history.”

Ferguson’s “Watergate” may have initially seemed like a remake, but it turns out to be a moment to remember what went wrong and why, how the “cures” turned out to be temporary and, of course, how it may all be happening again.

You can listen to this “Shoot This Now” podcast interview with “Watergate” director Charles Ferguson on Apple or right here:

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Sally Field and Jane Fonda, Rebels and Role Models for #MeToo Generation (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The stories of two women we have lived with for decades are arriving in the midst of the #Metoo movement. They once seemed the epitome of strong, brave role models. But we now get fuller pictures, filled with self-doubts and men who loved them but also demeaned them and left them seeking more respect. And ultimately, independence.

Sally Field’s memoir has just been released, welcomed with positive reviews. At the same time, a two-hour documentary on the life (or lives) of Jane Fonda has premiered on HBO.

Yet more accolades for the actresses, who have never worked together but are good friends. Small wonder, as the parallels between their histories are uncanny. They are women we have admired for their work, their longevity and their willingness to stretch. Now, after we have watched, and read, their painfully honest stories, they earn our sympathy as well.

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A good part of Field’s book, “In Pieces,” deals with sexual abuse by her stepfather. Fonda’s story is colored by her father’s limited emotional ability. Between the two, they have had five divorces and other broken relationships. They were often as accomplished as their mates, but always made to feel subservient. Though there was one man who, arguably, saved them both, and paved the way for their two-time Oscar-winning careers.

That would be Lee Strasberg, who famously ran The Actors Studio. His storied technique was about using the traumas in your life to embellish the characters you portray. When Field showed up at the Studio, she had just completed a successful three-season run as “The Flying Nun.” (Which she did against her will. Among other things, she was made to fly onto the stage at the Golden Globes.)

Strasberg asked why she — who was working regularly, unlike most his students — was there. She explained she was ready to learn to act, and she became one of his most devoted and praised followers.

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Fonda was doing superficial dizzy parts as a very young woman when she knocked on Strasberg’s door and asked if she could give his classes a try. She hid in the back of the studio for months before finally tackling a scene. The master teacher told her she had real talent and those words proved the necessary encouragement.

Nevertheless, both women dealt with lifelong personal insecurities. They struggled on the physical front. Field ate emotionally, went up and down, while Fonda purged and binged and almost starved for decades. They both juggled careers with motherhood and were left with recurring regrets. “I wanted my daughter to know why I wasn’t a better parent…I get so sad,” says Fonda in the documentary. “I cannot fool myself into thinking that I have been a perfect parent,” writes Field.

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For whatever reason, they spent most of their lives feeling they weren’t good enough. “If I’m not perfect, no one can love me,” was Fonda’s mantra for much of her life. Field was mocked for her “You like me!” Oscar speech. But reading the book, those words become more understandable.

The women were clearly influenced by the men in their lives but both Field’s book and the Fonda film end with the stars’ each trying to come to terms with misunderstood mothers. Fonda was never told that hers had committed suicide, later learning the news in a magazine. Only recently did she discover that “my mother was the life of the party” (until her bipolar disorder kicked in) — and that helped Fonda immensely. “The defining moment of Jane’s life was the death of her mother,” says Paula Weinstein, the actress’ best friend.

Field finally confronted her mother about the abuse she suffered, and learned she had known about some of it. Yet, the actress writes, “She was my devoted, perfectly imperfect mother. I loved her profoundly and I will miss her every day of my life.”

Also Read: How Jane Fonda Explains ‘Hanoi Jane’ Photo: ‘Regret to My Dying Day’

Field and Fonda’s careers have been close to exemplary, often brave. Field fought past her sitcom persona. She returned to the medium for stellar works like “Sybil” (for which she won an Emmy) and much later, the series “Brothers and Sisters” (for which she also won an Emmy). She did a few Broadway shows and has just announced she’ll be performing in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” in London next year.

Fonda moved past sexy and silly material with “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and many more of substance to follow. Several years ago, she also did a Broadway run. And she is now in the funny and resonant Netflix series, “Grace and Frankie.”

Resonant is a key word here. Sally Field and Jane Fonda seemed to have all the things many of us dream of, and yet by baring all, as now-single women, they have somehow become entirely relatable. #ThemToo.

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Hey, Jimmy Kimmel: It’s Cruel to Book Wild Animals on Your Show (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Late-night talk shows are known for gimmicks. From reading “mean tweets” to “celebrity karaoke,” producers do whatever it takes to keep viewers tuning in. There is no excuse, however, for any television show to force wild animals to be on stage.

When exhibitors work the talk-show circuit with animals, the displaced and often frightened animals must be crated for extended periods, transported, handled excessively and displayed in front of clapping, shouting crowds. When not “working,” animals are often kept in close confinement, deprived of exercise, enrichment and companionship.

Many of the animals displayed on stage are babies, and removing them from their mothers and subjecting them to the rigors of transport and the stress of an unfamiliar environment speaks volumes about these exhibitors’ desire for the spotlight.

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Take Dave Salmoni’s appearance earlier this month on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” where visibly distressed animals were taken on stage. Alligators, ostriches, a giraffe, a hyrax and an alpaca — many of whom would still be with their mothers in the wild — were handled by Salmoni, Kimmel and guest Keegan-Michael Key under bright lights on a noisy set.

One of the alligators tried to bite Salmoni. The two young ostriches attempted to escape after clearly being startled. The young giraffe was bucking, resisting, and kicking. Because of their unique long necks and legs, transporting giraffes is extremely difficult and can cause them life-threatening injuries. These animals were making their discomfort known loud and clear.

In a previous appearance on Kimmel’s show, a baby coatimundi was so scared that she frantically clawed Salmoni’s chest and back, leaving him bleeding on stage. He also sustained injuries after being attacked by a lion during a live show for children at a theme park in Toronto.

After the incident, he said, “[U]ntil you see a cat who you think loves you try to kill you–until you see that for yourself — you wouldn’t believe it.” Yet, he has no qualms about bringing wild and dangerous animals into close public contact.

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Nearly all the exhibitors who rent out animals in Hollywood have deplorable records on animal care. A recent PETA investigation into animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited documented chronic neglect, including sick and injured animals who went without adequate veterinary care and were kept in filthy enclosures. Food deprivation was used as a training technique.

Hollywood animal exhibitor Sidney Yost — who made headlines for years for beating animals with sticks and feeding them contaminated food — was slapped with $30,000 in fines for more than 40 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Portraying wild animals as props to pet, play with and profit from helps to drive the exotic animal trade. Kimmel repeatedly asked, “How much are these?” and”Can these be kept as pets?”

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Wildlife entertainers treat animals as if they were little more than stuffed toys and downplay their extremely specialized needs. Because exotics are sold at flea markets, auctions, in swap sheets and through the internet, it’s easy for people to buy on a whim. Unbelievably, there is no federal law prohibiting private ownership of wild or dangerous animals. Countless people have been seriously maimed or killed by their own exotic “pets,” and most animals who finally snap end up paying with their lives.

A 10-year-old North Carolina boy was killed by his uncle’s 400-pound “pet” tiger after being dragged under the fence and into the animal’s cage. A Connecticut woman lost her hands, nose, lips, eyelids, and vision when she was attacked by her friend’s “pet” chimpanzee. A 10-year-old Minnesota boy was attacked by a lion and a tiger while visiting a private collection of “pet” exotic cats. The boy’s spinal cord was severed, leaving him quadriplegic. Although these animals were all behaving naturally, they were all killed.

Jimmy Kimmel is by all accounts a nice guy, and there’s no reason to believe that any of these late-night hosts have malevolent intent when they book animal shows. But he and all the other talk show hosts can save lives by refusing to invite wildlife pimps to appear on their shows.

Cruelty to animals is not entertaining.

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