The Golden Globes, Hugh Laurie and Meryl Streep Two Heroes (OpEd)

Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes

Last night, purely by accident, I watched the vast majority of The Golden Globes. I rarely watch awards ceremonies anymore. They invariably annoy, what with enforced time schedules that force recipients to rush acceptance thank you speeches and hosts that are not all that funny.

(There are exceptions, however, Chris Rock is and always will be “rolling in the floor” funny. And yes, I am referring to Mr. Fallon and his flat impression of Chris…)

Nothing really stood out, until Hugh Laurie made his oh so dry joke about being on the last ever broadcast of The Golden Globes. He too, like Meryl Streep, mentioned the foreign press, referred to the president-elect and the strained relationship between Hollywood and the orange man who will be sworn in on January 20th.

Laurie’s remarks were on point.  Sadly his dry English wit was lost on a few folks. Laurie is a very funny chap who made his point about Donald Trump via humor.

Meryl Streep, however, did not ape Jimmy Fallon or Hugh Laurie she got straight to the point.  Zeroing in on the most detestable thing about this country’s soon-to-be new leader, she let Trump have it with both barrels and did not even need to mention his name.

The reaction, which everyone knew was coming,  was swift and childish.  Trump’s followers reacted by saying that “overpaid celebrities” should stay out of politics.

All this would be fine and good if they practiced what they preach.  Ms. Streep is a very talented performer, hardly anyone in the trade can master accents like Meryl or completely inhabit a part like she can. Her celebrity status is from years of hard graft, learning her trade and art while fine tuning her performance continuously.

Trump’s only real talent seems to be the ability to disappear when his employees need paying. Although it could be said that his other talents include going bankrupt, lying and tweeting out his nether region…

Granted, Trump is himself something of a  celebrity or “star.” Reality television made the man a household name and reality TV, and the networks who continue to produce this tripe, can also be held accountable for grooming the American public into believing that these odious people actually have some sort of validity.

Regardless of the responses from Trump and his deluded, and disturbing, supporters, both Meryl Streep and Hugh Laurie were two of the heroes who took last night’s opportunity to take a closer look at the new president elect without the racist, misogynistic, and avaricious glasses that his proponents wear.

The disturbing news that Trump is aping Adopt Hitler’s first moves is not the first sign that this individual cares nothing for the country he is about to lead. As Meryl Streep pointed out, the man is a bully who is  surrounding himself with likeminded people.

While Ms. Streep pointed out the vileness  of what Trump did to a reporter during his march to the white house, she neglected to mention the fate of bullies in general. They may well bluster and use their power to run roughshod over those less fortunate, in this case the constituents of the United States, but most of these disgusting power mad animals do, eventually, get their comeuppance.

Dictators, something that Trump clearly aspires to be, do not fare well in the long run.

Hitler, supposedly, committed suicide, Mussolini was hung by his own people in a petrol station, Gaddafi hid in a culvert until he was found and killed, Saddam Hussein was led up a ladder and hung. Others, like Pol Pot died of “mysterious” circumstances.

Certainly there are those dictators who manage to rule for long periods of time, with little to no recriminations,  but these occur in countries where the average educational level is less than that of America.  Although, disturbingly, the US has opted to elect the snake oil salesman rather than run him out of town on a rail…

Getting back to the Golden Globes and the award’s ceremony; La La Land was the big winner of the evening. A modern musical set in Hollywood. It seems ironic that a fantasy was the real winner on the last “proper” awards program before the inauguration. (The People’s Choice Awards is a bit of a “Johnny come lately” having started in 1974, while the “Globes” have been around since 1944.)

Hollywood stars have always been the voice of conscience in this country. Somewhat ironically, however, this time the stars are warning of an evil that is not just in America’s backyard but one that will be running the country all too soon.

Supporters of Trump may be celebrating but unless they are members of the monied and privileged classes they will soon learn that there is little to celebrate.

It also bears mentioning that, via the auspices of supporting a free press, Ms. Streep took the journalistic community to task as well. Reminding the news crowd that their job is to present the truth, not to “normalize” misbehavior or to ignore the wrongs and injustices committed by those in power.

May God grant that they listen and then tell the truth.

 

Rowdy Roddy Piper Dead at 61

Rowdy Roddy Piper RIP
Roderick George Toombs, aka Rowdy Roddy Piper has died from cardiac arrest age 61. TMZ.com reported that the wrestler, actor, husband and father of four passed on in his Hollywood home while sleeping. Piper’s representative confirmed the news of Rowdy’s death and told TMZ that he was devastated.

Piper had a long career in the WWE, he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2005, and he was one of 50 “villains” to be included in that hallowed hall of distinction. He also worked as an actor and has 123 credits under his name on IMDb, appearing in such cult hits as Hell Comes to Frogtown and the iconic They Live. Both films were released in 1988 and it is the latter film that immediately comes to mind when thinking of the pro wrestler.

The bank scene in They Live, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick a** and I’m all out of bubblegum” is considered iconic. The line, spoken by his character Nada in the John Carpenter film is said before he begins shooting down aliens in the crowded bank, was easily the best thing Piper ever said either in or out of the ring. Piper specialized in being brash as part of his act and he was bigger than life.

While he was well known for the WWE, Piper will also be remembered for the two 1988 films, especially his Sam Hell from Hell Comes to Frogtown although it is a toss up between his other role the same year as to which one is a fan favorite. Rowdy Roddy Piper is survived by his wife Kitty and his four children. In 2006, Piper had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma but family members have told the press that Roddy was free of the disease at his death.

RIP to Rowdy Roddy Piper, WWE legend and that guy in the bank. As a sign of respect and remembrance here is the clip from the bubblegum scene in They Live.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Say I Do in Fourth of July Wedding

Jackie Burke and Michael Kelso MIla and Ashton That '70s Show
At long last, the romance that started on That ’70s Show between their two characters has ended in a romantic Fourth of July weekend wedding for Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis as they both said “I do,” in a secret ceremony. The two performers played on-again-off-again couple Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart in the series, which starred Topher Grace and Laura Prepon as the show’s other romantically attached couple.

According to Kunis, now Mrs. Kutcher, her first “real” kiss was with the Michael Kelso actor on the popular show about a group of friends in Wisconsin. While several sites are reporting that the two have married over the weekend, their reps have neither confirmed or denied the marriage reports.

Both actors were attached to other people for a number of years. 31 year-old Mila dated Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin for years and 37 year-old Kutcher was married to Bruce Willis’ ex Demi Moore whom he divorced in December 2013. Ashton and Kunis became an item in 2012 and began dating seriously in 2013.

The newlyweds got engaged in February 2014 and already have a child, 9 month-old Wyatt Isabelle and the two were rumored to be married earlier this year. Mila has been quoted as saying that many people have movie star crushes that she was lucky enough to have married hers.

This “tying of the knot” is Mila’s first and Ashton’s second.

While the rumor has not been officially confirmed, the news that they married over the holiday weekend is pretty exciting stuff for their fans. Their love story has been a sort of Hollywood fairy tale with a magical ending for both. So at long last Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart are married, under the guise of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.

Congratulations you two crazy kids.

The Trouble with Writing Memoirs

CD cover for The Moon's a Balloon
I remember reading David Niven’s account of issues he faced while writing his “Hollywood” autobiographies. For those who have no idea what I’m on about, the two titles were Bring on the Empty Horses and The Moon’s a Balloon, a compilation of tales, both his own and borrowed, about the Hollywood of old and his time in it. In an interview with someone, he tells of sitting in his garden and being distracted by literally everything. “Oh look! There’s a jet flying overhead…” was just one great example given by the author.

Sitting down and recollecting my own memories of working for Her Majesty’s Prison Service as, to the best of my knowledge, the only “Yank” in the service and definitely the only one with Native American heritage, has been an uphill battle. Not necessarily the remembering, that part is pretty easy, but the documenting has been a bit problematic. Sitting in front of my laptop does not automatically prompt instantaneous recall for inclusion. At night however, just as sleep begins to claim my non-cooperative brain, funny and memorable events from my time at Warren Hill flood in.

From the lad who decided to escape on the day of his release to the day the prison “lost” a youngster who found the perfect place to hide all prance across my mind as I drift off.

I will not lie, there are other events that are not so pleasant, the day I got so angry at the female governor that it seemed a heart attack was imminent. The time “The Hill” lost two wings, both of which had been my work place for years until moving to another portion of the prison, because 7 lads rioted. Almost losing a good workmate and valued colleague in the same riot.

HMP/YOI Warren Hill Front Gate

The year we lost three friends from the staff to the grim reaper within a time span of mere months still haunts me, as I know it does all those who worked on The Hill. This was the one time that I actually cried in front of a prisoner. While explaining that a popular member of staff “will not be returning,” the lad, a “lifer” got angry. “You’re lying Guv!” Choking back the overwhelming sadness I looked the young prisoner in the face and said, “No lad, I’m not.” Tears streaming, I turned and left his cell.

It is not, however, the “bad” memories that make writing all this down so difficult. It is the reliving of all these events, good and bad. The funny recollections make me laugh just as hard now as then and the annoying ones still make me angry. I never intended to work for the prison service. Once I joined, though, it was something that I enjoyed and becoming, self admittedly, addicted to the adrenaline rush that working with juvenile offenders entails. The people whom I worked with, again good and bad, all made the job what it was and the lads we looked after insured there were no dull days at work.

During my interview, one of the then governors who was conducting the Q&A stopped in the middle of the process and said, “I hope you have a good sense of humour. These lads will make you laugh.”

He was right.

However hard the documentation of those days continues to be (Oh look! There’s another hummingbird!) I realize that if given the choice again, I would go back to work for Her Majesty’s Prison Service all over again. Only this time I would opt to not have the heart attack which resulted in my ill health retirement.

6 April 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

The Cabin in the Woods-Gate? Joss Whedon Sued

Somewhat amazingly, one of the most original thinkers in Hollywood, aka Joss Whedon, is being sued, along with Lionsgate and Drew Goddard, by an author who claims that the 2012 film Cabin in the Woods has infringed upon his own 2006 work. Cabin in the Woods-Gate begins with Facebook being deluged with links back to journalistic coverage of this alleged “crime.”

As one Facebook comment noted, on the special features portion of the DVD for said film, both Joss and Drew talk about writing the screenplay back in 1998. For those with math issues, that is eight years before the published work by Peter Gallagher.

The book, titled “The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines” has a plot where five young friends, two girls and three guys, go to a “remote” cabin and find that a killer, who murdered the buildings previous inhabitants, is stalking and killing this new group. Later in the book, it turns out that the whole thing is being filmed as “entertainment.”

No mention of old, terrible “Gods,” the end of the world…or weed. The self-published book was done in two 7,500 “runs” which the author flogged on the street in Venice, Santa Monica, etc. Gallagher states that he finds portions of the book “identical” with the film and he is asking for $10 million in damages.

Unfortunately for Gallagher, if Goddard and Whedon did actually write the initial screenplay in 1998 (and can prove it) then he has no legal leg to stand on. Despite his claim of registering the tale with the Writers Guild of America in 2007, the predated screenplay makes his charges of “copyright infringement” null and void.

Another comment on the social platform mentions, “why did Gallagher wait so long to file?” Good question.

Surely, these charges should have been made at the time of the film’s release. If, as the author stated, the similarities were so obvious, why take so long to lay the claim? Could this delay be down to no one else feeling there was a case?

In “The Wrap” the actual complaint states that the “plots, characters, sequence of events, stories, dialogue and incidents are virtually identical.” If the intent of these claims was to have fans rushing out to read the book to see for themselves Gallagher may have to point out a few of the more specific “similarities.”

In any other case of alleged “infringement” the author stands a good chance of being, at the very least, heard. In this case time and evidence may stop the lawsuit in its legal tracks. Certainly the idea of Goddard and Whedon working on the screenplay to Cabin in the Woods back in the days of ‘Buffy’ and Angel has a sort of logistical sense.

Both men have worked together for years on both shows and, if memory serves, on other Whedon projects as well, i.e. “Dollhouse” and “Firefly,” although I could be wrong. Joss had the services of many a talented writer on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel,” and all are a very talented lot.

This could be a case of wishful thinking, and I believe that is indeed the case, that will fade quietly into the background. Chronology will settle this claim and it is doubtful that anyone with real intelligence will think for one moment that Joss Whedon copied anyone else’s work when he and Drew Goddard penned “The Cabin in the Woods.” In fact, in my own review of the film, I stated that it felt like a big screen adaptation of Wolfram and Hart from Angel, which came out much earlier than 2006.

Just saying.

15 April 2015