By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Full disclosure: I’m writing this post pre-Grammys.

The pundits are already salivating over potential political diatribes from the podium, however. Via Page Six:

As such, Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich has a message for those who will take the stage on Sunday’s ceremony: Bring it on.

Ehrlich has no reservations about political messages or anti-President Trump statements flying during CBS’ three and a half hour Grammycast. Artists expressing passionate opinions about real-life issues are the stuff of memorable moments, he said.

“One of the tenets of our show is artistic freedom, and over the years we’ve shown we do believe in it,” Ehrlich told Variety. “How many more times do we need to hear ‘I’d like to thank my publicist, my agent, my wife and kids.’ The great acceptance speeches are ones that have a point of view and are more personal.”

For some reason, celebrities seem to believe that their opinion on immigration or trade policy matters more than yours and therefore you need to hear what they have to say.  So instead of graciously accepting the award, be it the Oscar, the Grammy, the Tony, whatever, too often they launch off into a tirade against whatever hot-button issue or politician is currently at the forefront. Right now, it’s all anti-Trump.

Meryl Streep, for example, lashed out at Donald Trump at The Golden Globes earlier this month and again this weekend in accepting an award from the Human Rights Campaign.  Meryl Streep is a brilliant, stunning actress, and while it’s true that she is also a human being with opinions just like the rest of us, is the Golden Globe podium the right place for that tirade?

Should celebrities just keep their mouths shut? Should they act like one-dimensional people without opinions and just act (or sing, or dance, or write…)?

For the most part, people don’t really care what celebrities think, or at least people aren’t particularly influenced by what celebrities think. It might make us feel good, or vindicated, when our favorite entertainer hold the same opinion that we do. But the opposite also holds true that if an artist holds a different opinion than us, and is perhaps very zealous in promoting their opposing opinion, we may be turned off of their work and regard them differently. I can think of a couple of entertainers that I simply will not support any more because of their outspoken, less than gracious, opinions. Not to say that’s the right way to respond, but it is in fact my response. And that is my right just as it is their right to speak out.

In the end, we are all human, celebrities included. They have just as much right to an opinion as anyone else, but there was once a time in the golden days of Hollywood when the studios saw their actors as “property” and expected them to reflect the image of that studio. It was their job to act, not to promote their own social issues and woe to the celeb that stepped out of line. Even today there are certain professions were political silence is mandatory.  Things have changed in Hollywood and many actors own their own studios or produce their own films, so they can behave and speak however they choose. Those golden days are long gone in more ways than one.

I, for one, rather miss them.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

If Hillary Clinton opened up a hamburger joint, would you eat there? If George Soros wrote a book and went on tour, would you buy his book and wait in line at Barnes & Noble to have him sign it? Did you run out and buy a Dixie Chicks album after they attacked George W. Bush?

Why, then, do conservatives continue to support Hollywood when the vast majority of people in it are pushing a left-wing agenda? Many of them spend more times promoting their political narrative than making movies and television shows. Most of them allow those narratives and agendas to leak through in their performances and movie choices.

As I write this, the Golden Globes are being watched by millions of Americans. A good chunk of those watching are conservatives. This isn’t intended to condemn any of you; I had aspirations to be part of the Hollywood world at one point in my life and even moved to southern California to pursue it. Over the last decade, I watched as the liberal underpinnings of Hollywood emerged into blatant attacks on many of the things that I believe. Recently, the progressive rhetoric has reached a crescendo to the point that they don’t even try to pretend they’re only entertainers. They’ve come out feverishly opposed to the philosophies that make America awesome and in favor of the socialist, lawless, liberal ideology that is leading us towards oblivion.

There are few institutions that are easier to generalize than Hollywood. Save for a handful of brave and outspoken conservatives, the vast majority of actors, directors, and producers are as left-wing as they come. Last year brought more of them out of the political closet as the fear of Donald Trump prompted policy commentary from the strangest places. Today, they are outspoken and angry.

Most of Hollywood is pro-choice. They support the ideas of giving greater rights to members of the LGBTQ community than to average Americans. They want open borders as long as the illegal immigrants aren’t in their neighborhoods. They want total gun control except for their bodyguards. They oppose school choice while their children go to private schools.

They support Obama, oppose Trump, and they’re going to do everything they can to subvert his presidency.

As conservatives, we should not support them. We shouldn’t buy tickets to their movies. We shouldn’t bump up the ratings on their television shows. We shouldn’t be fawning over them at awards shows or idolizing them in any way. Like it or not, they have power through influence of their huge audiences. Some of them reach millions of people every day with their ideologies.

It’s hypocritical for us to condemn their politics but support their careers. Every time we buy a ticket to movies written, directed, and performed by liberal activists, we’re giving them money that will be used to promote their agenda. How many of them gave to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and other liberal politicians? Which ones held fundraisers to promote the progressive agenda? We empower them to attack our philosophies.

We need to make better entertainment choices. As much as I’d love to call for a boycott, it’s unrealistic. As conservatives, we can choose to watch movies by those who aren’t fighting us. They don’t even have to be outspoken conservatives as long as they’re not militant liberals. There’s a reason that Mark Wahlberg seems to be in every patriotic retelling of real events from Lone Survivor to Patriots Day. Clint Eastwood directs a movie every year or two. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could be the next Ronald Reagan. Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington might not speak too much about politics, but they’re open about their faith.

We have choices. We don’t have to kiss the ring of the Hollywood elites or risk boring ourselves with Fox News all night. If we spend our entertainment dollars supporting people and stories that align more closely with conservative philosophies, Hollywood will eventually take the hint. Even if they don’t, at least we can feel better knowing we’re not supporting the engines of our own demise.

We’ve written about the issues of Hollywood pedophilia quite a bit around here

Now Elijah Wood has spoken up and here is the coverage we are seeing

wood

Remember Wood was the star of arguably one of the most popular film franchises of the last 20 years and the press this is getting is practically zero.

I wonder if they can interview him for a sequel to this movie

Given where our national debate is these days I suspect pretty soon he will be called a bigot for even objecting to this stuff?

If Wood was talking about the Catholic Church instead of Hollywood would there be any other story in media?

Thursday this graced the top of the Drudge Report:

oscars

As indicated by the image Al Sharpton did, well what Al Sharpton does…

Sharpton criticized the industry for having a “fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies” and compared success in Tinseltown to climbing the Rocky Mountains.

“Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets. And this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscars. Yet again, deserving black actors and directors were ignored by the Academy — which reinforces the fact that there are few if any blacks with real power in Hollywood,” Sharpton said in a statement.

Now I freely admit that I’ve seen none of he nominated pictures and the only one I’m hoping to see is Creed because of Stallone and the Rocky series and I don’t know if Reverend (when was he ordained a minister anyways) Sharpton did but I do have one question for the good reverend and one for those in the Black Community who agree with him.

“Which of the current nominees was unworthy of an Oscar nomination and which one would you remove to replace with a nominee of a color acceptable to you?

I think we need to know who Al Sharpton thinks wasn’t good enough.

But the 2nd question goes to the people of color in the film community:

With the complete understanding that the nomination for an oscar can generate cash and open doors and how important it is, if Reverend Sharpton got his way and forced Hollywood to make sure there was an acceptable quantity of black nominees do you really want to be considered the Token Black who only got his nomination for his race?

I ask this because if the Reverend Al gets his way that’s how people will think of you within your industry and every single person, studio who fails to get a nomination in the future will point to you in private and call you Token.

Are you willing to do this to yourself and every other black film maker who follows you just so Al Sharpton can shake down the studios?

Would you to this to your race, your children and yourself? If the answer is yes then be aware that any time you speak of “Black Pride” in the future be aware that at least two people know you’re lying.

Me and you.

Even the most disengaged person in the country knows that for all the talk of artistry Hollywood is pretty much a PR machine.

Hollywood pushes all kinds of movies:  fantasy, action, comedies, kid flicks.  There are all kinds of actors, A list stars, character actors, unknowns, You see war, peace love and lessons, CGI and live action but when it comes down to it, all the special effects, big names, and locations are about creating an image and selling that image to you.

That’s the job of Hollywood, That’s PR.

The movie industry pulls out all the stops to do this.  According to Ad week the motion picture industry as a whole spent 3.2 billion in 2012 on advertising their product from TV to the Internet and everywhere else.

Looking at a single studio in 2013 20th Century Fox (or just Fox if you prefer) released 13 movies.  Some of them are pictures were big box office successes that you likely heard of ( The Wolverine, the Croods.)  Some of them you might not have seen at the movies but know the franchises.  (A Good Day to Die Hard) some that you likely never heard of or caught on cable (the Counselor) and some you might have heard of because of the sheer volumes of ads but you gave it a miss because it looked kinda lame ( The secret life of Walter Mitty).

The movies Fox made featured stars that are household names:  Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Bruce Willis, Rosie Perez, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck.  You see them on posters; you’ve watched them on the morning show, on daytime talk on late night shows pitching their pictures.  You’ve seen the ads on TV, and the trailers and posters at the movie theaters when they came out and on Cable as you browse though the on demand menus.

In 2013 Fox spent $303,000,000 to promote those 13 movies.  While some of that money filled seats and some did not, it’s almost a given that even if you didn’t go to see those pictures if I rattled off their names you would have likely heard of them and even if you didn’t remember much about the movies you would know the stars.

Bottom line all that Hollywood PR money made its mark in your memory.

 

And that oddly enough brings us to the EPA and a report put out by a group called Open the Books.  As indicated by the name, they are all about transparency in government spending.

Their latest report details spending by the EPA from 2000 to 2014 and there are a lot of things in that report that really jump out at you.

Since 2000 they have given out double in grants than the entire Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has in total assets. (p1)

Their 2015 budget this year is higher than the budgets of 8 states (p1)

A full 1/3 of EPA employees (over 10,000) position make over $100 a year.  (p31)

But what really jumped out at me was the spending on PR:

198 ‘Public Affairs’ employees (FY2012) were employed by EPA. Since 2007, EPA spent over $141,495,571 in salaries and another $1.5 million in performance bonuses. The EPA also spent $15,093,088 with outside public relations consultants to further buttress PR. ‘Public Affairs’ ranked 16th most paid salary title at EPA since FY2007.

  

So between outside PR firms and internal “public affairs” employees that comes to over $150 million dollars over 8 years on PR.

To put that in perspective that’s more than the production budgets of the 2013 Fox releases , Runner Runner, A Good day to die hard and The counselor combined. Those three pictures featured Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Rosie Perez and Brad Pitt.

So given those facts three things immediately leap to mind.

How can the EPA spend 19.7 million a year on PR without, you know, actually promoting anything?

When Hollywood promotes a movie you see the posters everywhere, you see the stars on TV, you hear them on radio, you are bombarded with information to the point where even if you want to forget about a movie or a star, you can’t.  It pops into your head.

I defy anyone to come up with anything the EPA has promoted that you have heard of?  The only thing you have likely heard at all concerning the EPA concerning that nasty mine spill that turned a river orange.  That’s something  the EPA is doing their best to make you forget.

If the EPA is spending millions promoting something they’re doing don’t you think someone in the country might have heard of it?

If we aren’t the target of that 19.7 million a year pr WHO IS?

Ok if the EPA is spending 19.7 million a year to PR people and they aren’t trying to advertise or promote the EPA to the public and the taxpayer who are they spinning?

You’re talking a group of employees with an average wage of $90K that’s not chicken feed, you are spending the more than hit movies cost.  We know a movie maker is trying to sell their product to the viewing public, exactly who is the EPA spending all this money trying to sell?  Who is the target and what is their goal?

I mean Jem and the Holograms crashed and burned but at least people have heard of it?  What has the EPA done lately other than pollute rivers that we know about?

What is the EPA doing spending millions on PR people anyway?

 Have we run out of sites that need cleaning or inspecting?  Is the air and water so clean , the species so safe and our country so unpolluted that we have the extra to blow on this kind of thing?

I think those are excellent questions, I think it would be really interesting to get the answers.

Don’t you?

I speak to author Mary Claire Kendal at the Catholic Marketing Trade Show

Her twitter page is here, Her web page is here

There is one aspect of the entire Bill Cosby story that sticks out like a sore thumb but seems to me to have gotten very little play.

When comedian Hannibal Buress made his joke about Bill Cosby being a rapist the one reaction that did not exist.

Surprise.

There was very little outrage outside of few friends in the media. And while there were plenty of folks like myself in the new media & general public who were willing to give Cosby the benefit most of the media and hollywood crowd walked on eggs. They didn’t want to risk being called racists for insulting one of the most iconic & historic black actors in history but they didn’t dare embrace Cosby’s denials because plenty of people who KNEW that Cosby’s protestations of innocence couldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

And it’s with that fresh in my mind that I’ve noticed that this film from Amy Berg has gotten very little notice:

Given how explosive such a film may be one might thing that it would get more attention but this film is only being showed in two theaters in the US right now.

Now we’ve talked about this as a trend in the culture wars for some time & in culture in general and in hollywood.

But I suspect, much like the Planned Parenthood Story the media will leave Ms. Berg’s film alone as much as possible, not only because so many of the people in hollywood are allies who aren’t to be offend, not only because, unlike the Church scandal the orientation of the attackers will be harder to ignore, but mostly because I suspect the media and their friends in Hollywood either know or believe that if Ms. Berg’s film becomes better known the emphatic denials that it will undoubtedly produce are as vulnerable to scrutiny as Bill Cosby’s were.

You can find out more about this film here.
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Chicago Police camerat
Chicago police camera

By John Ruberry

Much like his obnoxious character Mars Blackmon, director Spike Lee is an annoying presence on the political scene. Now he’s in the middle of a political dispute because his next film will be titled “Chiraq,” which is the nickname the hip-hoppers and yes, some conservative bloggers such as myself use to describe the mayhem on Chicago’s streets, which consists mostly of black-on-black crime–“Chi” for Chicago and “Raq” from Iraq. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it clear that he doesn’t like the title.

All the same, a casting call was held for “Chiraq” yesterday.

As for Lee, his a fervent supporter of Barack Obama, who has made it no secret that he wants to redistribute wealth from the better off to the have-nots, such as the type of people who’ll likely be characters in “Chiraq.”

Lee is quite wealthy–and he used his celebrity muscle to host a $38,500 per person fundraiser at his New York City home for Obama’s reelection campaign.

But like many liberals, Lee has shown himself to be a hypocrite when it comes to his own taxes. Obscured by the naming controversy is that the director’s production company, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has requested a $3 million tax break to from the state film office so he can make “Chiraq” in Chiraq, I mean in Chicago. I’m an Illinois taxpayer and state taxes are too high, which is why the Prairie State has negative population growth, despite a recent cut in the state income tax.

Here’s a better idea, one that Lee should trumpet to his Hollywood pals. Eliminate the need to ask the state film office for tax breaks–just lower the rate for all TV and movie productions. Crony capitalism is one of the reasons Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the fifty states.

But if Lee believes in taxing the rich he can Do The Right Thing and forget about his $3 million tax break for “Chiraq.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Can we just talk about the Oscars for a moment?  I watched the broadcast sporadically; Downton Abbey took precedence and I didn’t want to watch it on delay.

But, Lady Gaga!   Lady Gaga just killed it last night with her Sound of Music medley.  Never having been a Gaga fan (with the exception of You and I) you could have blown me over last night when she came out looking angelic in a long white dress that looked suitable for a high school prom.  She began to sing and I kept waiting for her to rip off her skirt and break into a bizarre rendition of The Lonely Goatherd, but it never happened.  Her performance was just stunning and I was transfixed.

Even better:  Julie Andrews came on stage after the performance and was genuinely appreciative of the tribute, saying it warmed her heart.  Add “Dear Lady Gaga” to the list of things you never thought you’d hear from Julie Andrews.

In this day of AutoTune manufactured celebrities, and with her history of the bizarre, I was amazed.  Color me enlightened.  Here’s the YouTube clip:  it was just beautiful.

As to the rest of the broadcast (what I saw of it), it was more of the same pandering and self-promoting that Hollywood is known for. It was the usual over-blown, over long, self congratulating, liberal mash of pablum.

I only had two dogs in the fight last night:  I’d seen Whiplash (loved it) and Birdman (oddly, I liked it, too).  I haven’t made it to American Sniper yet, but certainly will.

Tara Kyle was there, carrying Chris Kyle’s dog tags in her hand; she was lovely.  A true class act.  Robin Roberts interviewed her on the red carpet and Mrs. Kyle was the epitome of class.  Gracious and kind. American Sniper was snubbed at the Oscars last night, but be honest:  did we really expect better?

And speaking of snubs, did the Academy snub Joan Rivers by leaving her out of the In Memorium segment?  After years of doing the red carpet segment with daughter Melissa, didn’t Joan at least deserve mention?  Some on Twitter last night were saying that Joan wasn’t a member of the Academy, but was Gabriel Garcia Marquez?  The Academy’s statement this morning on the matter:

It reads: “Joan Rivers is among the many worthy artists and filmmakers we were unfortunately unable to feature in the In Memoriam segment of this year’s Oscar show. She is, however, included in our In Memoriam gallery on Oscar.com.”

It was a snub.

One highlight of the night was the acceptance speech by Supporting Actor winner J.K. Simmons in which he said:

And if i may, call your mom. Everybody — i’m told there’s like a billion people or so. Call your mom, call your dad. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them.  Don’t text, don’t e-mail.  Call them on the phone. Tell them you love them and thank them and will be to them for as long as they want to talk to you.

Amen to that.

And for me, between Gaga, Tara Kyle, and J.K. Simmons, those were the only redeeming moments of the Academy Awards.  What an odd trio.

And there ends my deep reflection on the Oscars.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — My 23-year old son and I have begun our Oscar watch.

This is an annual tradition for us that we actually began only a couple of years ago. Each year, after the Golden Globe and Oscar nominations come out, we begin watching all the nominated movies we can squeeze in, starting with the Best Picture nominees and then on down the list.  This has turned in to a really fun tradition but let me just say that there were parts in The Wolf of Wall Street that were really awkward watching with your kid, even if he was 22-years old at the time.  At any rate, I do treasure the time we spend together watching the movies and the hours after discussing each one.

And I know, Hollywood is the liberal devil, but sometimes escapism is actually not a bad thing.

This week we hit our first movie of the season:  Whiplash and so here I offer a sort of brief review (with no spoilers!)

I loved this movie.  I knew I would love the soundtrack:  the story line revolves around a music student working to earn a spot as a drummer in a jazz band at a Julliard-type school in the city.  His idol is Buddy Rich.  So, the soundtrack is amazing.

The theme turns on how far must you drive yourself for success?  To the brink of insanity?  Death?  Is greatness only achieved at great cost?  At what point does one simply quit and back away in the name of self-preservation?  What is the responsibility of a teacher and mentor?  How hard do you push?  Do only the strong survive?  At what price greatness?

J. K. Simmons plays the teacher Terence Fletcher; you may know him from Juno or from Law and Order (he was Dr. Skoda). He’s up for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work in this film while the movie is up for Best Film (among other Oscar nods). Simmons has a great face for this role; it’s all angular and edgy – full of unspoken expression.  This has got to be the role of his lifetime.

Because I don’t want to reveal any secrets — and don’t Google too many reviews because several have spoilers – I will stop here, but don’t go see this movie to relax because it’s intense from beginning to end.  It will pull at a range of emotions and leave you with both questions, answers, and a great beat drumming through your head.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.