Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 News Items

HuffPo to Jimmy Fallon: Stay On the Plantation, Or Else

The Huffington Post wants to pretend the “Tonight Show” audience “Doesn’t enjoy” Jimmy Fallon’s joke about Hillary Clinton’s masculine wardrobe. But if you watch the video, that’s obviously not the case. In reality, it is one of those great jokes that at first catches the audience off guard and then causes the audience to laugh because they can’t believe he said it. Johnny Carson lived for these moments.

Using the tone of a mother lovingly scolding a child, HuffPo gives Fallon an unmistakable warning that next time they will be questioning whether or not he’s a sexist.

Bill Maher can call Sarah Palin a “c*nt” and “a stupid tw*t” and remain a cherished member of the Huffington Post’s front page contributors. But make fun of Hillary’s pantsuits and your career could be over like *that*.

 

‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ Director to Helm Remake of … ‘Ben-Hur’

Variety reports that Paramount and MGM are teaming up to produce a big-budget remake of “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.” Slotted to direct is Timur Bekmambetov, whose only notable credits are the 2008 Angelina Jolie actioner “Wanted” and the 2012 dud “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

“Wanted” is at least watchable, though just barely. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a spirit-crushing, CGI’d bore.

What in heaven’s name do MGM and Paramount plan to do to this story? Bekmambetov has shown nothing that in any way indicates he’s a promising director on the rise. “Wanted” and “Vampire Hunter” are not “Bound” or “Hard Eight” — films that showed the moth was waiting to become a butterfly — not by a long shot. Bekmambetov is a low-rent Paul W. S. Anderson.

What are they going to do to “Ben-Hur?” Turn it into a direct-to-video level “300?”

 

Carmela Goes to Therapy: Greatest Television Scene Ever

About halfway through the third season of “The Sopranos,” creator David Chase drops this scene. It is not only the best scene in what may be the greatest television show in history, it is the greatest scene of any television show.

For two-and-a-half spectacular seasons, Chase never intruded into the fictional subculture he created populated with mobsters, therapists too fascinated with them to speak the truth (Dr. Melfi), and a handful of civilians willing to look the other way if they’re allowed to play tourist (Artie) or benefit from the criminality without getting their hands dirty (Carmela’s parents).

Chase has also made us, the audience, complicit. Though repelled by the violence, the racism, the exploitation of women, by this point there is no question we have become just as fascinated as Melfi; watching from afar, sympathizing with these characters, and even vicariously living through them.

Then Chase shakes us out of our stupor with undiluted moral clarity:

What makes the scene “the best ever” is a number of things: the writing, the performances (especially Edie Falco – who would win that year’s Emmy)… It is also, though, the timing.

This is a major turning point in the series that is about to get much darker, richer, and eventually demand we turn against characters for whom we had been willing to rationalize an affection and sympathy.

I’m currently on my fourth run-through of “The Sopranos,” and as many times as I’ve seen that scene, it never fails to put me on the floor.

A lot of people complained that “The Sopranos” lost a step or two in its later seasons. I disagree. It’s a series meant to be consumed whole, not weekly or season by season.

This scene is the moral center of the series, telling Carmela and us two basic truths: Tony cannot be redeemed through the small and sometimes charming charities and kindnesses that will always be a part of his complicated character … and one thing we can never say is that, “you haven’t been told.”

 

Technicality Ends Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Elmo Puppeteer

Three accusers came forward claiming Kevin Clash, the voice behind “Sesame Street’s” Elmo for almost three decades, sexually abused them as minors. Clash denied the charges but was moved to resign after multiple accusers came forward. Clash won a dismissal based on the statute of limitations. The lawsuits were filed too late. In New York you have six years or three years after you turn 21.

The allegations against Clash are in sharp contrast to those against Bryan Singer. Three accusers versus one, so far.

Jeff Herman, a Florida-based sexual abuse attorney, is involved in both cases.

 

Netflix to Create Its First Spanish-Language Original Series

Netflix is determined to take over the world. And they just might do it. Which means that Netflix will eventually want to be as obnoxiously rich and all-powerful as the other Big Media multinationals.

That’s why it is so good to see Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, and AOL jumping on board. I suspect there will be dozens of others, maybe even individual outlets like Major League Baseball and Fox News.

 

Quick Hits

Bronze Statue of Roger Ebert to Be Unveiled in Chicago

Time Warner Cable Loses 34,000 Subscribers

20 Million Apple TV Devices Sold

Our 10 Favorite Dark Side Reveals in Movies

Inside the Bizarre Oprah, Stedman, and Gayle Triangle

 

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