-- The Showtime biopic
about Ayn Rand entitled "The Passion of Ayn Rand" may garner yet
more accolades. Helen Mirren, who played Ayn Rand, earlier won the
" Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie " Emmy for her performance.
Now she has been nominated as well for the "Best Actress In A Mini-Series
Or Made For TV Movie" Golden Globe Award. Peter Fonda, who played
Frank O'Connor, has been nominated for the "Best Supporting Actor
In A TV Series, Mini-Series Or Made-For-TV-Movie" Golden Globe.
The awards will be handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
on January 23rd.
-- Meanwhile, Laissez-Faire
Books reports that "The Passion of Ayn Rand" is a finalist in the
"1999 New York Film Festivals Television Programming and Promotion
-- Stung by charges of
censorship, Mexico's state-run film production agency has sold its
majority stake in "Herod's Law," a controversial movie that depicts
corruption within Mexico's ruling party. The film is "reportedly
the first Mexican movie to give an open portrayal of corruption
within the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which
has governed Mexico uninterruptedly for 70 years." The government's
handling of the film became an embarrassment after "director Luis
Estrada charged the state-run Mexican Film Institute, known as Imcine,
had sought to sabotage the movie by preventing its wide release
in Mexican cinemas."
-- I have added a new
video store to "Miss Liberty's Film & TV World," in coordination
with Laissez-Faire Books. The "store" is made up of all the videos
currently carried by LFBooks, with descriptions and links. The John
Stossel collection in particular is unparalleled. You can visit
the store here.
-- According to a press
release from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp, the new film "The
Insider" is a sham. "The Insider" purports to tell the "true story"
of how a former Brown & Williamson employee, turned whistleblower,
was threatened with violence if he wouldn't shut up. According to
the B&W press release, the FBI now says that this whistleblower
and a CBS 60 minutes employee may have faked the threats.
-- The Village Voice
reports that a web site for a low budget Blair-Witch style film,
about a plan by government agents to start a riot, has been shut
down by the FBI, and without a warrant. The ACLU is considering
a suit. For more on this see here.
-- The new documentary
"Waco: A New Revelation" now has an official
web site. This film alleges a variety of government wrongdoing
related to the Waco Massacre, and is a sort of follow-up to "Waco:
The Rules of Engagement." The site for this film is just a starter
site, but it does have information on how to order a video copy
of the film.
-- A few months ago,
I reviewed "Emperor of Hemp," a film about marijuana activist Jack
Herer. This terrific documentary is a wonderful bio of a real friend
to liberty. I just discovered that it's now being carried by some
of the major online video stores at a price far below suggested
retail. The lowest prices I have seen on this film are $14.99 and
$10.49, for slow play and extended play respectively on VHS video,
You can learn more about this documentary here.
-- According to the 11/5/99
edition of USA Today, producer Alan Ruddy is looking for casting
suggestions from the public for his upcoming film version of "Atlas
Shrugged." Ruddy recently announced that he is producing a four-hour
TNT miniseries based on the novel. He says that two female stars
have already been in touch about parts, and funds have also been
offered to assist in the production. "I've had calls from people
of wealth and power all over the world who wanted to get involved
in the financing." A script is due in two months from Susan Black,
who wrote the made-for-TV movies "Married to a Stranger" and "State
-- Another Hollywood
producer in the headlines is Aaron Russo. He recently joined the
Libertarian Party. Russo has produced eight major films, including
"Trading Places," and "Teachers." For the full story, see here.
-- Two films of interest
to libertarians will be released on video this month, and should
soon be available in the major video rental chains. "South Park:
Bigger, Longer and Uncut" (####/***) will be available on 11/23/99.
It's an irreverent comedy with a great anti-censorship, personal
responsibility message. I enjoyed it, but it's not for those easily
offended. "The Castle" (#####/***) will be released on 11/16/99.
Books now has in stock John Stossel's latest documentary
"Is America Number One?" (#####/****) This is an outstanding film
that reveals liberty to be the greatest engine of economic prosperity.
The price of this video is $29.95.
-- Last week, CSPAN aired
a speech by David Thibodeau about his book, "A Place called Waco:
A Survivor's Story." He was one of only twelve survivors of the
fire after the FBI attack on Mt. Carmel in 1994, and had a powerful
story to tell. One of the more interesting things he said was that
Phil Penningroth, who wrote the script for the pro-government Waco
film entitled "In the Line of Duty: Ambush at Waco," has since apologized!
Penningroth now compares himself to (an unwitting) Leni Riefenstahl,
the German filmmaker who created "Triumph of the Will" for Adolf
Hitler. He now says that his film "In The Line Of Duty: Ambush at
Waco" was a propaganda film for the government, though he did not
know that at the time. Thanks again to those of you who joined me
in complaining to Court TV when it recently re-aired this film.
-- The Associated Press
reports that the documentary "Waco: A New Revelation" was previewed
last Wednesday for reporters in advance of a limited theatrical
release. The film alleges a variety of government wrongdoing related
to the Waco Massacre, and is a sort of follow-up to "Waco: The Rules
of Engagement." "Waco: A New Revelation" is expected to be released
by the end of the year.
-- Big, Big News: TNT
is developing Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" as a four-hour miniseries!
Albert S. Ruddy,
who has produced over twenty films, will be executive producer for
the $15-20 million drama. Ruddy has apparently been after the film
rights to "Atlas Shrugged" for a long time. According to Variety,
he tried to buy the rights 25 years ago, but when Rand insisted
on final script approval, he backed away from the deal. His strong
interest is probably a good sign. However, Ruddy's record as a producer
is spotty. On the one hand, he produced the blockbuster Academy
Award winning movie "The Godfather" in 1972, which won "Best Picture."
On the other hand, he's also produced a lot of middling films, including
at least one that Leonard Maltin rated a "bomb."
Susan Black, who wrote
two made-for-TV movies (Married To A Stranger (1997), and State
of Emergency (1994)), will write the screenplay for Atlas. The director
and cast are to be announced "shortly." It's expected that TNT will
likely begin production in summer 2000. No airdate has yet been
This production is long
overdue. In at least one poll, taken by "The Book of The Month Club,"
Americans rated "Atlas Shrugged" as the second most influential
book in their lives after the Bible. Likewise, sales of Atlas are
still strong, now almost half a century since its release.
However, I question the
adequacy of a $15-20 million dollar budget, a modest one by the
standards of today's films, and would also have preferred a more
seasoned screenwriter. We will just have to hope for the best. In
the past, various stars have been rumored as being interested
in some of the key roles (Harrison Ford for Reardan and Sharon Stone
for Dagny), so the film may be helped if some big names step forward.
-- The Libertarian Party
News has reprinted a column from "The Orange County Register," entitled
"Freedom's Flicks: The 20 best libertarian movies of all time."
You can find it here.
-- Want to help increase
the effectiveness of this newsletter? Why not send a friend the
link to "Miss Liberty's Film & TV World, at http://www.missliberty.com.
-- ABC has added a
new John Stossel section to its web site. It includes
"an extensive collection of works produced by Stossel: from video
clips and transcripts of his news specials to an archive of some
of his favorite Web sites." Viewers
are invited to suggest ideas for future Stossel "Give Me a Break"
TV segments. These are short exposes of government outrages. (For
instance, in a recent "Give Me a Break" segment, Stossel reported
that the New London, Conn police department has a policy against
hiring cops with high IQs!)
-- Bob Chitester, of
the Palmer R. Chitester Fund, is preparing to adapt some of John
Stossel's excellent (and often libertarian) documentaries for classroom
application. He is developing accompanying text material as well.
However, he needs help. If you have knowledge of the textbook market
or an interest in helping to get some of these ideas into schools,
please contact him at 1-800-876-8930. You can find more information
about this effort here.
-- TNT will air a "dramatic
new telling" of George Orwell's "Animal Farm." This production seems
to have a lot going for it. It's filmed on location in majestic
Ireland; it features state-of-the-art animatronic technology developed
by Jim Henson's Creature Shop; and it's directed by John Stephenson,
who earlier directed "Babe." Orwell wrote his visionary novel to
describe and forewarn of the corrupting effect on government of
socialism. I am hoping that this theme will also be at least somewhat
communicated here. However, the one advance review I read about
the film criticized it for significantly departing from the novel,
especially with regard to giving it a happier ending. We shall see.
Among the celebrity voices featured are Kelsey Grammer as Snowball;
Ian Holm as Squealer; Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Mollie; Julia Ormond
as Jessie; Pete Postlethwaite as Benjamin; Paul Scofield as Boxer;
Patrick Stewart as Napoleon; and Sir Peter Ustinov as Old Major.
You can find out more about this film from TNT's excellent web
-- The "Harry Browne
Exploratory Committee" is planning to make a thirty-minute TV-segment/
video entitled "The Great Libertarian Offer." This film will show
the problems that government has created and the benefits that freedom
can provide. Per a fund-raising letter I received on the subject,
"The program will be shot by award-winning cinematographer Stephen
Timberlake, whose credits include dozens of feature films, documentaries,
and television shows, and over a hundred political ads and commercials.
Previously, Stephen worked on the media campaigns for presidential
candidates Gary Hart and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt. Perry Willis
has written a powerful script, and Jim Gross has agreed to direct
the show. Jim has over 20 years of experience, both as director
and as an executive in network television." In addition to being
shown on TV, the Browne people plan to distribute tens of thousands
of videos of this film. To make a donation toward production of
this film, contact the "Harry Browne 2000" campaign at 202-478-0794
-- A couple of months
ago, I reviewed the anti-IRS film "The F Zone." (You can still read
the review here.)
The makers of "The F Zone" are now taking orders for video copies,
which will be available on 10/12/99. For more on this film or to
order copies, see here.
-- John Stossel has done
it again! His special entitled "Is America Number One?" which aired
last week on ABC was a terrific piece of TV journalism and made
points dear to the hearts of libertarians. If you missed it, you
can still get a copy on video by calling 1-800-CALLABC, or by visiting
News Store. The price of the video is $29.95 + S&H.
It's important that we
support John Stossel. Happily, that's easy to do. In just 150 seconds,
you can send a message to thank ABC for airing his work (at least
it took me 150 seconds, you may be faster). Just go here,
select "John Stossel Reporting" from the menu, and send your message.
Also, there are a couple
of links at ABC related to the special that may be of interest.
First, there's a bulletin
board where you can participate in an online discussion
of the program. Second, there's a transcript
of an online chat between Stossel and viewers, which followed the
program. And third, there's a transcript
of the program itself.
-- On Friday, Hugh Downs
officially stepped down as co-anchor of ABC's 20/20. He was interviewed
by Barbara Walters, and was given an opportunity to candidly express
some of his more "controversial" views, which as it turned out were
mostly libertarian political positions, including the decriminalization
of marijuana. He didn't push those ideas forward while working at
ABC because, as he put it, "the roof fell on me so hard that I decided
to back off."
-- There's an interesting
article regarding "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" here.
It summarizes some of the responses given by executive producer
Dan Gifford at a recent showing of the film at the California First
-- In case you missed
the Emmys, Helen Mirren won "Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie"
for her role as Ayn Rand in the movie "The Passion of Ayn Rand,"
based on Barbara Branden's book of the same name. A well-deserved
award, I thought. Strangely enough, Mirren was "accidentally slashed
by someone else's trophy when all of the winners gathered on stage
for the show's finale. 'I must be the first person ever to shed
blood for an Emmy,' quipped Mirren. The injury wasn't serious but
did require the application of a small bandage."
-- On Monday (9/13),
Showtime will premier "The Pursuit of Happiness: Smoking, Drinking
and Drugging in the 20th Century," directed by Oscar-Winning Robert
Zemeckis. This documentary is reported to be highly critical of
the War on Drugs.
As Zemeckis said in a
NY Times interview, "One thing that quickly becomes apparent is
that there is no solution to the problem. You can't control what
is basically a personal journey. You can't legislate sobriety."
Zemeckis makes this point and more using a wide variety of sources:
"half-forgotten audiovisual artifacts, on-camera interviews with
numerous historians, former addicts, addiction counselors and other
experts, including a spokesman for Alcoholics Anonymous, an advocate
of medical marijuana use, a libertarian proponent of drug decriminalization,
the author of 'Denial Is Not a River in Egypt' and the radio personality
Dr. Demento, a connoisseur of drug-soaked pop music from Cab Calloway
to Kurt Cobain."
-- The NRA is now making
available on video a fifteen minute informercial/documentary about
the destruction of gun rights in England and Australia. Entitled
"Banned!" this short film includes numerous first-hand interviews
with (former) gun owners, sportsmen, gun collectors, gun makers
and gunshop owners from these two countries. The people interviewed
tell how shocked they were when their guns were suddenly taken away,
something they thought would never really happen; they tell of their
resulting personal loss and sense that their freedom has been compromised;
they tell of the end of their sports, livelihoods, and sense of
safety. And above all they send this message of warning to gun owners
in America: don't let what happened to us happen to you. It's a
short but effective film and would be a good one to share with gun
enthusiasts. At $4.50, it's also cheap. It can be purchased here.
-- An Argentine documentary
about the Argentine government's "Dirty War," in which the government
is estimated to have quietly murdered between 15,000 and 30,000
of its opponents, was released this week. It's called "Garage Olimpo"
and will shortly appear in film festivals in North America.
--The online home base
for this newsletter, "Miss
Liberty's Film & TV World," was chosen by Free-Market.Net
as the "Freedom Home Page of the Week." Many thanks to Free-Market.Net
for this honor and for the consequent spike in my subscriber base!
--The LP of Indiana is
selling videos intended to educate and entertain party members.
The videos include: County Party Organizing (85min); Grabbing the
Ear of the Media (80min); The Libertarian-Christian Connection (55min);
Project One by One: How to Get Noticed in Your Community (55min);
and Dinner with Doug Friedline, Campaign Manager for Jesse Ventura
(80min). Each video is $15, payable to the LP of Indiana. To order,
write: 3601 N. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46205.
--Last week, A&E
aired "IRS Horror Stories," a documentary on the subject of abuses
of power by the IRS. It could have been more hard-hitting, but the
litany of unrepented abuse alone was very damning. It can be purchased
--Along the same lines,
a new independent film is in release attacking the constitutionality
of the income tax. It's called "The F Zone." Paraphrasing the "F
Zone's" plot summary on its web site, "Dennis Smith, a filmmaker,
is financially ruined by a group of IRS agents intent on changing
the tax standards for the entertainment industry. Led by IRS agent
Lothar Gunter, they levy Dennis' accounts forcing him out of business.
Dennis gets help from tax attorney Loren Adams, who has alternative
motives that are driven by circumstances that have led to her own
loathing of the IRS. Loren seeks to convince Dennis to help her
create a film that will question the validity of the federal authority
for taxation -- the Sixteenth Amendment. Dennis' initial reluctance
changes as the pain of Loren's past is revealed. Loren reasons that
by imparting the truth about the Sixteenth Amendment, they can change
the will of the people. Dennis' consent leads to an interesting
and tumultuous climax." The
official web site for the film is here.
--David Nolan brought
to my attention an interesting article by David Horowitz, on the
subject of bipartisan support for TV censorship. It's a disturbing
read. You can find it here.
--The Showtime movie
production of Barbara Branden's authoritative Ayn Rand biography
"The Passion of Ayn Rand" has garnered two Emmy nominations! Helen
Mirren was nominated for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie,
and Peter Fonda was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries
or Movie. The winning Emmys will be announced on September 12th.
--The Academy Award nominated
documentary "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" is now available on
PAL video (the format commonly used outside the U.S.). One vendor
carrying it is Australia's
Siren Entertainment. Also, the web
site for the film has added two new articles from the
Washington Post and the Dallas Observer on the subject of recent
court decisions related to the Waco Massacre.
--And speaking of Waco,
last Wednesday's South Park episode was a terrific attack on the
ATF's actions there.
In this episode, the
ATF surrounds a house where a party is underway, on the grounds
that it thinks a religious cult inside is going to commit mass suicide.
The ATF kills the partygoers as they leave; lies to the press about
it, saying that the partygoers were armed; claims that children
are being held inside; and plays bad music really loud to drive
the partygoers out.
This dialogue between
a reporter covering the incident and the ATF commander is typical:
>ATF Commander: "We
have not had any cooperation with the cult inside the house. They
are refusing to come out and apparently they still plan to commit
>Reporter: "So what
are your plans commander?"
>ATF Commander: "Right
now our plan is to burn the house down. If we set it on fire, they'll
have no choice but to come out."
them on fire sounds a little dangerous, commander."
>ATF Reporter: "It
is, but we can't let them kill themselves."
And then a little later:
me, but what proof do you have that the people inside are religious
>ATF Commander: "We
know what we're doing. We did this all before in Waco."
>Reporter: "Yes, but
you totally screwed up Waco. You killed a bunch of innocent people
and then tried to say they killed themselves."
>ATF Commander: "Look,
you see this [shaking a doll]? Go get it!"
>Reporter runs off
stupidly after the doll, as though easily misled by the ATF.
--Hugh Downs, who co-anchored
ABC's 20/20 for years, and who has often spoken favorably of the
Libertarian Party and libertarian ideas, is reportedly about to
join iNEXTV Corp., a newly formed Internet video network, to develop
online television shows. "Edward Bramson, chief executive of iNEXTV,
said Downs will be involved in iNEXTV's Executive Branch TV, which
will provide coverage of U.S. executive agency meetings and activities,
including White House events, via the Internet -- akin to the C-SPAN
channel's coverage of U.S. congressional and other political events
on cable TV."
--In the 1930's, Ayn
Rand wrote a script for a film to be called "Red Pawn." As Barbara
Branden describes it in her "Passion of Ayn Rand" biography of Rand:
"Red Pawn is a flamboyantly dramatic story, more typical of the
later Ayn Rand than anything she had so far written, about a beautiful
woman who becomes the adored mistress of the commandant of a Soviet
prison for men convicted of political crimes; she becomes his mistress
in order to free her husband who, unknown to the commandant, is
one of his prisoners. It contains, in sharp, abbreviated focus,
the dramatic twists, the plot inventiveness combined with keen philosophical
insight, that were to reach their climax in 'Atlas Shrugged.'"
"Red Pawn" was never
produced. However, it may yet be. Quite by accident I discovered
a reference on the net to the film being "in the works" at Samuel
Goldwyn Films, under the title "Ayn Rand's Red Pawn." I phoned the
studio repeatedly but no one is willing to comment on what exactly
"in the works" means. Nonetheless, everyone there seemed to be familiar
with the title. My guess is that it's in some very early tentative
stage. Perhaps the Academy Award nomination for "Ayn Rand: A Sense
of Life" and the successful release of "The Passion of Ayn Rand"
have paved the way for more Rand films. Stay tuned.
--Last Wednesday's episode
of South Park was an amazingly frank attack on sexual harassment
laws and on frivolous lawsuits generally. As the episode begins,
the South Park kids are getting a lecture in sexual harassment at
school. They soon figure out that sexual harassment is a legal bonanza
and start suing each other over minor insults. As the lawsuits mount,
however, it becomes clear that everyone is getting poorer except
the town lawyer. In the end, the lesson is learned that frivolous
lawsuits are bad, as explained in the closing speech:
"Lawsuits damage our
society. I know it's tempting to make money. But just remember that
that money has to come from somewhere, and usually it ends up hurting
a lot of innocent people."
Even more blunt on the
subject is this exchange between Kyle and his father, the lawyer:
>Lawyer: "You see
Kyle, we live in a liberal democratic society, and Democrats make
sexual harassment laws. These laws tell us what we can and can't
say in the workplace, and what we can and can't do in the workplace."
>Kyle: "Isn't that
>Lawyer: "No, because
we don't call it fascism."
--A new film of possible
interest is "Zone 39." Per the E-online summary: "The film portrays
an Orwellian world devastated by 40 years of war and dominated by
a repressive, all-controlling government. Thanks to the drug Novan,
a lonely soldier, distraught over the death of his pregnant wife,
survives a solitary assignment in the deserted Zone 39. At the same
time, he discovers a deadly cover-up threatening humanity. Although
derivative and often flat in its storytelling, this haunting story
explores the dangers of absolute power." Reviews for this film are
mixed, and may be found here.
and Imagine Entertainment have struck a deal to produce a film about
the life of Playboy creator Hugh Hefner. This could be promising.
A previous documentary about Hefner, entitled "Hugh Hefner, Once
Upon A Time," revealed him to be an entrepreneur of the first order
and a defender of civil liberties. Stay tuned.
--Awhile ago, two readers
of this newsletter indicated to me that Tracy Torme, co-creator
of the SciFi channel program "Sliders," which sometimes has libertarian
themes, is himself a libertarian and voted for Harry Browne (I have
not been able to confirm this). E-Online now reports that Torme
just teamed up with one-time Libertarian Party candidate and radio
shock-jock Howard Stern to produce a cartoon series. Called "Doomsday,"
it's about "a clan forced take to the roads in a souped-up RV in
search of a new home and traditional family values after the world
is fried by a burst of radiation." More on this here.
also reported that following Rosie O'Donnell's public criticism
of Tom Selleck for supporting private gun ownership, Howard Stern
stormed O'Donnell's studio during his live broadcast and demanded
a public debate with her on the issue. Stern said that "he was willing
to debate O'Donnell 'anytime, anywhere' on the issue of gun control,
something he opposes and she adamantly supports."
--Barbara Branden recently
wrote to inform me, regarding the film "Passion of Ayn Rand," that
"apart from showing at Sundance, the movie was also shown at the
Seattle film festival, and in West Hampton. The Los Angeles premiere--at
the Motion Picture Academy on May 20--was a great success, drawing
a much larger audience than is usual at previews, and a very enthusiastic
audience. The amount of publicity the film is receiving, even prior
to its release on May 30, is quite extraordinary--a full page in
Insight (its cover is an enlarged photo of the Ayn Rand stamp),
write-ups in TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly, reviews in all the
major newspapers, and much more."
to condemn private gun ownership and its defenders. The latest attack
comes from Spike Lee, who reportedly said that NRA president Charlton
Heston should be shot, and that he'd like to see the NRA dismantled.
For more on this, see here.
The well-armed Heston reportedly replied "If he wants to come and
take a shot at me, go let him try it." Neither Heston nor Lee have
a listed e-mail address on the web, but you can send snail-mail
comments to: Spike Lee, 124 Dekalb Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn,
NY 11217 or Charlton Heston, 2859 Coldwater Canyon Drive, Beverly
Hills, CA 90210.
--A project is underway
to use some of John Stossel's specials and selected 20/20 pieces
as the core of curriculum units for use in high school and community
college courses. Several of these documentary works question the
ever-expanding role of government. The project's broad purpose is
to instill "enthusiasm among students for liberty and personal responsibility."
Teachers interested in taking advantage of this program and those
interested in donating funds toward it can find more information
about the program here.
--Run, don't walk, to
see "The Castle." This is one of the most libertarian films to be
released in a long time. It's also an entertaining comedy. However,
it's not expected to be in the theaters for long as it's getting
very little advertising support from its owner, Miramax.
Apparently Miramax bought
it on the strength of its popularity at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival,
where it won audience favorite. However, Miramax's attention got
diverted to other films and this one was allowed to sit on the shelf
for one and a half years, despite some very favorable reviews. Now
it's finally being shown, but without much marketing. It's an Australian
film, and it reinforces my generally favorable impression of the
film industry in that country. If you enjoyed "Strictly Ballroom"
or "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert," this is much in the same spirit.
--The Columbine high
school shootings have prompted predictable reactions from Hollywood.
On daytime TV, Rosie O'Donnell reportedly challenged Tom Selleck
to defend his well-known advocacy of private gun ownership. Selleck
replied that gun ownership was constitutionally protected, adding
"What you're really talking about is, 'Are we responsible enough
of a society to be this free?'" Apparently O'Donnell doesn't think
so. For more on this story, see here.
--Along the same line,
in response to the Columbine incident, Sharon Stone just turned
her guns over to the police with much fanfare. Said Stone "Our world
has changed and our children are in danger. I choose to surrender
my right to bear arms in exchange for the peace of mind of doing
the right thing." Presumably Stone's bodyguards have not followed
her example. You can get the full story on this here.
Stone's email address is not listed on the web, but feedback may
be mailed to: Sharon Stone, P.O. Box 7304, North Hollywood, CA 91603-7304.
--According to a new
study entitled "Images of Government in TV Entertainment," published
by the Center of Media and Public Affairs, public servants are commonly
portrayed in today's prime-time TV as examples of "corruption, buffoonery,
ineptitude and red tape." Researchers found that portrayals of government
workers have become "increasingly negative" since 1955. However,
viewers don't seem to mind. "A public opinion survey, released in
conjunction with the report, shows 55 percent of Americans believe
TV actually does an accurate job of portraying the government."
For more on this, see here.
--There are two films
in current release or about to be released which should be of interest.
"The Winslow Boy" opened in New York and Los Angeles on April 30
and will be released nationally starting May 14. A popular film
among Objectivists, it's the story of a heroic barrister who fights
his case all the way into Parliament in order to secure a hearing
for his wrongfully accused client. Reviews for this film are so
far very favorable.
Another film of likely
interest is "The Castle." It's all about a quirky homeowner and
his family who live in a ramshackle house next to an airport. The
airport wants to expand and uses eminent domain to try to acquire
the house. The family fights back, all the way up to the Supreme
Court. Reviews for both "The Winslow Boy" and "The Castle" can be
--The NRA is sponsoring
a new television show called "Crimestrike." It chronicles the stories
of armed citizens defending themselves against violent crime. "Each
episode recreates actual incidents in which firearms were used to
thwart criminals and saves lives. Already this new show has been
featured in TV Guide as among the best new shows of the season."
Currently "Crimestrike" is seen on only 74 stations. The NRA hopes
to increase that number to 200 by the end of the year. Because it
isn't yet broadcast nationally, it won't be included in this newsletter.
However, you can check local listings to see if it's available in
your area here.
--The Academy Award nominated
documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life" has been selected to screen
at the First Annual Sun Valley Documentary Film Festival (Idaho).
--A CD soundtrack of
"Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life" will soon be available here.
It will include: dialogue excerpts from the original motion picture,
Jeff Britting's original music for the film, Ayn Rand's testimony
before the house Committee on Un-American Activities, excerpts from
the narration by Sharon Gless, dialogue from Ayn Rand's play "Ideal"
(performed by Janne Peters), and two of Miss Rand's favorite "tiddlywink"
songs from her private record collection-- "Canadian Capers" and
"Will o' the Wisp."
--It's tax time again.
If you need a film to put you in the mood, probably the most popular
libertarian film on taxation is "Harry's War." Amazon.com is currently
offering it for $16.99. Other recommended films with anti-tax themes,
and which are typically available for rent at Blockbuster, include
"The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) and "The Mark of Zorro" (1940).
--Two films of interest
are newly out on video this month:
1)"Serving in Silence:
The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story" (1995)/#####/** A highly regarded
military nurse is discharged for being a lesbian. [criticism
of government discrimination and pitch for social tolerance]
Video release date: 3/9.
Two teenagers are magically transported into a fifties television
show rerun, and their modern unrestrained ways trigger unprecedented
change. [attack on social conservatism] Video release date:
--An announcement from
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that it will give
the "Lifetime Achievement Award" to 89-year-old film director Elia
Kazan is triggering protests from Hollywood leftists. In 1952, Kazan
was a sympathetic witness before the House Un-American Activities
Committee and took out newspaper ads proclaiming the need to stand
up against the Communist menace. The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has
formed the "Committee for Naming Facts" to support Kazan. The Committee
plans to hold a demonstration of support during the March 21 ceremony.
--If you saw John Stossel's
fantastic special last week entitled "Greed," a documentary defense
of self-interest, you may be interested to know that it reportedly
did surprisingly well in the ratings: "4 points better than the
lead-in, and it went up during the course of the hour." That's especially
good news since there was some confusion at ABC itself as to whether
"Greed" was going to air, and that confusion was communicated to
the various vendors of TV schedules, some of which showed it and
some of which didn't. No doubt it would have done even better if
all the schedules had been correct.
--A recently released
film of possible interest is "October Sky." It's based on the memoirs
of scientist Homer Hickam and relates the early high-school years
of his Horatio Alger -type story, rising from an apparently hopeless
beginning in a small West Virginia coal-mining town through hard
work and an enthusiasm for science. As the Washington Post put it
"[it has a vision] of an America we'd like to believe in,
an America where hard work and determination can make something
--In January, the Academy
Award nominated documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life" won a Golden
Satellite Award for Best Documentary Film. "The award was given
by the International Press Academy at the 3rd Annual Golden Satellite
Awards ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The IPA is made up of
over 200 members of the foreign and domestic press who cast their
votes for the extraordinary efforts, projects and performances of
the past year."
--Variety reports that
"20th Century Fox is close to a deal to pick up 'The Stanford Prison
Experiment,' a long-gestating project that would continue Leonardo
DiCaprio's relationship with the studio for which he's already made
three films. The screenplay is based on an actual experiment conducted
at Stanford University in the summer of 1971, when a professor named
Phil Zimburdo turned the basement of a psychology building into
a mock prison. The randomly chosen subjects were 19- and 20-year-old
students who were divided into camps of either prison guards or
prisoners. What was to be a two-week experiment was cut short after
six days because of the level of cruelty and sadism that erupted
among the guards." This experiment has been used as an example of
the corrupting effect of unchecked power.
--Most critics hated
the recent film "Armageddon," but audiences loved it. That's usually
a good sign. I also saw "Deep Impact," the other recent film about
an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The two films make
for an interesting comparison.
In "Deep Impact," the
heroine is a television news-woman. In the end, she gives up her
life to save a baby and drives to the shore to face the impending
tidal wave (resulting from the approaching asteroid), in a sort
of suicidal pact with her heretofore estranged father. Others likewise
passively hold onto each other as they wait for the inevitable doom.
The president has done what he can, but he can't stop the coming
asteroid. Hopelessness and malaise. The whole thing reminded me
of the Carter years.
In "Armageddon," on the
other hand, the hero is an offshore oil well driller (!) whose unusual
skills and crack team of fellow drillers save the planet--on the
condition that they be free of taxation for the rest of their lives.
Viva la difference! I am happy to report that "Armageddon" is the
biggest grossing film release of 1998.
--A couple of interesting
new links were brought to my attention this week. First, the "Campaign
for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp," an organization which
at least advocates decriminalization of hemp, has a large selection
of video clips which may be accessed online with RealVideo here.
And second, Liberty Magazine is offering videotaped speeches from
its Editor's Conference here.