- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2010

No smut from me

“Neal McDonough is a marvelous actor who elevates every role he plays, whether it’s in ‘Band of Brothers’ or ‘Desperate Housewives.’ So when he was suddenly replaced with David James Elliott three days into the filming on ABC’s new series ‘Scoundrels’ earlier this week, there had to be a story behind the story.

“The move was officially explained as a casting change. But, in fact, McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do some heated love scenes with babelicious star (and Botox pitchwoman) Virginia Madsen. The reason? He’s a family man and a Catholic, and he’s always made it clear that he won’t do sex scenes. And ABC knew that. Because he also didn’t get into action with Nicolette Sheridan on the network’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ when he played her psycho husband during Season 5. …

” ‘It has cost him jobs, but the man is sticking to his principles,’ a source explained to me. You can’t help but admire McDonough for sticking to his beliefs, even if he’s poised to lose as much as $1 million in paydays for ‘Scoundrels.’ ”

- Nikki Finke, writing on “No Sex Please, I’m Neal McDonough,” on March 31 at Deadline Hollywood

What drives him

“Many of [Gen. David H. Petraeus’] distinctions have come outside the military - his academic prowess, his feats as a runner, his published writing, and his role as a family man, all of which have received formal honors in one way or another. (But you can’t wear Father of the Year on a uniform.) He knows that he is driven, and openly admits that it goes back to his own father, a retired Dutch sea captain who had shepherded convoys of merchant vessels across the Atlantic in the most dangerous years of World War II: ‘His comment to me periodically was “Results, boy, results.” ‘

“The army is as openly and straightforwardly competitive as anything outside of organized sports. Petraeus often tells his troops, ‘Life is a competitive endeavor.’ War is the ultimate form of competition, so the military fosters a culture of contention. Performance is calibrated, and excellence formally defined, to an extent that some might consider too narrow, too literal. But one clear advantage is that any soldier who wishes to excel knows exactly how to perform to the Army’s standard. Or, in Petraeus’ case, to outperform.”

- Mark Bowden, writing on “The Professor of War,” in the May issue of Vanity Fair

Impact of Dreyfus

“[Capt. Alfred] Dreyfus’ ordeal did produce a few lasting changes, however. Anger over the church’s role helped inspire the early-1900s laws that made France an irrevocably secular state. The newspaper campaign to free Dreyfus became a model for 20th-century media crusading. And, by enlisting writers, artists and thinkers, the Dreyfusard project helped make intellectuals - a term coined by Clemenceau - a permanent force in global public life.

“Among those first intellectuals, [author Louis] Begley notes, was an Austrian writer named Theodore Herzl, who covered Dreyfus’ trials for a Vienna newspaper. ‘It has been established that justice could be refused to a Jew for the sole reason that he was a Jew,’ Herzl observed. If this could happen in a country as enlightened as France, he concluded, assimilation was no longer an option. Herzl became a founder of modern Zionism and, as a result, of the Jewish state.”

- Donald Morrison, writing on “The Dreyfus Affair” on March 27 at the Financial Times

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