- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Trust the tale

"The two worst movies I saw this year were prime examples of the kind of brain-dead Hollywood well-meaningness … .

"[One] stinker was 'The Contender,' in which Joan Allen plays a vice-presidential nominee who is nearly undone when Republicans dig up sordid details of her college sex life. The GOPers are ostentatiously sleazy … and Joan Allen's big moment comes when she ends her confirmation hearings with a great big pudding of a speech, listing about 20 liberal pieties in quick succession.

"It's as if the screenwriter could never imagine a shred of reasoned thought or noble intention behind any conservative position. Also, the movie stacks the deck by telling us at the end that stop here if you don't want the surprise ruined Allen was framed, that the improprieties never occurred. Which instantly saps the movie of any moral tension.

"(The main issue then becomes whether Allen should comment on the matter or not. C'mon, a falsely accused politician shouldn't defend herself?) In the end, all the movie bravely opines is that politicians who haven't committed wild sexual misdeeds shouldn't be persecuted for them.

"[T]he movie's writers profess idealism, but there's actually something deeply cynical about their refusal to evaluate the plausibility of their claims as well as their cartoonish characterization of those who disagree with them."

Jodi Kantor, writing in "the Breakfast Table," Thursday in Slate magazine at www.slate.com

Who owes whom?

"The 90 percent-plus black turnout for [Al] Gore is mirrored by a more recent poll that finds a similar percent is willing to say President-elect [George W.] Bush 'stole' the precise poll word the election. And the same poll finds the Reverend Jesse Jackson far and away the most highly regarded political figure.

"These numbers can be read as alarm flags for the incoming administration to try to assuage such animus via appointments, promises, proclamations, hate-crime legislation, the predictable panoply urged daily by the liberal media.

"The New York Times recently invited a host of racial experts to tell it what Bush must do to atone. Jesse Jackson's remedies led the list.

"These numbers also can be read another way, through the political glass that says 'this is not your support constituency and its members are owed nothing more than what is constitutionally due any citizen.'

"In other words, if the black vote has become a monochrome fiefdom of the Democratic Party (again), where is the urgency for a Republican administration to accord it speciality? That same political glass reading will remind the new administration that African-Americans account for only 12 percent of the population of the United States, despite what a casual perusal of the television channels might indicate."

Reid Collins, on "What Blacks Must Do to Get Right With Bush," Thursday on the American Spectator Web site, www.spectator.org

Stand-in stars

"Hollywood has been plucking actors from anonymity ever since Lana Turner made history at the counter of Schwab's on Sunset. But this season, jitters about next spring's anticipated actors' and screenwriters' strike have created what Universal Studios' VP of casting Joanna Colbert is calling an 'unprecedented' feeding frenzy for newcomers specifically young, white males.

"With the dance cards of the bankable big stars like [Brad] Pitt, [Tom] Cruise and [Bruce] Willis already full, the studios, desperate to stockpile films before the strike, are duking it out for unknowns like Johnny Knoxville and Colin Farrell. 'There are no leading men available,' said Colbert. 'So we're looking to the next level.'

"Prices for these barely-knowns have skyrocketed, creating a bizarre new millionaire boys' club… .

"Colin Farrell has particularly profited from bigger stars' busy schedules. Never heard of him? He stepped into 'Phone Booth' when Jim Carrey passed, and into 'Hart's War' when Edward Norton bailed. He'll be assuming Matt Damon's role in Steven Spielberg's 'Minority Report' if he can fit the film into his schedule."

Jessica Lustig, writing on "Young Bucks," in the Dec. 18-25 issue of New York magazine

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