- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

Lights, camera …
"It's not unusual for directors to view stars as exotic or downright odd creatures. This can, at times, create tension on movie sets. 'A lot of directors have a real disdain [for actors],' [George] Clooney says. 'They want actors to do what they need them to do, and actors are trying to manipulate directors into letting them do what they want to do.' With an actor-director at the helm, he says, that's less likely to happen. 'In general, the other actors feel as if they're protected somehow.'
"That rapport doesn't just make the on-set atmosphere more pleasant; it helps make the movie better too. Actor-directors have consistently proved that they can elicit powerful and often Oscar-nominated performances from their cast and from themselves. What's more, because they are seasoned actors, actor-directors are far better equipped to steer young inexperienced talent toward stellar work."
Claude Brodesser, writing on "Why Do Actors Make Great Directors?" in the April issue of Premiere
Devil tradition
"You could see the poor little anchorette's eyes bug out when she read that the 82nd Airborne's 'white devils' had initiated Operation Valiant Strike in Afghanistan. The news release from the unit's HQ in Bagram evidently didn't explain the background of the nickname or no one bothered to read it. …
"Think flag, not race. Then go all the way back to the 82nd's formation in 1917 when it got the 'All Americans' nickname, ostensibly because every state in the union was represented in its ranks. That also explains the 82nd's distinctive 'AA' shoulder patch.
"With the division 'All Americans' it was only natural for its component regiments to get red, white, and blue nicknames. Jump to WWII where the paratroopers of the 504th regiment fighting at Anzio earned the nickname 'devils in baggy pants' from the Germans. Put it all together and you get white devils, along with red devils, and blue devils.
"This etymology shows how military units build up an identity over the years quite apart from civilian culture. Morale and unit cohesion are greatly improved by the sense of being part of a distinct unit tradition. So it is black and Hispanic troopers are proud to go to war as white devils even if stateside news anchors and probably some in the audience are bewildered by it all."
Jeff A. Taylor, writing on "About Those White Devils," Thursday in Reason Online at www.reason.com
Shocking reality
"The real fighting in Iraq has finally begun. … [I]t surely comes as a tremendous relief to all those network news anchors who spent the first two days of the war asking everyone they came in contact with: What about the 'shock and awe'? Have you seen the 'shock and awe'? Where, oh where, is the 'shock and awe'? A mere 48 hours into the war, the bizarre sounding strategy had been invoked so often it risked losing all meaning. The three words melded into one Shocknawe and joined 'embedded' as one of this war's earliest, over-used catchphrases.
"Still, you can't really blame the TV folks for being obsessed with the subject. They were led to believe that this war would begin with a grand visual display thousands of missiles screaming into Iraq, decimating and demoralizing the opposition in a matter of days, if not hours. And thanks to all those hundreds of eager war correspondents embedded with the troops, TV audiences would have an unprecedented, front-line view of the hostilities. Forget 'American Idol' or 'Survivor XV: Return to Antarctica'; the news networks were going to bring us the ultimate in reality TV. CNN in particular has been looking to this war as a way to recapture the throne of cable news.
"With the bombing campaign now underway, that may yet come to pass. But it also seems possible that the whole enterprise could turn out to be a dud."
Michelle Cottle, writing on "Unreality," Friday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com


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