- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pros as amateurs

“What were the odds that two teams of mercenary, millionaire pros from the U.S. and Canada would breathe new life into those hopelessly romantic words that helped revive the modern Olympics more than a century ago? The ones about how competing honorably was even more important than winning?

“But they made it happen. At least for one afternoon … It’s easy to be cynical about two teams of NHL all-stars donning their national colors for two weeks and putting forth one grand, no-holds-barred effort. …

“Barely 24 hours after the medals were doled out, players on both teams were scheduled to be back in the NHL. They’ll be working and practicing alongside and against one another in different combinations. Some will be depending on former enemies as teammates for their livelihoods.

“In some cases, teammates will become enemies once more. U.S. defenseman Brian Rafalski and center Paul Stastny, for example, will be on opposite sides of the Detroit-Colorado game Monday night. Making it more interesting still, Canadian coach Mike Babcock will be back at his day job, behind the Red Wings bench. Yet the next time their paths cross, everyone who played in this game will be able to look one another in the eye and remember the magic they created. That will make even a meaningless NHL game, in the middle of a long, drawn-out season, something special.”

Jim Litke, writing on “Incredible final makes these best Winter Games,” for Yahoo Sports

Review gone

“Last month, Variety panned a thriller called ‘Iron Cross.’ But the review has been disappeared from Variety’s web site, which probably has something to do with the $400,000 Iron Cross’ producers paid to Variety for an awards campaign.

“‘Iron Cross,’ which ended up being Roy Scheider’s last film (he died during production), is a Holocaust revenge fantasy in which Scheider, a Holocaust survivor and NYPD cop, hunts down and kills the SS officer who killed his family. It’s also, according to Variety freelancer Robert Koehler, who reviewed it for the Hollywood trade paper on January 20, ‘hackneyed,’ ‘preposterous,’ ‘mediocre,’ ‘choppy,’ and ‘uncertain.’

“But if you want to read Koehler’s take on ‘Iron Cross,’ you’ll have to find it in Google’s cache, because it was promptly spiked from Variety’s web site.

“We’re told publisher Brian Gott ordered it removed after the movie’s producers called to complain. They had a point — according to the Los Angeles Times, they’d paid Variety $400,000 in a failed bid to mount an Oscar campaign.”

John Cook, writing on “Variety Will Kill a Bad Review of Your ‘Mediocre’ Movie For Just $400,000,” on Feb. 26 at the Gawker blog, the Defamer

When in Moscow

“Someone, apparently, had it out for The Exile. But who? [Editor-in-chief Mark] Ames likes to indulge a grandiose paranoia whenever possible, and did. A functionary? An enraged oligarch? Someone on President Dmitry Medvedev’s staff, or, more to the point, in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s circle of spooks? (The Exiles first cover story on Putin, in 1999, grafted the man’s head onto the body of a latex-clad dominatrix over the headline ‘Putin commands Mother Russia: Kneel!’)

“Egotism aside, the possibilities were in fact endless. Since its debut, in 1997, The Exile, which read like the bastard progeny of Spy magazine and an X-rated version of Poor Richard’s Almanack, had pilloried, in the foulest terms possible, almost everyone of importance, and no importance, in Russia …

In its time The Exile was arguably the most abusive, defamatory, un-evenhanded, and crassest publication in Russia, and Ames and his staff had paid for that fact, or at least for the fact that they were arrogant reprobates, many times before. Columnist Edward Limonov, the 66-year-old political provocateur in whom the Federal Service officials were particularly interested, filed his copy from prison for two years after being convicted of possessing arms, which he admits he intended to smuggle into Kazakhstan in an effort to incite a coup there.”

James Verini, writing on “Lost Exile” on Feb. 23 at Vanity Fair

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