Tag: Entertainment

What Palmer Said*

In response to a lawsuit alleging misuse of copyrighted material in their Michael Jackson biopic, Disney is now claiming that it is. “Taking a stand against overzealous copyright holders.

This is like Nathan Myhrvold complaining about patent trolls:

The entertainment giant and its broadcast subsidiary ABC submit its response in court to a copyright lawsuit over ‘The Last Days of Michael Jackson.’

Disney won’t be shamed out of standing its ground in the face of “overzealous copyright holders” like the Michael Jackson Estate. On Monday, the entertainment giant and its broadcast subsidiary ABC filed an answer to the copyright lawsuit over the two-hour documentary The Last Days of Michael Jackson, which used excerpts from This Is It and other works including music videos for “Thriller” and “Black or White.”

The lawsuit came in California federal court in May and pointed to just how seriously Disney takes its own intellectual property. The complaint gave examples: Disney threatened to sue childcare centers for having pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on the wall; Disney once sued a couple on public assistance for $1 million when they appeared at children’s parties dressed as an orange tiger and a blue donkey; Disney sent takedown notices to social media services upon users posting photographs of their new Star Wars toys; and so forth.

In fact, Disney’s response to the Michael Jackson lawsuit comes just days after it suffered a setback in a lawsuit against a business that sends individuals in costumes to kids’ birthday parties.

No matter and forget any sense of irony.

Answering claims over illicit use of Michael Jackson rights, Disney states, “This case is about the right of free speech under the First Amendment, the doctrine of fair use under the Copyright Act, and the ability of news organizations to use limited excerpts of copyrighted works — here, in most instances well less than 1% of the works — for the purpose of reporting on, commenting on, teaching about, and criticizing well-known public figures of interest in biographical documentaries without fear of liability from overzealous copyright holders.”

Seriously, the level of hypocrisy here is so dense that there is a non-trivial risk of a black hole forming.

*In John Carpenter’s movie The Thing, when Norris’ head sprouted legs and began to walk away, Palmer (no first name) observed, “You gotta be f%$#ing kidding.”

I had Forgotten How Good This Was

My daughter’s rehearsal went long, so I watched the first episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker on my phone in the parking lot. (She has a thing about us being in one of her plays, she is the stage manager, when the rehearsal is going. She also has a problem with people saying the name of the Scottish Play. Whatever.)

Nowadays, it’s primarily remembered as being the inspiration for shows like The X-Files, but it was very well done television.

I remembered enjoying it as a kid, but it’s a lot more sophisticated and polished than I noticed back then.

Darren McGavin was engaging, the relationship between him and Simon Oakland, who played his ever-annoyed editor Tony Vincenzo showed a lot more depth than I recalled. (you get a sense of mutual the respect that they have for each other)

The supporting actors Jack Grinnage, as Kolchak’s uptight and barely competent cow-orker Ron Updyke, and the guest appearance of Beatrice Colen as the gore and food obsessed competitor Jane Plumm was spot on. (I did not like all the fat jokes about her: It was the one thing that rankles now.)

The action sequences/SFX are amazing in that there really are no special effects, the show was done on a shoe string, but, because of good directing and camera work, you really don’t notice this.

Through inspired use of camera angles, light, and darkness, you believe that there is a superhuman maniac tossing policemen around like they were puppies.

I would also note that its representation of reporting has shaped my view of the trade.  It was an entertaining depiction of old fashioned shoe leather journalism.

This show is one reason why I tend to disdain the sort of access journalism favored these days.

The following video is the “Ripper”, the first episode of the series: (run time 51:44)

We Live in Strange Times

Two months ago, Roseanne Barr was a star again.

Her sitcom “Roseanne” returned in March after a two-decade absence to enormous ratings on ABC. Network executives were celebrating their strategy of appealing to wider swaths of the country after Donald J. Trump’s surprising election win and the president himself called Ms. Barr to congratulate her on the show’s large audience.

But on Tuesday, that all came crashing down. ABC abruptly canceled “Roseanne” hours after Ms. Barr, the show’s star and co-creator, posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was a senior adviser to Barack Obama throughout his presidency and considered one of his most influential aides. Ms. Barr wrote if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

Ms. Barr later apologized, but it was too late. In announcing the show’s cancellation, ABC’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said in a statement that “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”

The show had ended its successful comeback season last week and was expected to return in September for a 13-episode run. Robert A. Iger, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s corporate parent, shared Ms. Dungey’s statement on his own Twitter account, adding: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”

The sudden cancellation of a hit show — it had the highest ratings of a new TV series in years — because of offscreen controversy was almost without precedent.

Seriously, I would not expect this from someone with the title, “President of ABC Entertainment Group.”

Entertainment executives are not generally known for taking morally courageous stands.

And Sesame Street is Suing Who?

I Gotta See This

Ben Henson, Jim Henson’s kids, and director of many Muppet movies, is being sued by Sesame Street over the marketing of his latest film, an R-rated cop movie with puppets:

Not everything is A-OK on Sesame Street today. The creators behind the beloved children’s show are suing STX Entertainment for the use of their brand name in the trailer and other marketing of the R-rated Muppets-inspired movie The Happytime Murders, according to Variety.

Both the trailer and the poster for the risqué project, directed by Jim Henson’s son Ben Henson, carries the tagline “No Sesame. All Street.” As such, the Sesame Street makers claim that this tarnishes their child-friendly brand, and they want all references to it completely Gonzo or else.

The film imagines a world where Muppet-like puppets get up to all manner of no good (the trailer contains drug use, foul language, and a pretty graphic puppet sex scene, watch below) with Melissa McCarthy playing a detective on the hunt for a serial killer who is intent on blowing the loveable creatures to pieces of fluff.

I am so going to see this movie.

Headline of the Day

Iran’s Khamenei Likens U.S. to Cat in ‘Tom and Jerry’


So Iran’s supreme religious leader knows enough about US culture to make a Tom and Jerry reference, specifically that, “The U.S. has tried various political, economic, military and propaganda undertakings to hit the Islamic Republic, but all these plots failed. Like the famous cat in Tom and Jerry they will lose again.”

I cannot imagine a Saudi cleric even knowing who the hell Tom and Jerry are.

My Childhood Is a Lie

Someone just did a quantitative analysis of Captain James T. Kirk, going through all the episodes of the original Star Trek, and rather than being the promiscuous and reckless character parodied in Futurama‘s Zapp Branigan, he turns out to be a lower key and far more cautious figure:


We reach the point of no return when the omnijerk (really I suspect there’s just one vast eldritch horror sitting in another dimension that extrudes its thousand tentacles into our own, and that each one of This Guy is merely an insignificant manifestation of the beast: they couldn’t all be so boring in precisely the same way by chance, surely) decides to voice some Dinner Party Opinions on original-series Star Trek. God knows why. It’s not five seconds before he’s on ‘Kirk and the green women’. He’s mocking the retrosexist trope, but smiling a little weirdly while doing it. His own insufficiently private enjoyment is peeking out, like a semi-erection on his face. A sort of Mad Men effect: saying, “isn’t it awful” and going for the low-hanging critical fruit while simultaneously rolling around in that aesthetic and idea of masculinity. Camp, but no homo!

“You’re thinking of Pike,” I say. “The captain in the unaired pilot. Some of that footage got reused for a later story, which made Pike into a previous captain of the Enterprise. And it never actually happened—it was a hallucination sequence designed by aliens who didn’t know what they were doing in order to tempt Pike. He rejected it.”

His [the loudmouthed boyfriend of a girl invited to the party] was a common enough error, and he can claim neither the credit nor the blame for the invention. The pop culture idea of Kirk, Captain of the Enterprise for the first Star Trek series (ST:TOS) and the original run of films, has become almost synonymous with Zapp Brannigan from Futurama. To quote Wikipedia,

[t]hough famed for his bravery and strategic genius, it soon becomes very apparent that [Brannigan] is sexist, vain, and often very cowardly and inept. […] Brannigan is also completely indifferent to military casualties. […] He is arrogant, completely incompetent, chauvinistic, and stupid.

Brannigan is supposed to be part comic exaggeration of the “real” Kirk, part reflective take-down of the source character [1] . Per wiki, in some ways the ultimate aggregator of the vox populi, “Kirk has been noted for ‘his sexual exploits with gorgeous females of every size, shape and type’ [11]; he has been called ‘promiscuous’ [66] and labeled a ‘womanizer’ [67] [68].” (Note all those still-working footnotes for fan-publications and major papers and entertainment news sites.) The article “Captain Kirk’s 8 Most Impressive Love Conquests” gives us such bon mots as these:

For three glorious seasons, Star Trek‘s Captain James T. Kirk boldly seduced and explored women no Earth-man had been with before. Well, okay, some of them were from Earth, but Starfleet’s greatest discovery was that no women anywhere in the cosmos could resist the intense gaze and oft-exposed, tanned pecs of the Enterprise’s head honcho. Who can blame them, really? Of the many, many seduction [sic] committed by James T. Kirk, here are the 8 most impressive (not most exotic, which would totally include the green Orion Slave Girl, but this doesn’t, because Kirk had no problems getting under her Orion’s belt), which deserve to be recorded in the Captain’s Log for all eternity.

What follows is an inventory of Kirk’s actual behavior, which is far milder, particularly by the standard of 1960’s television, than I recall:

Let’s start, as people so often do, with those infamous Green Women.

Yes: one existed in ST:TOS. Sort of. It was a vision. On a planet Kirk wasn’t even on. A captain was there: it wasn’t Kirk. Captain Pike and this green, Orion woman [2] could literally never have done the deed [3].

(ADDENDUM: I should also mention here the first and only actual Orion woman we see in TOS, Marta: an inmate of an asylum who attempts to seduce a suspicious, wounded Kirk, who is himself interested in escaping dangerous captivity. She then immediately tries to murder him. Ah, l’amour.)

Over the course of three seasons and six films (though I hesitate to mention the films in the same breath as the series, because even the initial run of films represents a significant, reflexive re-working of the original material), we do meet some women Kirk has had romantic relations with. These previous relationships mostly seem of a type.

  • Ruth (“Shore Leave”) was a college girlfriend of Kirk’s while he was at Starfleet Academy. The script implies she was also in Starfleet. We see only a facsimile of her.
  • Dr. Janet Wallace (“The Deadly Years”) was a biologist, and she and Kirk broke up in favour of their respective careers.
  • Janice Lester (“Turnabout Intruder”) was a Starfleet-trained scientist. Their relationship lasted at least a year, and was strained and broken by Janice’s violent resentment of Kirk’s ability to benefit from institutional sexism (check the tapes, I’m not exaggerating, that’s what she says).
  • Areel Shaw (“Court Martial”) was a dedicated JAG attorney.
  • Carol Marcus (The Wrath of Khan), retconned into the history of Kirk’s life by the films, was a brilliant, ground-breaking scientist. In one draft of the script, this character literally was the aforementioned Janet Wallace [4]

At some point during his time at the Academy, Kirk “almost married” a blonde lab technician (“Where No Man Has Gone Before”). It seems probable that she was one of the aforementioned women (all of whom but Lester were blonde, though dye exists, and all of whom but Shaw were scientists, though majors can change—I know an attorney with a biology degree myself).

With the exception of Lester, all Kirk’s relationships that we’re aware of seem to have ended amicably. He and the women involved have often kept up communication to some extent, despite the impediments caused by interstellar travel (Wallace, Marcus). The relationships all seem to have been of some duration, and characterised by fairly serious involvement on both parts. They were distinctly emotional affairs, and no one accuses Kirk of having “womanised” during them. They all involved competent people drawn to demanding, intellectually stimulating fields—usually science—and the service of something greater than themselves—almost universally Starfleet.

Kirk’s storied history of womanising seemingly consists of his having seriously dated a fairly small number of clever women in Uni. We’re even told Kirk had to be manipulated into paying attention to matters of the heart and/or loins during that period (and that Kirk’s into “longhair stuff” like 17th-century philosophy):


A tumblr fan essay [6] puts it well:

Nearly every instance of Captain James T. Kirk seducing an alien woman was not because he’s some randy alien shagger extraordinaire, but because he needed to distract the enemy of the given episode in order to save the Enterprise. In the same way we wouldn’t say a woman who uses her sexuality as a weapon (flirting with the villains to distract them and ultimately defeat them) is just some intergalactic bed hopper, neither is Kirk.


Masculinity is not a fixed construction: it evolves over time. When we view Kirk as Zapp Brannigan, actually we’re retconning a more current understanding of the male action hero and superimposing it over an era where it doesn’t have all that much business being.

So, Kirk is not the compulsive womanizer that we recall him to be.

You should read the rest, it is a long and well worth the read essay, but it makes clear, with extensive citations, that our image of Kirk is not a reflection of the character in the original series, but rather a reflection of the overtones that we have assigned, and his risk taking occurs only when there is no alternative.

Read it, and expect to lose a bit of your childhood in the process.

It’s worth it.

Hypocrisy, Arrogance, and Bigotry Are Not a Good Combination

Last year, I noted that MSNBC media personality Joy Reid had been caught throwing around bigoted homophobic comments on her now defunct blog, particularly as pertains to Florida politician Charlie Crist.

She made a perfunctory apology, and it faded into the background, until this week.

New homophobic posts were uncovered on the internet archive the Wayback Machine, and now Joy Reid is claiming that these were the result of hackers.

The wayback isn’t the only archive service.
There’s more out there…just waiting to be found.

The internet is forever.https://t.co/f5tHT8HRDm

— Queef Whisperer🕵️ (@queefagain) April 25, 2018

She has variously claimed that hackers accessed her blog after the fact and changed the posts, or that the Wayback Machine has been hacked, an allegation which the good folks there politely called bullsh%$, as did an analysis by The Daily Beast.

Unfortunately, as this colorfully named Twitter user observes, her blog posts have been archived by a number of archiving services over a rather long period:

According to the Library of Congress, Reid’s blog was archived on their local server on January 12, 2006–two days after the blog post in question was authored. Reid has so far decided against contacting the Library of Congress regarding the hacking allegations.

Oh Snap.

Also, see this Twitter thread, it gives a good survey of what was posted.

Also, the LBGT group PFLAG just rescinded an award that they intended to present to Reid, and she has had to cancel an appearance at an event with former New York US Attorney Preet Bharara.

My guess is that Reid is being honest when she says that she does not recall making those posts, but I put that down to her memory, and not hackers going after her 10 years ago.

Tweet of the Day

Ooh, I’m Indiana Jones, imma ignore this monumental architecture that incorporates moving parts to create ingenious traps that still work after hundreds if not thousands of years and focus on this golden idol that literally any dumbass with a forge could make in a weekend.

— Living Marble (@living_marble) April 1, 2018

I am sure that all of the amateur and professional archeologist out there are cheering this right now, as well they should.

Women and Makeup

Without Makeup

Her traditional look

It appears tahat Christina Aguilera has gone makeup free for a magazine shoot, and the internet appears to be having a full freakout mode paroxysm oiver it.

I think that she looks much better that way.

In fact, I think that women generally look better with less makeup, something that I say not infrequently to Sharon*.

I am not alone, nor am I even in the minority, in this opinion.

I’m not sure who it is who has been telling women that they need to spend hours on makeup, but they are full of crap.

Save the time, save the money, and save the aggravation, and try to be comfortable with how you look.

Also, the freckles are just so f%$#ing adorable, and with all the makeup, you cannot see them.

Women, here is an insight into men:  When they say that you do not need makeup, most men, most of the time, are telling the truth.


*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

Oh, You Delicate Snowflakes….

This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous! pic.twitter.com/MeYLTy1pqb

— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 17, 2018

It appears that comedian Jim Carrey has taken up political cartoons as a hobby, and his latest, which is clearly of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has resulted in Talibaptist Republicans and Fox News completely losing their sh%$.

Seriously Republicans, if you can’t stand up to Ace Ventura, Pet Dick, how can you stand up to ISIS?

I’m not a fan of Carrey’s artistic stylings, but this butt hurt is really just pathetic.

Oprah Winfrey Is the Kindest, Bravest, Warmest, Most Wonderful Human Being I’ve Ever Known in My Life

Guess who’s considering a Presidential run in 2020:

Oprah Winfrey is “actively thinking” about running for president, two of her close friends told CNN Monday.

The two friends, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, talked in the wake of Winfrey’s extraordinary speech at the Golden Globes Sunday night, which spurred chatter about a 2020 run.

Some of Winfrey’s confidants have been privately urging her to run, the sources said. One of the sources said these conversations date back several months. The person emphasized that Winfrey has not made up her mind about running. 

A representative for Winfrey has not responded to requests for comment.

In related news, animal trainers close to Lassie have stated that the famous gender fluid* Collie is receptive to being Oprah’s Vice Presidential pick.

Just kill me.

Seriously, just kill me.

*FWIW, in all the Lassie movies and TV shows the character was a female dog, but the actor was a male dog, because male Collies are larger and more physically impressive.
I’m unreasonably smug about the fact that I managed to make it through this entire “Lassie” bit without resorting to making some sort of crude pun on the professional term for a female dog.

Schadenfreude, Bill O’Reilly Edition

One of Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment victims is now suing him.

There was a settlement with him some years back, but O’Reilly could not keep his mouth site, and the agreement included mutual non-disparagement clauses, so she gets another bite at the apple:

Looking for a biography of fired Fox News host Bill O’Reilly? Try this one, with the title: “The Man Who Would Not Shut Up.”

Prophetic. The fallen cable news star was sued Monday in a New York federal court for, essentially, failing to shut up. Some background: As the New York Times reported in a career-killing April 1 article, O’Reilly, along with his employer, had settled several cases with female colleagues alleging mistreatment and sexual harassment over a 20-year career at Fox News. One of them was Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, a producer who, in 2002, ended up on the wrong end of an O’Reilly tantrum. Sexual harassment was not alleged, though Bernstein reached a settlement and left Fox News.


The complaint filed Monday comes from Witlieb Bernstein, who alleges breach of contract — she and O’Reilly signed non-disparage and confidentiality agreements as part of the 2002 settlement — and defamation. Written by Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin, P.C., it spits at O’Reilly’s attempts to save face. The statements published in the media, notes the complaint, try to paint O’Reilly as a “target” of extortionate claims. “This is false,” reads the complaint. “In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein’s complaints against him were far from extortionate.” Another element of the complaint addresses O’Reilly’s oft-repeated insistence that he was never the subject of a complaint to human resources departments over his career. “I never mistreated anyone,” he said in one interview. He also alleged that the charges against him were “politically and financially motivated.”

“In fact, Mr. O’Reilly is the liar,” says the complaint, which also lists Fox News as a defendant. “He mistreated Ms. Bernstein. She was forced out of her job at Fox News and paid a settlement because of his mistreatment.” Contrary to O’Reilly’s claims, Witlieb Bernstein did indeed go to human resources and “other company executives” to raise her complaints about O’Reilly, argues the suit. That she apparently got nowhere isn’t a surprise: The HR department at the time was a captive hive of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who was ousted in summer 2016 over sexual-harassment claims and died in May. In response to the Ailes and O’Reilly scandals, Fox News has strengthened its HR functions; the HR chief now reports to 21st Century Fox, and not to Fox News.

I am extremely amused.

F%$# the Mouse

The LA Times published an article describing how much corporate welfare Disney Land is extracting from the city of Anaheim.

The mouse didn’t like this, so they banned LA Times movie reviewers from advance showings of their movies, including things like Marvel and Star Wars movies.

In response many critics from other papers have announced that they will not be participating in advance showings, and a number of critics groups have barred all Disney movies from consideration at their year end awards.

If this were about an Times critic violating an embargo date, I could see some justification, but this is just thuggery.

BTW, Disney just caved.

Good, but someone at the movie studio needs to be fired.

An Old Hollywood Story

Here is a gem buried in a discussion about plans for the tech giants to take over the entertainment world:

Several times in conversations with people in Hollywood, I heard the tech people referred to as “dumb money” — the sort of outsiders (in the past, they came from oil, then from finance) who parade through town looking to call the shots. One Hollywood executive who has worked often with tech companies told me: “I wouldn’t say we’ve looked at them with fear, no.”

Yeah, pretty much.

You Have Got to be F%$#ing Kidding Me

— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) October 11, 2017

And then he sang, “I saw your boobs.”

Notice the Slightly Uncomfortable Audience Reaction?

The story about Harvey Weinstein’s long history of harassment and assault of women in Hollywood continues to get more horrifying.

It also gets weirder. Now we have an explanation for a Seth McFarlane joke at the 2013 Oscars, and basically it’s him seizing the moral high ground.

You hear heard that right, “Seth McFarlane seizing the moral high ground.”

Now THERE is a phrase I never expected to write.

He had been told in confidence by a friend what had been done to them, and given those constraints, he went after Weinstein with a joke:

As allegations against disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein pile up, more and more celebrities are coming forward to either confirm or deny their own preexisting knowledge about the situation.

On Wednesday, Seth MacFarlane explained the origins of a 2013 joke he made at Harvey Weinstein’s expense during the announcement of Academy Award nominations.

MacFarlane cracked his joke immediately after he listed the nominees for supporting actress. “Congratulations,” he said. “You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein,” which got a considerable response from the room.

“In 2011, my friend and colleague Jessica Barth, with whom I worked on the ‘Ted’ films, confided in me regarding her encounter with Harvey Weinstein and his attempted advances,” MacFarlane said in a statement on social media Wednesday. “She has since courageously come forward to speak out. It was with this account in mind that, when I hosted the Oscars in 2013, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a hard swing in his direction.”

I still find it hard to believe that Seth F%$#ing McFarlane is seizing the moral high ground.

We are living in profoundly strange times.


Mary Tyler Moore just died:

Mary Tyler Moore, whose witty and graceful performances on two top-rated television shows in the 1960s and ’70s helped define a new vision of American womanhood, died on Wednesday in Greenwich, Conn. She was 80.

Her family said her death, at Greenwich Hospital, was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia.

Ms. Moore faced more than her share of private sorrow, and she went on to more serious fare, including an Oscar-nominated role in the 1980 film “Ordinary People” as a frosty, resentful mother whose son has died. But she was most indelibly known as the incomparably spunky Mary Richards on the CBS hit sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Broadcast from 1970 to 1977, it was produced by both Ms. Moore and her second husband, Grant Tinker, who later ran NBC and who died on Nov. 28.

A part of my childhood just left us.