Tag Archives: clint eastwood

‘Deadpool’ in, ‘Silence’ out and more Globes film surprises

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association never fails to disappoint with their assortment of nominees, which always seem to include some expected picks, some inspired ones and some headscratchers too.

The nominations for the 74th annual Golden Globes certainly had some bombshells, too. Here are a few notable snubs and surprises.

OLD GUARD OUT

Past Globes glory didn’t seem to matter this year for Hollywood legends Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Warren Beatty, none of whom received directing nominations despite all having won in that category at least once. In fact, Eastwood’s “Sully” (that means no Tom Hanks nomination either) and Scorsese’s “Silence” were shut out completely, while Beatty’s big return to directing and acting, “Rules Don’t Apply,” scored only one nomination — for actress Lily Collins.

NO LOVE FOR ‘LOVE & FRIENDSHIP’

Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen adaptation “Love & Friendship” charmed audiences and critics, but was left without a single nomination — especially surprising in the case of Kate Beckinsale, whose performance as the conniving and ambitious Lady Susan Vernon has been widely regarded as one of her best. Instead, in the musical or comedy category, the HFPA singled out the little-seen John Carney musical “Sing Street.”

THE NAUGHTIEST SUPERHERO

Besides being a superhero movie, the irreverent and very R-rated “Deadpool” is about as far away as one can get from a stereotypically tasteful awards choice, but somehow still scored two nominations — one for best motion picture in the musical or comedy category and another for star Ryan Reynolds. Perhaps they draw the line at animated food orgy, though — “Sausage Party,” despite a big awards push, was left out of the fun.

LEFT FIELD ACTING CHOICES

The comedy and drama distinction always allows for a few out-of-nowhere contenders, but the best performance by an actor in a musical or comedy was stacked with unexpected picks, including Colin Farrell for his performance as a single guy looking for love in the dark as night comedy “The Lobster,” Ryan Reynolds for “Deadpool,” and Jonah Hill as a bro arms dealer in the generally panned “War Dogs.” In the supporting category, Aaron Taylor-Johnson sneaked in with a nod for his portrayal of a sadistic Texan in “Nocturnal Animals” and Simon Helberg for his crowd-pleasing piano player in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” which elicited a gasp from those in the room at the Beverly Hilton while the nominations were being announced.

MISS SLOANE TAKES CHARGE

“Miss Sloane,” the Jessica Chastain-led lobbying thriller, might have bombed at the box office this weekend and received generally tepid reviews from critics, but it didn’t stop the HFPA taking notice of Chastain’s performance as the always three steps ahead of the competition Elizabeth Sloane. Since 2012, Chastain has been nominated for four Golden Globes and won once, in 2013, for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

WOMEN BEHIND THE CAMERA

With the statistics of female representation behind the camera as dismal as they are, it might not be that much of a surprise to find zero films directed by women up for best picture or best director this year. Yet it is notable, especially with critically acclaimed fare like Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” and Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” both of which were shut out completely. The one saving grace is in the foreign category, where Maren Ade’s comedy “Toni Erdmann” is the nominee from Germany and Uda Benyamina’s “Divines” is nominated from France.

Clint Eastwood joins Republicans for gay marriage in Supreme Court brief

The list of Republicans signing on to a friend-of-the-court brief calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s Prop 8, which bars same-sex marriage in the state, now exceeds 130 and includes iconic actor-director Clint Eastwood.

Oral arguments in the landmark case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, will be heard in late March, as will arguments in a constitutional challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Signers on the brief, one of dozens filed with court regarding the marriage cases, also include Mary Bono Mack, Alex Castellanos, James B. Comey, Gary Johnson, Stephen Hadley, Jon Huntsman, James Kolbe, Ken Mehlman, Steve Schmidt, William F. Weld, Christine Todd Whitman and Meg Whitman.

“The support for marriage equality demonstrated by this amicus brief represents a microcosm of what we see happening all across the country,” said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the Supreme Court challenge on behalf of two same-sex couples.

He continued, “The conservative movement toward the freedom to marry is what we like to call the ‘Ted Olson effect.’ We value the support of our conservative colleagues and welcome their voices to the growing majority of Americans who stand for marriage equality.”

Olson, a conservative leader, is one of AFER’s two lead attorneys on the case and was the solicitor general for George W. Bush. AFER’s other lead attorney, David Boies, a liberal. Olson represented Bush in the 2000 election dispute and Boies represented Al Gore.

Signers on the amicus brief, according to AFER, include: 

  1. Kenneth B. Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  2. Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2005-2007
  3. Cliff S. Asness, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Author
  4. David D. Aufhauser, General Counsel, Department of the Treasury, 2001-2003
  5. Charles Bass, Member of Congress, 1995-2007 and 2011-2013
  6. John B. Bellinger III, Legal Adviser to the Department of State, 2005-2009
  7. Katie Biber, General Counsel, Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
  8. Mary Bono Mack, Member of Congress, 1998-2013
  9. William A. Burck, Deputy Staff Secretary, Special Counsel, and Deputy Counsel to the President, 2005-2009
  10. Alex Castellanos, Republican Media Advisor
  11. Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001, and Ambassador to Canada, 2001-2005
  12. David C. Chavern, Business Association Executive
  13. Mary Cheney, Director of Vice Presidential Operations, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  14. Thomas J. Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 2006-2008
  15. Jim Cicconi, Assistant to the President and Deputy to the Chief of Staff, 1989-1990
  16. James B. Comey, U.S. Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005
  17. Jeff Cook-McCormac, Senior Advisor, American Unity PAC
  18. R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Alternative Representative, United Nations Security Council, 2007-2009
  19. Julie Cram, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, 2007-2009
  20. S.E. Cupp, Author and Political Commentator
  21. Michele Davis, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Policy Planning, Department of the Treasury, 2006-2009
  22. Tyler Deaton, Secretary, New Hampshire Young Republicans, 2011-Present
  23. Alicia Davis Downs, Associate Political Director, White House, 2001-2003
  24. Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, 1981-1984 and 1987-1989
  25. Janet Duprey, New York State Assemblywoman, 2007-Present
  26. Clint Eastwood, Producer, Director, Actor, and Mayor of Carmel, California, 1986-1988
  27. Christian J. Edwards, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Press Advance, 2005-2007
  28. Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004
  29. Mark J. Ellis, State Chairman, Maine Republican Party, 2005-2006 and 2007-2009
  30. Elizabeth Noyer Feld, Public Affairs Specialist, White House Office of Management and Budget, 1984-1987
  31. Charles Freeman, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs, 2002-2005
  32. David Frum, Author and Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
  33. Reed Galen, Director of Scheduling and Advance, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  34. Richard Galen, Communications Director, Speaker’s Political Office, 1996-1997
  35. Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from an Inner-City School that Works
  36. Benjamin Ginsberg, National Counsel, Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004
  37. Josh Ginsberg, National Field Director, Romney for President, 2007-2008
  38. Juleanna Glover, Press Secretary to the Vice President, 2001-2002
  39. John Goodwin, Chief of Staff to Raul Labrador, Member of Congress, 2011-2013
  40. Adrian Gray, Director of Strategy, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  41. Richard Grenell, Spokesman, U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, 2001-2008
  42. Mark Grisanti,  New York State Senator, 2011-Present
  43. Patrick Guerriero, Mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts, and Member of Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1993-2001
  44. Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, 2005-2009
  45. Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, 2005-2009
  46. Richard L. Hanna, Member of Congress, 2011-Present
  47. Jill Hazelbaker, Communications Director, John McCain for President, 2007-2008
  48. Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 2005-2009
  49. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director, Congressional Budget Office, 2003-2005
  50. Margaret Hoover, Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 2005-2006
  51. Michael Huffington, Member of Congress, 1993-1995
  52. Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, 2005-2009, and Ambassador to China, 2009-2011
  53. David A. Javdan, General Counsel, U.S. Small Business Administration, 2002-2006
  54. Reuben Jeffery, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, 2007-2009
  55. Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance, 2003-2004
  56. Coddy Johnson, National Field Director, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  57. Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico, 1995-2003, and Libertarian Party Nominee for President, 2012
  58. Nancy L. Johnson, Member of Congress, 1983-2007
  59. Robert Kabel, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, 1982-1985
  60. Neel Kashkari, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, 2008-2009
  61. Theodore W. Kassinger, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, 2004-2005
  62. Jonathan Kislak, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Small Community and Rural Development, 1989-1991
  63. David Kochel, Senior Iowa Advisor, Mitt Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
  64. James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007
  65. Cyrus Krohn, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2007-2009
  66. Jeffrey Kupfer, Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy, 2006-2009
  67. Ed Kutler, Assistant to the Speaker of the House, 1995-1997
  68. Kathryn Lehman, Chief of Staff, House Republican Conference, 2003-2005
  69. Thomas A. Little, Vermont State Representative, 1992-2002 and Chairman of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee, 1999-2002
  70. Daniel S. Loeb, Businessman and Philanthropist
  71. Alex Lundry, Director of Data Science, Romney for President, 2012
  72. N. Greg Mankiw, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
  73. Catherine Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director for Policy and Planning, 2005-2007
  74. Kevin Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2005-2009
  75. David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2007-2009
  76. Mark McKinnon, Republican Media Advisor
  77. Aaron McLear, Press Secretary to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2007-2011
  78. Bruce P. Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2001-2003
  79. Susan Molinari, Member of Congress, 1990-1997
  80. Connie Morella, Member of Congress, 1987-2003, and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003-2007
  81. Michael E. Murphy, Republican Political Consultant
  82. Beth Myers, Romney for President Campaign Manager, 2007-2008 and Senior Advisor, 2011-2012
  83. Michael Napolitano, White House Office of Political Affairs, 2001-2003
  84. Ana Navarro, National Hispanic Co-Chair, John McCain for President, 2008
  85. Susan Neely, Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
  86. Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting, 2002-2005
  87. B.J. Nikkel, Colorado State Representative and Majority Whip, 2009-2012, and District Director for Marilyn Musgrave, Member of Congress, 2002-2006
  88. Meghan O’Sullivan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, 2005-2007
  89. Richard Painter, Associate Counsel to the President, 2005-2007
  90. Ruth Ann Petroff, Wyoming State Representative, 2011-Present
  91. Nancy Pfotenhauer, Regulatory Advisor, Romney for President, 2008, and Economist, Presidential Transition Team, 1988
  92. Gregg Pitts, Director, White House Travel Office, 2006-2009
  93. J. Stanley Pottinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, 1973-1977
  94. Michael Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2001-2005
  95. Larry Pressler, U.S. Senator from South Dakota, 1979-1997, and Member of Congress, 1975-1979
  96. Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress, 1993-2009
  97. John Reagan, New Hampshire State Senator, 2012-Present
  98. Luis Reyes, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President, 2006-2009
  99. Tom Ridge,  Governor of Pennsylvania, 1995-2001, and Secretary of Homeland Security, 2003-2005
  100. Mark A. Robbins, General Counsel, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2001-2006
  101. Kelley Robertson, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  102. Brian Roehrkasse, Director of Public Affairs, Department of Justice, 2007-2009
  103. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress, 1989-Present
  104. Harvey S. Rosen, Chairman and Member, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
  105. Lee Rudofsky, Deputy General Counsel, Romney for President, 2012
  106. Patrick Ruffini, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  107. Corry Schiermeyer, Director for Global Communications, National Security Council, 2005-2007
  108. Steve Schmidt, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, 2004-2006, and Senior Advisor, John McCain for President, 2008
  109. Adam Schroadter, New Hampshire State Representative, 2010-Present
  110. Christopher Shays, Member of Congress, 1987-2009
  111. Faryar Shirzad, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, 2004-2006
  112. Ken Spain, Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2009-2010
  113. Robert Steel, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, 2006-2008
  114. Nancy Stiles, New Hampshire State Senator, 2010-Present
  115. David Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1981-1985
  116. Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts, 2001-2003
  117. Richard Tisei, Massachusetts State Senator 1991-2011, and Senate Minority Leader 2007-2011
  118. Michael E. Toner, Chairman and Commissioner, Federal Election Commission, 2002-2007
  119. Frances Fragos Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor to the President, 2004-2008
  120. Michael Turk, eCampaign Director for Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  121. John Ullyot, Communications Director, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, 2003-2007
  122. Sally A. Vastola, Executive Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2003-2006
  123. Jacob P. Wagner, Chairman, New Hampshire Federation of College Republicans, 2012-Present
  124. Mark Wallace, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for UN Management and Reform, 2006-2008
  125. Nicolle Wallace, Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director, 2005-2008
  126. William F. Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Criminal Division, 1986-1988
  127. Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001, and Administrator of the EPA, 2001-2003
  128. Meg Whitman, Republican Nominee for Governor of California, 2010
  129. Robert Wickers, Republican Political Consultant
  130. Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005, and President of the World Bank Group, 2005-2007
  131. Dan Zwonitzer, Wyoming State Representative, 2005-present

From ‘Raging Grannies’ to unruly Ron Paul delegates, the unscripted highlights at the RNC

In four years, when Republicans gather again for a national convention, will they remember the 2012 event took place in Tampa?

Maybe – if they attended or hosted or watched The Weather Channel.

Will they remember what Mitt Romney said? Perhaps they’ll vaguely recall he pledged to reduce the role of government, except when it comes to marriage and choice.

Will they remember Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair, pretending to converse with Barack Obama? Oh, yes.

Today’s nominating conventions no longer take place in smoke-filled back rooms. Instead they are orchestrated from back rooms to be highly scripted, slightly glamorous affairs. Speeches are drafted, redrafted, rehearsed and then released with an “embargoed until delivery” stamp for the press’ consumption. Slick signs are handed out in the hall to delegates, and any handmade signs need party approval. Evenings follow themes. Speakers adhere to scripts. Audiences applaud mostly on cue.

So some of the most memorable are the moments not programmed into the teleprompters – such as mystery speaker Eastwood’s inexplicable dialogue with an invisible president. Isaac – a threat to Tampa Bay as a tropical storm and a disaster in the Northern Gulf as a hurricane – was not in the script. The renegades for Ron Paul didn’t go by a script. Neither did the Code Pink protesters who disrupted the convention nights nor the attendee removed from the forum after making racist comments to a black CNN camerawoman.

Below are some of the moments WiG found most noteworthy.

Aug. 25

It’s Saturday and reporters gather in downtown Tampa to collect credentials – shiny daily passes that dangle on a lanyard – along with swag bags containing Mitt Romney’s book, a magnet, a beer can koozie, Tampa brochures, sunscreen, sunglasses and a battery-powered fan.

Afterward, it’s a rush to television sets to watch forecasters track the path of slow-moving Tropical Storm Isaac and listen to anchors make odds on whether the weather will force a delay in the convention.

At about 6:30 p.m., RNC chair Reince Priebus, who formerly headed the Wisconsin Republican Party, announces that Day 1 is off. Now attendees can look at Sunshine State maps to see about making a day trip to Busch Gardens or Disney World. Wisconsin delegates get directions to hot spots from their headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Tampa.

Aug. 26

Stormy skies and forecasts for severe weather later in the evening don’t interfere with the RNC welcome party at Tropicana Field – home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Hosts provide open bars and serve Cuban sandwiches and seafood fresh from Tarpon Springs, but working reporters complain about being kept off the field.

The same night, Florida chapters of the Log Cabin Republicans carry on with a meet-and-greet party for gay delegates at the Rusty Pelican, a steak and seafood spot that draws crowds for the sunsets.

Aug. 27

The convention opens and then immediately recesses due to the threat of Isaac, which turns out to be a minor event for the Bay area.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm veered away on a northwesterly path due to upper-air steering currents and warm Gulf water. But a local pastor boasts that her prayer team prayed away Isaac: “It has really moved out of the way for us and we appreciate God doing that and moving it for us.”

For delegates, the weather delay provides the opportunity to explore nearby venues, especially the cigar bars, restaurants, coffee houses and nightclubs of Ybor City.

Some are heard talking about the Paul Ryan lookalike at a gay bathhouse in Ybor City and porn star and Palinesque stripper Lisa Ann at The Dollhouse. But no one admits witnessing the shows to WiG.

Not many delegates line downtown streets to see rain-soaked demonstrators calling for peace, justice and jobs in the March on the RNC. About 500 protesters participate, and both police and press outnumber them. At one point, a member of the Raging Grannies Action League, which is challenging the GOP’s anti-abortion plank, is surrounded by eight reporters and three photographers and, beyond them, six state troopers. “I still have hope for Barack,” she says.

Dozens of the protesters are lodging at Camp Romneyville on vacant land behind an army-navy surplus store near an interstate overpass. Some sleep in tents, others in cars. “We are here because we want peace, and it hasn’t been fully delivered,” says Amelie Robertson of Orlando, Fla. “We are here because we want health care for all, and it hasn’t been delivered. We are here because we want jobs created and civil liberties recognized.”

Aug. 28

One of the first orders of convention business is the adoption of the platform, a 62-page document that reflects the beliefs of the party’s right-wing and calls for “defending marriage against an activist judiciary,” adopting a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, banning abortion, encouraging voter ID laws, backing oil exploration in the Arctic Refuge and construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

The platform pledges to move Medicaid and Medicare away from the “entitlement model,” opposes “any form of amnesty” for undocumented immigrants and demands the repeal the Affordable Care Act on the first day of a Republican presidency.

Convention business also involves the adoption of rules and the roll call of states for the nomination. Vocal and ardent Ron Paul supporters in the hall shout for the Texas congressman to be allowed to speak and his delegates to be seated, creating a ruckus. Security becomes more visible but delegates get even more unruly. They chant “USA! USA!” as Zori Fonalledas of Puerto Rico tries to make her speech and Priebus calls for order.

Later, an RNC attendee is ejected after throwing peanuts at an African-American camerawoman for CNN. “This is how we feed animals,” he said.

The evening’s script focuses on “We Built It.” Loyalists cheer speakers who talk about the businesses they say they built and repeatedly attack the president for saying, “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Critics observe that the GOP has based four hours of speeches on that out-of-context remark by the president who, during a campaign speech in Virginia, was talking about how government, with infrastructure and programs, helps businesses prosper.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks, talking about his recall election survival and his “reforms,” which means union-busting.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote, highlighting his “reforms,” which also means union-busting.

Aug. 29

Delegates wake up with coffee and the Tampa Tribune, which has a full-page ad purchased by Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and LCR. The ad emphasizes conservative reasons to support marriage equality.

The made-for-TV theme of the day is “We Can Change It,” and Wisconsin is in the spotlight as the program builds to Ryan’s speech. Although that speech provides some touching personal moments, it is laced with falsehoods. Ryan gives the press fodder for days of gleeful fact-checking by making some far-fetched claims on and off the podium. He says he ran a marathon in under three hours – he really finished in just over four hours. He attacks Obama for failing to deliver on his promise to help save a plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville from closure, but fails to mention that the plant closed before the president took office.

Ryan and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee both attack marriage equality and abortion rights. Huckabee says, “The only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sends cheering delegates to their feet with a hawkish speech that at times sounds like a call for more war. Just as there are delegates who wanted Ron Paul to be the presidential nominee, there are delegates who wish Rice was the vice presidential nominee – but she’s pro-choice and pro-civil unions, which disqualifies her.

Aug. 30

The theme is “We Believe in America” and the night is supposed to be all about Romney – speakers talk about the candidate’s years as a volunteer pastor, as the builder of Bain Capital, as the governor of Massachusetts and as the savior of the 2002 Olympics. They talk about his compassion for people and his leadership style. They also call him cheap.

The lineup is light, because the nominee’s speech traditionally is long. Highlights include introducing Tea Party star Marco Rubio to the masses. Unscripted, the Cuban- American senator from Florida calls for freedom and liberty on the island.

The night also brings Eastwood – who supports marriage equality – to the stage with a chair, which the actor pretends contains the sitting president. Delegates laugh, but seem confused at the rambling speech. They really want to hear Dirty Harry say, “Go ahead, make my day.” After he obliges, Eastwood walks off stage.

Romney speaks for about 45 minutes before the big balloon and confetti drop. He talks at length about the president’s record on the economy.

“If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” he asks in an appeal to independents and Democrats.

Aug. 31

The barricades and fencing come down in Tampa, streets reopen, press flies out, security forces move on and the homeless – the city has one of the largest homeless populations in the country – reclaim downtown parks, some toting GOP swag bags and sporting Romney-Ryan buttons.

The top-of-the-ticket candidates depart from a small airport, where they are waved off by well-wishers and shouted at by protesters. “You tell me how to feel about two dicks who want to tell me what to do with my body,” says Robin Greaves of Port Charlotte, Fla.

A caravan of demonstrators departs for Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention, which is to take place at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Occupier Sean Holder of Sarasota, Fla., says he’s making the trip, partly because the Democrats “get better bands.” The DNC’s entertainment lineup includes James Taylor, Foo Fighters, Marc Anthony and Mary J. Blige on the night Obama accepts the nomination. The RNC’s lineup included “American Idol” Taylor Hicks, gospel singer BeBe Winans and Jake Blades, the former lead singer of Night Ranger.

Sept. 1

A new month. A day off.

Sept. 2

Late, around 11 p.m., WiG departs Tampa Bay for Charlotte, traveling north into Georgia, then South Carolina and North Carolina, because DNC credentials will be dispersed on Sept. 3. The Democrats begin their party on Sept. 4. Other reporters are also on their way, as are politicians, protesters and delegates. Wisconsin’s delegation will be staying at the Embassy Suites-Airport, along with the celebrities. But Clint Eastwood? Probably not.

P.S. There was no Eastwood in Charlotte. And, with the public attending many convention events, no empty chairs. Look for WiG’s next issue for coverage of the DNC, and find breaking news at www.wisconsingazette.com.

Hikers find Eastwood cutout, empty chairs on California trail

These days, wherever you see Clint Eastwood, an empty chair is sure to follow. Even if you’re on a hike.

A life-sized cutout of a cowboy Eastwood has stood on a trail overlooking a Southern California freeway for months, but this week a pair of chairs were next to him, one also a cardboard cutout, the other an actual wooden chair.

They’re a clear reference to Eastwood’s interaction with an imaginary President Barack Obama in an empty chair at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Eastwood and the chair have fueled a social media meme that’s shown no signs of slowing.

An artist erected the cutouts of Eastwood and other Hollywood western heroes along the trail in Glendale, but it’s not clear where the chairs came from.

Betty White vs. Clint Eastwood? Petitioners want her at DNC

A campaign is under way to add Betty White to the speaker lineup at the Democratic National Convention. Petitioners see her as the liberal alternative to Clint Eastwood, who made a much-discussed speech at the Republican National Convention.

A Facebook page, Bring Betty White to the DNC, has more than 20,000 likes.

The page suggests, “If you agree that Betty White would be a great addition to the DNC, “LIKE” and share this page! @bettymwhite #BettyWhiteDNC on twitter!.”

A petition to bring actress to the podium at the Times Warner Cable Arena or the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte also exists at Change.org.

The petition, which more than 4,000 have signed, says, “Clint Eastwood, the Republican’s “mystery guest” at the RNC, gave a bad name to older Americans everywhere with his absurd and awkward-to-watch introduction of Governor Romney.

“You know what?

“Governor Romney can have Clint Eastwood and his improvisational skills because President Obama has the one and only Betty White!

“Take action today if you want to see a real [old] Hollywood icon get a political introduction right!”

Eastwood had a long and rambling conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama and used an empty chair for his prop.

“Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them? I mean, what do you say to people?” he said at one point to the chair.

Eastwood mocked for RNC bit

Clint Eastwood earned plenty of bad reviews for his latest performance: a bizarre, rambling endorsement of Mitt Romney.

“Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic,” tweeted film critic Roger Ebert as Eastwood adlibbed Thursday night to an audience of millions – and one empty chair – on stage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. “He didn’t need to do this to himself. It’s unworthy of him.”

Eastwood carried on a kooky, long-winded conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama, telling him that he failed to deliver on his promises, and it’s time for Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, to take over.

“Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them? I mean, what do you say to people?” he said at one point to the empty chair.

Twitter was instantly ablaze with comments mocking the Oscar-winning director of “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby.”

“Clint has now eclipsed the total word count of his last three films,” tweeted film critic Richard Roeper during the speech, which was intended to last five minutes but went on for nearly 12.

Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” said “Clint’s empty chair act” was the “weirdest convention moment I have ever seen.” Joe Scarborough, the conservative host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” declared that “a great night for Mitt Romney just got sidetracked by Clint Eastwood.”

Minutes after Eastwood began his speech, someone created an @InvisibleObama account on Twitter. It has already amassed 30,000 followers and counting.

“I heard that Clint Eastwood was channeling me at the RNC,” tweeted comic actor Bob Newhart, known for his one-sided conversation bits. “My lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit.”

The 82-year-old actor and director also talked about Oprah Winfrey, Obama’s unfulfilled promise to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and lawyers. At one point, he referenced dismissing Obama and making a change.

“When somebody doesn’t do the job, you gotta let ‘em go,” Eastwood said. The tough-guy actor of “Dirty Harry” fame then drew a finger across his throat.

The Obama campaign shot back afterward by tweeting a photo of the back of the president’s chair, with Obama’s head peeking over it, along with the line: “This seat’s taken.”

Eastwood, a fiscal conservative who takes left-leaning stands on social issues such as gay marriage and environmental protections, made waves with conservatives earlier this year when he starred in a Super Bowl spot for Chrysler, a company that benefited from government support. Eastwood, who endorsed Romney earlier this month at a campaign event in Sun Valley, Idaho, and once served as mayor of Carmel, Calif., defended his appearance in the commercial, noting it had nothing to do with his politics.

Inside the convention, the crowd cheered Eastwood’s entrance and shouted his famed catchphrase, “Go ahead, make my day.” But backstage, stern-faced Romney aides winced at times as Eastwood’s remarks stretched on. After his speech, Romney’s camp defended Eastwood.

“He’s an American icon,” Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “You can’t look at him at through the same political lens that you would other politicians. He’s Clint Eastwood.”

There was seemingly more discussion Thursday night on Twitter about Eastwood’s awkward performance than Romney’s actual acceptance speech.

“Is this a segment for ‘Mrs. Eastwood and Company’?” asked “Star Trek” actor Zachary Quinto on Twitter, referencing the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”-like E! reality series starring Eastwood’s wife, Dina.

Several celebrities and comedians lightheartedly hypothesized on the micro-blogging site how Democrats could top the over-the-top routine at their own convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week.

“To restore balance to the universe, Obama must have Tommy Chong onstage at the DNC talking to a steak,” joked Patton Oswalt.

Original “Star Trek” actor George Takei said he was “drafting a DNC speech to (an) imaginary Romney in an empty factory.”

“Saturday Night Live” cast member Seth Myers had an entirely different idea: “(Vice President Joe) Biden has to go shirtless for DNC to top it.”

For Hollywood veteran Eastwood, his chance to rebound likely comes Sept. 21 in more familiar territory. That’s when his next film, the baseball drama “Trouble With the Curve,” opens.

RNC: The final night lineup

The lineup for the Republican National Convention, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, includes actor Clint Eastwood, who endorsed Mitt Romney for president earlier this summer.

The schedule also includes House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio calling the convention to order; the presentation of colors by the U.S. Central Command Joint Forces Color Guard Team, the saying of Pledge of Allegiance by Marine veteran Dylan Nonaka, the singing of the national anthem by Seven and the delivery of the invocation by Ken and Priscilla Hutchins.

Speakers include Rep. Connie Mack of Florida, Newt and Callista Gingrich of Georgia, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, Sean Duffy and Frantz Placide, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris of Washington, Ryan-Romney campaign chair Bob White, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey of Massachusetts, Olympic athletes, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Romney.

Performers include Seven, Taylor Hicks and Bebe Winans.

Videos will celebrate Romney, Ronald Reagan, Bain Steel and Abigail Adams.

The printed schedule for Aug. 30 – the last night of the GOP convention – ends with “Adjournment Sine Die.”

The Democratic National Convention takes place next week in Charlotte, N.C., with Barack Obama accepting the nomination on Sept. 6.

Eastwood finally gets gay right with ‘J. Edgar’

‘J. EDGAR’

After the hack job Clint Eastwood did on “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” there was cause for alarm when it came to his undertaking a J. Edgar Hoover biopic. Was he the right director to tackle a subject rife with queer innuendo?

But once you get past the gnarly old-age make-up and Leonardo DiCaprio’s inconsistent accent, “J. Edgar,” with a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), isn’t half-bad.

Throughout the film, Hoover (DiCaprio, who has played gay before, as poet Rimbaud in “Total Eclipse,” for example) dictates his version of his life’s story to a series of FBI agents/writers. Naturally, Hoover’s account may not be entirely accurate, and gay screenwriter Black does what he can to fill in some of the blanks.

Beginning in 1919, before there was a Federal Bureau of Investigation, “J. Edgar” follows the driven (or one might say, obsessive) Hoover’s rise through the ranks. From his time at the U.S. Department of Justice and his contribution to creating the cataloguing system at the Library of Congress to his spearheading the creation of the FBI, “J. Edgar” attempts to portray its man as someone with a compulsion to please his manipulative mother Annie (Judi Dench) at all costs.

The movie recounts the highlights of Hoover’s FBI career, including investigating the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, organized crime and political radicals. It’s when the historical intertwines with the personal and romantic that the film is most compelling.

The entrance of Clyde Tolson (sensitively portrayed by Armie Hammer) into the socially inept Hoover’s life is tastefully presented. The homoeroticism of the relationship, in which Tolson moved from assistant to paramour, is handled with respect, and the relationship feels genuine – for the most part. Black deserves credit for the way he brings it to light and the actors, particularly Hammer, should also be commended. “J. Edgar” goes on about 20 minutes too long, but it’s still worth seeing.

‘MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE’

In a performance as brave, nuanced and layered as Jennifer Lawrence’s in “Winter’s Bone,” Elizabeth Olson’s embodiment of the titular Martha is a riveting triumph.

After leaving a Manson-like cult led by the charismatic Patrick (John Hawkes), where she lived for two years, the socially awkward Martha attempts to re-enter society via her older sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and brother-in-law Ted (Hugh Dancey).

But the transition is doomed from the start. Moving back and forth from the present, where Martha is struggling to fit in, to the recent past, where she was welcomed into the cult, renamed Marcy May, then raped, brainwashed and inducted into participating in break-ins and thrill kills, writer/director Sean Durkin’s full-length feature debut creates an atmosphere of tranquility crossed with terror.

‘A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS’

Beloved gay actor Neil Patrick Harris reprises his role as his “gay for pussy” self, alongside Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn), in this self-referential, high-larious holiday one-hitter. As irreverent as you’ve come to expect the series to be, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” raises the stakes by incorporating 3D (making the best use of the technology in any film so far this year). The story wanders joyously from rekindling old friendships and making new friends, to honoring family traditions and creating new ones, to waffle-making robots, tweaking toddlers and getting high on and for the holidays.

Film reviews


‘For Colored Girls’
(Lionsgate)

There’s little doubt that Tyler Perry wants his film version of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf” to be this year’s “Precious.” But the film falls short of that goal. Tyler Perry is no Lee Daniels.

Part of the problem is Perry’s screenplay. Expanding on the original text, “For Colored Girls” feels like it wants to be a hipper version of “The Women of Brewster Place,” with most of the characters living in the same New York apartment building. The language moves back and forth between traditional dialogue and the more performance-poetic voice of the play. The poetic tone exists mainly in the lead female character’s monologues and could potentially be off-putting as an obscure form of poet-speak.

A star-studded cast of strong female actors plays a myriad of characters in this made-for-film community.

Building manager Gilda (Phylicia Rashad) is a god-motherly woman who keeps a watchful eye on her tenants. Crystal (Kimberly Elise) lives with the physically abusive, alcoholic father of her children. Joanna (Janet Jackson) is a high-powered magazine editor with a persistent cough (is that foreshadowing caught in her throat?). Her latest husband is obviously on the Down Low.

There is also bartender and coke fiend Tangie (Thandie Newton in a cheap wig), Tangie’s mother, religious fanatic Alice (Whoopi Goldberg in a head wrap) and Tangie’s younger sister Nyla (Tessa Thompson). Juanita (Loretta Devine) runs an HIV-prevention workshop at the health center and is in a dead-end relationship.

The actresses, who clearly know the power and value of the original material, seem willing to do whatever is necessary to breathe life into their characters. Elise and Rashad are especially good.

But what should be a graceful, poetic and graphic dance with the themes of relationships, sisterhood, identity, rape, motherhood, faith, HIV, community, abortion, love and death is clumsy and wildly uneven. The unrelenting bleakness of watching the women experience an almost endless series of hardships and losses, with very little promise of hope, is difficult.

Perry’s handling of the down-low situation is questionable. It feels like he’s pandering to his devoted, religious and mostly female audience without providing a cultural context for the behavior (see the recent scandal involving African-American pastor Eddie Long). It’s one of a number of missed opportunities that make this long-overdue film adaptation such a major disappointment.

‘Hereafter’
(Warner Brothers)

Cécile De France (left) and Matt Damon in “Hereafter.”Leave it to Clint Eastwood to make the afterlife as boring as, well, “Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil.” Following a spectacular opening sequence (the only spectacular thing in the film), involving a tsunami that devastates a seaside resort town in Thailand, we are served up a trio of low-key stories.

Marie (Cécile De France), a French TV personality who barely survives the tsunami, is haunted by the visions she witnessed as she teetered between life and death. Profoundly affected by the experience, Marie takes a sabbatical at the insistence of her producer/boyfriend Didier (Thierry Neuvic), to work on a book. But her original politically themed book proposal morphs into a project about, you guessed it, the hereafter.

Retired psychic George (Matt Damon) is urged by his money-hungry brother Billy (Jay Mohr) to return to the psychic business he abandoned for a quieter, less traumatic life. George tries to stay the course, but he reluctantly does a right-on reading for Christos (Richard Kind), which naturally backfires on him. A potential relationship with cooking-classmate Melanie (the vacant Bryce Dallas Howard) also goes awry when she insists on a reading and gets more than she bargained for.

British twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are as close as brothers can be, helping each other with homework and housework and covering for their irresponsible mother when child welfare services comes around to check on them. When Jason is killed, Marcus finds himself adrift and searching for a way to reconnect with his dead twin.  

Of course, the stories of Marie, George and Marcus aren’t unrelated. Through the course of the movie, Marcus becomes aware of George, while George does the same in the case of Marie. By the time they finally merge and meet, at a book fair in London, you may think you have died—of boredom. Just check your pulse, you’re still here. And the credits are about to roll.