May 4, 2007

Cinema Fredité

I see the Los Angeles Times has spent decades living in and reporting on the film community without learning anything about acting. In their Celebrity News section, Tina Daunt wonders whether voters will confuse Fred Thompson the politician with the roles performed by Fred Thompson the actor. She speaks with a USC professor who apparently doesn't understand the difference, either (via Hot Air):

But in the age of YouTube, this performance could raise an intriguing political question: How does a performer eyeing a presidential run deal with a video history that can be downloaded, taken out of context, chopped into embarrassing pieces and then distributed endlessly though cyberspace? Some conservative political blogs are already considering the problem.

"Not only do politicians have to worry about getting comfortable with a crowd and saying something that might be caught on tape," said USC professor Leo Braudy, a pop culture expert, who has written extensively about film. "Now actors who have political aspirations will have to go through every single line of every part they played to make sure there's nothing they need to explain or apologize for."

Huh? Did Fred Thompson write his own lines? Did he write all the screenplays? Does anyone in this town understand what acting means? Actors read lines, usually written by someone else, in order to portray someone other than themselves.

Can the LA Times have missed this cultural phenomenon taking place right in their own back yard?

So, for what does Daunt and Braudy think Fred might have to apologize? Maybe he needs to apologize for being a jerk to Clint Eastwood in In The Line of Fire. It could be that people will question his executive ability after watching him get pushed around by an anal retentive Larry Miller in Necessary Roughness. He gave up awfully fast against home-grown terrorists and traitors in Die Hard II: Die Harder. And he's playing Ulysses S Grant in the upcoming Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee; maybe he needs to apologize to Native Americans.

Or maybe Daunt decided to go digging for something really silly:

So can "Law & Order" actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) become the first presidential candidate with this credit? Thompson played a white supremacist, spewing anti-Semitic comments and fondling an autographed copy of "Mein Kampf" on a television drama 19 years ago.

His colleagues say that he was just an actor putting everything he had into playing the role of a charismatic racist, named Knox Pooley, in three episodes of CBS' hit show "Wiseguy" in 1988. "Do you call Tom Cruise a killer because he played one in a movie?" asked show creator and writer Stephen J. Cannell.

No, but I believe he's a pretty pathetic vampire after Interview with the Vampire. Does that count?

Cannell makes the point pretty explicit, although it seems that Daunt missed it:

"He was an actor hired to play a part," Cannell said. "These are not his personal views. He doesn't believe any of that, nor do I. If this is all they can find to say about him, then they've hit a new low."

Yes, they have -- "they" being the Los Angeles Times.

And Fred? If you're reading this, you owe us all an apology for Aces: Iron Eagle III. I'm just sayin'.

BONUS QUESTION FOR THE LA TIMES: When Warren Beatty flirted with running for governor, did you ever write articles worrying that voters might think him to be a murdering thief (Bonnie & Clyde), a Jewish mobster (Bugsy), or a Communist sympathizer (Reds)? Didn't think so.


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