Earlier this year Showtime yanked an episode of its Masters Of Horror series after the pay-cable channel's execs practically blew beets during a screening. Directed by Takashi Miike, a legendarily depraved Japanese director (tickets to his film Ichi the Killer came with a free barf bag), it reportedly contained graphic scenes of child abuse, sexual torture, deformed syphilitic dwarves and aborted fetuses. Now it's been issued on DVD under the title Imprint, and for just $16.98 you can blow your own beets, right there in your living room. If you want to know a little more before investing your life savings, here's a story I wrote in January when Showtime canned Imprint.
In the second round of the epic square-off between CSI and Grey's Anatomy, the nerdcops made a comeback against the hardbodies. CSI actually edged out Grey's in total viewers with 23.49 million to 23.31 million. Grey's is still ahead in the 18-49 age group that the advertisers want. Stay tuned.
ABC's attempt at adapting the telenovela Yo soy Betty la fea for an English-speaking audience debuts tonight at 8. I don't think it's good, exactly, but it is pretty watchable. Some people, though, say it's not really a telenovela at all, that the essence of a novela is the nightly cliffhanger endings and the way the series builds to a climax, rather than just going on and on the way American TV shows do. Watch it tonight and leave me a comment about what you think, especially if you were a fan of the original Betty.
In a story scheduled to air this evening on World News with Charles Gibson and Nightline, ABC will show home video of an attack on a Halliburton truck convoy by Iraqi insurgents that, some witnesses say, was abandoned by its U.S. military escorts. After the troops left, three unarmed Halliburton truck drivers were executed by the insurgents, says a surviving driver interviewed in the report. "They was murdered," says Preston Wheeler of Mena, Ark. "To me, they was murdered." Wheeler, who since has been fired by Halliburton, says the company told him not to talk about the attack and that one of its security guards wanted to delete his video footage of the ambush. "He was afraid it was going to get on the Internet," Wheeler says. Well, what are the chances of that?
Quite aside from the controversial nature of its charges, this report is liable to become the linchpin of a whole new generation of conspiracy theories that cut across all known ideological lines. Not only does it involve Halliburton, which left-wing conspiracy nuts believe rules the world, but the surviving truckdriver comes from Mena, Ark., the little town that was at the center of numerous paranoid right-wing conspiracy theories about Bill and Hillary Clinton, drug trafficking, murders and possibly space aliens. Fasten your seatbelts.
The Reelzchannel, an oddly formulated network for movie fans, launches this evening at 6 p.m. It will go 24/7 with shows about movies, but no actual movies. For instance, there's Dailies, a kind of movie newscast with clips and stories about flicks new to theaters, DVD, pay-per-view or video on demand. The Directors is a behind-the-scenes look at moviemaking through interviews with the guys who actually do it. And Secret’s Out offers Leonard Maltin's picks of interesting but overlooked movies that you can see in theaters, on DVD or even on other television channels. In fact, they'd have to be on other channels because Reelzchannel itself won't screen any films.
The channel will supposedly be available in 28 million homes. That doesn't translate to a heck of a lot of cable systems, but you can find it on DirecTV channel 225 and Dish Network channel 299. Or watch on the web. And if anybody mentions a screening of Making It, the brilliant 1971 film shot at my high school in New Mexico starring a future genius TV critic -- I'm the guy in the orange shirt in the back of the cafeteria scene, which most critics agreed was the key to the whole picture -- let me know.
So Clinton upset Wallace..too bad...maybe he'll learn to do NEWS, not right-wing neofascist propaganda, but I doubt it...he just follows the party line like any good toadie.
Mal in Tallahassee
I'm curious, Mal. Was Chris Wallace a neofascist when he was working at ABC or NBC? Was he a neofascist when President Reagan's press secretary shouted "Screw you!" at him in the middle of a news conference and then refused to speak to him for four years? Was he a neofascist when he was hammering Condi Rice two weeks ago? Gosh, he must not be a very good one.
Well, don't just parrot every other inept (or worse, biased) reporter and commentator...Just answer the question: "Why haven't the media asked ANY responsible Bush White House official why they did not do more to get O. bin Laden (and al Qaeda) in the EIGHT MONTHS-PLUS prior to 9/11?"
The Bush administration, with the complicity of 90 percent of the Main-Stream-Media, has succeeded in keeping their bad judgment re the 'terrorist threat to the U.S.' during 2001 shrouded in 'national security' necessities.
Richard Clarke's views, if they are referenced at all, are usually presented in such a light as to reflect doubt on the Clinton administration's concern with bin Laden, but, if they are studied in detail, leave no doubt that George W. Bush and cohorts are preponderantly to blame for 9/11 and its devastation.
So, let me get this straight: It was unfair to ask Clinton why he didn't get the job done in eight years. But it would be OK (more than OK, necessary) to ask Bush he didn't get it done in eight months?
And if you really think 90 percent of the mainstream media are lying, I don't know why you're bothering to read me or the Miami Herald. For that matter, I don't know why you read anything at all. All those progressive blogs you no doubt are so fond of get virtually all their information from the mainstream media. You think the Daily Kos has reporters in Baghdad and Kabul, or at the Pentagon or the State Department? Without the mainstream media, you'll be an even bigger fool than you already are, Craig, though I'll admit that's hard to conceive.
I just read your article and I would like to say who really gives a hoot over Clinton's pouting. President Bush continuously endures personal attacks and disrespectful comments by the useful idiots of the media and you don't see anybody including the President get upset.
As it was noted by one of the actors who played a warlord in the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, when Clinton was in the White House, there were no men just cowards running the White House. Now, we have true men running the White House and the media is always undermining them.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Ileana, meet Craig and Mal. Whatever else you might say about them, it's pretty clear they give a hoot.
Glenn -- I can see why Fox news would try to portray Bill Clinton in a negative way. I don't know why a supposedly objective journalist like yourself would lend his name to such an unprofessional propagandistic effort. You describe Clinton's response as "fireworks"- a strong exaggeration of his response. You also printed Wallace's comments about Clinton "Yelling at his staff"- did you verify this? What were these yells about? Was he really yelling, or is this another exaggeration?...In essence, do you usually print slanderous information about others without fact checking them?
Chris Wallace and Fox news do a great job of lying to the American people, but that is expected of them by now, and we all discount their statements accordingly. You have now joined their 24 hour spin zone. You have helped distort reality, not describe it. You are now a writer, but no longer a journalist, no matter what your card says. I am very disappointed in you.
Sorry, Sean, but I don't agree that the word "fireworks" is pejorative. That was an extremely combative exchange between Clinton and Wallace, and a very unusual one, as Professor Sabato of the University of Virginia observed. As for verifying what Wallace said about Clinton yelling at his staff, I tried, calling Clinton's office twice to seek their comment. His press people didn't return my calls, so Clinton's version of what happened couldn't be included.
Your defending Fox News is so pathetic one can only laugh. You sir are a lap dog for the
right wing idiots who have been running the country. Keith Olbermann in his special
comments on the incident lays it out clearly and correctly. Even if you don't agree you should have at least made mention. But that would have been fair and that isn't what people such as yourself want is it?
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
I've read back over the piece, T., and I can't find a single place where I defended -- or attacked -- Fox News. I quoted Chris Wallace -- who certainly did defend himself -- and I would have been happy to quote Bill Clinton or one of his press spokesmen if they had called me back. And if you think Keith Olbermann is delivering objective, spin-free news, think again, very hard.
You ended your article quoting Wallace's reference to Clinton's spin machine turned your piece into a comedy. Fox News is one large right-wing spin machine and I'm glad Clinton laid into Wallace. It's the only way to communicate with the angry white men who watch Fox.
Always glad to add a chuckle to somebody's day, Mario.
Ronald Reagan's press secretary once shouted "Screw you!'' at him in the middle of a press conference and didn't speak to him again for four years. But Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace has never experienced anything quite like the angry on-air tirade Bill Clinton delivered on his show this weekend.
"I can only call it spontaneous combustion,'' Wallace said Monday, after a red-faced, finger-jabbing Clinton accused him of setting an ambush in an interview obtained under "false pretenses'' in order to "a nice little conservative hit job on me.''
"I've never had an interview like that, certainly not with a former president of the United States,'' Wallace added. "No one could have been more shocked than I was.''
Jay Carson, Clinton's press spokesman, didn't return two telephone calls from the Miami Herald about the interview.
The fireworks began when Wallace, after leading with several innocuous questions about Clinton's charitable work since the end of his presidency, asked, "Why didn't you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were president?''
"I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, 'Why didn't you do anything about the [attack on the USS] Cole,'‚'' a furious Clinton retorted. "I want to know how many people you asked, 'Why did you fire [White House counter terrorism chief] Dick Clark?' ... You didn't ask that, did you? Tell the truth, Chris.'' Wallace, he added, was just doing the bidding of "all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now.''
Presidents have laid into reporters before -- Franklin Roosevelt, during World War II, once snapped that a Chicago Tribune reporter should get a medal from the Nazis for his stories -- but have generally avoided doing while TV cameras were around, says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabot.
"Other presidents have not wanted to bare their teeth in public,'' Sabot said. "I just think this is unprecedented. But Clinton has a terrible temper and everyone knows it. I think he was probably tired, and having a bad day, and Wallace irritated him.''
Though the interview was conducted Friday afternoon, it didn't air until Sunday. But partial transcripts began to appear on Internet sites friendly to Clinton and the Democratic party Friday night, prompting some speculation by Weekly Standard Editor William Kristal and others that the former president had planned what he did and was just conducting a bit of political theater at Wallace's expenses.
Says Wallace: No way.
"What went on in the room makes it clear that it didn't happen that way,'' Wallace said. "I was knee to knee with him, he was wagging his finger, glaring at me. This was genuine raw emotion, Bill Clinton unplugged. As soon as he spun out, his press secretary started jabbing my producer hard in the shoulder, saying to end the interview immediately -- which my producer refused to do.
"Then, when it did end and they went out the door, we could hear him out in the hall, yelling at his staff.''
The transcripts that appeared on the Internet, Wallace said, were leaked by Clinton's office, which had a tape recording of the interview, which appeared first on a liberal website set up by Clinton's former chief of staff John Podesta. "The Clinton spin machine went into full operation as soon as the interview was over,'' Wallace said.
Wallace remains puzzled at exactly what triggered Clinton's meltdown. "I'd love to say I asked the perfect question, but I can't," he said. "I thought it was a good, solid, probing, but not especially confrontational question. I think I just hit a raw nerve. I don't know if was was the ABC docudrama [The Path To 9/11, which Clinton and several former members of his administration said unfairly blamed them for failing to prevent the attacks] or a longstanding feeling that he's judged differently than President Bush."
It took several weeks to set up the interview with Clinton, who had never appeared before during the entire 10-year history of Fox News Sunday, Wallace said, and the ground rules were simple and agreed to by both sides: a 15-minute interview, half on the Clinton Global Initiative, as the charitable work of Clinton's foundation is known, and half on anything Wallace wanted to ask.
"I don't think it was an unfair question or an unreasonable question," Wallace said. "You know, Clinton did a lot of press over the previous week in connection with the CGI, and to prepare for mine, I read transcripts of almost every interview he did. Tim Russert did one. Laurie King. Meredith Viera on Today. Keith Olbermann. And to me the surprising thing is not that I asked the question, but that none of my colleagues did."
Clinton's claim that Republicans get a free ride on Fox News Sunday is absurd, says Wallace. In a show just two weeks ago, he noted, he peppered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with questions like, "Why didn't we finish the war in Afghanistan?" and "Didn't you and the president ignore intelligence that contradicted your case [for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq]?"
"When Rice's segment ended, [Democratic National Chairman] Howard Dean came on next. I can't believe you were so hard on Condi Rice,' he said. Well, yesterday he issued a statement saying I was part of the right-wing propaganda machine.' Ahh, politics."
You may want to dump those sketchy Gilmore Girls DVDs you bought three for a quarter last summer at the flea market -- especially if you see a snarling black Labrador racing for your door. Broadcasting & Cable reports today that the Motion Picture Association of America has trained two dogs to sniff out the polycarbonate used in making counterfeit DVDs. They've already detected a load of pirate discs in a Fed Ex shipment at Great Britain's Stansted airport. Now they're on a grand tour of Washington, Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and the United Kingdom. The dogs -- named Lucky and Flo -- were trained in Northern Island, so if you're cornered, trying bribing them with corned beef and cabbage, or possibly a Guinness.
Notable on TV the week of Sept. 24:
Generation Boom (10 p.m. Tuesday, TV Land) … This four-part documentary, airing Tuesday
through Friday, examines the impact on American society over the past 50 years, for better or worse, of Baby Boomers, and includes interviews with everybody from Internet zillionaire Mark Cuban to booger millionaire Dave Barry. Episode titles, swiped from the old Dick and Jane readers, include How We Play, How We Live, How We Love and How We Wire The World. Expect an additional episode later, How We Will Make Everybody Younger Than Us Work 80 Hours A Week To Support Social Security.
Fall shows premiering this week (you can see detailed reviews here by clicking on the "fall TV preview" link):
Tonight: Brothers And Sisters, 10 p.m., ABC.
Monday: Runaway, 9 p.m., The CW; Heroes, 9 p.m., NBC.
Tuesday: Help Me Help You, 9:30 p.m., ABC.
Thursday: Ugly Betty, 8 p.m., ABC