August 28, 2004
Dear Friends of Liberty:
-- I previously reported that the acquisition of Crusader Entertainment--which earlier acquired the film rights to Atlas Shrugged--may affect whether Atlas is ultimately produced. Good news: former Crusader Entertainment principals Howard and Karen Baldwin have set up Baldwin Entertainment Group, a new film and entertainment company, and Nathaniel Baldwin, a creative exec there was kind enough to send me this note: "Atlas Shrugged, along with various other projects, has been brought over with us. I can assure you that development on this project has not slowed in the least. Jim V. Hart is working away and so are we." Keep your fingers crossed. We may see Atlas on the big or small screen yet...
-- Meanwhile, Susan Banikarim, a producer at ABC writes: "I'm working on a new ABC reality show called 'Wife Swap.' The name of the show aside, it's a BAFTA-award winning British show, being brought over to the US market. It's a show which is produced completely in a documentary style and is a totally new format for the American reality market--no prize, no host, no voting off...the idea is to allow families to experience other families with different cultures, experiences, etc by allowing one of the parents to spend a week in the other families home. I'd really like to have a strong libertarian family to participate on our show. Would you consider putting a note on your site mentioning that we are looking for families?" If interested, call Susie Banikarim, at 212-404-1429.
-- The libertarian running for president on Showtime's "American Candidate" show, Richard Mack, was the fourth candidate out of ten to be eliminated. Still, it's nice that he made it that far.
-- LibertarianTV.com just released its first short documentary film online, entitled "An American Revolution: On The Campaign Trail with Michael Badnarik." It captures Libertarian Party candidate for president Badnarik discussing the major issues of the day at various campaign stops in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland in July 2004. You can see "An American Revolution" for free in streaming video here.
-- I received a press release indicating that C-SPAN will televise, on Tuesday, 8/31, a presidential debate that so far includes Libertarian Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik and Green Party candidate David Cobb. I was not able to confirm this at the C-SPAN site, but C-SPAN typically posts events that will air the next day in the schedule section of their site (link in the upper right hand corner), so I would check their site on Monday (8/30) here.
-- In October, PBS will air "Crashing the Parties," a one hour program that will offer "an introduction to the alternative (third party) presidential candidates in the 2004 elections and their platforms. More on this here.
-- Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the makers of the often libertarian South Park series, are expected to release a new film in October, 2004. Entitled "Team America: World Police," it's an action adventure about "superheroes [who] fight to end terrorism and put tired celebrities out of their misery." The tagline: "Putting the F back in Freedom." It's not clear what exactly the plot will be, but I gather it will be offensive to everyone, especially celebrities. You can see the trailer here.
-- A new documentary entitled "Invisible Ballots" examines the vulnerability to high tech vote fraud of computerized voting, due to the lack of a paper trail. You can learn more about thiis film and see the online video clip here.
-- A new documentary entitled "Six" tells the tale of a family murdered a group of occult-inspired teens, outlining the events leading to the incident, "from a criminal justice system that released people known to be dangerous and failed repeated warnings, to an educational system that bred fear, resentment and anger." More on this here.
-- Judges are still examining the nominated films for the 2003 MissLiberty.com film awards. Meanwhile, you can read updated commentary on the films here.
-- Fed up with Michael Moore? You may want to attend the upcoming American Renaissance Institute (AFR) Film Festival. I gather it will be a conservative film festival, but in any case it will feature a pro- Second Amendment film entitled "Michael and Me," by talk-show host Larry Elder. More on this here. You can also check out the web site of the AFR here. The film festival will be held in Dallas, TX, from 9/9-9/11.
-- Advocates for Self-Government reports that one of the finalists for Showtime's "Amercian Candidate" series is a libertarian. "Richard Mack, a Libertarian Party member has just been given a shot at being nominated for president... by the cable TV network Showtime. That's right. Mack, of Provo, Utah is one of 12 finalists for a new summer 'reality TV' show, 'American Candidate.' The premise of American Candidate -- which premieres August 1 -- is that a dozen would-be presidents compete to win a whopping $200,000 *and* major national airtime to run for president of the United States as the 'People's Candidate.' 'Over the course of 10 weeks, those 12 will face off against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their presidential mettle and to show viewers what really goes on in the making of a presidential candidate,' says Showtime. Each week the candidates will be assigned a series of politics-related tasks by Showtime. The candidate who does the poorest job will be booted off, week by week, until just one -- the 'People's Candidate' -- is left. Mack. a former Arizona county sheriff, was Utah gubernatorial candidate for the Libertarian Party -- until this week. He resigned from the race in order to pursue the unprecedented Showtime opportunity."
-- TV producer Logan Darrow is seeking stories regarding a) a person who is being harassed by government and desires to fight back and/or b) destruction by government of a business or family due to bad law, regulation, etc. More on this here.
-The AtlasSphere reports that Dawson's Creek star Michelle Williams includes Ayn Rand among her favorite authors. More on Michelle Williams here.
-- Film director Wayne Cramer (The Cooler) is the latest in the film industry to express interest in remaking Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." Brad Pitt earlier expressed interest in a remake. More on Cramer here.
-- A documentary entitled "Michael Moore Hates America" is expected to be released this summer. You can learn more about it and see the online video clip here.
-- Reason Magazine has published a list of some suggested libertarian films. You can see it here.
-- The "Drug War Vigil Memorial Group," an organization dedicated to ending the War on Drugs, is holding its third annual film festival in Vancouver and is currently inviting filmmakers to submit entries. You can learn more about all this here.
-- The selection process for Showtime's "American Candidate" program--in which ordinary people will be invited to make a case on TV why they should be president--is under way. The winner of this contest will receive $200,000 and a nationwide media appearance to occur after the conclusion of the series. Nominations have closed and votes of a sort are now being taken. If you want to support libertarian candidates (it's quick and easy!), just go to this link, sort for libertarians using the buttons on the left of the page, and click "support" in the upper right hand of the page for each candidate.
-- Atlas movie update: The takeover of Crusader Entertainment, which earlier acquired the film rights to Atlas Shrugged, by Anschutz Film Group, may affect whether Atlas is ultimately produced. More on this here.
-- A tax professor has analyzed the tax consequences for the characters of the last episode of Frasier. Amusing to note how complicated it all is. You can see the analysis here.
-- "The Day After Tomorrow" is a soon-to-be released film about the catastrophic effect that global warming will have on our lives :). The Environmental News Network has a good article about how silly it all is.
-- Season One of "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" is now available on DVD. It includes, among other things, a fantastic segment on environmental hysteria and another on overreaction to second-hand smoke. You can get a complete list of its contents here or order it here.
-- "Dirty Pretty Things," a thriller, may not dramatize libertarian solutions to the ongoing human organ shortage here and abroad, but at least it focuses attention on this otherwise little-discussed topic. You can see the trailer to this film here.
-- A couple of readers have recommended the film "The Alamo," interpreting it as essentially a story about secession from bad government. You can see the trailer here.
-- This year's vote, by the readers of this newsletter, for "Best Libertarian Film" and "Best Libertarian Documentary" of 2003 narrowed the field to five films and three documentaries. However, the votes were too widespread to determine a final winner in each category. This result partly reflected the domination of foreign films, some of which have not received large-scale distribution in the U.S. Accordingly, I have appealed to the libertarian celebrity world for help, from which ten volunteers have kindly offered to watch and judge these remaining nominated films and documentaries.
The honored judges are: Paul Feine, Program Director, Institute for Humane Studies; Michelle Forren, Founder, The Edge Film Festival & Peachtree International Film Festival; James Harris, Editor: The Libertarian Communicator, Writer, Filmmaker; Sharon Harris, President, Advocates for Self-Government; Kathleen Hiserodt, Director, Laissez-Faire Books; Tim Lee, Staff Writer, Cato Institute; Sunni Marivalossa, Director, Free-Market.Net; Norman Singleton, Legislative Director, Congressman Ron Paul; Bill Winter, Editor, Libertarian Party News; Kelly Young, Vice President, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. The final determination of the winners will be made using instant runoff voting and will be announced in the weeks to come. You can see the list of surviving nominees (now being judged) here.
-- Author Chris Sciabarra reports in "The Altlasphere" that "Brad Pitt, mega-star of the new film, Troy, which opens nationwide today, told interviewer Charlie Rose that Oliver Stone--yes, he, of the left, who admires Fidel Castro--was still interested in directing a new version of 'The Fountainhead.' As he has done on other occasions, Pitt talked glowingly of the science and aesthetics of architecture. Rose asked him if he knew of any way to combine his passion for architecture with his passion for acting; he wondered if there was any 'story of a great architect' that might inspire Pitt. 'That would go back to The Fountainhead,' Pitt replied. Rose wondered if Pitt would even consider re-making it. Pitt said that the book is 'so dense and complex, it would have to be a six-hour movie ... I don't know how you do it under four, and not lose, really lose, what Ayn Rand was after.' But he affirmed his profound interest to star in a re-make, and cited Oliver Stone's own interest in directing it as a feature film."
-- Teachers! The organization "Stossel in the Classroom" is offering amazingly low prices on John Stossel video kits now through the end of May. You can purchase one video kit for $20, two for $35, three for $45, four for $50, or five for just $11 each! Compare that with the retail price of $30 just for the video alone. This is an excellent deal. You can learn more about it or order here.
-- Author Chris Sciabarra reports in "The Altlasphere" that the film rights to Ayn Rand's "Anthem" have been acquired. "Jim Snider and Kerry O'Quinn are co-writing the screenplay for theatrical production. At one time, choreographer Agnes DeMille, and later Russian expatriate Rudolph Nureyev, liked the idea of turning Anthem into a ballet. Walt Disney even expressed interest in developing the novel as an animated film, but Anthem never made it to stage or screen. That is all about to change. Writer/Producer Jim Snider's most recent film is Hope Ranch, starring Bruce Boxleitner (Tron, Babylon-5), Lorenzo Lamas (Falcon Crest, Renegade) and Gail O'Grady (NYPD Blue, American Dreams). Writer/Producer Kerry O'Quinn built a New York magazine empire including Starlog and Fangoria, produced soundtrack albums, and developed a sci-fi series for HBO. Pre-production is slated to begin in 2004."
-- Last year, HBO cancelled Oliver Stone's loving paean to Fidel Castro after the brutal dictator rounded up 75 dissidents and executed three men charged with "hijacking" (i.e., trying to escape). Now that those events are but a distant memory, HBO has allowed Stone to air another pro-Castro documentary, "Looking for Fidel." Ann Louise Bardach, of Slate Magazine, absolutely skewers Stone over this broadcast in a rare, tough interview, revealing Stone to be a near idiot. It's a hilarious must read.
-- The National Rifle Association announced this week it is getting into the news business with an Internet talk show, TV reports and plans to buy a radio station. You can see the Internet broadcast here.
-- Some hope for the New York Times: The Times' new book review editor, Sam Tanenhaus, is, among other things, an anti-communist and a possible Ayn Rand fan. More here.
-- Over the next couple of months, libertarian comedian Tim Slagle will be performing in the following cities: Iowa City, IA; Burlington, IA; Cedar Falls, IA; and Chicago, IL. For more details, see here.
-- Cinescape.com reports that "'X-Men' director Bryan Singer has agreed to helm a remake of 'Logan's Run,' with 'Matrix' producer Joel Silver collaborating with Singer. Singer is going back to the original source material, that being the novel by William Nolan, for a new take on the concept of a future utopian society where no one ever grows old because they are killed --if not voluntarily, then by state enforcers."
-- A currently playing film of possible interest is "Goodbye, Lenin!" It's about a young East German man whose communist mother falls into a coma just before the demise of the Berlin Wall. When she comes out of the coma eight months later, the doctor warns that the slightest shock could kill her. So for the rest of the film, her son has to hide from her all the change that has taken place--claiming that there are still food shortages, government-run media, etc. It has some nostalgia for socialist trappings, but is likely to be of interest anyway. You can see the hilarious online film trailer for this film here.
-- You've probably heard that the FDA's lengthy and expensive approval process delays the release of life-saving medicines; a recently released PBS Frontline documentary, "Dangerous Prescriptions," argues that even after all the testing, the agency nonetheless approves dangerous drugs because of its cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. You can read more about this here and watch the documentary online.
-- Here's some interesting commentary from ISIL regarding the libertarian content of the recent "Lord of the Rings" films.
-- John Stossel's book, "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media" continues to have incredibly strong sales. It is currently ranked #44 in sales at Amazon, out of something like 1.5 million titles, and #6 on the New York Times bestseller list. You can get more information on this book here.
-- Variety reports that Barbara Walters will retire from ABC's 20/20 in September. "As of now, there are no plans to replace Walters on the show, meaning her current co-host, John Stossel, will fly solo." Variety also reported that Stossel's special last week, "Lies, Myths, and Downright Stupidity," ranked No. 1 for the night in total viewers. "Aside from Walters' interview in November with Martha Stewart, that was the show's strongest performance since early 2002." If you missed the show, you can read the transcript here.
-- It's not a film or TV show, but it's close enough and it's libertarian entertainment--a web site called "A Drug War Carol." The site is an online comic book parody of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," in which Scrooge is an evil drug czar. The story is not only entertaining and well illustrated, it's also informative about the history of drug prohibition. Check it out here.
-- The Libertarian Party News reports that a documentary is being made about Wisconsin Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson, who tangled with the state of Wisconsin over gambling machines in his restaurant. More on this here.
-- An interesting list of notable libertarians, including libertarians in film and television, has been posted here.
For additional libertarian film news, see the latest archive.
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Copyright © 2004 by Jon Osborne.