-- The New York Film
Critics Circle has named "Traffic,'' a new drama critical of the
War on Drugs, the year's best film, boosting the independent film's
chances for an Oscar nomination. The critics, a panel of 35 writers
representing many of the nation's top newspapers and magazines,
also chose "Traffic's" director, Steven Soderbergh, as best director.
Traffic is due for general release on January 5th.
-- UPN's new action drama
"Freedom," about an underground resistance movement that fights
to restore democracy in a post-coup U.S., has been cancelled. Ironically,
days after UPN announced "Freedom's" cancellation, the show scored
its best Nielsen rating in four weeks, despite airing in repeat.
UPN is still (currently) airing the first few episodes, however.
-- The upcoming TV show
"Family First," by "South Park" creators Matt Stone and
Trey Parker, is encountering problems due to indecision in the current
presidential election. Originally slated to begin in February, "Family
First" is to be based on the family of whomever is elected to the
White House. "Bush would be fun because he would be so pissed,"
Parker tells Inside.com. "But I think Gore would make a better show
because he's so dull you can plug anything into him. So if you want
a better show, vote for Gore. These are the lamest, most boring
people in the world and one of them is gonna be president."
-- It's time to start
thinking about holiday gift giving, so here are a few suggestions:
1) The ultimate gift
for yourself and your family--TIVO. This is a relatively new TV
enhancement product that operates as a sort of mega-VCR, using a
giant hard disk to record up to 30 hours of television. In particular,
it allows the user to record many shows without ever having to remember
to use a videotape, and it records your favorite shows on a routine
basis. TIVO is currently offering $100 off the purchase price. You
can find out more about TIVO and get a rebate coupon here.
2) Documentary video
gift pick: "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?" This is the first
John Stossel special, in which he examines common fears. His conclusion:
worrying too much about little things results in irrational behavior
and bad government policies. This video usually sells for $29.95;
Buy.com is currently offering it for $13.99.
3) Documentary video
gift pick: "Emperor of Hemp" Tells the story of hemp legalization
hero Jack Herer, author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," a virtual
encyclopedia of hemp information that Herer wrote while being imprisoned
for hemp advocacy. Amazon.com is currently offering it for $17.96.
4) Comedy video gift
pick: "The Castle." Hilarious Australian film about an ordinary
homeowner who fights back when an airport attempts to "compulsorily
acquire" his home through the use of eminent domain. It was the
audience favorite at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Amazon.com
is currently offering it for $17.99.
5) Drama video gift pick:
"Cash McCall." One of the great libertarian classics, this film
tells the story of a talented investor who overcomes envy and anti-success
prejudice. Was voted "Best Libertarian Picture" at the 1994 First
International Libertarian Film Festival. This film was out of print
for awhile, and may one day be again. Amazon.com is currently offering
it for $17.99.
6) Laissez-Faire Books
has a wide selection of video gifts for the libertarian in your
family. You can see a complete list of these here.
-- Variety recently reported
a little of the historical background of the "Atlas Shrugged" movie
project, as well as news that "The Fountainhead" may be remade by
"Forgive producer Al
Ruddy for crowing that he's got a finished script for the Turner
miniseries adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel 'Atlas Shrugged,' and
is now looking for weighty stars and a director to start production
shortly. He's been trying to adapt the book since, well, right after
he produced 'The Godfather' and it's been more than two decades
since he followed that picture by getting Rand randy about a Paramount
adaptation of her work that he told her would star Clint Eastwood,
Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway.
'This thing's been around
longer than my Chrysler, but it blew up over a contractual point,
her insistence on final script approval and I knew better, even
though this book's sold more hardbacks than the Bible,' said Ruddy.
'There's a 60-page speech, when John Galt says goodbye to America,
and she'd have wanted it all in there.' Ruddy and Rand parted with
some acrimony. 'I told her, 'I'll wait until you drop dead if I
have to,' and she said, 'I'll put it in my will that you'll be the
only person not doing it,' said Ruddy, who added that the author
was deathly afraid the Soviets would hijack any plane she took to
discuss the book, or that they would buy Paramount just to derail
But when her estate checked
through her notes, Ruddy was told he'd been favorably depicted by
the author, and Ruddy rejoined the project after UMC Holdings chairman
John Aglialoro took the rights off the table in a seven-figure deal.
Ruddy said Rand, whose 'The Fountainhead' is being developed by
Warner Bros. as a vehicle for Oliver Stone, would have liked the
script penned by Sue Black (who wrote the Ruddy-produced TNT picture
'Running Mates' with Tom Selleck). The script has been endorsed
by the Objectivist Center, flame keeper for Rand's philosophies."
reports some good things about TV shows "Ally McBeal" and "Boston
Public." "[David E.] Kelley, an ex-lawyer [and creator of hit TV
show 'Ally McBeal' and the new 'Boston Public'], has made this subject
[overregulation] the obsession of every TV show he has written.
Whenever teachers or administrators try to help or discipline students,
they immediately butt up against their or their bosses' anxiety
about litigation. The worst, in Kelley's book, are sexual harassment
laws, which he started railing about in 'Ally McBeal' long before
Monica Lewinsky got down on her knees. But there are also digs at
anti-discrimination laws and an episode about a degrading school
board regulation that requires all teachers to submit to thumb printing
since they work with children. . . . people who should be looked
up to and supported are met instead by automatic suspicion." (Original
source: Judith Shulevitz of Slate)
-- After considering
congressional efforts to control the marketing of violent movies,
the Federal Trade commission has concluded that "significant and
unsettled First Amendment issuesÉ may affect the viability of FTC
action or remedy." However, a spokesman for Hollywood critic and
Democratic VP candidate Joe Lieberman, apparently undaunted by the
Constitution, replied that "Congress would continue to hold Hollywood
to its promise to meet the six-month deadline set in September to
restrict marketing violent fare to children. Or else, the rep says,
'we will develop legislation to give the FTC the necessary authority.'"
More on this here.
-- Anti- gun rights advocate
Rosie O'Donnell is reportedly considering ending her "Rosie O'Donnell
Show" when her contract expires in early 2002. She first hinted
at this decision three weeks ago, when she threatened not to re-sign
her contract unless she was allowed to air a video of Barbra Streisand
asking viewers to vote for Al Gore. The impetus for O'Donnell's
decision appears to be plummeting ratings. More on this here.
-- The 1960's TV series
"The Prisoner" is now available on DVD and VHS video at Laissez-Faire
Books. The series, about a secret agent who tries to quit the service
and finds himself instead trapped by the State in a surreal English
village, addresses such themes as the individual and society, the
philosophical nature of freedom, and the concentration and abuse
of power. You can see a complete list of videos available at LFB
-- If you missed libertarian
comedian Tim Slagle's performance at the Libertarian National Convention
in Anaheim in July, 2000, it's now available on video from No Free
Lunch Distributors. "Slagle keeps a crowd of nearly a thousand people
roaring with laughter for over an hour. Using some of the best bits
from the past, but with mostly new material, 'Live' showcases Slagle's
prodigious talent both as a comedy writer and a performer." You
can order "Live" at 888-557-6353 for $29.95.
-- The upcoming Fox film
"Traffic," about the War on Drugs, now has a web site. The site
doesn't give a lot of information about the film, but it's a terrific
multimedia experience. "Traffic" is expected to debut in theaters
in New York City and Los Angeles on 12/25 and will be released generally
in January, 2001. The web site is here.
-- The new film "Billy
Elliot," which is now in full release in the U.S., swept the British
Independent Film Awards, winning "Best Film," "Best Screenplay,"
"Best Director," and "Best Newcomer" (the latter for its 14-year
old star Jamie Bell). Once again I strongly recommend this film
for its individualist content, and anyway it's just a wonderfully
uplifting story. You can see my full review here.
-- Laissez-Faire Books
is now offering a new John Stossel video. It's a selection of the
best of Stossel's "Give Me A Break" segments. "Stossel shows how
American taxpayers spend some 6 trillion hours annually figuring
out the complex forms for taxes which cost them more than food,
clothing and shelter combined. Supposedly the gasoline tax pays
for road repairs, but you'll see how the government spends it on
other stuff, too, like an expansion for the Greyhound Bus Museum.
Give me a break! You'll see how a clergyman tried selling caskets
for $500 so that grieving people wouldn't be hurt by excessive funeral
costs, but the government threatened to imprison him for violating
a law which suppresses competition with funeral directors who charge
$3,000 for the same caskets. Give me a break!" This video is $19.95.
You can order your copy here.
-- A lesson for the future:
In response to a recent LibertyWire request for libertarians to
ask their local PBS stations to air Harry Browne commercials (without
charge), I called my local PBS station and was stunned at how readily
they agreed to do so. I was so impressed with their cooperation
that I followed up by calling as many other stations as I had time
to. About 20-30 calls resulted in the airing of Browne's "The Great
Libertarian Offer," in two or three localities and the commercials
in a few more. It's too late to do any more of this soliciting,
as the deadline for mailing out materials has passed and PBS pre-election
schedules are already set. However, this is certainly an outreach
opportunity Libertarian Party candidates should keep in mind for
-- The script for the
upcoming film version of Atlas Shrugged has finally been finished,
after six months of struggling to capture the essence of the 1,150
page book. As reported in USA Today, producer Alan Ruddy "plans
a two-parter: two hours for the first, three for the finale. 'We're
going to start talking to actors and directors.' He says Ted Turner
loves the script, as do leaders of the late Rand's Objectivist philosophy
movement. Acknowledging 'you lose about 75% of the book,' Ruddy
says the script maintains the integrity of Rand's themes. He can
pay $1 million for the actress to play railroad owner Dagny Taggart,
and seven figures also for the Hank Rearden actor. Ruddy hopes to
begin shooting Atlas in February; it could air next fall."
-- Meanwhile, Prodos.com
has published an earlier interview with producer Alan Ruddy, screenwriter
Susan Black, and Australian movie expert Bill Collins, regarding
the Atlas project. It's here.
-- The Washington Post
reports that political candidates are starting to take advantage
of free advertising time on public radio, under the authority of
some little-known statutes. A provision of the Federal Communications
Act requires "all broadcasting outlets--commercial and noncommercial--to
provide federal candidates with 'reasonable access' to the airwaves,
without any censorship by the stations. Another part of the act
forbids noncommercial stations to accept payment for political advertising.
Taken together, the laws provisions should add up to a bonanza for
any political candidate." More on this.
-- The Libertarian Party
aired its superb anti- War on Drugs commercial last night during
the UPN season premier of "Freedom," a new series about "a not-so-distant
future, [in which] the U.S. government has been dissolved and the
military has declared a state of emergency. In this Big Brother
world, an underground resistance movement has formed to restore
the country to its former glory. In the opener, viewers meet the
four key members of this secret unit and watch as they get in trouble
and form their bonds behind the bars of a high-security prison named
after William Jefferson Clinton." The series is long on action and
short on intelligent dialogue, but it has generally received good
reviews and is likely to be of interest. "Freedom" airs on Friday
evenings on UPN.
-- ABC journalist John
Stossel produces some of the most libertarian stuff on TV. Unfortunately,
because there is little advance information on Stossel's upcoming
shows, I haven't always been able to include details about his work
in my TV schedule. At last this problem has been remedied. Stossel
now has his own email list, in which he provides up-to-the-moment
descriptions, air dates, and times for his programming. Stossel
fans should certainly subscribe. You can do so here.
-- Fans of Steve Ditko,
whose comic book work has often been featured at Laissez-Faire Books,
may be interested to know that "Spider-Man," which he co-created,
is now being made into a film by Columbia Pictures. More here.
-- Fox's upcoming film
entitled "Traffic," about the War on Drugs, is expected to debut
in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on 12/25 and will be
released generally in January, 2001. An advance review published
in "Coming Attractions" is very favorable: "Each one of [the] storylines
is connected in [its] portrayal of a different side of the drug
war. You have the Mexican drug enforcers and Mexican cartels, the
US drug Tsar and his drug user of a daughter, and the rich American
financier and leader of a drug cartel. The script is amazing in
its realism and I am, well frankly, surprised it was ever made.
This film shows the drug war as it actually is, a losing battle
with no end or means of victory in sightÉ There were no boring or
slow bits in the entire film; however they edit it, Traffic should
be an Oscar contender!"
-- The Daily Objectivist
reports that "all systems are 'go'" for the "Atlas Shrugged" movie
project, according to John Aglialoro, the investor who several years
ago purchased the movie rights to "Atlas Shrugged" from Leonard
Peikoff. However, "an upcoming Hollywood strike might or might not
delay production of this film about the strike to end all strikes.
Apparently, if production starts before a certain date, then the
production is grandfathered and can go ahead, regardless of strikes,
the sulking of the unions, etc. If so, the miniseries could air
around July 4, 2001 (though that may be a tad too optimistic)."
-- UPN is premiering
a new action show called "Freedom," on Friday (10/27). By the description,
it sounds promising: "An escalating series of events - an out-of-control
military action in a faraway land; a disastrous plunge in the stock
market, the crumbling of the nation's economy; and the tragic -
perhaps deliberate - death of an honored President have led to totalitarian
rule. Now a team of four awesomely trained rebels - fighting machines
whose razor-edged bodies and defiant spirits are ultimate weapons
- have escaped from the would-be dictator's dungeons, and they will
strike from nowhere and everywhere until the America they knew is
restored. Joel Silver, the explosive force behind 'The Matrix' and
'Lethal Weapon,' brings his high-energy expertise to this action
packed drama, with powerful futuristic weaponry pitted against the
deadly martial arts of a relentless band of guerillas in a near-future
America ruled by a military coup."
-- I delayed the newsletter
this week to have time to write a review of an outstanding new film,
"Billy Elliot." It's an intensely individualist story about a young
boy in depressed northeast England breaking free from the self-defeating
local culture to become a great dancer. This is one of the best
British films in ages and it reduced half of the theater audience
to tears. It's in limited release right now, appearing in selected
theaters around the country, and will go into full release on November
3rd. Run, don't walk, to see this film!
-- Actor Gary Oldman
is accusing Hollywood studio heads of turning his latest film, "The
Contender," into a pro-Gore "'piece of propaganda' on par with that
produced by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels." "The Contender"
is about a female political candidate who gets smeared by opponents
for her allegedly racy sexual past. Oldman says it was a relatively
balanced film until studio heads started editing it.
-- ABC has extended "Politically
Incorrect With Bill Maher" for two more years. Says Maher, "Our
whole staff is gratified by the confidence the network has shown
by a two-year commitment. It will only make me work harder, which
for us means keeping it funny and keeping it real." Maher has identified
himself as a libertarian, and expressed much agreement with Harry
Browne when Browne was recently on the show.
-- The first presidential
debate between Bore and Gush last Tuesday night attracted fewer
viewers than at any time since Kennedy and Nixon kicked off the
modern televised election campaign in 1960. It's estimated that
only 35 million people watched. (Maybe they'll eventually have to
include third parties just to get some attention!)
-- Meanwhile, as mentioned
last week, NBC's "Meet The Press" sponsored a mini- third-party
debate, including only Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, and excluding
Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne. In response, longtime
LP activist Carol Moore organized a protest outside the NBC studios:
"We got lots of attention, and I think really made an impact on
the folks at NBC. Anyone entering and leaving the premises had to
cross our line, and even Pat Buchanan stopped on his way out to
chat briefly and give us a thumbs up. It was actually quite surprising
how many motorists waved, honked and gave us a thumbs-up. Nineteen
people may not sound like a lot, but it's plenty to have an impact.
Three police cruisers were posted nearby as well as two NBC security
personnel. CNN, Fox News and the local NBC affiliate also covered
-- For the first time
in more than 30 years, TV and radio broadcasters will be free to
endorse candidates or make character attacks without providing free
airtime to opponents. "A bitterly divided Federal Communications
Commission voted 3-2 to lift its political editorial and personal
attack rules for 60 days in order to study whether the policies
should be modified -- or abolished. Both the Radio-Television News
Directors Assn. (RTNDA) and the National Assn. of Broadcasters (NAB)
long have urged the courts to overturn the rules, which they say
are antiquated and impinge on their First Amendment rights." The
media has always been biased anyway, but now at least they can be
open about it so it will be a little more obvious where they stand.
And anyway, allowing the "other side" to voice an opinion has never
meant allowing the libertarian side to speak.
-- The Harry Browne for
President campaign has just finished a new "War on Drugs" TV ad.
Says Perry Willis, Browne's campaign manager, "We believe this ad
is the most powerful of the five we've created. It will be our workhorse
ad for the remainder of the campaign." I agree; it's a terrific
radio talk-show host Larry Elder now has his own TV show, called
"Moral Court." It's not a court of law, but a court of ethics, in
which Elder presides. I'm not sure how much libertarian content
it's likely to have, but Elder fans may in any case be interested.
It appears to be syndicated and may appear on different channels
in different areas (it's on FOX in CA).
-- The film "East-West"
is expected to be released on VHS video and DVD on October 3rd.
It's a terrific drama about a naive Russian emigre and his family
who repatriate to the post-WWII Soviet Union, only to discover,
too late, the full truth about life under socialism. You can see
my full review of it here.
"The Patriot," about a war hero who reluctantly joins the American
Revolution, is due to be released on October 24th. You can see my
full review of this film here.
-- Overlawyered.com reports
that South Carolina Attorney General Charles Condon has proposed
filing coordinated state lawsuits to lay the groundwork for making
Hollywood the next legal punching bag, after the style of "Big Tobacco."
"'Clearly we have here a virtual replay of what the tobacco industry
did to our children. Instead of Joe Camel, Hollywood uses Eminem,
South Park, Doom and Steven Segal [sic] to seduce children,' Condon
wrote in a letter to the National Association of Attorneys General."
Condon believes that an "unfair trade practice" case can be made
against the entertainment industry. "Unfair trade practice" was
the legal basis for the jihad against cigarette makers, in which
Condon led an attack that won a $246 billion settlement.
-- Libertarian TV journalist
John Stossel may not be popular with the organic food industry these
days, but he hasn't lost his touch with the younger crowd. He reportedly
packed the house recently at Yale Law School with a speech on free
markets and the dangers of regulation. More on this here.
-- You've probably always
suspected that the media is biased (duh), but the debate on this
issue has largely been of the "yes it is, no it isn't" variety,
without proof on either side. Until now. David Boaz of the Cato
Institute recently used Lexis-Nexis to demonstrate just how Left-wing
the media really is. You can read his eye-opening article here.
-- A couple of weeks
ago I wrote about a relatively new TV enhancement product called
TIVO, which operates as a sort of mega-VCR, using a giant hard disk
to record up to 30 hours of television. Taking my own advice, I
bought one, and I can now endorse it wholeheartedly. At the beginning
of the week, I set up the programs I want to record in about five
minutes. When I'm ready to watch TV, TIVO has all my TV picks pre-recorded
and ready to watch. It has been so useful that I hardly ever watch
live TV anymore, and I'm no longer missing the programs I want to
see. Yes, TV is a wasteland, but in this wasteland there are a few
desert flowers, and TIVO makes it easy to view them. TIVO is currently
offering $100 off the purchase price. You can find out more about
TIVO and get a rebate coupon here.
-- If you're in the mood
for a light comedy, try "Saving Grace," a film currently playing
in theaters nationwide. It's about a middle-aged woman whose husband
unexpectedly dies bankrupt, leaving her destitute and about to lose
her cherished home. She becomes so desperate for money that she
starts growing and selling marijuana. The attitude throughout the
film is that the ban on pot is nothing more than a legislative mistake,
like Prohibition. "Saving Grace" won the Audience Award at the Sundance
Film Festival. You can read my full review and find useful links
related to the film here.
-- TV journalist Geraldo
Rivera is considering running for mayor of New York City. Rivera
is considering entering the race as an independent candidate to
replace Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, whose two terms are
up next year. The election will be held in November, 2001. Rivera
has cited "libertarian leanings" in the past, at least on personal
liberty issues, and has taken a very strong position against the
"War on Drugs."
-- Franklin Harris of
Online reports that an upcoming science-fiction TV program,
entitled "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," "will feature a race called
the Nietzscheans, who are genetically enhanced humans from the Earth
colony planet Fountainhead. Apparently, the Nietzscheans will be
libertarians of a Randian sort of bentÉ" He also reports that "a
member of the Rand-influence rock band Rush is composing the theme
music for 'Andromeda.'" Rand had some rather unkind things to say
about Nietzsche, so I'm not sure why she and Nietzsche are being
connected so closely in this story.
radio talk show host Larry Elder will be the judge in a TV court
show called "Moral Court," debuting in October.
-- Another alert reader
(thanks Ray!) informed me that the 1960's TV series "The Prisoner"
is now being released on DVD and VHS video. The series, about a
secret agent who tries to quit the service and finds himself instead
trapped by the State in a surreal English village, addresses such
themes as the individual and society, the philosophical nature of
freedom, and the concentration and abuse of power. You can pre-order
this series online at Amazon,
or Arts & Entertainment.
This series is also being made into a film, which you can learn
more about here.
-- Woody Harrelson, the
actor and sometimes hemp legalization crusader, was found "not guilty"
of marijuana possession in a trial stemming from his "ceremonious
planting of four hemp seeds" in open violation of Kentucky state
law. A six-person jury deliberated for just 25 minutes before releasing
him. Harrelson could have faced a $500 fine and 12 months in jail
-- The Internet Movie
Database (IMDB) has now added a web page to track developments in
the upcoming film "The Husband I Bought," based on an Ayn Rand novella.
As mentioned previously, "The Husband I Bought," will be directed
by Stephan Elliott (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert). Filming is
scheduled to begin in London on September 15th. The film will star
Charlize Theron (Cider House Rules) and Vincent Perez (I Dreamed
of Africa). The IMDB page is here.
-- The John Stossel special
that aired last week entitled "You Can't Say That! What's Happening
to Free Speech?" was one of the top twenty shows of the week, watched
by 11.25 million viewers, according to Reuters.
-- If you think that
movie tickets are already too high, just wait till theaters have
to install expensive captioning systems. Overlawyered.com reports
that a trial is "set to begin this week in a closely watched lawsuit
in which Portland, Oregon deaf activists have charged movie theater
proprietors with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because
they haven't installed elaborate captioning systems."
-- I finally reviewed
the currently-playing film "X-Men." The full review may be seen
is a fun action film with a strong social tolerance message. Go
Daily Objectivist reports that MTV's "Real World" show has acquired
a new cast member who describes himself as an avid Ayn Rand fan.
The description of "Jamie" on the web site of the show reports that
he is "cocky, confident, and astoundingly ambitious." He's apparently
already started spreading the word to the rest of the cast. "Jamie
said that he wanted to give books to all his roommates for Valentine's
Day, books from which he thought each individual could benefit.
He chose Atlas Shrugged for Danny, the gay roommate, and Danny thought
it was 'awesome.' A book that speaks of the sanctity of the individual
and personal happiness, a fine theme for Danny to engage considering
some of the social pressures that Danny is facing in his own life."
-- If you missed John
Stossel's excellent free speech special, which aired last Thursday,
entitled "You Can't Say That! What's Happening to Free Speech?"
it's not too late to get a copy. You can see more about and/or order
this special and other John Stossel documentaries here.
-- Want to keep John
Stossel's specials coming? It's important to let ABC know how much
you like them. Why not send a quick message thanking ABC for airing
Stossel's free speech special? It only takes about a minute. You
can do so here.
Under the "Name of Show" button be sure to select "John Stossel
-- Barbara Branden reports
(via Laissez-Faire Books) that Ayn Rand's novella, "The Husband
I Bought," will be the basis for a film to be directed by Stephan
Elliott (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert). Filming is scheduled to
begin in London on September 15th. The film will star Charlize Theron
(Cider House Rules) and Vincent Perez (I Dreamed of Africa).
-- Branden also separately
reported that Alan Ruddy, the producer of the upcoming film version
of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," is getting some intellectual input
on the meaning of the novel. No less than David Kelley and Jon Aglialoro
(both of The Objectivist Center) are advising on the production.
That's good to hear.
-- Run, don't walk, to
see the newly released film "The X-Men." I only saw it an hour ago
myself, so there's no time for a full review. But here's the gist
of it: The X-Men are the next phase of evolution, a new breed of
humanoid. They are hated and feared by the rest of humanity for
their superior abilities. The U.S. government is getting ready to
require the "registration" of X-Men since, as one senator says,
we already require the registration of gun owners, so why not require
the registration of people with superior abilities? Out of fear
that such registration will just be a prelude to their genocide,
some of the X-Men want to make war on humanity to defend themselves
and their kind. Other X-Men hope for reconciliation and instead
become humanity's defenders. In short, the involvement of government
divides humanity and the X-Men by giving force to whatever prejudice
they already have against each other. Apart from its themes of social
tolerance, government as troublemaker, and (implied) anti-envy,
this film is also terrific entertainment. It has a real story with
credible motivations (a rare thing these days), perfect casting,
wonderful heroic-type music, and first-class special effects. I'm
going to see it a second time. Go watch it!
-- Do you personally
know anyone of unusual ability? The U.S. Government demands that
you report them IMMEDIATELY. They may be X-Men and must be registered.
The site advertising "The X-Men" invites you to do so and even has
a working input screen for names. You can also take a quiz here
to see if you are an X-Man. This is an outstanding site that promotes
the film's message. It's here.
-- White House drug czar
Barry McCaffrey has announced plans to "encourage" major movie studios
to spread the anti-drug message via movies. Earlier, McCaffrey was
blasted for offering financial incentives to television producers
and networks to insert subtle anti-drug messages into TV programs.
McCaffrey has moved on to film because, as he puts it: "As powerful
as television is, some experts believe that movies have an even
stronger impact on young people." More on this here.
-- ABC's John Stossel
has reportedly declined an earlier offer to replace Oprah Winfrey
in a daytime talk show airing in the same time slot. Personally
I'm relieved, as Stossel's documentaries and segments on 20/20 are
the most libertarian stuff on TV, and I wasn't sure how he could
both take over for Oprah and still keep these documentaries coming.
-- Laissez-Faire Books
is now carrying John Stossel's recent pro- free-speech documentary
entitled "You Can't Say That! What's Happening to Free Speech?"
You can learn more about and/or buy this outstanding video here.
-- As reported in Overlawyered.com,
the tables have turned against Left-wing gadfly Michael Moore, and
he doesn't like it. Moore made a name for himself by following around
the chairman of General Motors with a video camera, constantly demanding
to know why GM had chosen to cut staff. The film resulting from
that stalking, "Roger & Me," made Moore famous. However, when one
of Moore's own staff, Mr. Edelstein, used the same technique on
Moore after being laid off, Moore had him arrested. Says Mr. Edelstein,
""He always grandstands about the First Amendment and artistic freedom,
but when I attempted to do essentially what he does, he had me arrested
and put in a cell for a day."
-- The Harry Browne Libertarian
for President campaign now has four commercials ready to air; some
of these are outstanding (especially the one entitled "Battered").
As I understand it, they have already been airing on some cable
-- "Stossel in the Classroom"
reports that 900 video kits (featuring John Stossel's libertarian-oriented
videos, like "Greed" and "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death") have
now been purchased and 336 schools are using them. That means that
over a three-year period, these kits will reach over 150,000 students.
"Stossel in the Classroom" is currently offering these kits at a
substantial discount until 8/15/00. If you know of an educator who
might be interested, please send them the link.
-- The film "Civil Action"
now has its own "Skeptics' Page." Per the film, heroic lawyer Jan
Schlittman sues a couple of large corporations for allegedly causing
childhood leukemia in a small town by dumping pollutants into the
local water supply. Is this story true or just more business bashing?
That's the question discussed on this interesting page here.
-- This week I have reviewed
"Grass," a new documentary about the criminalization of marijuana
in the U.S. It doesn't cover the medical marijuana issue much, but
it does an effective job of mocking federal pot policy generally
and tells the history of how this policy developed. You can read
this review and find many useful links related to the film here.
-- Per a recent Drudge
Report, scenes in the upcoming film "The Patriot" stunned a Los
Angeles preview audience because they depict children shooting guns.
"The controversial scene begins when Gibson's character reaches
into a chest and gives his sons rifles. 'They go into woods and
ambush the Redcoats, killing around 15 men. One son is around 13
years old, the other is 10,' says an insider. A loud 'gasp' was
heard in the screening room as the camera zoomed in for a close-up
of the kids. Shots are fired. Blood splatters on Redcoats. Mel Gibson
defended the scene over the weekend, declaring that he would let
his own kids take up weapons in self-defense. Gibson says he's taken
his children to shooting ranges. In the movie, Gibson goes to war
only after one of his sons is killed." The movie's theme -- take
arms up against those who would take your arms -- is expected to
stir the national debate over gun control. "The Patriot" is scheduled
to open on June 28.
-- Warner Brothers is
said to be making a film based on Alan Moore's comic book "The Watchmen,"
which is (along with his other book, "V for Vendetta") popular among
libertarians. Per the premise: "It's the 1980's and it's a different
world. Superheroes have been outlawed. The only ones still in operation
are under direct control of the United States government. Suddenly,
those heroes both still in action and retired find themselves targets
by an unseen enemy, who wants to kill them one by one." More on
-- A new pro-legalization-of-pot
documentary, entitled "Grass," is now playing in the theaters. I
just saw it myself and it's a film I recommend. I'll review it next
week. Meanwhile, here's another
review of "Grass."
-- Yet more evidence
that the Internet promises to bring real competition (and therefore
more points of view) to the broadcast news industry: Three Canadian
entrepreneurs have created the first live wireless Internet TV program
-- operating the entire thing out of the back of a van! Called "WorkdayTV,"
the program consists of "a mixture of interviews with mutual-fund
managers, economists, chief executives of up-and-coming technology
companies, market updates and business related banter among the
hosts." WorkdayTV is already profitable.
-- In March, the PBS
program "National Desk" aired a segment on public education entitled
"A Public Right Gone Wrong." If you missed it, it's now available
on video at Laissez-Faire Books. This documentary, hosted by Larry
Elder, "investigates proposed reforms on all sides, including public
vouchers, charter schools, private scholarships, home schooling
and tax credits." You can learn more about it or order it here.
-- Actor Woody Harrelson
will go on trial in August for planting four hemp seeds in his crusade
to cultivate the plant for industrial use. Louie Nunn, a former
conservative Republican governor of Kentucky, said he will defend
Harrelson for free because he agrees with him that hemp as a cash
crop would be a boon to Kentucky farmers. Harrelson was arrested
in 1996 for ceremoniously planting four hemp seeds in rural Kentucky
to challenge a Kentucky law that makes no distinction between marijuana
-- Last week, four senators
wrote to Federal Communications Chairman William Kennard, lamenting
graphic sexual depictions and vulgar dialogue on television. Kennard
said he "applauded" their concern. The four senators -- failed presidential
candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen.
Robert Byrd (D-VA), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) -- suggested that
Kennard "take a careful look at the licenses of local television
stations." The senators suggest that broadcasters' licenses be linked
to a "code of conduct."
-- Rosie O'Donnell, an
outspoken handgun control advocate, has reportedly hired an armed
guard to protect her son. So while she doesn't like private gun
ownership, if you can afford to hire someone to carry the gun for
you, apparently that's OK. More on this here.
-- Among the increasing
number of films now made available for viewing on the Internet via
Real Video is the classic anti-marijuana film "Reefer Madness."
It's laughably transparent propaganda. You can see it here.
-- The June issue of
Reason has a very interesting article by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley
entitled "Hollywood's Missing Movies: Why American films have ignored
life under communism." It tells the behind the scenes story of how
the Left got (and kept) the upper hand in the film industry, and
how it used its power to block films with anti-socialist content.
Billingsley is the author of "Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced
the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s."
-- Michael Gilson De
Lemos, Coordinator of the Libertarian International Organization,
has written a review of the currently playing film "Gladiator."
Says De Lemos "This, like 'Blade Runner,' is a political film, which
should be banned by governments with any desire to control their
populations, as was 'Three Hundred Spartans' back in the sixties."
You can see the full review here.
-- The film "Waco: A
New Revelation" won the Gold Prize Special Jury Award in the documentary
category at the 33rd Houston International Film Festival. This provocative
film will be shown at the upcoming Libertarian Party National Convention
in Anaheim, CA and js available on home video.
-- Twentieth Century
Fox is expected to release "X-Men," a superhero/comic-book adaptation,
on July 14, 2000. Per the premise, it sounds like something with
libertarian potential: "The X-Men are genetically gifted human beings
and the world's newest and most persecuted minority group. An enlightened
individual, Professor Charles Xavier, has founded a school and safe
haven for these powerful outcasts. Here, new initiates are taught
to harness their unique abilities to promote tolerance and to combat
the mounting hysteria that threatens to destroy their kind. Bound
by a strict code of honor, Xavier's X-Men struggle against hostile
government agencies as well as mutant supremacist Magneto and his
radical factions which seek to subjugate and ultimately exterminate
humankind." You can get more news on "X-Men" here.
-- I was out of town
last week, and so missed South Park. Too bad. According to an Associated
Press article, it featured a spoof of Janet Reno's raid to capture
Elian Gonzalez. "In [this] episode, a rifle-toting cartoon
Reno drops from a helicopter with a team of commandos to grab Romanian
quintuplets from a closet, disabling their new family with tear
gas hidden in an Easter egg." Separately, South Park makers Trey
Parker and Matt Stone announced that they have just signed a contract
with Comedy Central to produce thirty new episodes for the network
and to develop a new series to debut next year. South Park has frequently
featured themes of interest to libertarians.
-- SightSound.com has
just premiered the first full-feature online film, entitled "Quantum
Project." The 32 minute, low budget production stars John Cleese,
Stephen Dorff, and Fay Masterson. Regardless of whether the film
itself is any good, it represents the coming Internet-based film
free-for-all that will soon challenge Hollywood. This is a terrifically
promising development from a libertarian perspective, as it means
that people with good ideas but little money (e.g., us) will finally
have a shot at expressing and distributing those ideas in film.
For more information on "Quantum Project," see here.
-- The Washington Post
(4/27/00) revealed that a recent NBC "ER" episode was partly inspired
by Health and Human Services secretary Donna Shalala. "Schmoozing
with Shalala in January, 'ER' producers Neal Baer and Lydia Woodward
listened to her describe the sorry state of U.S. health care. 'She
said, 'I'm interested in elderly people who are spending such a
high percentage of their income on prescription drugs and doing
things like sharing drugs, when maybe they shouldn't be.'" And the
next thing you know, the producers made a TV show about Ms. Shalala's
concern. In this episode, an elderly woman who doesn't have adequate
medical coverage shares her husband's medication because she can't
afford her own. The implication is, of course, that the medication
should somehow be provided for free. If you want to let NBC know
what you think of this kind of government influence, you can do
so by writing: email@example.com.
Along the same lines,
Cato reports that the U.S. Postal Service is sponsoring a Showtime
movie series starring Louis Gossett entitled "The Inspectors," about
the heroic exploits of postal inspectors. Showtime is paying for
the production, with the USPS handling promotion, including producing
commemorative envelopes, and putting up posters in 40,000 post offices.
The series is intended to counter the USPS's bad image. The series
is also reportedly critical of private mail box competition, implying
that these operations look the other way with regard to criminal
activity and so need to be regulated more tightly. If you want to
tell Showtime what you think of their USPS arrangement, you can
do so here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This pattern of government
influence in Hollywood is starting to look familiar. As was previously
reported in the New York Times, the White House has been reviewing
scripts and advance footage from your favorite television programs
under a little known financial arrangement with the major networks.
Per this arrangement, to the degree that the networks introduce
plotlines the White House approves, particularly anti-drug messages,
they get credits which reduce the number of costly public service
announcements they are forced by law to air. White House drug officials
have reportedly scrutinized more than 100 episodes shown on the
major networks, including shows such as "ER" and "Beverly Hills,
90210." You can get more on this story here.
In general, if you want
to complain to media sources about compromises with their integrity
or anything else, you can find the places to do so here.
-- You've probably heard
about (or seen) the recent "based on a true story" film "Erin Brockovich."
As told in this blockbuster hit (which is so far the highest grossing
picture of the year), the residents of the small town of Hinkley,
California began suffering mysterious medical ailments after their
water supply was polluted by Pacific Gas & Electric. So legal
aide Erin Brockovich, and the lawyers for whom she worked, heroically
sued on behalf of the residents, winning for them generous compensation.
It's your typical "good law firm versus the evil corporation" story.
However, according to
a Salon.com investigative article by Kathleen Sharp, Brockovich
and her law firm actually kept a huge portion of the legal settlement
for themselves and distributed the rest in a secretive and arbitrary
manner. A survey of 81 of the residents found that they got on average
$152K. According to the film, Erin Brockovich herself got $2 million.
The lawyers got $133 million "plus costs," whatever that means.
It's unclear where the rest of the $333 million went, as the lawyers
won't reveal that information. As one resident explained how the
settlement was distributed, " "If you were buddies with Ed and Erin
[Brockovich], you got a lot of money. Otherwise, forget
it." You can see the full article here.
Separately, Michael Fumento
revealed in a Wall Street Journal article that chromium 6, the chemical
released by PG&E into the town's water supply, is not associated
with the types of cancer that it was alleged to have caused in the
town's residents. "Exhaustive, repeated studies of communities adjacent
to landfills packed with chromium 6 -- including that detectable
in residents' urine -- have found no ill health effects, cancer
or otherwise." More on this here.
-- Silver Pictures is
remaking "Logan's Run," about a man who rebels against a future
society in which it's mandated that everyone commit suicide at age
30. More on this here.
-- Robert Redford is
backing the production of "George Washington," a "revisionist" biography.
According to one reviewer's early look at the script, "while [it's]
certainly a revisionist look at the American War for Independence
and at the Founding Fathers, it is not an entirely irreverent or
damning portrait of them." Hooray! It's "not an entirely irreverent
or damning portrait." No, it's probably more like a current portrait
of them, only with a little mud flung on it. Oliver Stone is also
rumored to be involved in the project. You can see more on this
Separately, it was rumored last year that a spoof is being made
about Washington called "1789: The Making of a President." John
Cleese is expected to play Washington, who will be portrayed as
-- Dean Devlin, producer
for the upcoming film "The Patriot," was recently asked, in an interview
with Eon Magazine, what he thought of this film so far. His reply:
"Never have I been this proud of anything I've been involved with
before." "The Patriot," due to be released on June 30, 2000, is
the story of a reluctant hero who becomes an ultimately fierce warrior
during the American Revolution.
-- While watching all
the Elian Gonzalez coverage, I was reminded of a film I saw awhile
ago called "Bitter Sugar." It's about a young couple who want to
leave Cuba. The film makes for a terrific indictment of Castro's
socialism. I have repeated an earlier review of it below. It's available
for $16.99, and can occasionally be found in video stores.
Along the same lines,
probably the best film ever made about repression in Cuba is the
1984 Nestor Almendros documentary entitled "Improper Conduct." It
details Castro's relentless human rights abuses against artists,
writers and homosexuals, and it's an outstanding film in all respects.
In fact it's one of the few films of any kind to earn the perfect
"double-five" score (#####/*****), indicating both dead-on libertarian
content and first-rate production quality/entertainment value. I
recently tried to find a copy of it, and was disturbed to find that
it's no longer being carried by any of the major video retailers.
Only one retailer of which I am aware, Facets Multi-Media ( http://www.facets.org/
) or ( 773-281-9075 ) still has copies, which it's selling for $19.95.
When you have this much trouble finding a video, that usually means
it's about to go out of print altogether, so if you're interested,
buy it now.
-- Barry Mendel ("The
Sixth Sense") has committed to produce "The Prisoner" with Oscar-winning
Chris McQuarrie set to write the screenplay. The film will be based
on the 1960s cult British TV series "The Prisoner'' created by Patrick
McGoohan. "Allegorical, controversial and even surreal, the television
series was about a man who found himself trapped in a village where
everyone has a number but no name. It addressed such themes as the
individual and society, the philosophical nature of freedom, and
the concentration and abuse of power."
-- As mentioned previously,
New Line Cinema is producing a film version of Tolkien's "The Lord
of the Rings." A preview of the film has just been released, and
Tolkien fans are reportedly thrilled with the quality of the production.
You can see the preview online at the official web site here.
The first of the "Lord of the Rings" films is expected to be released
in 2001. The story concerns a ring that conveys total power to anyone
who wears it, but power, as we know, corrupts. A commentary on the
significance of "The Lord of the Rings" to libertarians can be found
-- I hope you saw
John Stossel's wonderful special on free speech entitled "You Can't
Say That! What's Happening to Free Speech," which aired last Thursday.
If you want to help encourage this type of programming, why not
send a quick email to ABC thanking them for broadcasting this show?
You can do so here.
Nielsen estimates that this special was seen by 9.6 million American
homes! If you weren't in one of those 9.6 million homes, you can
still get a copy on video by calling 1-800 CALLABC, or by visiting
News Store . The price of the video is $29.95 + S&H.
-- According to a story
reported by Reuters, "ABC News reporter and 20/20 staple John Stossel
has been tapped as the 'heir apparent' to Oprah Winfrey (ed., meaning
I think the Oprah Winfrey time slot). He is slated to get his own
one-hour news-oriented syndicated format as early as fall 2001.
'Oprah' producer King World's contract with the ABC-owned stations
expires at the same time, and Stossel's show will likely fill the
void left behind when the daytime diva's show moves to the CBS station
group. King World was recently bought by CBS Corp." If true, it
would mean greatly increased exposure for Stossel, who has done
more to mainstream libertarian ideas on TV than anyone. ABC has
added a "Stossel in the Daytime" section to its web site, with some
suggested topics for this "in development" show. To see more on
this, go to the John Stossel web site here.
-- "The Stanford Prison
Experiment" appears to be on hold. The film was to star Leonardo
DiCaprio, but apparently when word of that got out everyone involved
"wanted gobs more money." The screenplay is based on an actual experiment
conducted at Stanford University in the summer of 1971, in which
randomly chosen19- and 20-year-old students were divided into camps
of either prison guards or prisoners. What was to be a two-week
experiment was cut short after six days because of the level of
cruelty and sadism that erupted among the guards. This experiment
has been used as an example of the corrupting effect of unchecked
power. More on this here.
-- Ever thought about
having your own TV show? You can! Many cable TV companies make time
available for "public access television," which essentially means
free TV for amateurs. Where to start? Try here.
You can also get advice from Libertarian Party member Max Robinson
of Indiana. He's already producing a weekly TV show covering things
like "militarization of police, corruption of police and politicians,
marijuana legalization, the drug war, the 'justice' system, and
encouraging activism." Max can be reached here: email@example.com.
Who knows, you might launch yourself into a new media career!
-- Fox 2000 Productions
is working on a new film called "Traffic," about the illegal drug
trade. Per the description, it sounds like it has some anti- War
on Drugs potential: "It's a look beyond addiction toward the business
and politics of drug trafficking. The characters represent just
about every segment, from dealers and abusers to the law enforcement
officers and bureaucrats waging a futile war to thwart the drug
trade." More on this here.
-- The Oscar-nominated
song ``Blame Canada,'' a potty-mouthed, comic song about censorship
from the ''South Park'' movie, is creating problems for the Academy
of Motion Pictures. ABC has told the Academy Awards producers that
the song will have to be bleeped relentlessly to be aired! Studio
execs are trying to find a way around the problem. The "South Park"
movie is about a small town so determined to "save the children"
from obscene language that it goes to all extremes: including censorship,
mind-controlling implants, executions and finally war on Canada.
It's currently available on home video at the major rental chains.
-- Industry representatives
at the Berlin Film Festival announced that "a world in which thousands
of movies wait in cyberspace to be downloaded at lightning speed
could be a reality in three to five years." RealVideo is already
a reality, but this new technology will mean instant * full-screen
* viewing. The plummeting cost of cameras and film manipulation
software has already made film production inexpensive. Now the distribution
will cost no more than the set-up of a web site. Libertarian filmmakers,
start your engines! You can learn more about filmmaking here.
Film schools are listed here.
-- Todd Seavey, associate
producer for John Stossel, informed me that: "On March 23, 2000
(at 10pm Eastern, 9 Central), the one-hour ABC News special *You
Can't Say That!* with John Stossel looks at free speech vs. censorship
battles, everywhere from the workplace (where sexual harassment
rules mean that talking about romance to a co-worker can cost you
millions) to the campus of Brown University (where shrill protesters
have been known to shout down their opponents). Barring last-minute
editing, the show will include visits with comedian George Carlin,
comic book writer and film director Kevin Smith (*Dogma*, *Chasing
Amy*), *Village Voice* columnist and known beatnik Nat Hentoff,
professors Eugene Volokh and Alan Charles Kors, bomb-making and
weapons-loving author "Uncle" Ragnar Benson, reclusive and government-hating
author Claire Wolfe, and assorted others such as a bar owner at
odds with the Colorado liquor licensing board over his habit of
doing things like tattooing a popular four-letter obscenity starting
with F on his head. All this and more, March 23 on *You Can't Say
-- According to a spokesperson
for Ruddy Morgan Productions, the upcoming "Atlas Shrugged" miniseries
is still in the very early stages of development. The script has
not yet been finalized. The cast has not yet been selected. Variety
says it will be a five-hour series; TNT says it will be four. According
to TNT, the premiere date will be announced some time in 2000.
-- The film "Pleasantville,"
a cinematic attack on social conservatism and a fun film in its
own right, won the 1999 Producer's Guild "Vision Award for Imaginative
and Artistic Achievement." Pleasantville is now available on video
at major rental chains.
-- A couple of readers
wrote in this week to inform me of a vicious and inflammatory article
on John Stossel, published in Salon's online magazine. As many of
you know, Stossel produces not only the very best libertarian documentaries
on television, but also some of the most thought-provoking and interesting
journalism of any stripe. No wonder then that his films were selected
by the Chitester Foundation (which, I believe, earlier produced
Milton Friedman's excellent "Free to Choose" series) to be used
as the basis for a classroom discussion series on classical liberal
So what could possibly
be objectionable about such an arrangement? Says the Salon article:
"The arrangement touches on the fundamental ethical question of
whether or not journalists and the news organizations they work
for should align themselves with ideologically driven organizations."
The point is obviously laughably ironic. What are the major networks
themselves if not ideologically driven organizations? Polls of network
news staffs have shown reporters to be left-leaning with amazing
consistency. Nonetheless, the Salon article says that the arrangement
transforms Stossel "from a right-leaning bomb-thrower of prime time
news into a full-fledged propagandist in the classroom." The
offending article itself can be found here.
You can learn more about the "Stossel in the Classroom" program
-- Great news for the
upcoming Mel Gibson film "The Patriot." John Williams is reportedly
writing the film score! Williams previously wrote the music for
Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Jaws, and more
than a hundred additional films and television productions. He has
been nominated for thirty-eight Academy Awards, and has won five.
His music can make a huge difference to a film (imagine Star Wars
without its theme music). "The Patriot" is expected to be released
in June 2000, and will be "the story of a pacifist family man and
civilian who becomes a reluctant but ultimately fierce warrior during
the American Revolution." More on this here.
-- The VHS video version
of "The Incredible Bread Machine" is now being offered by Laissez-Faire
Books. Longtime libertarians will remember this short, educational
film as a classic. It used to be THE introductory film on libertarianism.
Indeed, as a young libertarian in college, it was the first film
I saw on the subject. It does a good job of introducing the basic
ideas of liberty, emphasizing the relationship between personal
and economic freedom. It's a little dated now, but still serviceable
as in intro to libertarianism. It's also interesting in its own
right as a window into the early libertarian movement. You can see
more about this here.
-- "The Passion of Ayn
Rand" continues to rack up awards. Peter Fonda won the Golden Globe
Award for "Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Movie
Made for Television" for his performance as Frank O'Connor. Helen
Mirren earlier won the Emmy for Best Actress.
-- There is speculation
that Bill Clinton might be in line to succeed Jack Valenti, 78,
as head of the Motion Picture Industry of America. So much for term
-- Want to have some
influence in the media? Now you can! I have added a new web page
to "Miss Liberty's Film & TV World," featuring links to the
various "feedback" sections of the network and cable channels. So
the next time you see a film, TV program or news show that particularly
delights or offends your libertarian sensibilities, you can let
the broadcasters know how you feel. Typically, it takes just a couple
of minutes to compose and send a message using this method. Bookmark
this link for future reference! It's here.
-- Steve Perlman, multi
multi millionaire of Silicon Valley fame and an apparent Rand fan
has started a new company called Rearden Steel. The company actually
has nothing to do with steel, but is an "incubator" for entrepreneurial
ideas. One of Rearden Steel's first projects is to fund a movie
idea of Perlman's, "a contemporary melodrama with some special effects,
that takes place in Silicon Valley." He is pitching the idea to
Hollywood. He now has an agent and is looking for a screenwriter.
No idea what the movie is about.
-- CATO continues to
add to its archive of interesting videotaped debates and forums
on various libertarian subjects. These can be viewed online in RealVideo.
Two recent additions are "The Economic Consequences of Immigration"
and "Should Gays and Lesbians Be Allowed to Serve Openly in the
Military?" CATO's vast archive of RealVideo can be accessed here.
-- The Winslow Boy (1999)/####/****
was released on video on February 1st. Blockbuster is now carrying
it, with lots of copies in stock. This terrific film, about a legal
fight in Britain for the right to a fair trial, has been lauded
by Objectivists in particular.
-- The Producer's Guild
of America has nominated "The Passion of Ayn Rand" for an award
in the "non-episodic television" category. The winner of the award
will be announced on 3/2/00. Meanwhile, "The Passion of Ayn Rand"
is also up for two possible Golden Globe awards. The Golden Globe
winners will be announced on Sunday (1/23). See TV schedule below.
-- New Line Cinema is
producing a film version of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." More
on this here
(book 1) and here
(book 2) and here
(book 3) . The official web site of the film is here.
A commentary on the significance of "The Lord of the Rings" to libertarians
can be found here.
-- If it seems to you
that a lot of television shows have a pro- "War on Drugs" message,
there's a reason for it. According to a report from the New York
Times, the White House has been reviewing scripts and advance footage
from your favorite television programs under a little known financial
arrangement with the major networks. Per this arrangement, to the
degree that the networks introduce plotlines the White House approves,
particularly anti-drug messages, they get credits which reduce the
number of costly public service announcements they are forced by
law to air. White House drug officials have reportedly scrutinized
more than 100 episodes shown on the major networks, including shows
such as "ER" and "Beverly Hills, 90210." You can get more on this
You can send feedback to the major networks here: ABC(email): firstname.lastname@example.org
(ABC); CBS(link to email): http://cbs.com/,
select "feedback"; NBC(snailmail): 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York,
NY 10112. Incidentally, some network executives are defending their
participation in the program, saying that the White House didn't
actually change many scripts. That is, of course, beside the point,
since the scripts were presumably designed to please those to whom
they were being submitted in the first place.
-- Last week, ABC aired
a terrific John Stossel special entitled "Why Don't the Kids Have
a Voice?" It was a documentary examination of the child welfare
system, with particular emphasis on the standing policy of social
service authorities to place children in living situations without
regard to the preferences of the children. If you missed it, you
can still read about it here.
It's also available on video and can be ordered by calling 1-800-CALL-ABC
or via ABC's online
store. If you saw the program and would like to thank
ABC for airing it, you can do so here.
-- Mel Gibson's new film
about a fighter in the Revolutionary War now has a