-- A new Australian film
of likely interest to libertarians is "Rabbit-Proof Fence." Per
the E!Online description: "Snatched from their family by the Australian
government and forced to integrate into white society, three young
Aboriginal sisters decide they'll do anything to get back home--even
if it means hoofing it 1,500 miles, through rocky terrain and desert
without a map. Based on a true story and set in 1931, 'Fence' not
only reveals a dark point in Aussie history, but tells a tale of
strength and courage that appeals to everyone." "Rabbit-Proof Fence"
has just been released in the U.S. You can learn more about this
film and see on online trailer here.
-- The International
Society for Individual Liberty has an excellent Flash "movie" introduction
to libertarian ideas. You can see it here.
-- I haven't yet seen
the Fox series "Firefly," but by the description generously provided
by Ron Krieger, it certainly sounds interesting: "The Fox network
is running a fiercely libertarian sci-fi space western series called
'Firefly,' Fridays at 8 p.m. EST. The story line, such as it is,
has a broken-down itinerant tramp-steamer spaceship wandering the
galaxy on off-the-books commercial runs, harboring fugitives from
the evil interworld government, smuggling goods and defying authority
on all planets. Not exactly Star Trek -- the federation government
is the villain in this one, and the crew of rebels includes a preacher,
prostitute, soldier of fortune, and an antihero captain just out
to make a legal or illegal buck. It's a real hoot, created by Joss
Whedon (Toy Story, Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) -- more in the
tradition of 'Have Gun Will Travel' than 'The Prisoner,' but definitely
on the side of liberty, individualism, and unfettered free trade."
-- Court TV has produced
another made-for-TV film of libertarian interest: "The Interrogation
of Michael Crowe" is the true story of a 14-year old boy who was
coerced into giving a false murder confession, and of his parents'
heroic effort to clear him of the crime. Court TV has an excellent
web page about this film and about the rights of the accused
with respect to interrogation, including a movie trailer.
-- A humorous video clip
on teaching your kids about taxes, by libertarian comedian Tim Slagle,
is currently available to watch in Real Video here.
-- "Crime Strike," a
program that focuses on citizen self-defense against crime, often
including stories of individuals using private firearms to deter
criminals, also takes an explicit pro- second amendment political
posture. "Crime Strike" airs on different channels in different
areas; you can find out if/when it airs in your area here.
-- Ethics professor Tibor
Machan has written an excellent essay on the interplay between fictionalized
glorification of police brutality and the actual stuff. You can
read it here.
-- A researcher for an
unnamed director emailed me this week asking if I knew who currently
holds the film rights to "The Fountainhead." It was previously reported
in Variety that "The Fountainhead" was "in development" for Oliver
Stone. Apparently, another director also has an interest in remaking
-- Per The Hollywood
Reporter, "CBS is developing a two-hour movie based on the life
of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist whose Underground Railroad helped
about 300 slaves escape to freedom before the Civil War. Angela
Bassett has signed on as star and executive producer."
-- "Ararat," a new film
regarding the Turkish government's massacre of an estimated million
Armenians in 1915, has been completed and is now being screened
at the Sao Paulo 26th International Film Festival. You can see more
about this film here.
-- Libertarian film students:
Want up to $10,000 in tuition assistance? You have just three months
left to apply for a "Film & Fiction Scholarship" from the Institute
for Humane Studies. Get more information on this generous program
-- The upcoming Walden
Media film "Rebels" is now expected to be released in 2003. The
film will relate the story of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain
Boys, who first fought New York state to establish their own state
of Vermont, and then joined the American Revolution to drive out
-- FreeNation.TV, an
investigative reality program, is seeking stories of heroic civil
disobedience against bad laws to feature in future editions of its
show. Know of someone whose story should be told? Get more information
-- Another friend in
the industry? In a Film Force interview, TV star John Adams, of
USA Network's "The Dead Zone," was asked to name his favorite book.
His answer: Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." More on Adams here.
-- A recently released
film of likely interest to libertarians is "Das Experiment," a German
film based on the now famous "Stanford Experiment" conducted in
1971 at Stanford University, in which students were asked to role-play
as prisoners and prison guards. Despite the relatively innocent
university setting, the students empowered to be "guards" soon became
so sadistic and abusive that the experiment was cut short, thus
providing what is now considered a classic example of the potential
for even limited power to tend toward abuse. This German telling
of the story is receiving generally favorable reviews. More on this
-- The organization "Jews
for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership" is producing a documentary
that explores the historically well-established relationship between
genocide and gun control. Entitled "Innocents Betrayed," this documentary
is expected to be released in 2003. More on this here.
-- FX has announced a
new political reality TV series called "American Candidate." The
show will be a two-year production culminating in the selection
of a "people's candidate" to run for president of the U.S. in 2004.
To land a slot on the show, applicants
will have to fill out questionnaires, provide videotapes in which
they explain why they would make a great president and put together
a group of 50 supporters from their community who will serve as
sponsors. The process is expected to get under way in January 2003,
with the first of a minimum 13 episodes likely to air starting in
January 2004. Needless to say, whoever wins will get tremendous
free advertising. A possible opportunity for Libertarians? More
on this here.
-- Readers interested
in discussing libertarian themes in popular culture (including art,
music, cartoons, movies, TV, etc.) may want to check out the Yahoo
"Libertarian Culture" discussion group. More on this here.
-- Thinking of buying
an expensive new television? Maybe you should wait. U.S. lawmakers
are working on an effort that would render standard televisions
and VCRs obsolete within five years by requiring broadcasters to
switch to digital, copy-protected signals. Digitalconsumer.org,
a consumer group, has blasted the proposal, saying it would hurt
innovation and curtail the "fair use" rights of consumers to make
limited copies of programming for personal use. "This bill draft
would give an unelected, unaccountable federal bureaucracy the authority
to dictate the use of and regulate the devices in a consumer's family
room." More on this here.
-- One of the more popular
features of this newsletter has been the recommendation of libertarian
film bargains on Ebay. These recommendations are now available online
and include some fabulous and cheap selections. See them here.
-- Two new films of possible
interest are premiering soon. First, "Phone Booth" is a direct dial
call for more personal responsibility. Says director Joel Schumacher,
"I know in the United States we've fallen into the civilization
of 'victimology' where people are not responsible for what they've
done... My [hero] is someone who's just fed up with it and he's
now decided to follow people and make them accountable...for the
lies they've told, make them accountable for the way they've treated
other people (and) the choices that they've made." Of course, he
accomplishes this by threatening to blow people's heads off, but
at least his heart is in the right place. "Phone Booth" is due for
release on 11/15/02. Second, anti-war activists may be interested
in "The Four Feathers," about a young military officer who refuses
to fight in a war he sees as unjustified. Taken to be a coward,
his friends reject him, only to learn later how wrong they were.
"The Four Feathers" is due for release on 9/20/02.
-- On 12/18/02, New Line
Cinema will release "The Two Towers," the sequel to the Academy
Award winning film "The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring," which won "Best Libertarian Film" in
2001. You can see the trailer to the upcoming film here.
-- According to the Internet
Movie Database, the expected release date for the Stephen Elliott
film "The Husband I Bought," based on Ayn Rand's novella, is now
2003. More on this film here.
libertarian film students: the Institute for Humane Studies is offering
scholarships of up to $10,000 to support the study of filmmaking
or creative writing. Applications are being taken here.
-- The upcoming Christian
Bale film "Equilibrium," which posits a future totalitarian world
in which the population has been forcibly drugged as a means of
keeping peace, is now scheduled for release on 12/6/02.
-- "Stossel in the Classroom,"
the organization that promotes John Stossel's libertarian documentaries
in schools, reports that there are now 6,500 Stossel in the Classroom
Teaching Kits currently being used by more than 3,500 High School
Teachers, Media Specialists, Guidance Counselors, Community College
Instructors, College and University Professors, Home Schoolers,
Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, Public Libraries, Businesses,
and other Educational Organizations. Currently, 4% of all public
and private schools with a grade 7 or higher have at least one SITC
Teaching Kit. Want to help SITC continue its success? You can learn
more about "Stossel in the Classroom" and/or make a donation here.
-- PBS is airing its
long-awaited "Liberty's Kids" series, an educational cartoon about
the American Revolution. (You can learn more about this program
As always with PBS programs, it's up to local affiliates to decide
if and when to air them. To see if and when this program will be
broadcast in your area, check out your local PBS schedule here.
-- According to Nielsen
Media Research, an amazing 5.2 million households tuned in to watch
John Stossel's wonderful anti- "War on Drugs" special last week.
Why not send a quick message of support to ABC, thanking them for
John Stossel's work? You can do so here.
(Select the option "John Stossel Reporting).
-- This week Cinemax
will air "Liberty Stands Still," one of the most anti-libertarian
films of the year (a tough title to capture, given the release this
year of the morally appalling pitch for national health care, "John
Q"). "Liberty Stands Still" (8/9) features Wesley Snipes as a father
who lost his daughter in a high school shooting, and who responds
by seeking revenge on the gun manufacturer. He chains the gun manufacturer's
wife to a hot dog stand full of explosives, and while threatening
her life, editorializes on the evils of private gun ownership. Happily,
the film has received generally negative reviews; as one reviewer
put it, "[Writer/director Kari Skogland] isn't just preaching to
the choir, she's preaching to other preachers, and it rapidly becomes
very, very tiresome."
-- Scary legislation
on the way: The "Peer to Peer Piracy Prevention Act," sponsored
by Hollywood-area Representative Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Rep.
Howard Coble (R-N.C.), would allow copyright owners, such as the
film and recording industries, to secretly hack into users' computers
and unleash new technologies to thwart unauthorized trading of movies
or music. More on this diabolical plan here.
-- The current web special
at Laissez-Faire Books is a three video set of Milton Friedman interviews
for $30, half off the list price. More on this here.
-- The L.A. Times reports
that the relatively libertarian "Freedom Newspaper" chain, which
owns the influential "Orange County Register" as well as eight television
stations, may be sold, possibly ending its libertarian editorial
stance. More on this here.
-- It was recently brought
to my attention that the film "An American Story," about a 1946
armed rebellion against corrupt local government and which I reviewed
in "Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video," was based on "The Battle
of Athens, TN," the anniversary of which is now being honored. More
on this rebellion here.
Two copies of "An American Story" are currently available on Ebay:
-- The film version of
"Lord of the Rings," which won "Best Libertarian Film of 2001,"
will be released on home video on 8/6/02. You can read my review
of it here.
Or see film award comments on it here.
-- The current undisputed
king of prime time TV in Spain is "Cuentame como paso" (Tell Me
How it Happened), a series about a family living under the dictatorship
of General Francisco Franco in the 1960s and 1970s. The show tells
what middle-class life was like in the midst of rampant police brutality
and authoritarian rule. More on this here.
-- Director Francis Ford
Coppola ("The Godfather") is lining up some major talent to participate
in his upcoming film "Megalopolis," possibly including Russel Crowe,
Robert De Niro, Nicholas Cage, and Paul Newman. "Megalopolis," reportedly
similar to Ayn Rand's novel "The Fountainhead," concerns the conflict
between a real estate entrepreneur, who wants to construct a building
out of a new and cheap advanced plastic compound, and the well-liked
New York mayor who is out to stop him. More on this here.
-- John Grisham's novel
"The Runaway Jury," is being brought to the big screen by Warner
Brothers. In the novel, a jury deciding a landmark anti- Big Tobacco
case is manipulated by evil powers-that-be; in the film, the jury
will be deciding a landmark case against a gun manufacturer. Of
course, when the world is full of business interests despised by
the Left, it's hard to know which to portray as evil first. Anyway,
an early draft of the screenplay has the CEO of the gun manufacturing
business breaking down on the stand, no doubt riddled with guilt,
and his breakdown is followed by "a preachy finale." One can only
imagine. The good news is that the screenplay is reportedly not
impressive in artistic respects, so maybe the film will bomb like
the anti- Big Tobacco film "The Insider." More on this here.
-- In an interview with
IGN.com Insider, David Dozoretz, master visual effects artist responsible
for many of the good things seen in "Star Wars: Episode II," "Moulin
Rouge," "Forest Gump," etc. was asked which are his favorite novels.
His answer: "Atlas Shrugged and Catcher in the Rye." Dozoretz also
mentions objectivism in the interview. Another friend in the industry?
More on Dozoretz here.
-- A year after its initial
publication, the companion guide to this newsletter, "Miss Liberty's
Guide to Film and Video," is still ranked in the top third for sales
at Amazon.com. Thanks for the purchases! Haven't yet ordered your
copy? You can do so here.
Note: According to Amazon's new policy, if you buy more than $49
worth of goods, shipping is free.
-- A half-hour Objectivist
television news show called "FreeNation TV" is currently in development.
The show will be "an investigative reality program that focuses
exclusively on government wrongdoing at all levels. We will follow
the stories of brave individuals that have chosen to challenge unjust
laws, taxes, and regulations through televised civil disobedience.
We will also expose government waste, abuse of power and unjust
laws in segments created in-house and those submitted by our viewers."
I watched the online demo, about a man who smokes pot in open violation
of the law, and was impressed; the show has a compelling David and
Goliath character. You can learn more about FreeNation TV, watch
the online demo, and/or offer support/sponsorship here.
-- The Stossel in the
Classroom program, which promotes ABC journalist John Stossel's
libertarian-themed documentaries to teachers, continues to receive
rave reviews. You can read the reviews, donate to the program, or
purchase video kits here.
-- The Libertarian Party
News reports that LP member and film student Tom Sime is hoping
to make a documentary about the LP. The documentary will feature
events from state conventions, discussions with elected LP officials,
and person-on-the-street interviews. Sime, an Art History and History
of Film major at Northern Virginia Community College, is seeking
publicity, funds, and legal advice for the film. For more information
or to make a contribution toward production of the film, email email@example.com.
-- "Miss Liberty's Guide
to Film and Video," the companion guide to this newsletter
has recently been reviewed by Sunni Maravillosa of "Doing Freedom!"
magazine. "Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video" is available
at Amazon.com, Laissez-Faire Books, and Advocates for Self-Government.
You can read the review here.
-- A film from India,
described by one reviewer as "hands down, the second-best three
and-a-half-hour musical about taxation--ever (second to '1776'),"
has just been released in theaters nationwide. "Lagaan: Once Upon
a Time in India" is about an unjust land tax levied on Indian peasants,
and was nominated for the "Best Foreign Language Film" Academy Award.
You can find reviews of it here.
-- "Ender's Game," a
book I have not read but which I am told has an individualist message,
is being considered for adaptation to the big screen. More on this
-- A few weeks ago, PBS
aired the documentary series "Commanding Heights: The Battle for
the World Economy." This series--which tells the story of the victory
of market forces over socialism, and includes interviews with, among
others, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Hernando de Soto, P.J. O'Rourke,
and Sam Peltzman--received very favorable reviews. Laissez-Faire
Books is now selling this series in a 3 VHS video set for $40. More
on this here.
-- Update on the Atlas
Shrugged Movie Project:
As mentioned previously, TNT dropped plans for an Atlas Shrugged
TV Miniseries, but producer Al Ruddy is still attempting to arrange
production of an Atlas Shrugged movie. Meanwhile, according to a
comprehensive article on the subject posted at the Atlas Society
web site, John Aglialoro, who holds the film rights to the novel,
is "looking at all the options in terms of how to structure the
story as well as the project. After half a dozen scripts that tried
to tell the whole story, it may be time to consider spinning out
the core plot of the strike, which conveys Rand's essential message,
and not trying to include all the subsidiary plot-lines, relationships,
and consequences of the strike." You can see this interesting article,
which also details the demise of the TNT miniseries, here.
-- Stanford University's
Hoover Institution produces a weekly television show called "Uncommon
Knowledge," which often features libertarian economists and thinkers.
Upcoming shows cover such issues as choice in schools and property
rights. You can learn more about this program and find which PBS
affiliates in your area carry it here.
-- Attention teachers!
The outstanding libertarian documentary "John Stossel Goes to Washington"
is now available as a teaching tool complete with video, teacher's
guide, student study guide, and supplemental teaching materials.
In this documentary, ABC News journalist John Stossel (formerly
a consumer reporter) does a "consumer report" on government, examining
government services, taxes, rules etc. to see if they really benefit
Americans. "John Stossel Goes to Washington" won "Best Libertarian
Documentary" in 2001. You can learn more about the teacher's edition
of this video here.
-- Bad news on the "Atlas
Shrugged" miniseries project: the deal with TNT is off. In announcing
the unwinding of the deal, however, a spokesperson at Ruddy Morgan
Productions also said that the company hasn't given up on Atlas.
The script has been rewritten as feature motion picture and is currently
being circulated in Hollywood with the hope of attracting leading
players. Let's hope that some bankable talent is interested, "in
the name of the best within us." You can see more about the Atlas
movie/miniseries project here.
-- "A beautiful mind
did not conceive of the plot for Denzel Washington's latest movie,
John Q. The aforementioned John Q. (Archibald) is a father whose
son falls ill with a mysterious heart disease, and who takes an
emergency room hostage to demand a heart transplant upon discovering
that neither his insurance nor the hospital will pay for the procedure.
You may be wondering why John Q. didn't take other steps... The
movie makes an effort to imply that the health-care system made
him do it." So writes Robert Goldberg in his interesting commentary
on "John Q.", a morally appalling cinematic pitch for national health
care. You can read Goldberg's full commentary here.
-- Next weekend, PBS
will air the documentary "Bringing Down a Dictator." "This program
traces the opposition to Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic throughout
the year 2000, including the dramatic nonviolent revolt that drove
him from power and installed the newly elected president Vojislav
Kostunica in October 2000." As always with PBS programs, it's up
to local affiliates to decide if and when to air them. To see if
and when this program will be broadcast in your area, check out
your local PBS schedule here.
-- Court TV premiered
its first original movie last week, "Guilt by Association."
This film is the story of "Susan Walker," a widowed mother of two,
who becomes an unwitting victim of the country's War on Drugs. In
particular, when Walker's boyfriend is arrested for selling pot,
she too is arrested, as the law holds anyone "knowledgeable" of
drug dealings fully responsible even if they weren't otherwise involved.
Under the country's stringent Mandatory Minimum Sentence law, Walker
is sent to prison for 20 years. While incarcerated, she struggles
to gain her freedom and reunite her family before their lives are
This film is a frontal
assault on mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes and is pretty
unsympathetic to the War on Drugs generally. Also in the plus column,
the heroes here are the members of FAMM (Families Against Mandatory
Minimums), whose energetic efforts on Walker's behalf result in
her release. The premiere of this film was viewed by one million
households, Court TV's highest-rated night of programming so far
-- On April 3rd, PBS
will air the first installment of its series "Commanding Heights:
The Battle for the World Economy," based on the Daniel Yergin and
Joseph Stanislaw book "Commanding Heights: The Battle Between Government
and the Marketplace that is Remaking the Modern World." This series
will tell the story of the victory of market forces over socialism,
and includes interviews with, among others, Milton Friedman, Gary
Becker, Hernando de Soto, P.J. O'Rourke, and Sam Peltzman. (You
can learn more about this program here.)
-- The Libertarian Party
news reports that The American Liberty Foundation ran a provocative
anti- gun control ad on CNN In February, marking the first time
that a non-campaign, explicitly libertarian ad appeared on national
television. The stated mission of The American Liberty Foundation
is "to create and broadcast television ads which teach people about
individual liberty, personal responsibility, and small, constitutional
limited government." For more on the American Liberty Foundation
and its ads, see here.
-- As mentioned previously,
PBS is producing an animated series about the American Revolution,
called "Liberty's Kids." Just announced is the addition of two more
celebrity voices to the cast--Sylvester Stallone and Michael York.
The series is set to premiere on Labor Day.
-- Enjoy John Stossel's
weekly "Give Me A Break" segments on 20/20? You can receive advance
information on the content of each week's segment in a free email
reminder from John Stossel. (Unfortunately, the specific content
of his weekly "Give Me A Break" segment is not available in time
for this newsletter and is only available through his email reminder.)
Stossel is the best presenter of libertarian ideas on television.
You can sign up for his emails here.
-- Network TV executives
are reportedly pushing the idea that government bureaucrats will
make interesting watching and are ready for primetime in such shows
as "The Agency," "First Monday," "Emma Brody," and "West Wing."
New York Post television columnist Adam Buckman says, "The interest
in the federal government is just part of television's continuing
search for TV-show environments besides hospitals and police precincts."
More on this here.
-- C-SPAN's "American
Writers" series will air its segment on Ayn Rand on May 12 and May
17. Mark your calendars! More
-- The Christian Bale
film "Equilibrium" is expected to be released in about a month.
"Equilibrium" posits a future totalitarian world in which the population
has been drugged. Emotions, it seems, were determined to be the
root evil of various human problems, so government has forcibly
administered drugs that erase emotional sensation. Enter one of
the enforcers of this regime, played by Bale, who begins to see
how pointless life is in this new state of things. After some reawakening
of his own emotions, he determines to free the world from this oppressive
regime. More here.
-- Variety reports that
director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile) has replaced Mel Gibson
as the director of the upcoming Castle Rock Entertainment remake
of "Fahrenheit 451." Based on a Ray Bradbury novel, the film will
be about a future world in which books are banned by the State.
-- The Warner Brothers
remake of "Logan's Run" is now expected to go into production in
2003. Writer/director Skip Woods is currently writing the screenplay.
-- Advocates for Self-Government
reports that actor Wil Wheaton, formerly Wesley Crusher of "Star
Trek," is a libertarian. Says Crusher, "I'm a geek and a libertarian,
so I'm really on my own. There aren't very many people [in Hollywood]
who are aware of these kinds of issuesÉI am particularly concerned
right now with the political climate in this country. Everyone,
or at least the vast majority of people, seems to be all too willing
to give away the basic rights that separate America from so many
other countries. It really bothers me, for example, that the Justice
Department wants to do warrantless searches, and it really bothers
me that they want to be able to go to my ISP and monitor my e-mail
and monitor my traffic in real time across a cable modem. Stuff
like that really makes me angry."
-- Adding to its widespread
critical accolades, the fantasy epic "The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring" won best-picture honors and two other prizes
at the first American Film Institute Awards.
-- Lawmakers are blasting
a decision by NBC to begin showing hard-liquor ads on television.
NBC will be the first major national network to do so since a "voluntary"
television ban was established in 1948. Congressmen are considering
making the previously "voluntary" ban a federal law, confirming
once again that "voluntary" has little meaning to legislators.
-- Russia's embattled
TV6 station, the only national network outside Kremlin control,
has been closed for allegedly failing to comply with state financial
regulations. The station has been critical of Russian President
-- The Libertarian Party
News reports that Hollywood movie producer Aaron Russo will run
for governor of Nevada on the Libertarian ticket. Among other films,
Russo produced "The Rose" (1979) and "Trading Places" (1983).