'What Is the Tea Party?' Racist Says Morgan Freeman + Warren Beatty & Paramount Part Ways

'What Is the Tea Party?'Morgan Freeman accuses far-right Republican group of racism: 'Dolphin Tale' Box Office Affected?

Morgan Freeman, Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner for Million Dollar Baby, accused the Tea Party of being racist while interviewed on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight this past Friday. Freeman also denied he had provided narration for a Tea Party-backed ad pushing North Carolina Republican candidate B. J. Lawson in November 2010.

As quoted on CBS.com, last November Morgan Freeman had affirmed: “These people are lying. I have never recorded any campaign ads for B. J. Lawson and I do not support his candidacy. And, no one who represents me ever [sic] has ever authorized the use of my name, voice or any other likeness in support of Mr. Lawson or his candidacy.”

As for the Tea Party, Freeman told Morgan: “Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What underlines that? 'Screw the country. We're going to whatever we can to get this black man outta here.”' (As per an April 2010 CBS/New York Times poll, "one in four [Tea Party members] believe the administration favors blacks over whites, an opinion shared by just 11 percent of Americans overall and seven percent of non-Tea Party whites.")

Freeman added that the Tea Party “just shows the weak, dark, underside of America. We're supposed to be better than that. We really are. That's why all those people were in tears when Obama was elected president. Look at what we are, you know? And then it just sort of started turning, because these people surfaced like stirring up muddy water.”

Following Freeman's attack on the American far-right, some began wondering if his statements would hurt the box office prospects of Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros.' Dolphin Tale, which opened this weekend at 3,507 locations and in which Freeman has a featured role. After all, the Charles Martin Smith-directed drama has been marketed as an inspirational “family movie,” geared to the same people – conservatives, traditionalists, reactionaries, or whatever you want to call them – that turned the Sandra Bullock vehicle The Blind Side into a sleeper blockbuster in late 2009. The Dolphin Tale marketing, in fact, emphasizes that the film comes from “the studios and producers of The Blind Side.”

As per Deadline.com, Alcon Entertainment co-founder Andrew Kosove expected Dolphin Tale “to win the box office derby but it finished No. 3 with a solid $20.2 million.” If so, Kosove may have been the only one to have such high hopes, as pundits everywhere were predicting that Disney's The Lion King would take the box office crown for the second weekend in a row. Else, Bennett Miller's Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, would come out on top. Dolphin Tale was usually listed in third place, or, possibly, in second depending on how Moneyball, considered an “adult movie,” fared on the weekend proper. (Saturdays and Sundays usually belong to movies targeting either teenagers or pre-teens and their parents/nannies.)

Well, despite Brad Pitt's widely disseminated pro-gay marriage remarks on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show – hardly the type of stance embraced by the vast majority of Tea Party members (see follow-up post) – Moneyball, a movie about the very traditional sport of baseball, was only slightly behind Dolphin Tale on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to a huge Friday lead, Moneyball ended up at no. 2 this weekend with an estimated $20.6 million. (At this stage – Sony expected a 34 percent drop for Moneyball on Sunday vs. Warner Bros.' estimated 24 percent drop for Dolphin Tale – it seems unlikely that their positions will be reversed once box office actuals are released on Monday.)

Alcon Co-Founder Andrew Kosove Disagrees with Morgan Freeman Tea Party Views

As for Morgan Freeman's remarks affecting Dolphin Tale's box office results on opening weekend, Kosove wrote Deadline.com's Nikki Finke that he did “not believe it affected Dolphin Tale's gross by even one dollar!” Kosove then proceeded to distance himself from Freeman's remarks, stating that "I do not share Morgan's view and do not believe this kind of harsh partianship [sic] by either end of politcal spectrum is helpful in these very difficult times." He then added that “as a person who has some libertarian viewpoints myself,” he “strongly” believed in Freeman's “right to express whatever beliefs he has on any topic.” He ended his comment with the usual “this is a free country.”

Of course, whatever actually happened behind closed doors at Alcon and Warner Bros. may have been something else altogether, "free country" or no.

And as for the Tea Party, Morgan Freeman's views don't seem to be really at odds with those espoused by David E. Campbell, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, in an August 2011 op-ed in the New York Times:

And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 – opposing abortion, for example – and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics.

In addition to Morgan Freeman, who plays Dr. Cameron McCarthy, Dolphin Tale features Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr, Austin Stowell, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, and Frances Sternhagen. Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi wrote the screenplay.

Justin Bieber & Sigourney Weaver at 'Abduction' Hollywood Premiere

Justin Bieber, teen idol emeritus, showed up at the Thursday night (Sept. 15) Hollywood premiere of the Taylor Lautner movie Abduction, a thriller directed by Academy Award nominee John Singleton. The premiere took place a Grauman's Chinese Theatre. In addition to Bieber, Lautner, and Singleton, also attending the Abduction Hollywood premiere were Sigourney Weaver and Selena Gomez.

Abduction was written by Shawn Christensen. Besides Lautner and Weaver, the thriller also features Lily Collins, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Michael Nyqvist, Alfred Molina, and William Peltz. The Lionsgate release opens September 23 in the United States.

Justin Bieber photo via Abduction's Facebook page.

Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver is seen above at the Hollywood premiere of the Taylor Lautner film Abduction, directed by John Singleton from a screenplay by Shawn Christensen. The Abduction premiere took place last Thursday evening at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

Among Sigourney Weaver's numerous film and television credits in the last three decades are Ridley Scott's Alien, Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously, James Cameron's Aliens and Avatar, Mike Nichols' Working Girl, Michael Apted's Gorillas in the Mist, Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, and Russell Mucahy's widely praised TV drama Prayers for Bobby.

In addition to Lautner and Weaver, Abduction also features Lily Collins, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Michael Nyqvist, Alfred Molina, and William Peltz. The Lionsgate release opens September 23 in the United States. (Abduction trailer.)

Sigourney Weaver photo via Abduction's Facebook page.

Warren Beatty-Howard Hughes Project No Longer at Paramount

Warren Beatty's Howard Hughes film project is no longer to be housed at Paramount, TheWrap reports.

The announcement that Beatty's old dream of playing the multi-affaired multibillionaire would finally come to fruition was issued in late June. At the time, a statement by Paramount's chairman and CEO Brad Grey read: “Warren's script is quintessentially Beatty, elegantly written and wonderfully entertaining. It is our privilege to have one of the great artists in the history of the film industry come home to Paramount.” The studio distributed two of Beatty's greatest critical and box office successes, Heaven Can Wait (1978) and Reds (1981).

But as they say, you can never go back home again. Beatty has reached a deal with New Regency, which is partly owned by 20th Century Fox. As per TheWrap, the actor-director-producer-screenwriter declined to comment on why he made the move.

Back in June, Deadline.com said that Beatty was “meeting with” the likes of Andrew Garfield, Alec Baldwin (who had a role in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes' biopic The Aviator), Shia LaBeouf, Jack Nicholson, Evan Rachel Wood, Rooney Mara, and, inevitably, wife Annette Bening. Of course, whether all those meetings will lead to roles in an actual movie remains to be seen. Andrew Garfield, for one, is purportedly already out of the picture due to scheduling conflicts; Rooney Mara, on the other hand, is reportedly the 74-year-old Beatty's choice for the young female lead, though that may change as well.

Beatty's Howard Hughes film is supposed to begin shooting later this year. If that does indeed take place, we may have an important contender for the 2013 Oscars (in case the movie gets released next year).

After all, when working both in front and behind the camera, as will be the case here, Warren Beatty has been extremely lucky with Academy voters: his four movies as a director-star – Heaven Can Wait (co-directed with Buck Henry), Reds, Dick Tracy (1990), and Bulworth (1998) – garnered a total of 29 Academy Award nominations, including two Best Picture and two Best Actor nods. As a plus, both Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator) and Jason Robards (Jonathan Demme's Melvin and Howard) received Oscar nominations for playing Hughes on the big screen.

'Wanted' Screenwriters to Write 'Wanted 2'

Wanted screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, who are also responsible for 2 Fast 2 Furious, 3:10 to Yuma, and the upcoming The Double (which Brandt also directed), have been hired by Universal to write Wanted 2. Haas mentioned the news in a brief tweet earlier today.

At TheWrap, Haas added that “we just always loved the Wanted world and loved working with Universal and [director] Timur [Bekmambetov] on the first one, so we're excited.” However, it's unclear if Bekmambetov will return as director.

There was also no mention of whether Angelina Jolie's character will be resurrected for the sequel to the 2008 actioner. About a year or so ago there was widespread speculation that Bella Swan herself, Kristen Stewart, would play the female lead in a proposed Wanted 2. The original's James McAvoy would presumably co-star.

Also in the cast of the original Wanted were Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, and Thomas Kretschmann. In addition to Brandt and Haas, Chris Morgan was also credited for the screenplay.

Wanted image: Universal Pictures.

Utah Movie Theater Fined for Showing 'The Hangover 2'

A screening of Todd Phillips' The Hangover Part II led to a $1,600 fine for Utah movie theater Brewvies, which serves liquor to their 21-and-over-only patrons. According to an Associated Press report, the fine was issued by Utah's state liquor board because “of prohibitions on showing a film with sex acts, full-frontal nudity or even the 'caressing' of breasts or buttocks.”

I haven't watched the Thailand-set The Hangover 2, but as per the AP report, it features male, female, and transvestite full-frontal nudity. (And it didn't get an NC-17 rating from the MPAA? What's the world coming to?). All that full-frontality, and a simulated oral sex scene between a little monkey and a local monk, too. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, the sequel to the sleeper hit The Hangover was written by director Phillips, Craig Mazin, and Scot Armstrong.

The report adds that Utah's “repeat offenders may be fined up to $25,000 and lose their liquor license for up to 10 days.” The no-caressing-buttocks, etc. law is only applied to establishments that serve liquor.

Remember, this happened in the United States – not, say, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or Iran (where they're big fans of The Hangover movies, I'm sure) – in 2011.

The Hangover Part II picture: (Melinda Sue Gordon / Warner Bros.)

Charlie Sheen, Warner Bros. TV Settle 'Two and a Half Man' Lawsuit

Charlie Sheen and Warner Bros. TV have reached an agreement. As per an official statement released by the studio, “Warner Bros. TV, Chuck Lorre and Charlie Sheen have resolved their dispute to the parties' mutual satisfaction. The pending lawsuit and arbitration will be dismissed as to all parties. The parties have agreed to maintain confidentiality over the terms of the settlement.”

Sheen was fired from the television show Two and a Half Men last winter for publicly badmouthing show creator Lorre. The actor then filed a $100 million lawsuit against the studio. According to some reports – and those may be way off – the “mutual satisfaction” resolution includes a $25 million settlement for Sheen.

Ashton Kutcher has since replaced Sheen in Two and a Half Men, who died the death on the show by, off camera, slipping on a Paris subway platform and falling in front of an oncoming train, his body exploding “like a balloon full of meat.” Kutcher's first Two and a Half Men appearance lured 28 million viewers, a record for the show co-starring Jon Cryer.

As for Warner Bros., the studio has been involved in other lawsuits in the past, most notably the one in the mid-1940s featuring Olivia de Havilland as the plaintiff. De Havilland's court victory brought an end to the Hollywood studios' practice of one-sidedly extending the long-term contracts of its players.

Warner Bros. TV statement via EW.com.

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{ 7 Comments }

  1. 360 Films says:

    I completely agree with you Tracy, Ashton's character has absolutely no appeal to me as a woman… Hopefully, as he works through his state of depression, he cleans himself up and has a sudden boost of confidence. There is nothing as unattractive is an unkept whinny man!

  2. Tracy says:

    I am not too impressed with Ashton's character….first, the name is not one that is easily remembered and just plain odd for the character he is going for. two, he is so whinney. Isn't that Allen's character? Do we really need another whinney one? three, he is so scruffy looking lately. Girls to not swoon for a whinney, scruffy looking guy with little confidence. I think this may be the beginning to the end for Two and a Half Men…..what a shame.

  3. Beth says:

    For somebody who played Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest men on earth, who has every right to be angry at his treatment, Morgan Freeman should be ashamed of himself. Simply because someone disagrees with a person's policy, who also happens to be black, does NOT make then a racist. Mr. Freeman should perhaps walk in Mandela's shoes for awhile because his blase racist comment shames everything that Mandela has strived for. With statements such as this, it is clear that no, racism will never go away, because people like Morgan Freeman won't let it. Shame on you. Another Hollywood actor to cross off my list.

  4. George B. says:

    It's a shame that Mr. Freeman can't see beyond his own bias and understand that both myself and Herman Cain measure people's deeds with something other than a color chart.

    We'll all watch as the 'Great Divider' plays the race card again in his attempt to win re-election, and less than thoughtful people chime in. It's simply shameless that Mr. Freeman helps facilitate the delivery of the RACE CARD..

    Mr. Obama is executing policy he knows has failed elsewhere, and using our tax money to do it.. Solyndra is the tip of the iceberg, we see the transfer of Billions of our Social Security payments to private companys with zero potential to sell their product and no way for repayment! I oppose squandering our future, not Color Mr. Freeman.

  5. Tom says:

    Morgan Freeman feels, as many Blacks feel , that when they make racist comments, it doesn't matter, simply because they are Black. To say that Tea Party people are Racist, simply because they disagree with Obama is pure Racism,…..nothing else. ..Despite the facts that Obama is a Poor leader, and has brought this country into the fiscal "pits of depair", morgan freeman feels that we shouldn't criticize obama, because he is black. The irony here is that obama is also half-white, but no one dare make that statement, because you can't use the "Race Card', if you recognize his Whiteness. Freeman reminds us that everyone can be a Racist, and we should expose ALL of them, regardless of skin color.

  6. IgotBupkis says:

    I feel as sorry for Mr. Freeman's racist attitudes as I did for Harry Belafonte's. While there are certainly racists of both colors in this nation, there were far more voting FOR Mr. Obama because of his skin color than were voting AGAINST Mr. Obama for his skin color. Voting for a man based on the color of his skin is racist, pure and simple. The color does not matter, black or white.

    I firmly believe in MLK's vision that America must learn to be utterly color blind. That means not favoring a black man over a white man or a yellow man or a brown man because of the adjective applied.

    I hardly expect a man who has spent decades attending a church led by a racist demagogue like Jeremiah Wright to be capable of understanding MLK's ideas. Anyone who truly believes in what MLK was saying should have walked out in disgust the first sermon.

    I have opposed Mr. Obama from the very beginning for his positions, both open and those indirectly suggested by his personal background. I predicted after he won the nomination that he would be the Jimmy Carter of this generation. I stand by that — his presidency has been a remarkable failure on every level, foreign policy and domestic policy. Energy and the environment. Fiscal responsibility and tax reform.

    The socialist collectivism and the abuse, fraud, and outright violation of every principle of "honorable political action" he ran on has been the norm — His political behavior has been straight out of that of his background, that of corrupt Chicago-style political chicanery. Anyone paying attention to where the money went would know this.

    1-20-2013 — The Day We Hope For Change.

    **Not** because he's black. Because he's totally, blatantly corrupt and incompetent on *every* level.

  7. Joe Jared says:

    I openly consider Obama the worst president in history not because he's black. My Step-father, who is black has been the best man my mom ever married, and I am glad they are married.

    Obama's actions against children with Asthma alone, endangering children with asthma is criminal. Do you know what it's like for a child with Asthma? Their lungs close up. Panic sets in, and from my own experience, wondering if I'll get that next breath. Coughing all night to the point of vomiting, is a miserable experience for a child. Now, we have the EPA and the president stealing OTC inhalers because they are poisoning the atmosphere? I can assure you that living is much more important.

    Personally, I consider him an enemy to our economy and our people. You may take pride in your great black hope. I for one am thinking about the parents with children with asthma, and how they are going to cope with that next asthma attack that may kill their child. I don't care about Obama Care, not in the least. I care about our child, due in February, and my own family history. In MY WHITEY history, we have asthma. My grand-father had it in childhood and later in life. I had it in childhood and still have some symptoms. Our child, due in February, will also likely have it. If our child dies, I will personally go to the white house and lay our child on the footsteps of the whitehouse. Perhaps the roles are reversed, and perhaps you sir are the racist.