‘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 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. (Taylor Lautner Abduction trailer.)
Sigourney Weaver photo via Abduction‘s Facebook page.
Warren Beatty-Howard Hughes Project No Longer at Paramount
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.
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.