August 12, 2008

So. An American Carol.

Still on-schedule to open October 3rd. Be there, or be hexagonal.

The Variety write-up:

Vivendi Entertainment has picked up North American rights to David Zucker's new comedy "An American Carol" and will release it in the fall. Pic tracks a cynical, anti-American filmmaker who sets out on a crusade to abolish the July Fourth holiday. He is visited by three ghosts who try to show him the true meaning of America.

Directed, produced and written by Zucker, known as one of the masterminds of the "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" franchises, the pic is also produced by Mpower's Stephen McEveety and John Shepherd.

The cast includes Kevin Farley ("Monk") as the filmmaker, plus Kelsey Grammer, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, James Woods and Jon Voight.

Lewis Friedman and Myrna Sokoloff co-wrote the script.

There's a great article by Stephen F. Hayes in The Weekly Standard about the An American Carol, which may serve as a "coming out party" for some of Hollywood's closeted [and semi-closeted] conservatives. (Those who are not action heroes like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and therefore aren't in a position to tell the H-wood establishment to "go fish"—though even Willis couldn't get a movie made based on Michael Yon's writing about Deuce Four. Yet. If Zucker and Company can end the blacklist on those who support the War on Terror—or at least diminish its power—that could change.)


I spoke to Lee Reynolds, who plays the New York police officer whose efforts to search the terrorists are thwarted by the ACLU. Reynolds, too, is a conservative--something David Zucker did not know when he cast Reynolds in the anti-Kerry ad he produced in 2004. Reynolds was active duty military for 12 years and shortly after 9/11 worked as the chief media officer for detainee operations at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

When he returned, he took a job as a production assistant on a film--he asked me not to name it--shot in several locations across the United States. Reynolds worked hard and, he says, won the confidence of the film's directors, who gave him more responsibility. But just as he was making a name for himself, word began to spread that he had been in the military and, far worse, that he supported the efforts of his uniformed colleagues in the war on terror.

"Once they found out I was a Republican, unfortunately for some people it was a problem," he recalls. Several people who had talked to him regularly throughout the shoot simply stopped. And a trip that he was to have taken to participate in an offsite shoot across the country was abruptly cancelled. Another person was sent in his place. Reynolds says that he had only two colleagues who treated him the same way they had before, including "an anti-Bush lesbian" who was disgusted by the dogmatism of the others on the film. Reynolds, now a reservist, is scheduled to leave for Iraq in early 2009. The more Zucker is known as a conservative, the more frequently he has encounters with others who consider themselves conservative.

On one of the days I was on set, McEveety had invited Vivendi Entertainment president Tom O'Malley to meet Zucker. Vivendi had just agreed to distribute the film and had promised wide release--news that had the cast and crew of An American Carol in particularly good spirits.

O'Malley and Zucker chatted about the fact that O'Malley is the nephew of Candid Camera's Tom O'Malley and that they are both from the Midwest, among other things. Zucker thanked him for picking up the movie, which will be one of the first for Vivendi's new distribution arm. O'Malley told Zucker that he was particularly interested in this film in part because he, too, leans right.

Such revelations are common occurrences at the periodic meetings of the secret society of Hollywood conservatives known as the "Friends of Abe" ["Lincoln, not Vigoda," as the Standard article points out elsewhere]. The group, with no official membership list and no formal mission, has been meeting under the leadership of Gary Sinise (CSI New York, Forrest Gump) for four years. Zucker had spent a year working on a film with Christopher McDonald without learning anything about his politics. Shortly after the film wrapped, he ran into McDonald, best known as Shooter McGavin from Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore, at one of these informal meetings.

"It's almost like people who are gay, show up at the baths and say, 'Oh, I didn't know you were gay!' " Zucker says.

h/t: About a week and a half ago, Ace of Spades quoted extensively from the Standard article, playing up the "blacklist" angle. I would have linked him then, but he uses too many dirty words.

Actually, it was—and is—a sensitive subject around here. I would hate to count up how many media jobs I've failed to get because people were able to figure out that I was right-of-center. And I'm sure my husband has lost out on entertainment jobs for the same reason, though as an improv actor and comedian he's a bit quicker on his feet, and is much better at "the Los Angeles tapdance," wherein one is confronted with some sort of remark about how evil G.W. Bush is, or how the War in Iraq is just "making us more enemies," and one is sort of forced to smile brightly and change the subject.

It never fools people when I do it, and I'll bet that even A the H hasn't managed a 100% success rate in hiding his convictions.

A conservative estimate would probably suggest that we've lost tens of thousands of dollars to the prejudice. The true figure is probably in the hundreds of thousands.

Yes, yes: I've spoken with Joel Surnow of 24, and I know he doesn't believe in the blacklist. He's all, like, "if you're a good writer, you'll make it." But, again: his genre is action, and the rules are more flexible for action TV/features. There's that whole "Clint Eastwood" excuse that people make to themselves: "well, if they work on that sort of project, it probably warps their thinking; they begin to see things in black-and-white after a while. Can't help themselves, the endearing little money-makers."

Support alternative points of view in the entertainment industry. End of lecture, for now.

Posted by Attila Girl at August 12, 2008 12:06 PM | TrackBack

"an anti-Bush lesbian"

So, she favors what? razor blade? bikini waxing?

"the Los Angeles tapdance"

Isn't that done in men's rooms? oh, wait...that's the Minneapolis tapdance. Nevermind.

But, yes, I think I may have cast some seriously annoyed glances at the theatre crowd I had the misfortune to spend the 4th of July evening with. I kept hearing Bush sucks, we've lost the war in Iraq, all our freedoms are gone yadda yadda yadda. I'm not 100% sure I'll be invited back...

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at August 12, 2008 02:03 PM

so, what do you have against Abe Vigoda?

I daresay it's sometimes true that in Hollywood, as in academia, there's some prejudice against conservatives. Speaking as one who's heard a lot of complaining within the ivory tower from straight white conservative guys who can't get jobs, I'd go so far as to offer the theory that sometimes, people hide behind such claims to obscure their own inadequacies. Sometimes.

Posted by: Rin at August 12, 2008 03:07 PM

And sometimes, people blame the victim. Sometimes.

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 12, 2008 05:18 PM

Sometimes. Hmm, indeed, sometimes the sun rises in the East also.

Posted by: Gregory at August 12, 2008 05:20 PM

How that re-education program going?

Posted by: Darrell at August 12, 2008 07:36 PM

hmm i wouldn't mind being a member of anything gary sinise heads up. and who is abe vigoda?

Posted by: zoey at August 13, 2008 09:36 AM

He's a really funny, fun actor, probably best known for (1) his work on the 1970s sitcom about life in the detective bureau of a police department (Barney Miller), and (2) the fact that false reports of his death were circulating several years ago, which has led to much merriment, late-night TV humor, macabre "appearances" by him at unexpected intervals, and just basically him being a good sport.

Oh, yes, (3) he also appeared in The Godfather. But he's a character actor, and I'll bet there are just tons and tons of roles on his imdb page.

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 13, 2008 10:20 AM

BTW, Rin, here's a challenge: if you are willing to watch either Indoctrinate U or Mine Your Own Business, I will willingly watch Outfoxed, or the MIchael Moore film of your choice. Or any other movie that features either a left-of-center POV, or George Clooney.

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 13, 2008 05:31 PM

As with everyone else here, we want, nay, demand more! more of your thoughts, more history and more ,,

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 20, 2008 03:08 AM

I'm in publishing in Manhattan and completely relate, especially the part about the strained laughter at Bush jokes. David Zucker is a brave man for sticking his neck out.

Posted by: NY Girl at August 20, 2008 11:56 AM

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