Mark this date on your calendar -- Wednesday, May 17, 10pm -- the premiere episode of our second season of "The Awful Truth" on the Bravo network. Twelve new shows, all in color, mostly in English. Lots of chase scenes. The return of Karen Duffy and Ben Hamper. Back to Times Square, world headquarters of "TV Nation," now infested by a Mouse and other rodents of the Media World. Closed captioned for the second amendment-impaired.
British viewers -- the show begins for you on May 30 and will run three nights a week on Channel Four.
Canadian fans -- we're still waiting to hear, and will alert you, our most loyal and forgiving neighbors, as soon as we find out.
It's Oscar time and my favorite film of the year, "Three Kings," was not nominated for a single award.
I can see why. It's rare that I run into someone who saw it. I ask friends, "You didn't go see it 'cause you thought it was some dumb action-war flick -- and set in that disgusting Gulf War of all places, right?"
"Yep, that's right," is the response.
That's exactly why I ended up waiting a month before I went to see it. The trailer sucked. Everytime it was shown before a movie, the audience made that collective groan that could only be translated as "Oh, no, not another 'Heartbreak Ridge'!!" (Clint Eastwood's Grenada War epic).
As we know, each dirty little American war must be followed up by Hollywood's homage to it, a propaganda movie that exists, I assume, to prepare our young to go gung-ho into the next war. Vietnam gave us "The Green Berets"; Cambodia and post-Vietnam gave us, "Rambo"; bombing Libya gave us "G.I. Jane"; and I'm still waiting for whatever blowing up civilian trains and hospitals in Serbia will give us (how 'bout Arnold & Sly in "Yo, Kosovo!").
So I was in no mood to be "entertained" by some rehash of a b.s. war staged by Bush I. But it was a Friday night in Michigan and we'd seen everything else at the cineplex a few miles outside town. All that was left was "Three Kings." So we rationalized our way into the theater: "Well, George Clooney is a friend..yeah, and he was great in his last movie, 'Out of Sight'...and the director is David O. Russell -- two great films from him already -- 'Spanking the Monkey' and 'Flirting with Disaster'...okay, okay, let's go inside..."
Whoa. We weren't one minute into the film and an American soldier shoots an Iraqi waving a white flag. Our jaws dropped. And they stayed that way for the next two hours. I don't want to give too much away, but the scene where the Iraqi soldier trained in torture techniques by our CIA (remember? Iraq was our ally in the 80's) demands of his American prisoner the answer to this simple question: "What's the problem with Michael Jackson?" It is one of the most compelling, provocative scenes I have ever watched in a movie made in Hollywood. To see the best film of 1999, grab "Three Kings" when it comes out on home video.
My other favorite films of the year -- "Election," "Office Space," "The Iron Giant," are also not well represented in the Oscars this year, although two movies -- "The Insider" and "Being John Malkovich"-- did receive some recognition and I encourage you to check them out.
A number of articles recently have pointed out how, "Roger & Me," "Hoop Dreams," "Shoah," "Truth or Dare," "Brother's Keeper," "The Thin Blue Line" and others were robbed in the past of even an Oscar nomination, but that this year, thanks to a more honest system, things are better. That's pretty much true. In the past, a film like "Buena Vista Social Club" would have been punished by the documentary committee of the Academy and shut out of the awards ceremony because of its critical and popular success. Not this year!
But a number of great documentaries were over looked from 1999 - ("American Dream" and "Mr. Death" to name two). How strange that film makers like Errol Morris and Fred Wiseman, to this day, have never even been nominated.
Last month I wrote to you about my being detained by the New York City Police while shooting a music video with "Rage Against the Machine" in front of the New York Stock Exchange. I am happy to report that, on the morning my lawyer showed up in court to dispute the summons I was issued, the police were a no-show and the judge concluded that the cops had given me a ticket they had no authority to give me. "Case dismissed. You are a free man!"
For those of you keeping score, that's Mike -- 2, Giuliani -- 0. (Up-to-date stats regarding African Americans vs. Rudy are still being compiled as the number rises on a daily basis.)
I have begun writing a twice-monthly column for the website grassroots.com. My first piece is about why I didn't vote on primary day -- the new American tradition! Click here to read it.
That's it for now. More thoughts on guns, and my experiences with them, in my next letter.
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