Needed: a dose of empathy

Amid angst over Arnold and antagonism over Oscar, too many hot-button issues are spurring a need for anger management in the show business community.

This is a good time to be a specialist in anger management.

A lot of people are pissed off these days — so many, in fact, that I’m going to take a stab at spreading around a little empathy. Not that I’m good at that sort of thing, but, as I said, it’s a stab:

  • Many diverse groups are truly upset by the Gubernator’s election victory — even the owners of Indian casinos (do tribes really own these casinos?) who lavished millions on rival candidates but not on Arnold.

    My advice to Native Americans: Start contributing to Arnold’s favorite charities. Maybe finance a new round of Westerns using Arnold’s actor friends.

    Yes, it’s even OK if the Indians actually win some battles.

  • Arnold’s supporters are furious that the Los Angeles Times waited until the final week of the campaign before recycling the same material that the scandal sheets ran years ago.

    My recommendation to Arnold: Feuding with the press is a no-win situation. Make a few suck-up courtesy calls and you’ll find that newspaper editors are secretly starstruck and will become your best allies.

  • Oscar voters and critics are crazed about the prospect of assessing more than 80 new releases at year-end, twice the number of five years ago, when screeners first came into use. They’re also mad at the Academy for remaining mute when Warner Bros., Fox and other majors made their power play to ban screeners.

    My advice to the Academy: Abandon your Puritanical policies, folks, and provide drinks and hors d’oeuvres to the weary throngs who are being herded from screening to screening. Yes, even for critics. It’s time for some noblesse oblige.

  • Jack Valenti and his studio hierarchs are exuding righteous indignation because of the noisy opposition to their ban on Oscar screeners. They apparently expected everyone to line up against piracy — even those indie filmmakers whose pictures will be marginalized by the ban.

    My suggestion to Valenti: Cut down on the swagger, or risk a tacit boycott by Oscar voters who may tilt their votes to specialty movies as a form of protest.

    Generations ago the studios could dictate to their employees how to vote, but those days are long gone. Surely some sort of compromise of the sort proposed last week should be feasible, even if precoded videos, rather than DVDs, were made available.

  • Network programmers are in high dudgeon over the reception accorded their fall lineups, even though most of the new shows have stumbled out of the gate or failed to catch fire with a key demo. Never before have so many top-dollar execs hurled so many expletives at Variety‘s harried TV reporters.

    My counsel: Can’t everyone agree on a favored demo-of-the-week and abandon the shouting matches?

  • Just about everyone is pissed off about politics.

    The White House’s popularity ratings are plunging. The Bush people don’t know what to make of Arnold and are angry at California. Californians are turned off by the sagging economy, frustrated by Iraq, and don’t know what to make of Bush.

    My suggestion: Now that everyone agrees that the recall is the worst political idea since proportional representation, why not try it at the national level?

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