Political Panorama: The Weekend

A rundown of what’s stirring among new releases:

Poster Richard Linklater’s “Fast Food Nation” created a stir in the fast food business well before the movie even was completed. The director, knowing that there would be a counter-offensive from McDonalds because of the notariety of Eric Schlosser’s book on which it is based, says that they had to use fake names during the production and, in some cases, shoot very quickly. “It was sort of like being undercover, just to get access to certain locations,” he tells Entertainment Weekly. “It almost felt like a first film. You’d rehearse, you’d go the parking lot and shoot, and then you’d leave.” He expects fast-food spin doctors to go after his pic under the guise of “freedom of choice.” “They have these other front organizations that they fund that come on TV and talk about freedom of choice. Be leery when someone talks about that a little too much. Choice, freedom — that’s McDonald’s whole thing right now.”

Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby” inspired the Los Angeles Times to track down the five others who were shot in the Ambassador Hotel pantry that night in 1968. All survived. (One, 17-year-old campaign volunteer Erwin Stroll, has since passed away). “I’m sure there’s a service being done by making the movie,” said William Weisel, a retired ABC News associate director who was hit in his left side by a bullet as he stood behind Kennedy. “But it’s not the facts, and I think that’s a shame…. I want to remember it the way it was.” Only Paul Schrade, the UAW official shot in the head that night, has seen the movie. Others say it would be too painful of an experience. The Weekly Standard’s John Podheretz writes that the movie misses a chief fact of the tragedy, that it was “the first act of Arab terrorism on American soil.”

The furor over “Borat” got some new ammunition with the entree of legal eagle Gloria Allred, who is requesting that the California attorney general investigate how the producers obtained individuals’ consent to appear in the films.  She is representing the owner of the Etiquette Training Service in Birmingham, Ala., who claims that she agreed to appear in a documentary for Belarus Television and “for those purposes only.” Distributor Fox calls the allegations “nonsense.” ABC News, meanwhile, went to Glod, Romania, which stands in for Kazakhstan in the movie, and interviews none-too-happy villagers, one of whom says, “If I see Borat, I will kill him with my own hands.”


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