Iraq’s Shadow Over “Wounded Knee”

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Updated

It’s a human story, a factual story, but also a political one – and decidedly ugly. It may also signal a fateful quirk in the American character.

So Dick Wolf essentially says of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” the HBO film he exec produced and that bowed in D.C. at an invitation-only screening at the National Museum of the American Indian on Monday night. Pic, which the cabler broadcasts on May 27, dramatizes the death and devastation visited upon the Sioux people as the U.S. government, with a mix of good and bad intention, tried to “assimilate” them in the late 19th century.

“The basic undercurrent is that this is what happens whenever one civilization tried to overlay its idea of civilization on another culture that disagrees with that idea,” Wolf tells Variety. “And that’s not limited to this country.”

This country does seem to have a record for it, per Wolf’s examples: “It’s not just Iraq. When I think of this, Vietnam comes to mind. So does the Spanish-American war, the Philippines.”

Not that he considers America the bad guy.

“I don’t think the government set out to kill all Indians, Wolf says. “But the fact is their idea of assimilation was to kill the culture. That’s what I hope this movie conveys.”

—By William Triplett in Washington.

Jolie Debuts Film: “A Mighty Heart,” based on Marianne Pearl’s memoir of her slain husband Daniel Pearl, debuted at Cannes to very good reviews, even if there are doubts on its box office, given the track record of projects having to do with the war on terror, 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Star Angelina Jolie talked of Marianne Pearl at a press conference, saying, “One of the things that struck me the most, she made a point to say that during that month ten other people had lost their lives to terrorism and they were all Pakistani. I was stunned by the fact that somebody could focus on the loss that the other side was taking in a similar battle. And I think that is a very bold way of thinking and something that is often lost today. And I think it is why we all wanted to do this film.”

Will “Sicko” Help?: Michael Moore’s latest movie could put pressure on Congress and the field of presidential candidates to make health care an even bigger issue than it already is, the New York Times says. “If the movie results in members of Congress and governors putting this issue squarely on the table as the No. 1 priority, we will be part of that discussion and will welcome it,” said Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans. Moore says he was pressured by distributor Harvey Weinstein to tone down a scene critical of Hillary Clinton, but he refused. Weinstein is a key backer of Clinton in the presidential race, but told the Times, “I just felt the film was over, you know, by about 30 seconds,” Mr. Weinstein said, laughing. “It’s not because I support her.”

On a Mission: A personal note for a former colleague: TV Guide’s Mary Murphy was honored Monday night for her work at the Midnight Mission, one of the largest and longest-running homeless facilities in the country. Also honored at the Mission’s annual gala was Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, whose series of columns on L.A.’s Skid Row focused new civic attention on the problem.

On the minds of many of those gathered at the fund-raising event, a classy affair held at the Beverly Hills Hotel (quite a juxtoposition), was Anderson Cooper’s “60 Minutes” piece about L.A. hospitals dumping patients off on Skid Row. An outdoor security camera captured Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital workers dropping off an invalid patient — he was on a gurney — to the Mission, only to be rebuffed because the facility cannot handle such cases. They later just dropped the man off on the side of the street, without his wheelchair or any means to walk.

Dick Van Dyke, who chaired a campaign to build a new facility, mentioned the story before the crowd of several hundred, which included Jackson Browne, Katey Sagal, Buzz Aldrin, Ed Begley Jr., Larry Miller, violinist Timothy Braun and pianist James Lent.

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