California Debate: With the state poised to move up its primary, it’s only natural there would be a debate. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has invited leading GOP contenders to a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on May 3. MSNBC will provide coverage, and questions will be submitted in real time via The Politico.com.
Franken’s Run: Al Franken announced his bid for a Minnesota Senate seat today, just as he made his final Air America radio show. “Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I am ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take this responsibility that I’m asking you to give me,” he said on a video posted on his website. Also: Text of his statement, video below.
For Gore to Run: The New York Observer says the former vice president’s close associates have told fund-raisers that he will consider entering the race — if the opportunity presents itself — in September. They also note that with the Oscars, concert events and Nobel prizes, he’ll be getting more coverage than many candidates.
Edwards Visit: John Edwards was scheduled to visit Los Angeles this week, including a fund-raiser hosted by Korean-American developer Chris Pak. He’s planning a more Hollywood-centric event in early March at the home of Endeavor’s Adam Venit and co-hosted by producer Armyan Bernstein.
Saban Speaks: On a “Today” show segment that aired Tuesday, major donor Haim Saban, right, with President Clinton, predicted the industry would eventually get behind Hillary. “Those who have opted to support other candidates, I believe will very quickly come home.”
Studios Take on Iraq: The AP looks at the growing number of Iraq War themed projects, including this year’s Oscar nominated documentaries “Iraq in Fragments” and “My Country, My Country,” but also including upcoming fictional pics like the Sundance feature “Grace is Gone” and Kimberly Peirce’s “Stop Loss.” The big unknown is what the market will be for these movies, as audiences last year turned away from issue-oriented pics in favor of light comedies and thrillers. One of the few studio features, Irwin Winkler’s “Home of the Brave,” earned some initial attention but failed to garner Oscar nominations. The AP story compares the current wave of war pics to Vietnam films like “Platoon,” “Apocalypse Now” and “The Deer Hunter.” What it doesn’t mention is that unlike today, those movies came out years after the war was over.
“Film-anthropists”: In the wake of the success of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the documentary film marketplace has exploded with financiers like former Nickelodeon President Albie Hecht and AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis. The Los Angeles Times looks as this new wave of film backers, which the Washington Post several weeks ago dubbed “film-anthropy.” EBay’s Jeff Skoll was one of the first to make a go of it with his Participant Productions, which produced “Truth,” “Murderball” and “Good Night, and Good Luck,” among other films. Also noted: Endgame CEO James Stern, who bankrolled the doc “So Goes the Nation,” about the political ruffle that went on in Ohio in the 2004 presidential race; and Brad Pitt, Catherine Keener and Dermot Mulroney, who financed the Sudanese doc “God Grew Tired of Us.” All have one thing in common: Their serious that their films, in some measure, can change the world.
Al Franken video: