The Big TV Bash

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


Politically, the practice of chiding network programmers is a no-lose prospect — there are just too many people who will agree with you. So senators didn’t miss an opportunity today to turn their fire on the Hollywood suits in their first day of debate on TV violence. There’s too much of it.

But despite an FCC report that raised the prospect of the government regulating violence, it is far from a foregone conclusion. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) vowed to reintroduce legislation to do just that, arguing that the networks self-censoring solutions like the V-chip just aren’t working.

As John Eggerton of B&C reports, there are still misgivings about handing the government the remote, given the inevitable freedom of speech clashes. “Big Media companies are putting more emphasis on profits than the well-being of kids, he said, while hiding behind ineffective Band-Aids of voluntary action. Rockefeller said he expected broadcasters to argue for parental responsibility and content-control tools, which they did, but said that has not worked and the government was going to need to step in. He didn’t seem to have a lot of takers on the committee.”

Fox’s Peter Ligouri was among the network presidents who testified, and he gamely told the committee, “Given the inherent difficulty of defining violence and drawing lines about what is appropriate,” he said”any attempt to regulate the depiction of violence seemingly would be found unconstitutional. And it would have a profound chilling effect on the creative community’s ability to produce authentic programming reflective of the world we live in.”

Update: Variety’s William Triplett writes that Rockefeller called part of Ligouri’s comments “inordinately repulsive’ and called a recent industry-sponsored campaign to get parents to block objectionable programming “Jack Valenti’s giant joke.”

Fred’s Friend: Former California Lt. Gov. Mike Burb, now a record industry executive in Nashville, holds a fund-raiser for Fred Thompson tonight in the Music City.

Casting Call: Wanted: Actors who look like William Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter and Clarence Thomas for HBO’s “Recount,” the story of the fabled 2000 presidential election that’;s being directed by Sydney Pollack. They each have but one scene, albeit important, but casting directors also are looking for a Jeb Bush look-alike for a more substantial supporting role. Shooting starts in September.

And Finally: I took Monday off, so I missed this follow up to our post about the man who asked the “authenticity” question to Hillary Clinton on Friday’s fund-raiser at the home of Roland Emmerich. He was Jon Robin Baitz, a playwright, screenwriter and creator of ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters.” Hillary Clinton called on a seventh-grade girl, who asked a question about breaking through glass ceilings, and in Baitz’s eyes it all seemed a bit too “rote.” He responded in an entry on the Huffington Post.

“I am the man who suggested that the senator’s answer to a single question felt — well, sorry — a little bit like a set-up. In retrospect, I was not particularly polite, though I didn’t set out to be rude, and did preface my inquiry with a declaration of hope that she becomes the next president, which I repeated even through the smattering of boos and gasps that were directed my way. (Maybe in Manhattan, the response would have been different.) And moreover, I had been pleasantly surprised and impressed by Ms. Clinton’s discourse until the moment described above. She spoke about the things I care most about – health care, children’s welfare, and our credibility with the rest of the world. She talked intelligently on Iraq. She talked of sexual equality, which needed to be addressed in a heavily gay crowd. She was inspiring on a number of points, and felt human and empathetic even. So, when she called on the charming young lady in the pretty dress to her left, and it all turned into rote, I sighed, deflated, and looked around, and saw a few people rolling their eyes at the obviousness of the moment, and I quietly got angrier than anyone else gathered beside the gorgeous Hollywood pool.”

He adds, “I was looking for the authentic, the real, and the righteous. And all I saw was the peeved. I gave as much money as I could to the thing. I suppose if this election plays out the way I think it may, she could get my vote. But I don’t think she’ll ever make my heart sing. Is such a thing even possible now?”

Jake Tapper at writes that the incident plays into questions about Hillary’s “authenticity.” “One of the hurdles Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, faces in her run for the White House may come from her public speaking style. To some, the junior senator from New York can seem in speeches to be warm, compelling, amusing, human — the way her friends and supports say she is in private. But I’ve also heard many Democrats complain that she can also seem cold, hard, and unpleasant. And they fear nominating a candidate like that.”

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  1. Desider says:

    At some point the American voters will have to grow up. Looking for authenticity in a person who’s spending years asking huge conglomerates for donations and trying to please vindictive “journalists” with simplistic answers to complex problems? Pick someone who knows how to work the system, who still has a few morals left after years within the system, who tends to drift your way. That’s as good as it gets. Most times it’s much worse – Giuliani, McCain, Bush, Lieberman, Fred Thompson, John Kerry. And should someone be relatively authentic, such as Al Gore, the press will decide they’re inauthentic anyway, while deciding that the completely phony “bought-a-ranch-last-week-now-I’m-a-cowboy” Bush is authentic. So look at their track record instead, figure out their basic positions, and vote. Forget about “authentic” – those are the candidates who get kneecapped before the serious campaigning begins.

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