War is Hell

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

Updated

Paul Haggis’ “In the Valley of Elah” opened on nine screens over the weekend to a pretty mediocre $150,000, which certainly is not good news to all the studios planning a flood of Iraq-war themed movies as awards season gets into high gear.

After the Toronto International Film Festival, the convention wisdom is that the preponderance of such pics is either too early or too grim for audiences to handle. In other words, why would they go see in the theater the very subject matter that they are trying to avoid, at least according to the latest polls that show Americans just want the war to be over, and a fight that they consider a mistake.

That may be true, but it certainly places distributors who have not yet rolled out their pics in a bind. How do you release a movie emphasizing its other elements — drama, thriller, stars — and avoid it being branded as an Iraq war pic?

Hillary’s Health Plan:
Soon after Hillary Clinton unveiled her new health plan — one that requires every American to have health care with federal assistance to cushion the cost — the Giuliani campaign released a statement comparing her to Michael Moore. “If you liked Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko,’ you’re going to love HillaryCare 2.0,” communications director Katie Levinson said in a statement. They argue that it will include more government mandates, expensive subsidies and more bureaucracy. But the attack on “Sicko” is certainly not the worst thing in the world for the Clinton campaign — and even though he may not endorse her plan, Moore would be thrilled that it has been brought up again on a national level. The movie has brought in almost $29 million worldwide — which are actually good numbers for a documentary, although not as good as Moore’s record-setting “Fahrenheit 9/11.” In other words, there are a significant number who liked “Sicko.”

Brownstein Leaves Times:
Longtime Los Angeles Times political reporter and columnist Ron Brownstein is leaving the Los Angeles Times for Atlantic Media.  Brownstein is the author of the signature book on  politics and entertainment, “The Power and the Glitter.”

Oprah on the Stump: Barack Obama indicated last week that Oprah Winfrey may be ready to campaign with him, perhaps in South Carolina. From the Los Angeles Times’ Top of the Ticket blog, Obama said, “I can’t make promises, but I know that she has expressed an interest in South Carolina and maybe we can pull that. … Certainly it would be a lot of fun for everyone.”

Manilow’s “View”: Barry Manilow is backing out of an appearance on “The View” because of co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s conservative stances. “I think she’s dangerous and offensive. I will not be on the same stage with her,” he tells TMZ.com. Manilow is shaping up to be one of the more prolific celebrity donors, having made contributions to John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden as well as one Republican, the anti-war darkhorse Ron Paul.

Burkle’s Mark: The New Republic’s Michael Crowley sees a connection between Hillary Clinton’s endorsements from Magic Johnson and Wesley Clark: Ron Burkle.

Madonna’s Visit: Madonna met with Israeli leader Shimon Peres, but caused a stir when she apparently called herself an “ambassador for Judaism.”

Emmy Energy: One of the more ingenious portions of Sunday’s Emmys was the introduction of the nominees for writing in a variety, music or comedy program, below.

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