CyberAlert -- 03/22/1999 -- Some Rude to Kazan; "Evil Right-Wing"; CNN's Bruce Morton Took Sides
Some Rude to Kazan; "Evil Right-Wing"; CNN's Bruce Morton Took Sides
5) News media also hit Kazan from the left, portraying him as the villain. Today didn't bother with Kazan's side, Peter Jennings recalled communism wasn't really a threat and CNN's Bruce Morton abandoned professionalism, revealing: "Me? I'd sit on my hands."
Correction: The link listed for the abcnews.com report on the press conference had "#china" at the end and so brought you to a point about halfway through the document: to Clinton's answer on China. The correct address to go to the top of the ABC report: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/PoliticalNation/pn_clintonpress_990319.html
Is it over yet? The Academy Awards started at 5:30pm local time and lasted over four hours. Final credits didn't finish rolling until 9:36pm PT or 12:36am Monday ET, more than a hour beyond the scheduled time. ABC's hour-long Politically Incorrect after show special did not end until 2:15am ET.
Linda Tripp couldn't escape being made fun of. Following a showing of the cartoon characters in the animated movie "A Bug's Life," Oscar host Whoopi Goldberg joked: "A Bug's Life. Wasn't that the Linda Tripp story?"
Elia Kazan earned a standing ovation from many in the audience at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but some followed the urging of old lefties and refused to applaud.
At about 8:20pm PT/11:20pm ET live on ABC actors Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro strode on stage to present the Honorary Oscar, better known as a Lifetime Achievement Award, to director Elia Kazan, most famous for Street Car Named Desire, East of Eden, Splendor in the Grass and On the Waterfront. (For those who have missed the controversy, many Hollywood liberals had denounced Kazan for honestly answering questions in the 1950s about who supported Stalin's worldwide tyranny and had urged award goers to refrain from clapping.)
Scorsese's introduction to highlights from Kazan's films reminded viewers that Kazan, ironically given current liberal anger, produced films which addressed the injustices of the time: "At a time when the prevailing American voice was bland and glib, this poetic realist, this angry romantic, always spoke fervently to our most basic conflicts between races and religions, classes and generations, men and women."
Following the retrospective of his best work, the 89-year-old Elia Kazan walked on stage to applause. ABC's cameras panned the audience, focusing on those clapping and largely avoiding those who were not, so it was hard to tell how many were not as close-ups of those standing blocked the view of people behind them. Clearly the liberal protest idea was rejected by most, but a significant number did remain seated.
Among those standing and clapping that I could identify: Helen Hunt (star of NBC's Mad About You), Meryl Streep, Debbie Allen, Kathy Bates (Misery and Fried Green Tomatoes) and Karl Malden, who nominated Kazan for the award. Also standing, two male actors but notably not their wives: Warren Beatty, but not his wife Annette Bening, whom the camera had earlier shown sitting beside him, and Kurt Russell but not his wife Goldie Hawn, though I can't be sure she was next to him in the audience at that moment. Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw clapped but remained seated.
Deliberately not applauding: ABC's camera's only showed four people close enough to recognize: At one moment the camera caught Ed Harris (The Truman Show) with his hands in his lap sitting next to his wife Amy Madigan (Field of Dreams), who had her arms crossed and appeared to be scowling. Later, viewers saw Nick Nolte with his arms crossed as he sat next to his girlfriend Vicki Lewis, of NBC's NewsRadio, who had her hands clasped.
Kazan thanked the audience for its applause and "the Academy for its courage," but did not apologize for his 1952 testimony.
++ Video Alert:
Watch the reaction yourself and see what Kazan looks like. Monday morning
the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer video
clip of Kazan walking on stage, the audience reaction, and his comments.
Go to the MRC home page after 10am ET: http://www.mrc.org
Hollywood's Hatred of Kazan. As Rush Limbaugh observed a few weeks ago, Hollywood liberals want the country to forget about what Clinton did in his "personal life" a couple of years ago and "move on," but they hold a grudge about something a director did off the set 47 years ago. The last two CyberAlerts each passed along one example. Those are mixed in below with several other examples of the left's vitriol that I've come across:
-- Kazan helped "the evil right wing." Actor Richard Dreyfuss on CNN's Larry King Live, March 17: "The [House Un-American Activities] Committee was an institutionalized humiliation. It was a triumphant purge of the left by, not the good right wing, but the evil right wing, who wanted to make their enemies crawl, and Elia Kazan was made to crawl. He was specifically made to name names that he didn't have to name; that were not in any way needed because they already were known."
-- Unreasonable to have expected people to have realized communism was bad. Dreyfuss on the same Larry King Live: "Right now, since 1989 it's been easy to say that everyone should have known before the fall of communism that it was, it was wrong. And that's to a great extent true. But it can't, it can't make up for individual sins."
-- Okay, Stalin
Wasn't So Great But the Right-Wing Was Worse. Dreyfuss in a March 17
op-ed for the Los Angeles Times titled, "Sitting on My Hands on This
One: There is no question that he's a great director. But no award can
change the fact that what he did was morally wrong." Dreyfuss
END Dreyfuss excerpt
-- Kazan a
"Traitor." From a March 16 CNN online story by Paul Clinton:
Dassin directed the 1948 classic Naked City, and he wrote and directed the 1960 Greek film that made Melina Mercouri an international star, Never on Sunday...
END CNN online excerpt
-- Carl Reiner,
also in the CNN online piece:
END second CNN online excerpt
"someone shoots him." (Note original source at end of this
item.) From a March 16 Reuters story by Arthur Spiegelman, after noting
support for Kazan by Warren Beatty, who credits Kazan with making him a
END Reuters excerpt
Update: Polonsky's "hoping someone shoots him" comment originally appeared in a February 5 Entertainment Weekly magazine story by Jeff Jensen, an issue I had picked up to read the cover story on the X-Files. The March 19 Human Events reminded me of this source and reported that Polonsky is best known for writing the films "Body and Soul" and "I Can Get it for You Wholesale."
Forgiveness. From a March 18 AP dispatch by Michael Fleeman on a press
conference by those denouncing Kazan:
What happened to "moving on"?
Who is Kazan, what did he do and how defensible are his actions? For a lengthy and impressive look at the 1950s atmosphere, what Kazan really did and the communist ties and radical views of his enemies, check out Allan Ryskind's cover story in the March 19 Human Events. They don't have a Web site, so you'll have to find a hard copy. You may be able to get a copy by calling Eagle Publishing, which produces Human Events, directly: (202) 216-0600.
Back in January MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell's column looked at the attacks on Kazan and how he realized the Communist Party was part of a "thoroughly organized, worldwide conspiracy." And speaking of Abraham Polonsky, MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson, in digging up material for the column, came across this insight from Polonsky in a Los Angeles Times story: "I thought Marxism offered the best analysis of history and I still believe that."
Here are some excerpts from the January 25 column distributed by the Creator's Syndicate
Kazan's Oscar: Not Too Late
...To them [his critics], Kazan is secondarily the gifted artist who made "On the Waterfront," "East of Eden," and "A Streetcar Named Desire" and primarily the rat who, testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952, "named names." Specifically, he named eight persons who were Communists in the mid-1930s, when he himself belonged to the party. More than fifteen years later, Kazan wrote, "To be a member of the Communist party is to have a taste of the police state. It is a diluted taste but it is bitter and unforgettable. It is diluted because you can walk out" -- which he did, after a year and a half.
Several previous high-profile attempts to honor Kazan have failed. Charlton Heston described one in the January 20 Wall Street Journal. In 1989, when Heston, then president of the American Film Institute, proposed that the AFI's life-achievement honor go to Kazan, producer Gale Anne Hurd (the "Terminator" movies; "Armageddon"), declared that "we can't give this award to a man who named names" and led a successful charge against his effort.
Hurd now says that on esthetic grounds, Kazan "absolutely deserves" the special Oscar, explaining that she opposed the AFI award because "at the time...the arts were under fire by zealots like Jesse Helms, [and] I was concerned about what sort of message we were sending." Understanding non sequiturs apparently isn't a high-priority item in Tinseltown.
Sadly, in commentary on Kazan's Academy Award, the same muddleheaded analysis was evident. In a piece for the industry's hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, author David Freeman declared that when Kazan testified before HUAC, he was "on the wrong side of the issues." London's the Independent published a dispatch by Andrew Gumbel stating that "Kazan's testimony was considered particularly treacherous because of his track record as a socially and politically committed artist."
Some surviving blacklistees spoke up as well. In a letter to the Times, screenwriter Bernard Gordon, best known for the first movie version of "The Thin Red Line," said he was "appalled" by this "award to a man who was a prize informer in the campaign of HUAC to demonize the rest of us." Screenwriter Abraham Polonsky, who recently told the Times, "I thought Marxism offered the best analysis of history and I still believe that," called Kazan "a creep."...
If you wonder why Kazan gets under the skin of the Hollywood left, consider this lucid, commonsensical passage from his autobiography: "I believed it was the duty of the government to investigate the Communist movement in our country. There was no way I could go along with [the] crap that the CP was nothing but another political party, like the Republicans and the Democrats. I knew very well what it was, a thoroughly organized, worldwide conspiracy."....
END column excerpt
To read the entire column, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/columns/ent/col19990125.html
The news media also approached the Kazan controversy from the left, assuming he'd done wrong. USA Today couldn't decide whether the Kremlin or Congress in the 1950s posed the greater threat. Friday morning, NBC's Today didn't bother with trying to give viewers Kazan's side, featuring an interview segment with an actor and a columnist who both opposed giving him the special Oscar. CNN's Bruce Morton abandoned any professional pretense and in a supposed news story told Late Edition viewers that if he were at the Oscars he'd sit on his hands.
At the same time, Bob Novak noticed the media's liberal prism and Brit Hume suggested "Hollywood is a hotbed of intellectual and ideological bigotry" and would have supported the naming of Nazis.
-- Check out this
irrational reasoning in a March 19 USA Today editorial caught by the
MRC's Tom Johnson:
Close call? This from a newspaper. The Kremlin didn't allow any freedom of the press.
MRC analyst Mark
Drake took down some of the interview to show how Cohen, who supposedly
was on to defend him, did not.
-- For his
"Last Word" piece at the end of Sunday's Late Edition CNN's
Bruce Morton assumed Kazan had been part of a nefarious bit of history and
then put himself into the story by announcing how he would have chosen to
sit on his hands. Morton saw the decade through a left-wing prism:
That's what matters most Bruce, what you think. (And your "friends" wouldn't lose their jobs if they admitted their affiliation and denounced Stalin, who had only massacred a few dozen million.)
-- Peter Jennings
portrayed America of the 1950s through the same liberal eyes as Morton.
For his March 19 "The Century" piece on World News Tonight,
Jennings used Kazan as the hook:
-- Bob Novak made
this media bias his Outrage of the Week on the March 20 Capital Gang on
-- Brit Hume pointed out Fox News Sunday that Hollywood wouldn't have protected Nazis: "There are equal criminals on the world stage that if he'd informed against. If he'd informed against Hitler it'd be fine. Hollywood is a hotbed of intellectual and ideological bigotry and at the end of the day that's what this is about against Elia Kazan."
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