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NBC, ABC Champion Oprah's 'Magic' = Obama's 'Opportunity to Win' --9/7/2007


1. NBC, ABC Champion Oprah's 'Magic' = Obama's 'Opportunity to Win'
Two days before Oprah Winfrey is to host a celebrity-packed fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, NBC's Andrea Mitchell championed her potential ability to "turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama" and ABC's David Wright marveled: "Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad." In a soundbite, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile gushed that "O plus O equals opportunity for Barack Obama to win in 2008." On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams justified his show's story by asserting that Winfrey's "support for him [Obama] is getting new attention" -- attention NBC decided to give the topic. Mitchell admired how Winfrey "can turn a first-time author into an instant best-seller, single-handedly reviving an industry," leading her to wonder: "Can the billionaire entertainer, and richest woman in America, turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama?" Ted Johnson of Variety insisted: "It's a very big deal because Oprah, as we know, does not spread her endorsements lightly." Mitchell concluded by noting how "Oprah was recently ranked the second most admired woman in America. Who was first? Hillary Clinton."

2. In CNN List, 97 Percent of Celebrity Donations Go to Democrats
On this day before Saturday's celebrity-packed fundraiser for Barack Obama at Oprah Winfrey's California estate (see item #1 above), a peg to catch up with a July "CNN Political Ticker" blog entry which listed major donations to presidential candidates from actors/celebrities: 59 of 61, or 97 percent, to Democrats. CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon listed Danny DeVito and Tom Hanks as amongst 17 celebrity contributors to Hillary Clinton, Mary Steenburgen and Ben Stiller as donors to the John Edwards campaign, Jodie Foster and Will Smith as supporters of Obama's quest, Michael Douglas and Steven Spielberg as financial backers of Bill Richardson and John Lithgow as a donor to Chris Dodd. Paul Newman hedged his bets and invested in the campaigns of Clinton, Obama and Richardson. Rudy Giuliani was the only Republican on CNN's list to get celebrity money -- from actor Tony Sirico of The Sopranos and actress Melissa Gilbert.

3. Larry King to Bill Clinton: 'You Almost Got' Bin Laden
Bill Clinton's appearance on Wednesday's Larry King Live gave new life to the old nickname for CNN as the "Clinton News Network." King fawned over Clinton during the 40-minute session, asking the impeached former President if Osama bin Laden was ever going to caught. After Clinton gave the standard Democratic line that not enough resources are being sent to Afghanistan in the hunt for the al Qaeda leader, King insisted: "You almost got him." Clinton answered affirmatively, and fretted that he "never had a chance to deploy large numbers of troops to Afghanistan." On the Larry Craig sex scandal, King wanted to know if Clinton was gloating or felt any vindication: "Did you get any sense of satisfaction, since he was such a critic of yours during the impeachment thing, and using terms very demeaning about you?" The height of King's fawning over Clinton came when the host wondered, "Would you be happier if history said about you: Bill Clinton, a great philanthropist who happened to be President?"

4. Path to 9/11 Screenwriter Charges DVD Blocked to Protect Hillary
"The writer of last year's TV mini-series, The Path to 9/11, says the release of the show's DVD is being delayed in order to protect Bill Clinton's legacy and Hillary Clinton's candidacy," Brian Wilson relayed in the "Grapevine" segment on Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC. Citing a Los Angeles Times article, Wilson explained how the screenwriter of the movie aired last fall on ABC "says he was told by ABC that the DVD would be released last January, then they said April, then they said this summer. Now there is no release date set." Wilson reminded viewers that "the mini-series cast a critical eye on the Clinton administration's anti-terror efforts prior to the attacks. It was a ratings success and it garnered seven Emmy nominations."


NBC, ABC Champion Oprah's 'Magic' = Obama's
'Opportunity to Win'

Two days before Oprah Winfrey is to host a celebrity-packed fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, NBC's Andrea Mitchell championed her potential ability to "turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama" and ABC's David Wright marveled: "Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad." In a soundbite, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile gushed that "O plus O equals opportunity for Barack Obama to win in 2008."

On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams justified his show's story by asserting that Winfrey's "support for him [Obama] is getting new attention" -- attention NBC decided to give the topic. Mitchell admired how Winfrey "can turn a first-time author into an instant best-seller, single-handedly reviving an industry," leading her to wonder: "Can the billionaire entertainer, and richest woman in America, turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama?" Ted Johnson of Variety insisted: "It's a very big deal because Oprah, as we know, does not spread her endorsements lightly." Mitchell concluded by noting how "Oprah was recently ranked the second most admired woman in America. Who was first? Hillary Clinton."

ABC's Wright took a similar approach on Thursday's Good Morning America: "Oprah's plug can turn a book into a bestseller, a movie into a blockbuster. And the question now is, can she turn a candidate into a President?" After citing how the guest list "includes Will Smith, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx and John Travolta," as he segued into the above-quoted Brazile bite, Wright oozed: "Oprah's fundraiser is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad."

The fundraiser will take place Saturday at Winfrey's estate near Santa Barbara, California.

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Oprah Winfrey-Barack Obama story on the September 6 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now to Democratic candidate Barack Obama campaigning on the West coast tonight in advance of a big party being held there in his honor this weekend. The hostess is Oprah Winfrey, and her support for him is getting new attention. Here is NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

ANDREA MITCHELL: She can turn a first-time author into an instant best-seller, single-handedly reviving an industry.
OPRAH WINFREY ON HER SHOW: What kind of response did you get to the show?
UNIDENTIFIED BOOK AUTHOR: The response was overwhelming.
WINFREY: Everybody gets a car!
MITCHELL: She all but invented the over-the-top studio giveaway.
WINFREY: Nothing in the world makes me happier than making other people see their dreams come true.
MITCHELL: But can the billionaire entertainer, and richest woman in America, turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama?
WINFREY ON SHOW WITH OBAMA: This is my Senator, my favorite Senator!
BARACK OBAMA: Oprah, you're my girl.
MITCHELL, OVER VIDEO OF GEORGE W. BUSH: Her popular show has long been a regular stop for politicians and their spouses. But now for the first time, Oprah is putting her money and star power on the line for a single candidate.
WINFREY: I've never, you know, spoken out politically about anybody. I think that he has the capability, certainly the potential, to be a great leader.
TED JOHNSON, VARIETY: It's a very big deal because Oprah, as we know, does not spread her endorsements lightly.
MITCHELL: She'll even open the gates of her lavish Santa Barbara estate this weekend for an Obama fundraiser, a ticket so hot even top Obama aides are fighting to get in. Why could Oprah's endorsement be so important? Because she reaches eight and a half million viewers each day, mostly women. Exactly the voters now largely supporting Hillary Clinton.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: A lot of times celebrities have tried to get political for other candidates and haven't had a lot of success. But Oprah is different.
MITCHELL: So different Oprah was recently ranked the second most admired woman in America. Who was first? Hillary Clinton. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.

The MRC's Scott Whitlock provided this transcript of the September 6 story aired in the 7:30am half hour of ABC's Good Morning America:

ROBIN ROBERTS: "But first in this half hour, as we said, Oprah Winfrey has announced that she is backing Barack Obama for President. With her millions of loyal, devoted fans who follow her advice every day, an Oprah endorsement sounds like a pretty good thing for Obama. But will the Oprah effect, well, can it be effective in the world of politics? ABC's David Wright has more. David?"

DAVID WRIGHT: "Good morning, Robin. Oprah's $50 million estate outside Santa Barbara is called 'the promised land' and for a candidate, that's no exaggeration. Oprah's plug can turn a book into a bestseller, a movie into a blockbuster. And the question now is, can she turn a candidate into a President?"
OPRAH WINFREY: "I'm going to become a political activist."
WRIGHT: "As she told Larry King, she has never before played the king-maker."
WINFREY: "My support of him is probably worth more than any check that I could write."
WRIGHT: "The fundraiser this Saturday is expected to raise at least $3 million for Obama."
SENATOR
BARACK OBAMA (D-ILL): "Oprah, you're my girl."
WRIGHT: "Cell phones and cameras, strictly banned. Guests will have to ride a bus to '€˜the promised land' and sit on the grass once they get there."
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTON POST: "This is not going to be arriving by limousine and doing the red carpet and sitting comfortably around a dinner table."
WRIGHT: "The guest list? A closely guarded secret. It reportedly includes Will Smith, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx and John Travolta. Among the featured performers, reportedly, Stevie Wonder. And Oprah's fundraiser is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad."
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: "She's putting her brand next to his brand and O plus O equals opportunity for Barack Obama to win in 2008."
HUFFINGTON: "This is a pretty unique moment in Oprah's history given how incredibly cautious she is about what she endorses, about what she aligns herself with and how protective she is of the Oprah brand."
WRIGHT: "Is there a potential downside for Oprah? Could she lose viewers? Most say no. At this point, the only downside is that it could make viewers discount some of the other political interviews she conducts."
BRAZILE: "I think it will give Barack, you know, finally the kind of second chance that he needs to catch up with Hillary Clinton."
WRIGHT: "Now, keep in mind, Oprah's core audience is women. So any vote that she steers Obama's way comes straight out of Hillary Clinton's strongest potential voting bloc. So it will be very interesting to watch. Diane? Robin?"
ROBERTS: "Also, she shares the same hometown in Chicago, so they've known each other for a while."
DIANE SAWYER: "That's right. That's right."

The online version of the GMA story: abcnews.go.com

In CNN List, 97 Percent of Celebrity
Donations Go to Democrats

On this day before Saturday's celebrity-packed fundraiser for Barack Obama at Oprah Winfrey's California estate (see item #1 above), a peg to catch up with a July "CNN Political Ticker" blog entry which listed major donations to presidential candidates from actors/celebrities: 59 of 61, or 97 percent, to Democrats. CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon listed Danny DeVito and Tom Hanks as amongst 17 celebrity contributors to Hillary Clinton, Mary Steenburgen and Ben Stiller as donors to the John Edwards campaign, Jodie Foster and Will Smith as supporters of Obama's quest, Michael Douglas and Steven Spielberg as financial backers of Bill Richardson and John Lithgow as a donor to Chris Dodd. Paul Newman hedged his bets and invested in the campaigns of Clinton, Obama and Richardson. Rudy Giuliani was the only Republican on CNN's list to get celebrity money -- from actor Tony Sirico of The Sopranos and actress Melissa Gilbert.

CNN.com's July 16 posting, "Celebs add star power to '08 donor lists," online at: politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

....[W]e at the CNN Political Ticker have painstakingly reviewed the latest batch of presidential fundraising disclosures and have compiled that information in convenient list form, complete with bullet points.

HILLARY CLINTON (D)

* Ruby Dee, actress: $250

* Danny DeVito, actor: $2,300

* Fran Drescher, TV's "The Nanny": $2,300

* Joely Fisher, actress $4,600

* Tom Hanks, actor: $2,300

* Ed Helms, actor, "Andy Bernard" in NBC's "The Office": $250

* Sharon Lawrence, "NYPD Blue" co-star: $1,000

* Tobey Maguire, actor $4,600

* Marla Maples, actress: $1,000

* Paul Newman, actor: $4,600

* Rhea Perlman, actress $2,300

* Pauly Shore, actor $1,000

* Ben Stiller, actor $6,900 ($4,600 is the legal limit)

* George Takei, actor $1,000

* Lily Tomlin, actress $2,000

* Rita Wilson, actress $2,300

* Joanne Woodward, actress $4,600

CHRIS DODD (D)

* John Lithgow, actor: $1000

* Christy Romano, actress, singer, voice of "Kim Possible": $300


JOHN EDWARDS (D)

* Oliver Stone, director: $500

* Mary Steenburgen, actress: $2300

* Ben Stiller, actor: $4600

* Peter Coyote, actor: $1054

* Sharon Lawrence, actress: $1000


MIKE GRAVEL (D)

* Mark Ruffalo, actor: $700


BARACK OBAMA (D)

* Adam Arkin, actor $250

* Paul Dooley, actor $2,300

* Jodie Foster, actress $1,000

* Jamie Foxx, actor $2,300

* Martha Hackett, "Star Trek" actress $2,300

* Bruce Hornsby, singer $2,300

* Anna Horsford, "Amen" actress $500

* Cedric "The Entertainer" Kyles, actor $2,500

* Eriq La Salle, actor $500

* Paul Newman, actor $4,600

* Tom Skerritt, actor $1,000

* Jean Smart, actress $4,600

* Jada Smith, actress $4,600

* Will Smith, actor $4,600

* David Sutcliffe, "Gilmore Girls" Actor $1,250

* Isaiah Washington, former "Grey's Anatomy" Actor $2,300

* Joanne Woodward, Actress $4,600


DENNIS KUCINICH (D)

* Shelley Morrison, actress ("Rosario" on "Will and Grace"): $1600

* Alexandra Paul, actress, "Baywatch" co-star: $1300

* Deirdre Hall, "Days of Our Lives" actress: $1000

* Hector Elizondo, actor: $300


BILL RICHARDSON (D)

* Michael Douglas, actor: $3100

* Val Kilmer, actor: $2300

* Paul Newman, actor: $2300

* Edward James Olmos, actor: $2300

* Wendie Malick, "Just Shoot Me" actress: $500

* Steven Spielberg, director: $2300

* Kate Capshaw, actress, wife of Steven Spielberg: $2300

* Jodie Foster, actress: $1000

* Christie Brinkley, self-described as "Model/Mom/Environmental activist": $500

* Bette Midler, actress/singer: $4600

* Sherry Lansing, former film executive: $2300

* William Friedkin, director: $2300

* James L. Brooks, producer/writer: $1000


RUDY GIULIANI (R)

* Tony Sirico, actor, "Paulie Walnuts" on "The Sopranos": $1000

* Melissa Gilbert, actress: $4600

Larry King to Bill Clinton: 'You Almost
Got' Bin Laden

Bill Clinton's appearance on Wednesday's Larry King Live gave new life to the old nickname for CNN as the "Clinton News Network." King fawned over Clinton during the 40-minute session, asking the impeached former President if Osama bin Laden was ever going to caught. After Clinton gave the standard Democratic line that not enough resources are being sent to Afghanistan in the hunt for the al Qaeda leader, King insisted: "You almost got him." Clinton answered affirmatively, and fretted that he "never had a chance to deploy large numbers of troops to Afghanistan." On the Larry Craig sex scandal, King wanted to know if Clinton was gloating or felt any vindication: "Did you get any sense of satisfaction, since he was such a critic of yours during the impeachment thing, and using terms very demeaning about you?"

The height of King's fawning over Clinton came when the host wondered, "Would you be happier if history said about you: Bill Clinton, a great philanthropist who happened to be President?" Clinton paused for a moment, and answered: "No. I would like to say that I was a President who left America and the world better off when I left than when I started, and that after I left office, I did my best to help organize people in -- as private citizens -- to do the same thing. And large numbers of people were better off when I stopped than when I started."

[This item is adapted from a posting, by Matthew Balan, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

During the first half-hour of the September 5 interview, King pressed Clinton about Hillary and the criticism she has received over the years; the former President's latest book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World; his involvement in charitable causes; and forwarded two e-mail questions from viewers on his involvement in his wife's presidential campaign and how he might help select her running mate. Clinton also answered what he thought of Fred Thompson and the rest of the Republican presidential field; and the upcoming report on Iraq from General Petraeus.

The first topic King asked about, however, set the tone for the entire interview. King asked Clinton about the recent sex scandal involving Senator Larry Craig. "Did you get any sense of satisfaction, since he [Craig] was such a critic of yours during the impeachment thing, and using terms very demeaning about you?" Clinton answered in the negative, and explained: "Because when it was going on, I knew that, you know, a lot of them were outed for hypocrisy long before this. And everybody knew that -- every serious student of the Constitution -- knew that the whole thing was bogus, and that they were just jumping on a terrible personal mistake I made."

After the bottom-of-the-hour commercial break, King immediately brought up the lapel pin Clinton had on, and asked about an international fugitive:

LARRY KING: By the way, some people have -- they can't read the pin on your lapel.
CLINTON: Oh, it says 'Hillary.' My gosh, I probably should have taken it off before the TV show started, huh?
KING: Hillary two thousand-
CLINTON: Eight.
KING: Eight. You know, you could have kept it on.
CLINTON: Well, I have got another one.
(LAUGHTER)
CLINTON: I will give you one for a keepsake. You don't have to wear it.
KING: I wonder how you have them. OK. Some other items.
CLINTON: I will put it on.
KING: Are we ever going to get Osama?
CLINTON: Well, not if we don't put the right resources into the right places.
KING: You almost got him.
CLINTON: I did. But I never had a chance to deploy large numbers of troops to Afghanistan. I think that we can. And I think it is very important. We shouldn't forget, here, this guy -- he and Dr. al-Zawahiri are responsible for the deaths of the Americans on 9/11. They are still trying to plot violent actions in the United States and all over the world. And that is another reason we can't lose in Afghanistan. If they have freedom of movement -- greater freedom of movement, the more freedom of movement they have, the more freedom they have to plot and contact and do things that might be damaging to us. So, another reason that I strongly feel, and I know Hillary strongly feels this way, that we have to withdraw troops this year, is that we need to beef up our presence in Afghanistan and get our allies to join us.

As his usual M.O., King didn't pose a follow-up question, and went on to ask Clinton about the recent arrests in Germany in connection with a terror plot and about the war on terrorism in general.

Path to 9/11 Screenwriter Charges DVD
Blocked to Protect Hillary

"The writer of last year's TV mini-series, The Path to 9/11, says the release of the show's DVD is being delayed in order to protect Bill Clinton's legacy and Hillary Clinton's candidacy," Brian Wilson relayed in the "Grapevine" segment on Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC. Citing a Los Angeles Times article, Wilson explained how the screenwriter of the movie aired last fall on ABC "says he was told by ABC that the DVD would be released last January, then they said April, then they said this summer. Now there is no release date set." Wilson reminded viewers that "the mini-series cast a critical eye on the Clinton administration's anti-terror efforts prior to the attacks. It was a ratings success and it garnered seven Emmy nominations."

The September 5 item, in full, from Wilson who was filling in for Brit Hume as Hume prepared to moderate FNC's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire:
"The writer of last year's TV miniseries The Path to 9/11 says the release of the show's DVD is being delayed in order to protect Bill Clinton's legacy and Hillary Clinton's candidacy. The Los Angeles Times reports that Cyrus Nowrasteh says he was told by ABC that the DVD would be released last January, then they said April, then they said this summer. Now there is no release date set. The mini-series cast a critical eye on the Clinton administration's anti-terror efforts prior to the attacks. It was a ratings success and it garnered seven Emmy nominations. Now even Hollywood liberals are upset with its apparent shelving. Oliver Stone calls it, quote: 'Censorship in the most blatant way...it's an important work and needs to be seen,' end of quote."

An excerpt from the September 5 LA Times story, "Is Clinton's candidacy blocking 'Path to 9/11'?" by Martin Miller:

Among the nearly two dozen television DVDs slated for nationwide release on Sept. 11 is the second season of "Bones," the third season of "Grey's Anatomy" and the miniseries "The Starter Wife" that aired earlier this year. Not on the list on that day or any other in the near future is last year's highly controversial "The Path to 9/11."

The $40-million, five-hour ABC miniseries, which recently received seven Emmy nominations and drew a combined two-night audience of more than 25 million viewers, is for now on the path to nowhere. Its Amazon page reads: "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

With no date for the release, questions are being raised about whether political pressure is behind its current status as a stalled or discarded DVD project. The reasons are murky, but the miniseries' writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, believes it's crystal clear: Powerful forces are out to protect Bill Clinton's presidential legacy and shield Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) from any potential collateral damage in her bid for the White House.

Nowrasteh, also one of the miniseries' many producers, said he was told by a top executive at ABC Studios that "if Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem."

"Whatever anyone may think about me or this movie, this is a bad precedent, a dangerous precedent, to allow a movie to be buried," added Nowrasteh, who received death threats even before the miniseries was broadcast last September. "Because the next time they'll go after another movie. The Bush administration may go after a movie. The next administration may go after a movie. No matter who it is, they may go after a movie. I think this town needs to stand up."

Even before "The Path to 9/11" aired on ABC late last summer, the docudrama ignited a political firestorm, almost entirely from high-profile Democratic leaders who viewed its account of events leading up to the terrorist attacks as a right-wing hatchet job on the Clinton administration and its efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Attempts to pressure ABC to cancel the miniseries at the time were unsuccessful, but last-minute network edits were imposed to quell the critical outcry.

An ABC spokeswoman reached Tuesday would say only that the company "has no release date at this time," and she declined to comment further....

Thus far, few have noted the DVD's absence in the marketplace. Among those who have are conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, who questioned last month why the disc isn't available on the nation's retail shelves. (Limbaugh and Nowrasteh have met on several occasions but do not regularly socialize, Nowrasteh said.)...

[V]oices traditionally associated with the political left are disturbed by the DVD's uncertain fate. This isn't about politics, said film director Oliver Stone, but about the right of artists to have their work distributed.

"This is a shame; it's censorship in the most blatant way," said Stone, who has hired Nowrasteh for several writing projects. "I'm not vouching for its accuracy -- it's a dramatization -- but it's an important work and needs to be seen."

The time between a program's television broadcast and subsequent DVD release varies, but these days it's generally around four months. However, for TV movies and miniseries -- mostly because so few are made these days -- the rules are less clear.

For instance, HBO's movie "Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee," an adaptation of Dee Brown's famous book, and the USA Network's miniseries "The Starter Wife," about a Hollywood power wife scorned, premiered in late May and will be out on DVD Tuesday.

Still, there are plenty of miniseries, most of them produced years ago, that never make it to DVD. The chief reason is usually a perceived lack of interest and profit....

In 2003, after vehement protests from Republicans, CBS yanked its scheduled miniseries "The Reagans." Republicans complained that the docudrama created a distorted and unflattering picture of the former president. Eventually, the program was shown on CBS' much-less-watched sister network, the pay cable outlet Showtime, and was later released on DVD.

Initially, Nowrasteh was told by executives at ABC Studios that the miniseries would have a DVD release in January. Then, April. Then, this summer. Currently, Nowrasteh has not been notified of a specific release date for the DVD....

END of Excerpt

For the article in full: www.latimes.com

-- Brent Baker