Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blogs of War

Capt Danjel Bout, aka Thunder 6, the warrior -poet, was featured in Armed Forces Journal in an article entitled Blogs of War. There's a great pic of Dan patrolling the streets of Iraq.

Other milbloggers who were also mentioned include the enigmatic Capt B. of One Marines View, and another Marine with a soul of a poet, who blogs as America's Son.

Here is the link to the online version to the piece, but it's without the great pic of Capt Dan Bout in Iraq, that is found in the printed version.

A Vote For Victory

Thanks to Capo del Fuoco for the link!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"We served with honor. We served with valor. We earned distinction."

Capt Dan Bout, 1st Lt.Russ Currie, and Major K, have recently returned from Iraq. I will remember their blogs, their passion, their stories, their sacrificies. I will remember the fallen angels, and the wounded warriors, and all the brave men of California National Guard 1-184th Infantry. I will also remember the dispicable way the Army PR machine used the mainsteam media to overshadow the endless heroic actions of many by spotlighting the selfish actions of a few.

Lots of folks had lots of theories about why the Army made such a big deal of it. Mine is that the Army wanted to get out in front of "another Abu Ghraib," and a group of "nasty Guard" soldiers made good poster children. It was sound PR, but lousy teamwork.

I had been made aware of the details during the summer, but could not comment on them until they became public, so instead I seethed quietly, knowing how heroic this unit truly was and how unfairly their image was being tainted; not so much by the actions of a few stupid men, but instead by the "real" Army trying to protect their own image, not to mention the asses of their 'career soldiers'.

The truth is finally out in this piece, "The War You Didn't See" written by 1st Lt. Robert CJ Parry who served with The Nightstalkers, and while I can only hope that this will finally spotlight the many accomplishments and heroic actions of this unit, nothing will ever make up for the hell they and their families suffered at the hands of an ignorant self serving media aided by an Army PR office determined on making scapegoats of brave heroic selfless men who exemplified the virtues of duty and honor.

Our unit — supposedly just a band of weekend warriors from the National Guard — was selected by the Army's renowned 3rd Infantry Division to take on its primary challenge: taking control of a sector of south Baghdad that was home to leading Baathists and Al Qaeda fanatics. In that capacity, we conducted more than 7,000 combat patrols totaling nearly half a million man-hours. We captured more insurgents in one month than did whole brigades. We stand nominated (with the rest of our brigade) for a Valorous Unit Award.

Capt Dan Bout, 1st Lt. Russ Currie, Major Greg Krapperman, as well as S.Sgt Nuzez, 1st Lt.Cheng, Sgt.1st Class Chebatah, Sgt.1st Class Tom Stone, 1st Lt. Robert C.J. Parry, and 600 Soldiers of California National Guard 1-184th, including those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, served with courage, with honor, with valor, and earned distinction.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Party On!

Today is Jay Stephenson's 29th Birthday, and it is also the One Year Blogiversary of "Stop The ACLU"

Drop by to wish him a great one...and check out "The Top Ten Myths About The ACLU"
*pops open a bottle of champagne* "Many Happy Returns....and trackbacks"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And on the subject of Shit Floating....

While I have remained silent on everything that Antonia Zerbisias writes, I finally opted to comment on her blog about her latest piece of trash she pawns off as intellectually enlightening,
(I swear she and Joel Stein must have been separated at birth!).

I simply could not remain silent any longer. Here is what I wrote:

In no less than 6 interviews Ms Manji gave, she, herself, said she received death threats from the Islamic community. Contrary to what you allude: The "right" did not dream this up. Too bad the same can't be said for most of the crap you make up and then attempt to pass off as intellectually enlightening "truths".

Shall we revist your inability to read a comment on a blog and attribute it to the correct commentator, instead choosing to blame Stefan Sharansky.

And today, in a sad attempt to justify your intense hatred for a certain blogger, you claim that "the calls for Muslim blood have calmed down since 9/11."

Interesting, because there was never any call for Muslim blood, that is something you have yet again fabricated, to suit your obvious agenda.

However the calls for non Muslim blood by fanatical religious fundamentalist Muslims has YET to stop - not to mention their endless rants about the destruction of Israel, oh and let's not forget the blood baths in Jordan, the mass murders on trains in Spain, and tubes in London, beheadings of civilians, and the kidnapping of a female journalist, and Christian CANADIANS in Iraq.

And you have the AUDACITY- or perhaps its just plain stupidity -to question whether Muslims are victims instead of perpetrators???

Would you ponder the same of Nazi's, or of the Romans who fed Christians to the lions?

Truthfully, I can understand that Muslims are offended by these cartoons, BUT, as I friend of mine wrote, "if Muslims are “understandably offended” by the portrayal of their prophet wearing a bomb instead of a turban then why aren’t they offended when one of their members wears a real bomb into a crowded market place and murders dozens of innocents all in the name of their God?"

And on that matter, I AM OFFENDED that they are strangely silent; not taking to the streets in protest of a misguided Jihad, but instead choosing to riot over European cartoons which they deem insulting and inflamatory, while conveniently overlooking the HUNDREDS of defaming, insulting, disgusting, anti-sematic, anti- christian cartoons displayed daily in Muslim papers around the world!

Yet we do not see Jews or Christians who find Islamic cartoons offensive, taking to the streets en mass, rioting, burning down buildings, and issuing death threats.

"Which makes me wonder who the real hate-mongers are: those who are cut off from modern communications technology and are more easily subject to the machinations of ignorant clerics — or those that should know better and who claim to be morally superior"

By "those who should know better and claim to be morally superior", you are of course talking about yourself. Therefore the answer as to who the real hatemongers are is BOTH.

Maybe it's because I'm a Canadian, that many intelligent people constantly ask me why your op - eds, most of which are deliberately distorted, are still popping up in a Canadian newspaper, and the only answer I can come up with is that Shit Floats.

Thankfully, most of us know exactly what to do with shit; we just keep flushing it down the toilet.

First They Came........

I received an email from David, over at Thunder Run, with a link to a commentary by Dennis Prager, written in the Jewish World News.

As long as Muslim demonstrators only shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," Europe (and the rest of the world's Left) found reasons either to ignore the Nazi-like evil inherent in those chants (and the homicidal actions that flowed from them) or to blame America and Israel for the hatred.

But like the earlier Nazis, our generation's fascists hate anything good, not merely Jews and Americans. And now the Damascus embassy of Norway, a leading anti-Israel "peace at any price" country, has been torched. And more and more Norwegians, and Brits, and French, and Dutch, and Swedes, and the rest of the European appeasers who blamed America for 9-11 and blamed Israel for Palestinian suicide bombings, are beginning to wonder whether there just might be something morally troubling within the Islamic world.

Read more here.

David has also written a response to an editorial that appeared in his local paper, entitled "Insulting Islam".

.....if Muslims are “understandably offended” by the portrayal of their prophet wearing a bomb instead of a turban then why aren’t they offended when one of their members wears a real bomb into a crowded market place and murders dozens of innocents all in the name of their God?

Read more here.

Warriors and Wusses

Let me be clear, we all know who the warriors are, and we all know that Joel Stein is a wuss and a parasite.

His commentary in the LA Times is not the first piece of garbage that Joel has written, and it won't be the last. His pompous arrogant commentaries keep popping up and will continue to do so, which begs the question, why? To which I can only respond "because shit floats".

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.

We??? Hey boy genius - here's a newflash for you - assholes like you DO NOT speak for me and half of America, so WE don't care what you think.

WE will continue to support our brave selfless warriors. WE will continue to support the war on terror they selflessly fight, so that pompous asses like you, Joel, can have the freedom to bore us all with your shit.

And WE WILL give them a parade every time they come home!

The traffic may be insufferable, but it's not nearly as insufferable as you.

Nuff said! I won't waste any more time responding to the stupid rantings this pond scum tries to pass off as intellectual commentary.

Instead, I 'd like to post something from another Stein......Ben!

The most heroic, ethically courageous, morally resolute men and women in the world today are the Americans, British, and other forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are fighting the most evil men and women currently on the world scene. The American Army soldier, Marine, Navy sailor, Air Force warrior, and Coast Guardsman fighting in Ramadi or Mosul is fighting men and women who kill children and old people for sport. The men and women of the United States military are fighting the remnants of a regime so evil that it pioneered the use of torture against children -- just for the amusement of Saddam and his family. The men and women whom Joel despises rid the world of a dictator so twisted and murderous that he openly admired Stalin and Hitler and sought to match their level of atrocities. The men and women who wear the uniform fought, bled, and died to rid the world of the most dangerous man on the planet in the most flammable place on the planet. They died to save a slave people from the genocidal control of a mad killer who thought nothing of gassing his own people, of wiping out entire regions, of setting up special rape rooms to allow his henchmen and his sons to rape women at will, who amused himself by pouring gasoline down the throats of totally innocent people and setting them on fire.

His entire commentary can be found at American Spectator.

I would also like to post this eloquent classy reply to Joel "shit floats" Stein, by LTC Steve Russell:

Mr. Stein’s commentary on soldier support is remarkable because it reflects more than just his opinion. It may even express a viewpoint.

While most of Mr. Stein’s commentary is indicative of a man who has enjoyed our freedoms with none of the responsibility (by his own admission), he has at least one point of merit. He does not conceal his true conviction. When one considers those that say they support the troops but not the war, it is hard to distinguish which is more harmful to the soldier.

Mr. Stein alludes to this as trying to have it both ways and implies this is a moral cop out. He may be right. It can also be viewed as similar to telling the trash man, “Thanks.” It is seldom sincere. It is just so the trash will keep being taken away by someone willing to do it so one does not have to get his hands dirty.

LTC Steve Russell commanded Task Force 1/22nd Infantry in Iraq and is currently Chief of Tactics at the Infantry School.

The entire response can be found at The American Thinker.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sundance, Slamdance, and Swagdance

"To appreciate the Sundance Film Festival, 10 days winding up Sunday, as it is, you must embrace its contradictions. Here, the most high-minded artistic and moral aspirations coexist with hype, corporate self-congratulation and a ravening hunger for money and attention. All the values and pathologies that define the movie industry, - and perhaps American culture in general - are concentrated into a bitter, dizzying espresso shot."

A.O. Scott, Film Critic, NYT.

For ten days in January, the streets, shops, and restaurants of Park City, Utah, a breathtaking pictureque ski town nestled in between snow covered mountains, are invaded by avid ski bums, film fans, Hollywood glitterati, and a litany of unknown producers, directors, actors, sceenwriters, cinematographers, all hoping to make an impact with their work as they take part in the Sundance Film Festival.

What I personally loved about going to Sundance was that for ten days, I could emerse myself in skiing while indulging my personal passion for the art of film making, and connect with young unknown film makers, actors, cinematographers, who aren't jaded and are void of egos the size of the Mountains surrounding Deer Valley.

Which brings me to Slamdance, Sundance's little festival within a festival, which offers up a wonderful ecletic menu of smaller inde films that didn't make the selection cut for Sundance. I often found myself sitting on a floor , munching on popcorn, surrounded by 18 yr old film students, some of whom were involved in creating the films presented at Slamdance. THIS is why I went to Hollywood, to be surrounded by the energy passion and genuine love for the art of film making that these young adults evoke. To be able to INHALE all that albeit for only a few hours, re energized me!

The Sundance Film Festival is the lovechild of Robert Redford, and has reached the level of success it now enjoys INSPITE of Robert 's worst tendencies. A festival no one cared about in its birth, Sundance has grown to command the respect of Hollywood elites, film students, film lovers, and the media.

For ten days the "ordinary masses" can mingle with in restaurants shops and theatres, with celebs, and film makers, press, Hollywood elites, movers, shakers, decision makers, while enjoying some of the best skiing in North America, and some of the finest film making in the world.

It would be fair to say that good portion of the films at Sundance reflect a liberal perspective, but in my view, good film making was never meant to be a complete reflection of the mainstream but rather a window to bits and pieces of the tapestry of humanity. In that respect, Sundance delivers!

While my personal politics are clearly not the popular voice of Hollywood, and while I agree that Hollywood films tend to lean LEFT far more than right, and reflect liberals viewpoints far more than not, I will NEVER agree with those on the "radical right:, who feel films should be censored, or rally against everything that Hollywood produces that to do not reflect their conservative values.

I have no problem with Brokeback Mountain, it's universal themes of loneliness, alienation, betrayal, confusion, love and loss ring true. It is complicated, thought provoking, emotionally heartwrenching, visually beautiful, and exquistely directed, with limited carnal acts.

I've seen more sexuality in tv ads for male erectile dysfunctional during the Superbowl, and half naked women selling beer and cars to conservative males at auto shows in "bible belt red states". I'm not prepared to embrace "conservative fanatacism or fundamentalism" but I do appreciate and recognize that liberal secular values do offend conservatives across all religious sectors.

I agree that a Hollywood needs a stronger conservative voice reflected in its product, and the good news is that the seeds of a conservative voice have begun to be planted. I can only hope they will come come to fruition sooner rather than later.

Back to Sundance!
It wouldn't be Sundance if there wasn't at least ONE big-money bidding war. This year it was for Little Miss Sunshine which netted a $10 mill paycheck from Fox Searchlight.

Other films of note:

Michael Gondry's, "The Science of Sleep" (Think "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

"Thank You For Smoking
" - a timely relevant comedy about the way in which an issue is framed becomes more important than solving a problem.

"Son of Man",
a South African film that retells the story of Jesus.

"God Grew Tired of Us"
a documentary executive produced by Brad Pitt, and narrated by Nicole Kidman, it follows three “Lost Boys of Sudan” over four years as they leave Africa for New York City and attempt to make sense of their new country.

Another documentary, the crowd pleasing "Wordplay." netted $1 million.

Since I worked closely with some of the best talented and award winning cinematographers, my interest lies in knowing who won the Dramatic Cinematography award. This year it went to Tom Richmond for Chris Gorak's "Right at Your Door," for his visually impressive recreation of a Los Angeles that has been devastated by the detonation of multiple dirty bombs.

The Excellence in Cinematography award went to James Longley's for his documentary "Iraq in Fragments" . James lived and filmed in Iraq for two years and "Iraq in Fragments," was touted as a beautifully made film that takes a ground-level look inside today's Iraq. The documentary won three separate awards.

While the left leaning denizens of the film festival loved this movie, I agree with Robert Koehler thoughts as found in Variety :
" As beautiful as it is unrevealing, James Longley's "Iraq in Fragments" rests on a debatable but firm premise -- that the embattled country is irrevocably separated by its three dominant groups, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- but brings back nothing journalistically substantial from the war front. Presumably, current docs on Iraq should shed light on this intensely complex place, especially given U.S. military and financial involvement and the electronic news media's generally superficial reporting. In this case, the superficiality continues, but lensing is magnificent, assuring at least a DVD sale.

First section looks at the sorry existence of young, fatherless Mohammed Haithem, in and out of school and working for a gruff Baghdad auto mechanic. After this emotionally felt but less-than-penetrating look at disenfranchised Sunnis, the pic momentarily improves in a midsection set in the Shiite south. Longley scores a scoop as he records self-styled Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr's feared militia brutally enforcing ultra-conservative Islamic laws. Final section with a Kurdish farming family shows little of this group's well-developed independent culture".
Let's be honest here, apart from the films, the skiing, the open bar parties, great restaurants, and schmoozing, the secret obsession of many at Sundance is the SWAG Suites.

With well over $10 million dollars of SWAG to choose from at the numerous SWAG Suites, Sundance turns into swagdance, or an uber glitsy version of Celebs Gone Wild.

If you're wondering why any company would want to give anything to celebs who can afford to pay for everything, it's important to understand that "gifting" circumvents the need to advertise.

With paparazzi from every imaginable media outlet from every imaginable city on earth, a pic of the latest "It" guy or gal wearing, carrying, holding, touching, your product is worth more than the price of a Superbowl commercial!

For an interesting insight into just what kind of SWAG was given out at Sundance, check out "For Celebs Seeking SWAG,Its all in the Bag" .

During my years in Hollywood, I' ve received everything from $1000 spa treatments, to trendy clothes, sleepwear, sexy lacy Victoria Secret lingerie,Kate Spade bags, unique jewelery, Godiva Chocolates, food products, cosmetics; and that's just what comes to mind as I write this. Over 15 years, the list of SWAG I've accumulated would make a shopaholic cum in her pants...and this shopoholic should know!

SWAG is a must have at ANY event in Hollywood, from the American Music Awards to the EMMYS and the OSCARS - and here comes my shameless plug for friends of mine who created the well received "Award Suites" at those events, as well as SWAG suites at Sundance.

Ahhhhh.... the benefits of being in "the biz".

For more on The 2006 Sundance Film Festival, check out my favorite site, Rotten Tomatoes Fundance at Sundance '06


My Life As A" Biz Babe"

Many people have emailed me asking me to share stories of my insider life in Hollywood, political differences aside.

In the past, I've shared some war stories of a darker nature, albeit this story isn't about me, it's a challenge I encountered almost daily, Friends, Creative Conversations, and Hollywood, and I've writtten about some of my personal experiences, I am A Hollywood Refugee. and "We're Just Friends". I've shared what insiders have known for a long time, that this is a Risky Business, and introduced you to a kindred soul, Robert Averch, A Hollywood Republican.

My job included making sure I met and knew everyone worth knowing, hanging out on sets, attending film festivals, and came with an expense account which I needed to use or it would imply I simply wasn't doing my job well, so I could be found eating breakfast at The Four Seasons where studio heads, directors of development, and assorted celebs indulged in dealmaking over Cottage Cheese Lemon Pancakes, and juice smoothies, took clients, development execs, producers, directors, publicists, managers, casting directors, for lunch or dinner at the the latest" see and be seen" restaurant du jour; walked down the red carpet to attend film premieres, and every freaking award show imaginable, and of course, attending two important film festivals, Sundance and The Toronto Film Festival with Celebrities, Suits & Gawkers, Oh My!

I promised many who emailed me that I'd share more personal stories, this year. I 've already talked about two of my favorite red carpet award show events, The Golden Globes, and The Spirit Awards. The Spirit Awards are held the weekend leading into the Oscars, and the Golden Globes are always held in January.

But January is also when one of my favorite schmoozefests occurs - The Sundance Film Festival.

More about that in my next post, Sundance, Slamdance and Swagdance, but do you remember when I blogged about this hourlong infomercial - Commander in Chief.

Well....despite Geena Davis Golden Globe win.....the show's numbers were comparatively dismal and ABC has YANKED the show, replacing it for the next six weeks, with "Sons and Daughters".
(thats Hollywoodese for the show ain't coming back!!)

Now we can only hope the plug will be pulled on Hilary's not so covert 2008 run for the White House!