Friday, January 23, 2009

That's Entertainment (Related to Property)!


A few unrelated observations from the world of entertainment, seen through the lens of property-adherence:

•I thought this story sounded a lot more exciting when I thought the headline was describing some sort of crime ring instead of science-thwarting noise: “Shhh! Gadget Racket Threatens Pulsar Research.”

(On a completely unrelated science note, shouldn’t Nova be planning a flashy, fast-paced documentary to come out sometime around today called “Rise of the Lichens”?)

•Did you know that Basil Rathbone of Sherlock Holmes fame (not to be confused with Robert Downey Jr., who’ll play Holmes late this year, in his second comic book-based role in two years) made over eighty films? Assuming he was not a billionaire, this is a reminder that celebrities probably don’t usually make as much as we think they do.

•That wacko Oliver Stone next turns his hand to a documentary on socialist dictator Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, emphasizing Venezuelan and Bush-administration resistance to Chavez. This ought to be rich. (I don’t want to hear Chavez bellowing in the theatre — I want to hear Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s final vocal performance as the Enterprise computer.)

•You have to find it at least a little amusing that a former “Exalted Cyclops” of the Ku Klux Klan, Sen. Byrd (D-WV), fell ill during the inauguration of a black president, but I can’t help thinking it would have been even funnier if it’d been Al Franken.

•Speaking of cruel comments about political foes masquerading as comedy (Do I mean from me or from Franken? Let history decide!), what is with the ostensibly-funny Onion doing dry pieces reporting Bush’s death (one by alligator, one by natural causes in his sleep)? There weren’t even any jokes in the pieces, and the record will show I cut comedy writers a lot of slack when they experiment. For pieces this awful and pointless to have seen print, I can only conclude that they were the work of someone fairly high up on the Onion masthead who couldn’t easily be told he’s not funny. So there’s a liberal with a bad sense of humor in high places, never good news. (Luckily, there also seems to be at least one libertarian on the staff, though I don’t know if he did this piece, which covertly namechecks my pals at Reason — who in turn just posted this item suggesting that a disturbingly large number of comedy writers may feel that it’s time to retire, what with a perfect and non-comedic being like Obama occupying the White House.)

•Any anarcho-capitalist must have a soft spot for mercenaries, bounty hunters, and vigilantes, so I can’t help being intrigued by the fact that the Steve McQueen movie Hunter (made just before he died) was not only based on a true story about a bounty hunter but spawned a sequel TV series two and a half decades later called Huntress, about the bounty hunter’s bounty-hunting daughter, also based on a true story. (Coincidentally, the DC Comics character Huntress, who also made it to TV for a short time a few years ago, is herself the daughter of a famous crime-fighter, namely Batman, at least in some versions of the story — and in other comics news, in case you weren’t sure whose side Marvel Comics is on, they’ve depicted Obama taking office to find that his predecessor unwisely put Norman Osborn, secretly the Green Goblin, in charge of all superhuman activities before leaving office [but this action figure pointed out by Jill Friedman suggests Obama can handle such menaces].)

More tragically, there was that recent film Domino about another real-life bounty hunter, the model-actress turned manhunter daughter of actor Laurence Harvey who died of an opiate overdose just before the film came out, which strikes me as bizarre timing, but I may not understand the addictive/depressive mindset (fear of fame? of misrepresentation?). I was half-tempted to see it just to see if they added a postscript about the death, at the risk of creating a jarring non sequitur and downer for the audience.


Sean Dougherty said...

Basil Rathbone was indeed broke at the end of his career. He had the same agent as sitcom inventor Peg Lynch (“Ethel & Albert”, “The Couple Next Door,” “The Little Things in Life”) and she has said she hired him as a guest star on her show — which was on after the golden age of radio ended and therefore not likely to pay very much — as a favor “because he needed the money.” While you are no doubt correct that the pay scale for star actors back then was a lot smaller than it is now, it is also more likely the case that Rathbone lost his money in bad investments.

Jacob T. Levy said...

While I only glanced at the end of Secret Invasion, I think there were indications that Obama was the president who put Osborn in charge.

Todd Seavey said...

There was ambiguity caused by a shaded — but not necessarily actually black-skinned — hand of the appointing president, but the _Thunderbolts_ writer has since referred to Obama dealing with the Obsorn appointment made by Obama’s predecessor.