Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel: An Appreciation

Studs Terkel was the soul of the Windy City, the Chicago where people love to talk about politics, religion, their work and ultimately themselves. Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who died today at age 96, encompassed all of these passions in his journalistic career. As a college student three decades ago, I remember reading "Working", his fascinating compilation of everyday jobs. And in the early 1990s, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Studs Terkel at a New York Library party for the opening of The New Press, started by Terkel's long-time friend and publisher, Andre Schiffrin. Studs was a loyal sort and never forgot the gratitude that a writer has for working with a great publisher. In my 1994 book "Newhouse", Terkel described how he came to write "Division Street: America" with the help of Andre Schiffrin:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

REVIEWER: New Kennedys Documentary Based on Book Is The 'Highlight' of New Oliver Stone "JFK" DVD Pak

Warner marries new JFK disc with doc
Ultimate Collector's Edition will be released Nov. 11

By Laurence Lerman -- Video Business, 10/23/2008
OCT. 23 | Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK has been issued on DVD several times over the past decade, but never with the with the kind of collectability and supplemental sheen that accompanies it in Warner Home Video’s upcoming JFK: Three-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
The highlight of the package—which includes the director’s cut of the film, a vintage documentary and featurettes, reproductions of Kennedy family and presidential photos, letters written by or to John F. Kennedy and more—is the new feature-length documentary The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings. Written, directed and produced by Robert Kline, the film will premiere on Nov. 10 at Boston College, a day before the Ultimate Collector's Edition is released. [Ed Note: In New York, it'll be shown at Fordham's Lincoln Center McNally Ampitheater on Nov. 12]

The DVD set is priced at $39.98.
Kline is a former executive at 20th Century Fox, co-founder of the Lifetime Network and producer of Stone’s 1993 Vietnam saga Heaven & Earth. He based his Kennedy film on Thomas Maier’s 2003 book of the same name, which examines five generations of the renowned family.
“It couldn’t have been done without the total cooperation of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,” Kline told VB last week “They gave us a full-time archivist, and they never interfered creatively.”
As for the inclusion of the intensely researched documentary on the JFK: Ultimate Collector’s Edition, Jeff Baker, Warner’s senior VP/general manager of theatrical catalog, calls it “a marriage that a matchmaker dropped down from heaven.”
“We were planning on repromoting JFK anyway because of the 35th anniversary of the assassination,” he told us. “Oliver [Stone] gave us his blessing. He liked that we were marrying up his film with a documentary on the same subject. His visceral reaction was that it could be very interesting.”
America's Emerald Kings also will be available individually priced at $19.97.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

After Oliver Stone's 'W' Comes Next Month's 'JFK' and 'Kennedy' Docu Based on Book "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings"

Stars Align for Warner 'JFK' Release

By Billy Gil | Posted: 17 Oct 2008
Next in line to receive Warner Home Video’s elaborate “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” treatment will be JFK, the 1991 Oliver Stone film about the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the alleged cover-up that followed.
The set will be available Nov. 11 as the three-DVD JFK: Ultimate Collector’s Edition at $39.98; a Blu-ray Disc of JFK will be released the same day at $34.99.
In a superheated election year, and on the 45th anniversary of the assassination, the timing was right to re-release the film, said Jeff Baker, Warner’s EVP and GM of theatrical catalog.
“This is an election year, and there is great interest in presidents in general,” Baker explained. “I had been approached by [Robert] Kline, who’d acquired the film rights to a book called The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings.”
So Baker commissioned a documentary based on the Thomas Maier book about the Kennedys, directed by Kline, who had previously produced Stone’s Heaven & Earth (on DVD from Warner) and worked on a documentary for Warner’s Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music.
“I told [Baker] I thought it would make a sensational [documentary],” Kline said. “It’s a journey over five generations. It’s really a journey of an escape from Irish poverty and prejudice, and coming to Boston and finding out that many of the demons they were escaping from would greet them in New England, and what they overcame.”
Indeed, Kline’s documentary, which bears the same name as the book upon which it is based, is a far-reaching
exploration into the Kennedys’ history, including in-depth looks into some of the lesser-known Kennedys, such as younger sister Kathleen Agnes Kennedy, whose death May 13, 1948, greatly affected her brother.
Kline, who as a young man worked for Robert F. Kennedy, by chance was able to access footage from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum for his documentary, which also will be available the same day as a standalone DVD, at $19.97.
Some of the library material Kline accessed included letters written by or to Kennedy. Six of those letters will appear, reproduced, in JFK: Ultimate Collector’s Edition, including Kennedy’s inaugural address and a handwritten letter to his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. They will appear alongside re-created presidential photos from the library and a re-created campaign button from the National Archives and Records Administration.
The Kennedy library content will make its public debut with this home video release, making it somewhat of a first in terms of historical content coming to the public with a DVD.
“We do a lot of entertainment-oriented packages strictly related to the film,” Baker said. “This is really a different animal, a little more cerebral in nature and geared toward someone who wants to learn more about the family as well as the JFK film. It’s really much more of a serious historical piece with this JFK entertainment in the middle of it.”
The three-disc set also includes extras previously included on the two-DVD JFK: Special Edition Director’s Cut, including commentary from Stone, the featurette “Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy,” two multimedia essays, and extended and deleted scenes. The set also will include a collectible hardcover book with production photos, photo cards of the actors with character bios, and background on the film and why it’s relevant today. The Blu-ray version will come in Digibook packaging, with press material and photographs from the film, and does not include the special features and reproduced presidential memorabilia contained within the DVD version.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

VIDEO: Barack Obama and John McCain Supporters In Last-Minute Campaigning On Long Island; How Presidential Politics Works on the Grassroots Level

Here are two mini-documentaries about the different presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain on Long Island, and how folks are working at the grass-roots level on their behalf. This appears on the website.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Boston College Nov. 10 Screening of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings," new docu sold along with Oliver Stone's "JFK"

From the Irish Literary Supplement, Fall, 2008: Thomas Maier's book, "The Kennedys-America's Emerald Kings. encompassing a live generational family's journey starting from Wexford, Ireland to the United States in the twenty first century. Robert Kline, Executive Producer of Enduring Freedoms Productions and formerly Executive Vice President of 20th Century Fox, has produced a two hour documentary based on the book which will have its world premier on Monday November 10 at the Robsham Theatre on the Boston College campus. Hosted by the Center for Irish Programs, this premier screening will be followed the next day. November 11th, by the release of nearly one million DVD copies of the documentary which will be distributed and sold nationally by' Warner Brothers.

Here's the Makem Brothers in concert:

Friday, October 3, 2008

"W' Bush Trailer for New Oliver Stone Movie, then "JFK" and "The Kennedys" in November; "Whaddaya Think You Are -- A Kennedy? You're a Bush!"

In Variety, Peter Bart gives a big hooray to Stone for the new 'W" bipic which opens on Oct. 17. The new "JFK" DVD will unveil Nov. 12 along with a brand-new Warner Bros documentary by Robert Kline, a previous co-producer of Stone's work, with this new docu based on my book, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings." Stone's original movie "JFK" explored the Kennedy assassination and conspiracy theories behind it. Basic Books is issuing a new updated version of my 700-page biography, including a preface that talks about the Kennedy family's impact on the 2008 presidential race with Barack Obama, and also details Sen. Ted Kennedy's battle with brain cancer.
Here's some of what Peter Bart says about "W" the new Stone film:
Last week I saw Oliver Stone's "W.," an engrossing film which reminds us that the man who made "Platoon" hasn't lost his edge. Part polemic, and part parody, "W." explores the love-hate relationship between George Bush senior and junior. It culminates in a devastating (and imagined) scene in which Bush senior all but implodes in parental rage, declaring that, thanks to junior, no Bush will ever again be elected to public office.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VIDEO: Call Me Lucky: Sarah Palin Wins the VP Gamble, and Maybe the Biggest One of All

Who needs all those CNN audience meters, rolling up and down with approval and discontent? We know what we saw here at this website, where we can spot true Americans and true blarney with hawk-eye clarity. So our result after the VP debate? Well, it wasn't exactly Kennedy-Nixon or Lincoln-Douglas.
Joe Biden was OK but looked a little sleepy, missing a few chances to punch and counterpunch. Without doubt, the true champ tonight was Sarah Palin, the Mauler from Wassila, who gritted her teeth and flashed a wink or two at the crowd while poking away. (No friendly winks for any of the mainstream media, though). She was remarkably effective against the Pride of Scranton or Wilmington or wherever Biden says he's from. There are lot of people betting she'd stumble and lost that heavy-favorite bet, at least tonight.
Palin may have taken a step or two towards the vice-presidency.
But the most remarkable news today is that Palin may be even closer to the presidency than we think.
According to some wise-aleck who looked up the Social Security actuarial tables, Palin would have a 1 out of 6 or 7 chance of becoming president if the Republican ticker prevails. (We won't spell out how that exactly might happen, but you get the picture). This was, of course, bad news to the sourpuss Mainstream Media. Roger Cohen, in the NY Times, underlined the McCain-Palin gamble in today's pages:
I know one thing: this is no time for further gambling. John McCain rolled the dice on Sarah Palin. I’m grateful to Bob Rice of Tangent Capital for pointing out that the actuarial risk, based on mortality tables, of Palin becoming president if the Republican ticket wins the election is about 1 in 6 or 7. That’s the same odds as your birthday falling on a Wednesday, or being delayed on two consecutive flights into Newark airport. Is America ready for that? The lesson of the last eight years is this: when power is a passport to gamble, people can end up seriously broke or seriously dead.

So McCain may be the gambler, but who can say they are more lucky than Sarah Palin?
No one thought Lyndon Johnson had a chance of becoming president, either.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden Watch-out: Just Try Calling Your an Opponent an Elephant (or a Donkey) JFK-style.

In the Book of Debates, it is written that no candidate in their right mind should resort to name-calling. Those who violate this commandment are condemnded to purgatory in the public's mind and to the media's hell. Be like JFK, everyone advises, cool and in control, never resorting to name-calling.
Certainly Barack Obama and John McCain in this year's race, for all of the bile toward each other, have not resorted to any heavy doses of name-calling. But here's a little YouTube evidence that suggest Saint Jack wasn't quite all pure. Imagine, comparing Richard Nixon to an elephant!
As we head into the Vice-Presidential Debate (aka, The Super Bowl of Potential Gaffes), our head is swimming with the possibilities posed by Mooseburger and the Motor Mouth (Sarah Palin and Joe Biden).