Stephen Galloway

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It’s understood The Hollywood Reporter is an industry trade journal that addresses above all else the business of movies, but Stephen Galloway’s article on the Nate Parker ugliness from the aspect of how the director and Fox Searchlight can best do damage control is bizarre and offensive. For a journalist to write from inside an imaginary public relations war room about the best tactics to use to ensure a movie “can survive a rape-trial scandal” is just jaw-dropping, especially since the woman who charged Parker and his Birth of a Nation co-writer Jean Celestin didn’t survive, having committed suicide in 2012. It’s the strangest set of priorities.

An excerpt:

First, it’s crucial for the filmmaker to separate his life from the message of his film, about the horrific treatment of slaves — and by extension all African-Americans — in our society. That means Searchlight likely will have to abandon its plans to tie the movie’s marketing to him. The messenger may be flawed; the message isn’t. Now the message must be central to the movie’s campaign.

Second, Parker must demonstrate that he is a changed man. Penitence works far better than protests of innocence. The Birth of a Nation must be presented as his redemption story, a mea culpa rather than a personal triumph.

Third, Parker must deploy the men and women who know him and have worked with him to testify to his decency. That means not only his wife but also such luminaries as Denzel Washington, who gave him a break on The Great Debaters, and Oprah Winfrey, herself the victim of sexual abuse.

So far, Parker has handled the crisis shrewdly.•

In the New York Times, Roxane Gay has a deep and nuanced op-ed explaining why she can’t separate the art from the behavior of the artist, which would consign Pablo Picasso and Anne Sexton and Errol Flynn, among many others, to mothballs, but which is an understandable reaction. An excerpt:

Mr. Parker is being forced to publicly reckon with his past, and he is doing a lousy job. I want to have empathy for him, but everything he says and does troubles me. You see, what happened in 1999 was a “painful moment” in his life. Most of what he has to say about that “painful moment” involves how he felt, how he was affected. The solipsism is staggering.

In an interview with Deadline.com, the entertainment news site, Mr. Parker said: “I’ve got five daughters and a lovely wife. My mom lives here with me; I brought her here. I’ve got four younger sisters.” He offers up the women in his life as incontrovertible evidence of goodness or, perhaps, redemption. But no matter how much he wishes it to be so, his women cannot erase his past. He went so far as to bring his 6-year-old daughter to an interview where he knew he would be questioned about the circumstances surrounding the rape trial — a strange, manipulative and even cynical choice. To this day, he believes he did nothing wrong, though he also says he has “grown” and is a “changed” man.•

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I don’t trust the NSA or Oliver Stone with our information. 

It was clear long before Edward Snowden to any American paying attention that our government had overreached into our privacy in the aftermath of 9/11. It’s not that there aren’t real dangers that need to be investigated, but treating every citizen like a threat is another kind of threat.

Stone is a very gifted filmmaker whose work seems informed by chemicals he (over-)experimented with as a youth. It’s galling that so many took his overheated JFK hokum seriously for so long and that some still do. His films are interesting provided no one uses them as history lessons.

That means the director’s upcoming take on Snowden should be…interesting? Well, let’s not prejudge. 

Stephen Galloway of the Hollywood Reporter has an article about Stone’s paranoid approach to the making of the movie, which might be warranted in this case. He recently said this of the production: “We moved to Germany, because we did not feel comfortable in the U.S….we felt like we were at risk here.” An excerpt:

When Stone (whose films include Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Wall Street) was first approached to make the movie, he hesitated. He had been working on another controversial subject, about the last few years in the life of Martin Luther King Jr., and did not immediately wish to tackle something that incendiary again.

“Glenn Greenwald [the journalist who worked with Poitras to break the Snowden story] asked me some advice and I just wanted to stay away from controversy,” he said. “I didn’t want this. Be that as it may, a couple of months later, the Russian lawyer for Snowden contacts me via my producer. The Russian lawyer told me to come to Russia and wanted me to meet him. One thing led to another, and basically I got hooked.”

In Moscow, Stone met multiple times with Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since evading the U.S. government’s attempts to arrest him for espionage. “He’s articulate, smart, very much the same,” he said. “I’ve been seeing him off and on for a year — actually, more than that. I saw him last week or two weeks ago to show him the final film.”

He added: “He is consistent: he believes so thoroughly in reform of the Internet that he has devoted himself to this cause … Because of the Russian hours, he stays up all night. He’s a night owl, and he’s always in touch [with the outside world], and he’s working on some kind of constitution for the Internet with other people. So he’s very busy. And he stays in that 70-percent-computer world. He’s on another planet that way. His sense of humor has gotten bigger, his tolerance. He’s not really in Russia in his mind — he’s in some planetary position up there. And Lindsay Mills, the woman he’s loved for 10 years — really, it’s a serious affair — has moved there to be with him.”•

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Gifted television writer David Milch gambled and lost so much that he pretty much ruined schadenfreude for everyone.

The former Yale Literature professor, who co-created of NYPD Blue and Deadwood, had lavish homes, $100 million and the esteem of the industry, but a rabid racetrack habit has left him with only the latter. He continues working as he lives in shadows of his former life, subsisting on a $40-a-week allowance and hopelessly in arrears to the IRS. Milch is the subject of a jaw-dropping Hollywood Reporter story by Stephen Galloway with Scott Johnson, which could be called a cautionary tale, except it probably can only be fully understood by those drawn to wagering every last comfort on the nose of a horse. In other words, if you can see yourself in it, you probably won’t be able to see yourself out of it. 

An excerpt:

The writer-producer always was considered brilliant but also eccentric: His writing style consists of dictating his thoughts, sometimes while lying prone on the ground, often surrounded by other writers.

“He’s obviously a genius and extraordinarily talented, and he’s got a fire that burns in him brighter than anyone else,” says horse trainer Darrell Vienna, who helped Milch connect with real-life cowboys and horse wranglers while doing research forDeadwood. “But it can cause a lot of damage. He’s an extraordinary person. He’s insightful in everything he does — people, horses, everything — and he’s very insightful about himself, and therein lies the rub. He’s a person of extremes.”

A self-confessed former drug user in the ’80s (“I was a bitter heroin addict at the time,” he told an MIT communications forum in 2006) as well as a gambler, Milch is well-known at racetracks, where he once owned several horses. Racing and gambling were the themes of his HBO series Luck, canceled in 2012 after three horses died during filming.

“He was one of the most devoted gamblers,” says John Perrotta, an author and adviser on that show. “He was very serious about it, and he was a very good handicapper.”

Handicapping is the process by which odds are analyzed in a way that improves the chances of winning. You can, for instance, make what’s called an “exotic bet,” in which you guess which two or three or four horses will be the first to cross the finish line and in what order. The formation of these exotic bets was the subject of the first scenes of Luck, which Milch once described as his “love letter” to horse racing. Perrotta says they came directly from his experiences with the writer.

One acquaintance familiar with Milch’s gambling habits describes a man who couldn’t stop betting once he got started: “He was crazy. He’d bet thousands and thousands of dollars. He’d bet every race.”•

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Many great actors seem to me like they grew up in a cult, so oddly unique they are. Vanessa Redgrave, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Daniel Day-Lewis and Ben Kingsley? Had to be a cult, right? But Glenn Close actually was raised in a cult, a right-wing, anti-intellectual one to boot. It caused some trust issues, as you might expect, even within herself. An excerpt from Stephen Galloway’s new Hollywood Reporter profile:

“Close was 7 years old when her dad, a Harvard-educated doctor from a long line of New England blue bloods, joined the religious group known as the Moral Re-Armament.

Founded during the late 1930s, the MRA held firmly to what it called ‘the four absolutes’: honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. But these benevolent principles masked the all-consuming, all-controlling traits of any other cult — this particular one led by Rev. Frank Buchman, a violently anti-intellectual and possibly homophobic evangelical fundamentalist from Pennsylvania, who argued that only those with special guidance from God were without sin, and that they had a duty to change others. What began as an anti-war movement gradually turned into a possessive and exclusionary force.

It is unclear how many adherents the MRA had, though about 30,000 people gathered to hear Buchman speak at the Hollywood Bowl in the late 1930s, and the group was widely discussed in the press during and after World War II. Its post-war conferences were attended by several high-level diplomats and politicians — despite allegations that Buchman had been a Hitler supporter — and its cultlike nature appears to have emerged only slowly.

‘I haven’t made a study of groups like these,’ says Close, ‘but in order to have something like this coalesce, you have to have a leader. You have to have a leader who has some sort of ability to bring people together, and that’s interesting to me because my memory of the man who founded it was this wizened old man with little glasses and a hooked nose, in a wheelchair.’

When her family joined the cult, Close was removed from everything she held most dear — above all, life in the ivy-covered, stone cottage on her grandfather’s Connecticut estate, where she ran wild over the rugged land with her Shetland pony, Brownie. While Dr. Close went to Congo as a surgeon, she lived with her brother and two sisters at the group’s headquarters in Caux, Switzerland.”

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