Tag Archives: Woody Allen

Can we still admire the work of a person accused of sexual assault? Pink gives a fantastic performance at AMA’s. And my annual tribute to “Cheers” Thanksgiving episode

When I was first starting out in journalism, and I was trying to learn to become a better interviewer, I watched Charlie Rose a lot.

He was on late at night (which fit my nocturnal sportswriter hours), and I remember admiring how well he would frame questions to his subjects, how he would draw out revealing answers, and how his interviews always felt more like conversations than interviews.

I remember ordering a VHS copy of his 1999 interview with Dustin Hoffman right after the Columbine school massacre. The show was one of the most sensational things I’ve ever seen (and thank God for  YouTube, that interview is right here)   and actually watching it and studying it for how Rose elicited such an emotional response from the actor. I followed and watched Rose for years, and greatly admired his skills as a TV personality.

All of this is to say that clearly I looked up to Rose, and now like millions of others I’m horrified to find out what a lecherous, inappropriate man he has been to many, many women over the years. And what I’m wrestling with, and what I’m sure many others are wrestling with, is a question that really has no easy answer: Can we still admire the work of individuals who in “real life” have proven to be so loathsome and disgusting?”

Call it the “Woody Allen” problem: If the person who made the art is despicable, can we still enjoy it? Can’t I still laugh at “Annie Hall” or “The Cosby Show” or a Jeffrey Tambor show like “Transparent” even if I know that a huge part of the show is a terrible person when the cameras are off?

I don’t pretend to know the answer, but for me, it’s yes. The art is different from the person who made it.

Sports fans have dealt with this problem for decades. Baltimore Ravens fans cheered Ray Lewis, who was involved in a double murder, to sack the quarterback. San Francisco Giants fans roared for Barry Bonds, steroid cheat. The list could go on and on.

And I think the same holds for entertainment. “Annie Hall” is no less a work of genius because Woody Allen is a severely flawed, possibly criminal, person. Bill Cosby will hopefully rot in hell, but “The Cosby Show” entertained millions and is still pretty damn funny.

Charlie Rose did horrible things, and damaged women. I hope he pays a huge price for his behavior (and it seems he has, as he’s been fired from both his PBS and CBS shows).

But I am still grateful that I learned to become a better journalist thanks to watching him. And I don’t think any of us who still enjoy the work of these disgraced men need to apologize for it.

***Next up today, you all know how much I worship and adore the amazing singer Pink, who is fierce and fabulous and puts on a hell of a show (we’ve seen her live twice already and are seeing her again next April on her next tour). She was at the American Music Awards on Sunday and sang a beautiful, haunting duet of R.E.M’s classic “Everybody Hurts” with Kelly Clarkson. But her even better performance was of her new song, “Beautiful Trauma,” while hanging off the side of a hotel in Vegas. Watch this, the woman is just incredible.

**Finally today, I don’t have too many traditions on this here little piece of the Internet, but one I’m happy to continue each year is to share the “Cheers” Thanksgiving episode, one of the finest pieces of comedy ever recorded. It makes me laugh every time, and often at a different part: Today I took so much joy out of Ted Danson’s face after he’s shut down Diane’s little speech.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there, and I’m as always grateful you take the time to read Wide World of Stuff.

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Searching for answers in the Woody Allen case. A commercial the NFL doesn’t want you to see. And a powerful ad about learning to read

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So maybe you’ve heard about this whole recent mess regarding Woody Allen and the molestation charges by Dylan Farrow, Mia’s daughter, once again making news 20 years after they were first investigated.

This has all started up again because Dylan Farrow wrote an op-ed piece with Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times on Feb.1, describing in excruciating detail her recollections of Woody Allen taking her into a small, dark room and sexually assaulting her when she was 7 years old.

The charges were investigated by police at the time, and no charges or arrests were made of Allen, but there has always been some controversy about that.

Years later, of course, Allen married Mia’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi, who was about 40 years younger than him, and lost millions of fans and a ton of respect from many for that, shall we say, bizarre life choice.

But these Dylan Farrow allegations re-surfacing have really riled a lot of people up, especially after Woody was given a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes a few weeks ago.

There were denunciations of Allen from so many corners of the Internet this week, and many of them were spot-on. Then there was this full-throated, fairly clear-eyed defense of Allen, contradicting much of Farrow’s story, by Robert Weide in The Daily Beast. (Weide is a longtime admirer of the director and recently made a documentary for PBS about Woody).

But then there was this equally compelling article I read by Natalie Shure in The Atlantic, herself a victim of molestation as a young child, explaining why inconsistencies in 7-year-old Dylan’s story at the time is not unusual, or surprising.

Honestly, after reading so much about this the last few days, I don’t know what I think the “right” side of this is. Of course I sympathize with any sexual assault victim, and it’s twice as heinous when that victim is too young to even attempt to fend for themselves, or speak up. If what Dylan Farrow said really happened, Woody Allen should be locked up and imprisoned forever.

But we also have innocent until proven guilty in this country, and Weide makes some excellent points about Mia Farrow’s “pushing” her daughter toward certain details, among other things. I think this has hung over Allen’s head for 20 years, and if he really did not commit this act, it’s wildly unfair that it has trailed him for two decades.

There doesn’t appear to be any clarity of the truth here, just a whole lot of muddled mess. I’ve thought about this a lot and I truly don’t know what to think.

**Next up today, here’s a pretty powerful ad that would’ve been great to run during the Super Bowl, except you just know the NFL and FOX never would’ve approved it.

The National Congress of American Indians released a two-minute video on its YouTube channel, targeting a team name it says is racist, the Washington Redskins.

Will it have an impact on the debate? Who knows. What I do know is that the longer this issue stays in the public consciousness, the more pressure Dan Snyder and the NFL will feel to change the ‘Skins’ name.

**Finally, once again a commercial from a foreign country blew me away, and makes me wonder how U.S. advertisements don’t seem nearly as good. This is an ad from a liquor company, shown in South Africa, but it has nothing to do with alcohol. It’s about … well, I don’t want to say too much. Just watch it. I found it very moving.

The Oscar nominees bring some surprises. Obama’s State of the Union leaves me uninspired. And Federer-Nadal at the Aussie Open, set your DVR.

Tuesday was almost a national holiday for me, with two of my favorite topics (movies and politics) taking center stage.
First, the Oscar nominations came out. Was a little surprised “Bridesmaids” didn’t get a Best Picture nod. Was more than a little surprised the excellent Leo DiCaprio didn’t get a nomination for Best Actor for “J. Edgar.” He was phenomenal in that.
Happy to see “Midnight in Paris,” do well for Woody Allen, though I don’t see it winning anything. Would love to see Melissa McCarthy win just so someone from “Gilmore Girls” wins an Oscar. (I bet Michel is somewhere quietly fuming).

Overall, I think the Academy did a pretty good job. I’ve got some movies to see between now and Feb. 26. First up: “Moneyball.”

**Watched the State of the Union with great anticipation Tuesday night. I was ready for some fire and brimstone out of Mr. Barack Obama.
And what I got was … meh. A so-so speech, I thought, with enough tax credit proposals to choke a horse and very few of what I thought are “do-able” this year in Congress.
A couple things I didn’t like, followed by a couple things I liked:
— Really got rubbed the wrong way by all of Obama’s “America is awesome, yeah!” rhetoric. Reminded me WAY too much of the last guy we had in office, some fella named W. Why do our presidents have to treat us like we’re high school kids at a pep rally?
— A couple of Obama’s challenges really puzzled me. Requiring states to make kids stay in high school until they’re 18? I know I’m new in the education game but I can guarantee 99 percent of high school teachers out there would groan at that proposal. Because as I saw this fall while quasi-student teaching, there are quite a few 17-year-0ld freshmen out there with no interest in doing anything but being disruptive.
And Obama threatening colleges to keep tuition low? How, exactly, is he going to get them to do that?

— I did like his proposal to have AG Eric Holder investigate illegal lending and packaging of risky mortgages that helped get us into the housing crisis. Course, I’m still pissed he didn’t let Holder investigate John Yoo and Dick Cheney, among others, for war crimes a few years ago, but hey, I’m not one to hold a grudge.
— I’m glad Obama started and ended with bin Laden and how much he’s gotten accomplished overseas. He did end the war in Iraq, as promised.
— And I really liked Obama’s combative tone toward Republicans. Enough of this stalling and delaying bullshit, he seemed to say. I’m going to keep reminding Americans for the next nine months that’s it’s you guys who are stopping my bills and ideas that could help Americans get jobs and pay lower taxes.
My man Pearlman had the line of the night, I thought:  “John Boehner: Has any man who has done less for the rights of minorities done more to intentionally darken his own skin?”
Still, I wanted more from Obama. I’m sure a lot of my liberal friends (like my Mom, who loved the speech) will disagree with me. But it felt like a lot of Obama pandering to everyone he could in the speech, and that’s not the guy I voted for.

**Finally, the greatest individual rivalry in sports resumes in the wee hours of the morning tonight, about 3:30 a.m.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the semifinals of the Australian Open.I don’t expect you to stay up and watch, even a hardcore tennis lunatic like me is going to watch it on DVR.
Like a rare delicacy or a trip to your favorite city, every Federer-Nadal match should be treasured and warmly embraced, since we may not have many of them left. These two class acts, whose primes have almost overlapped, have battled through some of the most classic matches in tennis history.
I have no idea who’ll win this one. Federer is playing outstandingly well so far this tournament, and seems completely relaxed. Rafa has had to work hard in his last couple of matches and, as usual, is battling injuries.

I of course am pulling for my man Federer, but I hope it’s a five-set classic.  When Federer and Nadal meet, that’s not usually too much to ask for.

Israel angers me again: Oy vey. A rant at ESPN. And a good Woody Allen movie (it’s been awhile)

Israel. Oh, Israel. You make it so hard sometimes for American Jews like myself  to defend you.

Like on Monday. Right when Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu was about to have a meeting with President Obama, an Israeli navy commando raided an aid flotilla and killed nine people.

Israel says it acted in self-defense. The rest of the world seems to disagree. It looks very bad, especially when you learn that the flotilla was carrying 10,000 tons of aid.

I’m sick of what certainly appear to be pro-active acts of violence by Israel. I know there are many Jews in America who will defend Israel no matter what. I’m not one of them.

I hope the investigation of this attack shows that the Israelis acted in self-defense. I really hope I’m wrong. Because this sure as hell won’t help any peace process that might ever occur in the Middle East.

**ESPN does a lot of things right, and it does a lot of things wrong. Monday it totally angered me because it refused to show live tennis from the French Open; instead, it showed taped matches that had been over for hours.

If you are interested in me ranting about this (and you know you are), click here for my blog on the French Open Monday, and scroll toward the bottom.

**”Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is one of those movies I’d been meaning to see for a while, but never got around to it. Finally saw that it was on one of the 47 Showtime channels we get (seriously, it’s ridiculous how many different Showtimes and HBOs there are), and taped it, and watched it Sunday night.

Pretty good, as I’d heard. I’d watch Scarlett Johannson read a phone book, so beautiful is she, but she actually acted quite well in this. Javier Bardem was his usual awesome self, and Penelope Cruz was terrific, too. Not sure she was worthy of that Oscar she got; I mean, she was only in a few scenes. But she was really good.

It was a well-paced, well-written film, even it if wasn’t all that funny. And it made me wonder: Hey Woody Allen, where the hell’s all this good stuff been? Woody’s made some dreadful movies in the last 10 years, and I’ve watched most of ’em (that one with Helen Hunt? And the “Scoop” movie with Scarlett? Just atrocious piffle.)

Glad to see Woody can still make a good movie, that’s all.