30 Rock and Blackface


I support this, even if I don't completely understand it:
Four episodes of 30 Rock, including two featuring Jane Krakowski’s Jenna character in blackface, are being removed from subscription streaming services Hulu and Amazon Prime and have also been made unavailable for sale on purchase platforms such as iTunes and Google Play. The episodes, which will no longer air on traditional TV either, were pulled at the request of NBCUniversal executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. A source tells Vulture the four episodes, some of which have already vanished, should be gone by the end of this week.
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” Fey wrote in a letter to the platforms that streamed or sold 30 Rock. “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request.”

You have to adapt to the times in which we live. I totally get that. I watched every episode of 30 Rock and I loved the show. When these episodes aired, there was no intention of advancing any kind of racist agenda. It was intended to mock anyone who thought going out and performing in blackface was acceptable or reasonable. It was always the intention of the show to highlight just how awful the "Jenna" character was in terms of being self-centered and delusional.

There was little, if any, outcry when these episodes aired, but that's not the standard that should apply. Those sentiments should not hurt people, and so I can understand why they're being pulled. I don't think this should extend to any kind of condemnation for the people who made this because I just don't see how they weren't advancing a hateful agenda when they made these episodes.

Monty Python Speaks



Monty Python Speaks is a book that gathers decades of interviews into one chronological source. In and of itself, that is a fantastic idea, and I don't know how you could screw that up. 

Does that mean I can recommend this? Well, with some qualifications, sure.

First of all, there is little here that will be shocking or revelatory. I have read several books on Python and I've seen the documentaries on Netflix. If you have an interest in what they did before coming together as a six person troupe, there is a wealth of material out there to go through. You can see the different factions and how they worked in British television before the initial run of the series.

This book captures some of the negotiations and the discussions and will allow the business associates a voice that doesn't really come out in the documentaries. So, you can get some of that here. In fact, I wish there were more books. That's a pet peeve of mine, and I don't know how to get over it. I remember reading a book that had the scripts of the show Ripping Yarns, and I loved it. Very little of that ended up in this book because it only involved two of the Pythons and no one thought to interview them about it.

However, this brings up my chief complaint with this book and that is, they really should have annotated each excerpt with a date and time of interview. It doesn't do you any good to go through the chronological history without telling the reader, "so-and-so said this on Feb 4, 1976 when he was in a foul mood and angry at that other son of a bitch who said something in return on April 8, 1977 when he found out what had been said about him."

You will begin to understand why Terry Gilliam is a bit of a pain in the ass about things because there are ample statements from everyone as to why that is. And then, in return, you'll discover that John Cleese was very much a pain the ass from the beginning because everyone seems to say so in their rather polite way. 

Someone could write an entire series of books and detail why Gilliam and Cleese are absolute pains in the various asses of everyone who comes into contact with them. Not sure if those would sell, but there you go.

Second, the book is missing contributions from Graham Chapman (who died, of course, after a lifetime of being a pain in the ass and had serious issues) and from Eric Idle (who is very much alive, is a nominative pain in the ass like we all are, sometimes, and likely didn't care to contribute anything).

Third, this is the updated version and carries through the diagnosis of dementia for Terry Jones (a right miserable pain in the ass about things, as you'll read) right after their farewell run of shows at the O2 arena. No mention that that's what Led Zeppelin did as well, and I've always wondered who else might use the O2 to tell everyone "we're done, now go fuck off."

Clearly, Idle told everyone to fuck off and kept the money he made from Spamalot, so maybe there's a book in that I need to go read. If you look at how successful the Broadway show was, you come away wondering why they didn't do more with that and expand into the larger Python universe with more songs and more shows. There's a book there, too!

I thought there should have been more material with regards to Python's tour of Canada and the United States. There could be a whole book on that. And the absence of any real commentary from Idle, aside from some one-liners that deliver some zings, cripples the narrative. 

There is a wealth of back and forth from Cleese, Michael Palin (who everyone loves and no bad words are said about him because he was easy to get along with and was not a pain in anyone's ass, ever),  and Jones and Gilliam that significantly advances the reader's understanding of their various projects. You will learn exactly why they made two disappointing films and two great films and you'll learn why everyone seemed to have been disappointed in everything regardless of whether it was successful or not.

Oh, and someone should write an entire goddamned book about their goddamned albums because they are, without question, entirely ignored by a world that should be reintroduced to the comedy album format. Goddamn it all anyway.

For completists only, in other words.

Danny Masterson



Daniel Masterson was charged on Wednesday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office with raping three women.

The alleged separate incidents occurred between 2001 and 2003, according to authorities.

The That '70s Show star was charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. The case was filed for warrant Tuesday, according to the district attorney's office. Masterson was arrested Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., according to jail records. His bond was set at $3.3 million. He bonded out at 2:44 p.m., according to jail records.

Masterson is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001. The actor is alleged to have raped a 28-year-old woman in April 2003. And, sometime between October and December of 2003, according to authorities, the actor is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman who he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home.

The district attorney's office noted it declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other investigations, one due to insufficient evidence and the other based on the statute of limitations for the crime alleged.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Masterson's lawyer said his client was innocent.

“We’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify," Tom Mesereau said. “Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”

Los Angeles police began investigating Masterson over sexual-assault claims in 2017.

There shouldn't even be a statute of limitations for rape, let alone a delay of this many years in getting to the truth. Masterson could have raped countless women in the time it took to get us from 2001 to today.

There was a lawsuit filed in 2019 and Masterson was accused of raping incapacitated or drugged women as well as repeatedly raping and abusing a former girlfriend. What stands out in this particular incident is that Masterson has been accused of being helped in his defense by the Church of Scientology.

Why Does Daniel Radcliffe Have to Say This?


Why does Daniel Radcliffe have to ride to the rescue of J.K. Rowling?
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the "Harry Potter" franchise, on Monday responded to franchise creator J.K. Rowling's controversial tweets about gender identity, directly addressing fans who may have felt pain reading the author's comments, which some labeled as transphobic.
Rowling, who has often come under fire by the large Potter fandom for her social media posts, sparked backlash over the weekend after mocking a headline about "people who menstruate."
"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," she tweeted on Saturday. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Shortly after, the author's name was trending on Twitter, with many accusing her of transphobia -- which she's been accused of before.
Rowling is a grown woman who has repeatedly taken shots at trans people.  She has some emotional need to share her distaste for trans people with a vast global audience. She's done this again and again, and it speaks to her state of mind that, when she does it, there is no real apology or acknowledgement of the pain she is causing others.

Radcliffe should not have to defend her or try to maintain the respectability of the Harry Potter franchise. It would probably be wiser for him to create some distance between himself and Rowling and do what he can behind the scenes to let her know that she needs to get help for her issues. Barring that, it's not his responsibility to cushion the blows that she rains down.

The French Dispatch


There are only a handful of films that I really wanted to see this year, and The French Dispatch is at the top of the list.
The message from the Cannes Film Festival is: Corona or not, the show must go on. The iconic French festival, which was as scheduled to run May 12-23 but was forced to cancel its physical event due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday unveiled its lineup for Cannes 2020, a selection of films that will carry the Cannes brand to screen at other events around the world.
The Cannes 2020 program includes many of the year's buzziest art house and indie titles — among them Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Naomi Kawase's True Mothers, François Ozon's Summer of '85, ADN aka DNA, directed by, and starring French filmmaker Maïwenn (Polisse) and Thomas Vinterberg’s pro-drinking drama Another Round. (Scroll down for the full line-up).

Don't take this to mean that it is the only thing I wanted to see. I suppose there are a few others, we don't get a Wes Anderson movie like this one often enough.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just delaying the release of movies that are already made but it is also delaying the filming and production of movies that had been planned. And we all know how things fall apart--funding, whatever and what have you dries up when there is a delay. Add to that the struggles of everyone who works on films and you have a perfect storm for when we might have to settle for re-releases and encore presentations.

The Root Beer Stand


This is a business model that makes sense.

Drive up restaurants like this have been around forever. This is just one version of the idea that you could provide food and somewhere to park for people to use for their dining enjoyment. I've seen so many variations of this over the years, and given our need for social distancing and isolation from others, it really makes sense for this to be the choice right now.

The Root Beer Stand was closed, of course, and it wasn't even dark yet. In better times, I hope people flock to places like this and keep them in business.

Think of the simple meals to be had here. Not a bad way to go, and certainly better than having everything enclosed right now. When things get back to normal, I suppose we'll all prefer to gather in one place and eat shoulder to shoulder. For right now, nah. Just stay in the car.