Donald Trump’s media empire may actually be happening

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly approached a major media investor about setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election.

Over the past couple of months, Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, has met with Aryeh Bourkoff, the CEO of a boutique investment bank known as LionTree, theFinancial Times reported Monday. Vanity Fair reported in June that Trump’s inner circle heard the Republican nominee mulling the idea of capitalizing on the “audience” that has grown around his campaign. Hiring former Breitbart News head as his campaign CEO Steve Bannon could, in the long run, be a first step in making a media company, especially if you consider that Trump’s other big-name advisor is former Fox CEO Roger Ailes. read more

“Seeing Is Believing” – An interview about women as film directors.

Published: The Good Men Project (October 11, 2016)

While Cady McClain and I first met as potential (and then actual) collaborators, I’m happy to say that I now consider her to be a good friend. With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to also say that I was genuinely thrilled to hear about the new documentary she has coming out, “Seeing Is Believer: Women Direct.”

My interview with her makes up the bulk of this article, but before we get to that I’d like to offer a few words that are entirely my own. It seems to me that we are living at a seminal moment in the history of American gender relations. The most obvious reason is the impending election of America’s first female president, Hillary Clinton, although I’d argue the unprecedented and blatant misogyny displayed by her chief opponent Donald Trump is equally momentous (albeit in a negative way). That said, we’re also seeing a cresting in Third Wave feminism, one that is drawing attention to diverse issues from rape on college campuses to the intersection of race and other social justice issues with the feminist cause. Naturally, this trickles into our entertainment and artistic cultures as well, which explains why I thought it was important to draw attention to the issues that McClain discusses below. Because it would be presumptuous to insert my own perspective excessively into an experience that is manifestly not my own, I allow her words to speak for themselves. Aside from correcting a few typos, the transcript is completely unedited. read more

Billy Bush likely out at “Today”: Reports say suspension over lewd Donald Trump conversation about to be permanent

Published: Salon (October 11, 2016)

According to a new report, it seems as if Billy Bush’s suspension from “Today” is likely to be permanent. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bush and the network are negotiating his exit, which could be official as early as this week.

Bush’s ouster from the show doesn’t come as a huge shock, since there was alreadytalk of a mutiny from NBC employees outraged over how he conducted himself during a now-infamous episode on the “Access Hollywood” set. Donald Trump may have been the one bragging about sexually assaulting women on video, but Bush’s fawning admiration and frat-boy camaraderie were pretty repulsive in their own right. read more

The truth is, he’s out there: Blink 182 lead singer Tom DeLonge really wants to tell the Hillary Clinton about UFOs

Published: Salon (October 11, 2016)

Blink 182 is well-known for their use of toilet humor, but who knew they were gazing into the stars as well as the sewers?

Former lead singer Tom DeLonge wanted to introduce HIllary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, to some “very interesting” sources on UFOs, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.DeLonge was referring to either military personnel or other former government officials, which isn’t in itself surprising.

Prominent state officials from astronaut Buzz Aldrin to former President Jimmy Carter have claimed to see UFOs in the past. That said, they may not always do this in total seriousness, as indicated by this tweet sent out by one of President Barack Obama’s senior advisers in February 2015: read more

Interview with Franchesca Ramsey: Yes, Trump supporters are deplorable!

Published: The Good Men Project (October 4, 2016)

A brief thought on the kind of person – well, let’s be honest here, the millions of people – who may wind up electing Donald Trump as the next American president. Unflattering things have already been said about them, and deservedly so, because their behavior is frankly deplorable.

But let’s start this article on a happier note. Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Franchesca Ramsey. You may not recognize her name, but if you watch MTV or casually browse YouTube’s politics videos, you already know her face and voice. She is most famous for “Decoded,” a series of educational lectures and comedy skits that break down sensitive topics such as race and gender. read more

The best and worst moments in modern presidential debates

Published: Fusion (September 26, 2016)

As millions of Americans prepare to watch one of the most anticipated presidential debates ever, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it’s worthwhile to evaluate previous debates for a sense of what we should look for this year. What have been the best moments? What were the worst? When did our presidents and presidential candidates remind us of the best that our democracy has to offer—and when did their gaffes make us cringe for our country?

The Best:

John Kennedy (1960): Of all the televised presidential debates that have since become the stuff of legend, none are as important as the very first one. Seventy million people tuned in on September 26, 1960, to see Democratic candidate John Kennedy face off against Republican candidate Richard Nixon. The expectations couldn’t have been higher for Kennedy, whose comparative inexperience caused many to doubt whether he was up to the job of being president. Fortunately for Democrats, Kennedy instinctively understood what it took to excel in this format—namely, that you had to talk to the camera rather than your opponent. As journalist and historian Theodore H. White laterexplained, “For Mr. Nixon was debating with Mr. Kennedy as if a board of judges was scoring points; he rebutted and refuted, as he went, the inconsistencies or errors of his opponent. Nixon was addressing himself to Kennedy—but Kennedy was addressing himself to the audience that was the nation.” read more

My Tribute to “Leprechaun 4: In Space”

Published: The Good Men Project (September 6, 2016)

If I’m ever asked to name my favorite movie, I’ll usually select Paddy Chayefsky’s brilliant 1976 satire “Network.” Certainly that movie has shaped me as much as any film I’ve watched; it is a sharply insightful look at how corporations and corporatist logic govern our modern world, although it’s best remembered today for prophesying the ascendancy of sensationalism in TV news.

Yet while “Network” is without question a great movie and one I tremendously admire, it isn’t the movie I most enjoy returning to. That distinction belongs to a strange little horror comedy named “Leprechaun 4: In Space.” read more

How the “Sausage Party” gets made: Why Seth Rogen’s talking-food cartoon’s labor controversy matters

Published: Salon (September 2, 2016)

“Sausage Party” is a surprisingly smart, visually creative comedy that has been rightfully praised for its satirical take on organized religion. This makes it all the more unfortunate that the movie is currently wrapped up in a labor controversy that, if it is grounded in fact, could convince potential viewers to pause before spending their money on the film.

“Sausage Party” currently finds itself in an unflattering light because of online reports that Vancouver-based Nitrogen Studios, which produced the movie’s animation, did not pay its employees for overtime hours and created a hostile working environment in which employers could threaten crew with termination if they didn’t meet excessive demands. Because British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act has an exemption for “high technology professionals,” companies like Nitrogen may be claiming that animators are high-tech professionals to justify not paying them overtime. (High-technology professionals are defined as individuals who use specialized knowledge and professional judgment on tech-related issues for at least 75 percent of their work time, so that could apply to animators, although it depends on where the line is drawn between strictly tech-related work and activities that are more artistic and creative in nature.) read more