By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The only reason the studio committed so much dough to what was obviously a dicey project — a movie with no one to root for, except perhaps the heroin-addicted boy composite — was because of the interest of director James L. Brooks, who lambasted the TV news business in Broadcast News. But the Cooke movie isn’t being made and may never be, unless Sony’s powers that be resurrect it now as The Blair Bitch Project.
Then there’s ousted Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle, who’s not the subject of a movie since he’s not black or Jewish, but is now making a nice chunk of change as the monotonic fill-in on MSNBC thanks to Chris Matthews’ Irish-Catholic cronyism.
Which brings us to Blair.
First, Blair could hire bicoastal attorney Johnnie Cochran either to defend him against any possible fraud charges or to sue the proverbial Paul Stuart–pants off “Pinch” Sulzberger for invasion of privacy and defamation.
Cochran could file in New York, where he maintains both an office and residence, but he surely can find defamation grounds to bring the lawsuit here in Los Angeles, where California law acknowledges a person’s specific right to privacy. Then, Cochran could agree to settle, but only if the Times,together with executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd, were to hand over their rights to Blair for any book or movie. Cochran has formed an agency and marketing group to provide representation for sports and entertainment figures, so he could represent Blair on any deals.
One obstacle may be Hollywood’s unwillingness to piss off the Times since the newspaper’s show-biz coverage and reviews are so influential. But Roger Ailes, the Fox News chieftain who’s a god right now within News Corp., could convince boss Rupert Murdoch to let him thrash the liberal newspaper of record by producing the Blair project for Fox.
After no doubt considering American Idol’s Ruben Studdard as the lead, Ailes could announce that in keeping with Republican policies no blacks should be given preferential hiring treatment over whites, even if this is about an African-American journalist. So it’s conceivable that Ailes could cast his high-rated anchor Shepard Smith, who showed he had the drama chops during an argument over a parking space with a female reporter while covering the presidential election re-count story in November 2000.
Smith was arrested for felony aggravated battery, and reportedly the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and dropped after the woman agreed to an undisclosed settlement. Smith’s agent by now must be asking for a version of the “Julianna Margulies–ER” deal whereby Warner Bros. sweetened the TV show’s re-signings by offering key actors certain film commitments in addition to cash.
If Ailes still gets pressured by Pinch, he need only take a page from Ray Stark, who produced the HBO movie of Barbarians at the Gate. When one of the book’s chief characters, Wall Street tycoon Henry Kravis, cautioned the producers not to portray him pejoratively, Stark warned the dwarfish billionaire: “Give me trouble, and I’ll get Danny DeVito to play you.”
I’ve now reached the 1,200-word limit on my column. Thanks to Nexis and Internet searches, I’ve managed to write it without having done any original reporting. What an easy way to earn a living, ka-ching, ka-ching!