You’ve probably heard by now that there was a bit of a dust-up over the exchange of gifts between my president and yours, Barack Hussein Obama II, and that weird-sounding half-blind Scottish dude who’s either the British prime minister or the ambassador to the Court of St. James’s or the governor of New York, whichever. Seems the guy named Gordon “Pasha” Brown brought a bunch of flotsam and jetsam off some old wrecked ship, plus a bunch of books, to give to Bambi in commemoration of ending slavery in Kenya or some such thing, whereas our First Black President forked over a prize collection of 25 DVDs representing the very best of American cinematic art.
Since three of my movies were in the package — The Godfather (uncredited fish wrapper), Lawrence of Arabia (uncredited camel wrangler), and Psycho (uncredited psychiatric patient) — I was pretty darn proud of being part of history. So I was shocked when the wingnuts and their counterparts in Fleet Street went all medieval on BO2, the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life. Who knew that some little raggedy-reared island off the coast of Ireland was worth all this fuss?
You’ll notice I said “my movies” in the paragraph above. That’s how we roll out here in Hollywoodland: proprietarily. Even if we’ve had basically nothing to do with a given film except wandering onto the set to deliver some Diet Cokes, we still get to call it “my movie.” You made a phone call to a guy who made a phone call to a gal who made a phone call to a guy who knew a beautician in the Valley who once dated the late David Begelman and even though she hung up on him Columbia/Sony still went ahead and made the picture? Hey — it’s your movie!
In other words, it’s all about credit. Even if, these days, nobody’s got none. Even though Tinseltown just had its best February ever (shhhh . . . don’t tell anybody that the instant fascist classic, Taken, led the way), we’re all broke here, underwater on our houses, out of work, and taking in laundry in exchange for additional dialogue and some punch-up. Thank Gaia we of the WGA — the Writers Guild of America, East and West — just celebrated the first anniversary of the end of our strike last month. We spoke truth to power, and pressed the “reset” button on the producers. Even if — despite the collective language skills of every red-diaper baby west of Fairfax Avenue — we managed to mistranslate the word as “overcharge.” It’s a sad state of affairs when two progressive entities such as the WGA and the State Department can’t find a single fluent Russian-speaker anymore. Just ask Hillary Clinton.
“So, Dave,” I can hear you, already typing your e-mails. “Why don’t you reach out to us and share your thoughts on the movie business? Lately, with all your blather about Manchurian Candidates and Chauncey Gardiner, you’re scaring us. We’d much rather you tell us about what you’re working on now from your palatial pad in Echo Park, snuggled up next to Elysian Park, a mere fastball from Dodger Stadium, a neighborhood where not a single person you know from the west side has ever ventured without an ‘Armed Response’ bumper sticker on his Mercedes-Benz.”
Well, relax — I didn’t watch the Oscars last month, not only because I wasn’t nominated for anything, but because I’m working on a very important spec script, whose existence I am now going to reveal to you: W. II: O2! (Oliver Stone, uncredited conspiracy theorist.) Yes, that’s right: a sequel to Stone’s amazing hit movie W., which came out just in time for the election last year and helped swing the tide toward Obama. It’s okay, we can admit that now: No pesky McCain-Feingold law prevented it from being released and exhibited, unlike Hillary: The Movie — “a scathingly hostile look at Mrs. Clinton in the tradition of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11”: the New York Times — which thanks to the Honorable Campaign never got shown on TV during the election.
The case is now before the Supreme Court — a little late! — but luckily the administration is on the new secretary of state’s side: “Every element of the film, including the narration, the visual images and audio track, and the selection of clips, advances the clear message that Senator Clinton lacked both the integrity and qualifications to be president of the United States,” says the Obama Justice Department. Well . . . they would say that, wouldn’t they! In fact, they did, during the not-so-Honorable Campaign (i.e., the Winning Campaign).
Some people have raised First Amendment issues, which is why the Supes have to sit through a bunch of tedious arguments about a movie that doesn’t have a single sex scene. But, as is well known (as Izvestia used to say), the law applies to anything “susceptible to no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.” Why in the world the First Amendment would protect that kind of hate speech is beyond me, and thank the lares and penates that we have a Supreme Court that sees it the same way.
Which gets me back to my new script, the thesis of which is this: Without “W,” there can be no “O.” Without a clear successor to Shrub, the way was made clear for the Messiah. Without TARP there could be no Porkulus, no new budget, nor even a TARP II. Without “illegal wiretapping,” there could be no continuing, responsible electronic surveillance of our nation’s, um, “enemies.” Without Gitmo, there could be no grandstanding debate on when and whether to close it, even as we extend constitutional protections to the men who just admitted/boasted they planned 9/11. Without free pills for old folks, there could be no universal health-care reform; without No Child Left Behind, there could be no College for Everybody. Without the wreck of the economy, there could be no Tax Cheat Geithner, Chairman Cholly, or Chris “Son of Disgraced Tom” Dodd and his undervalued cottage in Connemara.
It’s kismet, I tell you. Which is why, just as I soon as I *.pdf this sucker off to my agent, I’m going to get cracking on a new script: Kismet II: This Time It’s Not Coincidental. (Alexander Borodin, uncredited hip-hop music.) But it is personal.
– David Kahane is taking the rest of the week off to play poker with his screenwriter buddies Joe Gillis, Joe White, and Barton Fink up at Big Bear. Even though his cell phone is off, you can reach him at [email protected].