Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Television Page 1 of 15

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Many News Sources

Nicole Carroll, the Editor-in-Chief of “USA Today” was on CNN this morning at 11:28 E.T., talking about the “Austin American Statesman’s” release of the Uvalde videocam footage of the school shooting in that city. “We are thankful for journalists for not stopping, but asking the tough questions that needed to be asked.” The Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Carroll, bemoaned the fact that authorities were misleading the public with press releases and, in particular, that the information coming out of Uvalde, Texas, after the slaughter of students and teachers in their school were erroneous and delayed. Her  defense of the release of the video was that the Austin “American Statesman” newspaper felt that the public had a right to know the truth so that what happened in Uvalde would not be repeated.

In similar fashion, an earlier CNN story this morning (Sunday, July 17) went into a fair amount of detail about how a local reporter in Indianapolis was able to document the truth of the ten-year-old rape victim who had to travel to another state, from Ohio, to secure an abortion after she was raped (twice) and became pregnant by an illegal alien. At first, various sources such as Fox News flat out called the news false, making no effort to get to the bottom of the truth. It took a local reporter to notice on the court docket that an arraignment was going to happen in court that day of a male charged with rape of a female under 13. She went to the courthouse and learned that the story was absolutely true and the remarks of commentators like Tucker Carlson were based on nothing.

“The Boston Globe” and the “New York Times” are reporting that only 1 in 4 people who are Democrats want Biden to run again and only about half want to see Trump on a ticket again. (Next was DeSantis with 25%). Young voters have lost trust in it all and want nothing to do with the geriatric candidates they are being offered, according to 585 of those interviewed for a “New York Times” article. Only 3 in 10 (Biden) or 4 in 10 (Trump) want to see either of those men run for President again. The duo was considered too old the first time, so running them for a second time is not considered a good idea by the rank and file.

The stories in my first two paragraphs underline why a robust local media is a necessity. Without the enterprising news reporter who followed the 10-year-old rape story to its source, the public would not know the truth. Without the January 6th Commission hearings, the American public would not know the truth about who did what to cause the insurrection on January 6, 2021.

One GOP stalwart, speaking with me, tried to dismiss the January 6th Commission as “a joke,” admitting that he has not listened to the testimony of ALL REPUBLICAN INSIDERS on what really happened that cold January day after the 2020 election. He simply took one network’s directions on faith, without attempting to inform himself by exposure to all points of view, which is my journalism-based goal. (I tape 3 different main news channels and watch the fringe ones late at night for their viewpoint.)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

The complaint he voiced to me was that all the panel members were “hand-picked.” He has missed the fact that every single person testifying was a GOP insider and the only reason that there aren’t more Republican members of the Commission (aside from Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) asking the questions is that Nancy Pelosi warned GOP leader McCarthy that they could not be Republican lawmakers who might be implicated in the coup d’etat:  Mo Brooks (R, Alabama) was involved, as were Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuiliani, Andy Biggs, Louis Gohmer, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Margie Taylor Greene, Brian Babbitt, Matt Gaetz, Paul Goser, Andy Harris, and Jody Heiss. All were involved in pushing for the role of the VP in illegally not certifying the electoral votes (“the Eastman Theory”). Quite obviously, a sitting VP does not have the power to simply throw out the vote of the people, as presented by their official electors. If this were a solid principle, why couldn’t Al Gore have declared himself the “winner” after Florida and the hanging chads in 2000? Obviously, the VP’s role on January 6th was ceremonial, as former Vice President  Dan Quayle advised Pence, and the entire 38-page Eastman coup d’etat document was partisan, flawed, and illegal, constituting sedition if not treason, in trying to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States by hampering the peaceful transition of power.

When McCarthy learned that he could not appoint Trump loyalists (and probable conspirators) like Jim Jordan, he refused to appoint any other Republicans, so the relatively small number of GOP representatives asking the questions is because of McCarthy’s decision not to cooperate.  McCarthy is also responsibl for, first, loudly denouncing January 6th and then scurrying off to Mar-A-Lago to kiss the DJT ring.

Sticking one’s head in the sand and denying that something really happened does not cause it to disappear as an issue, but that seems to be the current GOP strategy for the January 6th Commission, just as it was for the legal outcome of the 2020 presidential election.  The panel has been hearing testimony from high-ranking GOP stalwarts who helped elect DJT and served him in office for 4 years, such as Mr. Cippolone, his Chief Counsel. Fox News won’t cover it, because they know how damaging it is to their appointed dictator-to-be, DJT.

There are several good documentaries about the importance of the local media and investigative reporters in fighting back against Fascism in all its form, one of which, that centered on Storm Lake, Iowa, I reported on for this blog. Storm Lake documentary – Weekly Wilson – Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson) A second one, “Writing with Fire,” detailed how Indian women are making valiant efforts to report on news in that country and are making news, themselves, for their efforts. (This documentary was Oscar-nominated.)

Liz Cheney within the Capitol (Photo courtesy of the Denver Post).

Finally, the commentator spoke sadly about the vast number of Americans who will only watch news from a channel that confirms their biases. This is a mistake, and one I do my best to overcome. I routinely watched OAN in the early morning hours, until cable refused to carry it any more because of the blatant mistruths it was spreading. I tune in Fox News on occasion. I tape “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” and “George Stephanopoulus” and “Fahreed Zakaria” (whose program seems to be airing earlier than it used to. I subscribe to the “Austin American-Statesman,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Quad City Times,” a Seattle newspaper, and the “New York Times” (which has, by far, the best and most-detailed Ukraine coverage.)

Make an effort. Try to get your news from a variety of sources, even if you don’t agree with the point-of-view of some of your sources. I was a journalism major in college and the recipient of that year’s Ferner-Hearst Journalism Scholarship. I care that truth comes out, and I hope you do, too.

July 12th Commission Hearing for the January 6th Coup D’Etat


I’m watching the taped committee hearings and am astounded at the description of the December 18th “Crazies” versus “White House Counsel” that apparently took place within the White House Oval Office (and, later, within what is known as the Yellow Oval Office in the presidential quarters.)

Herschmann, Cipollone and other members of the White House Counsel used the term “unhinged” and it is quite apparent that everything Hillary Clinton warned us about regarding Donald J. Trump’ temperament and how it made him unfit to hold high office was correct. The man didn’t want to admit defeat, so he was prepared to listen only to the crazies in the room and unwilling to listen to lawyers who had been loyal to him throughout his time in office and were—to put it mildly—sane by comparison with Rudy Giuilianni and the female lawyer Sidney Powell.

The meeting took place on December 18th and was so loud that people outside could hear the disturbance. Female attorney Sidney Powell—a major loon—-quoted Trump as saying something like, “You see what I’ve been dealing with” in reference to the sane lawyers advising DJT that none of the schemes to seize voting machines and declare martial law were going to fly.

Pat Cipollone, Chief White House Counsel, repeatedly told the crazies that they had no evidence for their claims of widespread voter fraud and even used the phrase, “put up or shut up.” The crazies couldn’t put up any evidence of voter fraud, because it did not occur in instances large enough to affect the outcome of Biden beating Trump in 2020. More evidence was presented that everyone in Trump’s “inner circle” had been telling him for some time that it was time to move on and admit that he had been defeated. Even his favorite child, daughter Ivanka, tried to get The Donald to think about conceding, but DJT’s narcissism knows no bounds and he was unwilling to admit defeat. (I couldn’t help but think how graciously Al Gore conceded in 2000 after the hanging chad controversy.)

Instead, on the heels of the unhinged December 18th meeting in the Oval Office, Trump released a tweet on Twitter on December 19th calling for all of the militant militia groups to come to the Capitol on January 6th. A woman’s group that had already applied for a permit to hold a rally asked to move its date up by two weeks in order to be present on January 6th, and two former militant Trump fanatical supporters testified about the influence of DJT on bringing them and their groups to the Capitol that day.

Testimony was heard from Dr. Donell Harvin, former Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence, who said, “All the red flags went up at that point” referencing DJT’s December 19th tweet about coming to D.C. because it’s “gonna’ be wild.” He pointed to the coordinating of the random groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys and cited operational intelligence that was gleaned from watching the Internet and was “clearly alarming.”

The Proud Boys represent White Supremacy and promote violence. Many of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States on January 6th. Dec 19, 10:22 am. Kelly Meggs: “I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Forida 3% and Proud Boys” to “shut this shit down” (meaning the Big Lie of Stop the Steal.)

Ministry of Self Defense encrypted communications were shared that showed maps, plans and other work coordinating with Trump allies, including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn had connections with Roberto Minuto, Stewart Rhodes, and Roger Stone. (He is actually pictured giving the Proud Boys salute during an initiation of some sort in a photo.)

The tweet sent on Dec. 19th served as a rallying cry for these differing groups to join together. FOS: Friends of Stone focused on various pro-Trump events and followed Roger Stone. Nov. 14th encrypted e-mail was shown telling followers to go to their state capitols and cause problems with the voter count(s), which caused the Georgia Capitol to be invaded.

“If he doesn’t do it now, as Commander in Chief, we are going to have to do it alone, on our own, in a much bloodier way.” (Stewart Rhodes) Alex Jones is shown issuing threats: “We will be back in January!”

Encrypted chats showed that Kelly Meggs spoke directly with Roger Stone to make plans for January 6th. Stone used Oath Keepers as his security force. Stone admitted that the Oath Keepers were willing and ready to use violent force against anyone, including the National Guard, who might try to remove Donald J. Trump from the presidency. Lawyer for the Oath Keepers Kelley SoRelle, explained Roger Stone’s connection to the Oath Keepers.

Ali Alexander, Roger Stone and Alex Jones: an unholy trio represented the worst of the worst. Katrina Pierson testified that Trump liked the “crazies” who defended him violently in person. “Things have gotten crazy and I definitely need some guidance” she wrote to Mark Meadows, asking him for advice about allowing the radical speakers scheduled for Trump’s January 6th rally to appear; Mark Meadows returned her call 8 minutes later. She was raising the red flag because of the very suspect nature of some of the speakers.

“I will be making a Big Speech at 10 a.m. on January 6th at the Ellipse. Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the steal!!” (A tweet not sent, but seen by the POTUS.) “Potus is going to call for it (the march) unexpectedly,” said Ali Alexander.  Ali Alexander’ twitter clearly shows that DJT was expected to urge his followers to march on the Capitol and that it was a deliberate strategy settled upon by the President. Many lines pointing out Mike Pence’s failure to do Trump’s bidding were taken from his January 6th speech and then re-inserted after Pence refused to do DJT’s bidding.

Dec. 21st White House meeting:

Mo Brooks (R, Alabama) was involved, as were Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuiliani, Andy Biggs, Louis Gohmer, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Brian Babbitt, Matt Gaetz, Paul Goser, Andy Harris, and Jody Heiss. All were involved in discussing the role of the VP in certifying the electoral votes (“the Eastman Theory”).

There was a January 4th meeting between the President, the VP and John Eastman; Pat Cipollone (Chief White House Counsel and sane legal mind) was not allowed to attend. He subsequently scoffed at the idea of the VP being able to simply announce that he was not going to do his official job of determining the winner of the presidential election.

Sarah Matthews expressed that she was part of a group of aides in the Oval Office hearing “Ideas of how we can make the RINOs do the right thing.” Trump asked that the windows of the Oval Office be left open so that the Freedom Plaza rally (of crazies) could be heard. Ali Alexander: “1776 is always an option. These degenerates in the Deep State are going to give us what we want or we are going to shut this country down.”

A former Twitter employer who wanted Trump’s messaging to his followers shut down testified:
‘When people are shooting at each other tomorrow I will try to rest in the knowledge that we tried.’ (former Twitter employee who warned of Trump’s use of Twitter to stir up insurrection.)

Debbie Lesko (R, AZ) – “We have Antifa, we also have, quite honestly, Trump supporters who actually believe that we are going to be able to overturn the election and when we don’t, they are going to go nuts!”

Actor James Caan Dead at 82

James caan High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - Alamy

James Caan ( Dreamstime)

In 1977, Caan rated several of his Top Ten movies: – The Godfather (1972) , Freebie and the Bean (1974), Cinderella Liberty (1973) , The Gambler (1974), Funny Lady (1975), Rollerball (1975), The Killer Elite (1975), Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) , Slither (1973), A Bridge Too Far (1977), and Another Man, Another Chance (1977) . He also liked his performances in The Rain People (1969) and Thief (1981). I would add “Misery” and his television lead as Brian Piccolo in “Brian’s Song” to Caan’s own list.

When I heard that tough guy Jimmy Caan—the actor who moved into the Playboy Mansion for a while during a divorce—was dead, I immediately thought of the loss just days ago of another such film stalwart, Ray Liotta. Both were the kind of actors who brought believability to their roles and were much in demand, although, in Caan’s case, he seemed to have a way of shooting himself in the foot by not accepting Oscar-making roles.

There were at least 3 Richard Dreyfuss roles that Jimmy Caan turned down: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “The Good-Bye Girl,” and “What About Bob?” In two of those instances, the lead was in the running for an Oscar. (Caan was nominated only as Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Sonny Corleone in 1972’s “The Godfather.”)

James Caan was often honored by Italian/American groups and commented that he wasn’t even Italian (he was Jewish and his father was a Queens butcher), but that they wouldn’t allow him to turn down the honors. Caan also played football at Michigan State in his youth and attended (but did not graduate from) Hofstra or MSU.

JAMES CAAN AUTOGRAPHED 12X18 MISERY MOVIE POSTER BECKETT BAS STOCK #192596 | eBay

Caan  turned down the lead role in “Kramer vs. Kramer” (Dustin Hoffman) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a film which swept the Oscars and earned Jack Nicholson an Oscar. When the part was offered to Caan, he said something derogatory about a film that would take place largely within the walls of a mental institution, but he learned his lesson from turning down that Oscar part, later accepting the lead role in 1990’s “Misery,” which was directed by his good friend Rob Reiner.

In various articles James Caan holds out that last role as an offering from Reiner to help Caan out of a deep depression, precipitated by the death of his sister from leukemia at only 38 (she was working for Caan at the time). Caan talked openly about his battle with depression. He also battled a cocaine addiction for a while and, while considered for both the role of Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”(1976) and Axel Foley in “Beverley Hills Cop” (1984), there were times when getting him insured was a crap shoot, much like the situation with Robert Downey, Jr., during Downey’s bad years flirting with drug disaster.

After the sixties spent learning his craft and appearing on television shows such as “Dr. Kildare” (1963), “Ben Casey” (1963), “The Untouchables” (1962) and “The Naked City” (1961) Caan broke through in 1972 as Sonny Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.”  He would make 4 films with Francis Ford Coppola.

Slated to play Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” first, Sonny was the part that cemented James Caan in the public’s consciousness as the hot-headed Italian brother of Michael who dies a grisly death during a toll booth assassination. Once considered for Gene Hackman’s role in “The French Connection” (1971), for Stallone’s role in “Rocky” (1976) and for Ryan O’Neal’s role in 1970’s “Love Story,” James Caan’s 137 credits included a lot of major missed opportunities. One story said that, when offered a role in “Apocalypse Now,” his agent said Jimmy would read it only if guaranteed $1 million. The small role went to Harrison Ford. And then there was the point when Caan discovered, to his dismay, that his money was gone and he was flat broke.

Moving past that set-back, James Caan would end life valued at $20 million, having started out with a $35,000 salary for his storied role in “The Godfather” (1972). He reprised his role, uncredited, in the 1974 “The Godfather II” for the same amount. In 2013, the rough-and-tough James Caan earned $75,000 for a role, an amount which did not appropriately reflect his impact on American cinema.

It seemed incongruous, to me, that, when he died, one obituary mainly mentioned Caan’s role in “Elf” opposite Will Ferrell. That role did earn him $140,000 in residuals but it was far from his most memorable or his best work.

For 9 years this Jewish cowboy from Queens rode on the rodeo circuit, with a clause that allowed him to pass if he was shooting a movie. He once described massive numbers of screws (14 in one spot) and other medical measures, the result of doing many of his own stunts and his own daredevil attitude.

It was this attitude that his many friends commented upon, including his great sense of humor. Along with comments that he was seen being pushed in a wheelchair by one of his sons in 2021 and using a walker when out to dinner in the last year, came the remarks about his appearance at “The Godfather” 50th anniversary celebration. Time, the critics said, had not been kind to Jimmy Caan.

Still, for me, I remember the four-times married James Caan as the very definition of “a man’s man.” His appearance as Brian Piccolo in television’s “Brian’s Song” (1972), or his 1975 appearance in “Rollerball” and “Misery” in 1990 were epic. Less epic was the song-and-dance-man role opposite Bette Midler in “For the Boys” (1991) or his role as Mr. Henry in the indie film “Bottle Rocket” (1996) or as Frank Vitale in “Mickey Blue Eyes” (1999), that last role playing off his role as a Mob guy.

Jimmy Caan was “in” to women and karate and was married four times, producing 5 children. Most of his marriages did not last long, with 5 years being the norm for two of them, but the marriage to Sheila Ryan that produced acting son Scott Caan (“Hawaii Five-Oh”) lasted only from January 12, 1976 to December 7, 1976, which is not even one year. His final marriage commenced in 1995, but was failing and a divorce was in the works when Caan died on July 6th, 2022.

I will not remember Jimmy Caan as the Dad from “Elf.” I will have many much more intense memories of much more memorable films that he gave us during his 137 outings. Thank you for those many memorable films, James Caan.

Presley Trivia & Other Random Musings

Viewing “Elvis” and recognizing that very little was said about Elvis’ many girlfriends or what happened to Lisa Marie Presley in the wake of their 1966 divorce made me take a look at some of the history since his death in 1972.

For those too young to have seen Elvis in his prime, this movie is an education. However, the film does veer dramatically from the truth along the way.  Gone is any mention of Elvis’ many loves including his affair with Ann Margret while filming “Viva, Las Vegas.” Wikipedia tells us that Elvis and Priscilla Presley became increasingly distant after the 7 and ½ year courtship, including her relocation to Graceland after Elvis met her in Germany in 1959. She was 14 when they met; he was 24. They married in 1966, although she lived at Graceland with him for nearly 8 years before they tied the knot. They divorced in 1972. Priscilla gave birth to Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’ only child, in 1968. Priscilla’s parents apparently went along with the idea of the then 14-year-old girl being “raised” in Memphis by Vernon Presley. Weird.

It is noteworthy that both Priscilla and Lisa Marie and granddaughter Riley Keough appeared with Austin Butler in a special about Baz Lurhmann’s film that I watched. Speaking in the Jungle Room in Memphis, Elvis’ wife and daughter were extremely enthusiastic about this film and Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis. Lisa Marie said, “I loved this film and I hope you do, too.” Lisa Marie and Priscilla and granddaughter Riley Keough, an actress, participated.

It made me wonder about any other children of Elvis’ only daughter, who was nine when he died. Didn’t Lisa Marie—who also put out three albums—have other children?

Lisa Marie has been married 4 times. She actually has (or had) four children, but Riley’s brother, Benjamin Keough, died on July 12, 2020, at the age of 27 in Calabasas, California, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  On October 7, 2008, Presley gave birth to fraternal twin girls, Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood, via Caesarian section at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.

In February 2017, Presley said that her daughters were taken into protective custody. She opposed her husband Michael Lockwood’s request for spousal support, claiming that she had found hundreds of images and videos of child pornography on his personal computer. The divorce was finalized sometime in 2021. Sources say that Lisa Marie—who married both Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage—remains on good terms with Danny Keough, her first husband, the father of Riley. One source suggested that Keough continues to live on the property, but the couple are not an item. Regardless, Riley, has appeared in 38 films, including 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” as Capable, and she will have a recurring role in the new streaming series “The Terminal” as Lauren Reese in 8 episodes, opposite Chris Pratt. (The series premieres on July 1st),

In 1971 an affair Elvis had with Joyce Bova resulted—[unbeknownst to Elvis]—in her pregnancy and  an abortion. Elvis often raised the possibility of Bova moving into Graceland, saying that he was likely to leave Priscilla. Elvis and Priscilla separated on February 23, 1972, after Priscilla disclosed her relationship with Mike Stone, a karate instructor Presley had recommended to her. (No mention of this in the screenplay). At the time of his death, Elvis was supposedly engaged to Ginger Alden. Prior to Ginger, Presley and Linda Thompson split in November 1976. (Linda Thompson was also once married to Bruce/Caitlin Jenner and, after him, David Foster, who is now married to “American Idol’s” Katharine McPhee. Foster has been married 5 times and was, for a while, step-father to Brandon and Brody Jenner, when married to Linda Thompson.)

“Priscilla related that when she told him, Presley “grabbed … and forcefully made love to” her, declaring, “This is how a real man makes love to his woman.” She later stated in an interview that she regretted her choice of words in describing the incident, and said it had been an overstatement.  Five months later, Presley’s new girlfriend, Linda Thompson, a songwriter and one-time Memphis beauty queen, moved in with him.”

As Wikipedia recounts: “On July 6, 1972, Thompson attended a private movie screening hosted by Elvis Presley at the Memphian Theater in Memphis. Thompson was 22 at the time.] Linda Thompson and Presley hit it off and subsequently dated for four years before breaking up around Christmas 1976. They broke up because, like Priscilla before her, Thompson wanted a “normal” life, which was not possible with Presley’s lifestyle. However, they broke up on good terms and remained good friends until Presley’s death.” Presley met Ms. Thompson, a songwriter, 5 months after Priscilla and he separated. The Presleys were not officially divorced until August of 1972, one month after he met Linda Thompson.

Perhaps the next bio-pic could be a cross between Linda Thompson and David Foster, both of whom seem to have interesting lives? Foster married his fourth wife, Dutch model Yolanda Hadid in Beverly Hills, California, on November 11, 2011. She is the mother of Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid, who are constantly in the tabloids. That gave way on 2011 and Foster proposed marriage to Katharine McPhee in 2019. He is 72; she is 38 and just had their child on Feb. 22, 2021. Ms. McPhee/Foster donates to Republican causes.

So, so much for depicting Elvis as a one-woman man who was crushed by his wife’s departure. It does seem logical that Priscilla’s departure would severely wound him, since he was known to be unusually close to his mother, Gladys, and deeply affected by her death at age 46. The movie version shows Elvis feeling increasingly trapped in a career that did not reflect what he most wanted to be doing. Baz Luhrmann, in the special, even talks about the somewhat heavy-handed way in which he shows Elvis, onstage, singing “caught in a trap” while Colonel Tom is signing a deal for him to work at the Las Vegas International Hotel for the next five years, in exchange for expunging the considerable gambling debt he had run up (among other compensation).

Another possible untruth involves Colonel Tom Parker telling Elvis he needed to go to Germany in 1958 and serve in the Army the normal way. Actually, one source said that the Colonel objected to Elvis performing for free for the government, or Elvis could have served far less than the two years he spent in Germany. Another source said that he tried to avoid serving altogether, but finally went along with Parker’s plan to rejuvenate his image. However, supposedly special arrangements were made for Presley to live while serving and the concept of him being a regular “G.I. Joe” is questioned.

 

 

 

“The Bear:” Not Riveting Television

We just watched the premiere of the new series “The Bear.”

The series is set in Chicago and seems almost like a spin-off from the lead’s former role as Lipp (Philip) on “Shameless.” Jeremy Allen-White portrays the lead chef in this story, which is described in the synopsis this way: “A young chef from the fine dining world returns to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop.”

First, the good things about the series: 1) The acting (2) The Chicago setting, especially the exterior shots often used in “Shameless” (3) the cast.

Second, the bad things about the series: 1) the scripts by Alex O’Keefe and Christopher Storer, (who also directed) (2) the opportunities for conflict in this restaurant setting (3) the basic interest in a show that is heavy on cooking lingo where at least half the scenes take place within a gritty Chicago corner cafe.

Jeremy Allen-White is as impressive as he was in “Shameless.” He’s good, and I’m sure he will continue to be good.  It is  difficult to remember that he is not “Lipp” (Philip) Gallagher any longer, but is now Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. For one thing, the latter name conjures up images of an Italian family. Jeremy, with his piercing blue mesmerizing eyes, looks about as Italian as I do (which is not very Italian). Let’s just say that he made a better Gallagher than he does a Berzatto. Carmy was Michael’s brother, but Richie was his best friend, if I understood the family dynamic properly (it was not totally clear).

Co-star for the series is Ebon Moss-Bachrach. He is apparently Carmy’s cousin, Richie or perhaps just the dead Michael’s best friend. Unclear, like many other things. Richie is used to doing things “the old way” in the restaurant. Carmy wants to improve things. Change is good for Carmy and Sydney, but bad for Richie. Carmy and Richie spend most of the first episode screaming at one another over changes in the menu, how they prepare food and other topics that were about as riveting  as whether or not Kim Kardashian and Kanye West reconcile. [In other words: not interested in either of those things, and certainly the decision as to whether or not to scrub spaghetti from the menu is not High Drama in my world.]

Mediator in the family friction is a new hire, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney, the sous chef. She seems way too good for this corner eatery. Part of the manufactured conflict is apparently going to center on Liza Colon-Zayas as Tina, who resents Sydney’s new-found influence and attempts to undermine her at many turns. Somehow, watching a bunch of stewed onions fall on the floor does not qualify as high drama. The visit from the Health Inspector, who gives them a grade of “C” is also not our idea of excitement, but the feeling that this entire endeavor is sort of doomed by debt and other every-day ills  made me think about how stressful it is to fill up my gas tank these days. All of the financial shortcomings that Carmy faces do not make for very good escapist fare. In fact, his inability to pay for the foodstuffs necessary to keep the restaurant going was depressingly true to life. Right now, escapism from the realities of inflation and high food prices is on my menu; watching a restaurant go under because of the inflationary pressure we all feel is not.

What is wrong with the scripts?

The language is very “chill” and “trendy.” My husband and I were confused on at least 3 occasions by various terms used, including the use of the word “fire” over and over (to mean good, we think). There were 2 other terms or phrases that we failed to completely understand. We had to figure out the meaning from context (never a good sign.) This did not add to our enjoyment of the plot. It’s as though O’Keefe and Storer want to use the latest slang to show how cool they are. Regular folk like me out here in viewer-land are not as “up” on  junior high/highschool/college slang, so, for us, it just left us feeling lost. We felt like we had not been given the secret password or shown the club handshake, but we ended up not caring.

We also failed to see the point in all the “Yes, Chef” terminology. I actually taught many, many culinary arts students. One of them used to bring me tomato bisque soup in my English class, which I appreciated. Somehow, I don’t see all of this “Yes, Chef” and “We need to organize in battalions” stuff as being Real World. Perhaps I am wrong. [I will ask my favorite student Austin Johns if this rings true  next time I see him]. I still get taken on tours of various restaurant kitchens in this area by my former students, one of whom, taking me through the kitchen at Bass Street Landing, when I expressed surprise that he remembered me at all, said, “I always remember anyone who made a difference in my life.”

Liza Colón-Zayas and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (2022)
Jeremy Allen-White

There were some murky seeds planted that may yield drama and conflict in the future, but I don’t know if we’ll be watching long enough to find out.

What seeds ?: Why, exactly, did Michael, the brother of Carmy and previous chef at the cafe, commit suicide? Was the envelope on the floor Michael’s suicide note? Who is “Nico?” What is going to happen regarding the $300,000 in loans that veteran actor Oliver Platt, who makes a quick stop in the restaurant( but is not even credited on the cast list) is owed.  Are we going to see Oliver Platt again? I would tune in again to see Oliver Platt, but when he isn’t even listed on the cast credits, I’m not sure I’ll be back. Why do we care about the

I  appreciate that this was a noble effort. I’m sorry that I’m apparently too backward to become excited about the revelation that Carmy took off mid-day to go to an Al-Anon meeting. I don’t know why Carmy seems to have no life beyond the restaurant. I find the character of “Sugar” under-written and underwhelming.

Moving along, “The Old Man” is getting really exciting. It’s some of the best TV of the year. It makes cooking a hot beef sandwich seem even more mundane, by comparison.

 

 

 

 

Two New Good Hulu Offerings: “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” & “The Old Man”

We watched Emma Thompson’s tour de force performance in the just-released (on Hulu) story of a middle-aged woman who has never experienced an orgasm and hires a sex worker to meet with her and teach her about sex for pleasure, since her own 31-year marriage, while relatively happy, was not particularly satisfying in the bedroom. She has two children: a “boring” son and a bohemian daughter, both grown.

Much of the discussion of Thompson’s performance in “Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” in the “New York Times” was about how she should be able to be nominated for an Oscar, but, because the film went straight to Hulu without a theatrical showing, she is not.

Emma has one scene at film’s end where she is completely starkers and acknowledged that it was the hardest scene she has ever had to play. In fact, the cast (which is mainly Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack as the young gigolo who opens new worlds to the somewhat repressed middle-aged ex-teacher) is great. The part was written especially for Thompson by writer Katy Brand and was directed by Sophie Hyde.

It is a bit slow-moving and looks like it could have been a play (most of the action takes place in a hotel room), but it is well-done.

And, while we’re on the subject of Hulu, be sure to take in Jeff Bridges’ new mini series, “The Old Man.”

Bridges plays a former CIA officer, who’s living off the grid, and finds himself on the run from people who want to kill him. There are two Doberman Pinschers in the cast and Amy Brenneman shows up playing a woman who(m) Bridges rents a home from and to whom he becomes close. There are also some flashback scenes involving the dead wife of the CIA officer and John Lithgow has a relationship with Bridges’ character of Dan Chase.

We’ve only seen two of the episodes, but the dark tone of the mini-series and the non-stop action from “the old man” marks it as one we will return to and enjoy.

Day Two of the January 6th Commission: Pressure on “Pussy” Pence

“Thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege.”

These were the words of  Pence Chief Legal Counsel Greg Jacob to John Eastman on January 6th, 2021. It was Eastman who wrote the 38-page plan to seize control of our government. (It was supposed to be Day Three, although CNN had omitted Day Two, supposedly so that they could prepare more film clips.) There were meetings at the Willard Hotel to refine this plan and attempt to make it a reality on January 6th.

The June 16th (2022) presentation at 1 p.m. (CDT) focused on the pressure that Trump and his cronies had put on Vice President Mike Pence, urging him to do a number of illegal things that Constitutional scholars  agree were not allowed under the powers of the vice presidency. As one mentioned, if the VP could simply declare himself the winner, then Al Gore could have done that in 2000 in Florida. But Al Gore, unlike Donald J. Trump, was a good man who had a conscience. Al Gore’s statement back then was: “In all of human history, the choice between one’s own disappointment and upholding the noble traditions of America’s democracy, it’s a pretty easy choice when it comes down to it.” (What a difference between Al Gore and Donald J. Trump).

I am faithfully watching the hearings, because I care whether my country remains a democracy or not. If you are not watching, because you are not at liberty to do so, tune in here and I will do my best to replay the important things we learned.

J. Michael Litteg, SELF-IDENTIFIED WINDBAG

One of the chief GOP voices this day was a Constitutional scholar and Pence advisor named J. Michael Litteg. By his own admission, J. Michael was a huge windbag, although his closing comments this day were right to the point of the great danger we all face from Trump fanatics, come 2024 (and earlier, in the midterms). Mr. Litteg, when asked a question that only required a “yes” or “no” answer took over 30 seconds to even begin responding and then spoke for 5 minutes (I timed this). Here is some of what he said about the infamous Eastman plan to overthrow the counting process, via Mike Pence, and, therefore, retain power for DJT.:

Litteg:   “There was no basis in the Constitution or the laws of the U.S. at all with the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman. At all. None. With all respect to my co-panelists I believe in partial response to one of the committee’s questions, that a single sentence in the 12th amendment was inartfully written. That single sentence is not inartfully written.  It was pristine clear that the President of the Senate on January 6th (Pence) had little substantive Constitutional authority. Any. At all. The 12th amendment sentence says, in substance, that following the transmission of the certificates to the Congress and the electoral count of 1887 that the presiding officer (Pence) shall open the certificates in the presence of the Congress of the United States in joint session. It then says, unmistakeably, not only that the VP himself shall count the electoral votes, but clearly says that the electoral count votes shall then be counted. It was the electoral count act of 1887 that filled in, if you will, the simple words of the 12th amendment in order to construct for the country a process for the counting of the electoral votes from the states that neither our original Constitituion nor even the 12th amendment had done. The irony, if you will, is that from its founding until 1887 when the electoral count act was passed, the nation had been in considerable turmoil during at least 5 of its presidential elections, beginning as soon thereafter from the founding as 1800, so it wasn’t until almost 100 years later that the Electoral Count Act was passed. In my view, that piece of legislation is not only a work in progress for the country, but, in this moment in history, …”that was long-winded, I understand.” [Mr. Litteg was “a slow talker” and not the most riveting witness we heard on this second day of testimony.]

They asked Old Windbag what he would have said had he been advising Pence….”If I had been advising the VP on 1/6 and even if then VP Jefferson and even then VP John Adams and even then VP Richard Nixon had done exactly what the President of the U.S. wanted his VP to do, I would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the VP overturn the 2020 election on the basis of that historic precedent. What this body needs to know and America needs to know is that that was the centerpiece of the plan to overturn the 2020 election. It was the historical precedent and in the years and with the VP I named the effort by Mr. Eastman and others was to drive that historic precedent up to and under that single pristine sentence in the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, taking advantage of what many have said is the inartful wording of that sentence in the 12th Amendment. Scholars before 2020 would have used that historical precedent could overturn the 2020 election by accepting non-certified state electoral votes, but they would have made arguments as to some substantive (not merely procedural) authority possessed by the VP of the US on the day proscribed for counting the electoral votes. This is Constitutional mischief.”

[Listening to Mr. Litteg required a great deal of patience and it was truly a good idea when one of the questioners simply read a synopsis of the man’s previous writing on the subject. I wrote down “Praise the Lord!”]

TRUMP AS LOSER

Over and over, this day and the first day, we learned that Trump knew, all along, that he had lost the election. He didn’t like losing, and has a fear of being dubbed “a loser” so he denied it then; he denies it now. His usual lies continued to the point that when on the podium for the infamous rally that preceded the riot, he and his cronies lied about their justification for “taking back” the government. Remember the “Fight like hell or you won’t have a country any more” admonitions?—that one from Trump, himself, but others from his buddies, including the John Eastman mentioned above, who was one of the few attorneys willing to “trump up” a plan to overthrow the government. Almost everything they presented to the crowd was a lie.

One of the least windbag-y speakers this day was Eric Herschmann, a former White House counsel, who, after the 62 court cases had been adjudicated and found wanting, took a phone call from John Eastman.

Eric Herschmann’s call from John Eastman:  He started to ask me something about Georgia. And I just said, “Are you out of your fucking mind? I only want to hear 2 words coming out of your mouth from now on: ORDERLY TRANSITION. Repeat those words to me. Good John, and now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever going to get in your life. Get yourself a good criminal lawyer.”

Later, we learn that Eastman did, indeed, ask to be put on the list of those seeking presidential pardons from Trump before he left office. His request was phrased this way:

“I’ve decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.” (to Trump, from Eastman)

That didn’t happen and, instead, Eastman took the 5th 146 times when asked about his actions by the January 6th Commission.

EASTMAN’s PLAN

The courts have called Eastman’s plan “a coup in search of a legal theory.”

Simply put, Eastman wanted Mike Pence to step far beyond his true authority, which was purely ceremonial, and announce that the states were going to “look into” some mysterious “alternate slates of electors from 7 states,” slates which did not exist. As the testimony told us, here is the lie that Eastman spread:

“7 states have transmitted dual states of electors to the President of the Senate. “(bogus)” VP Pence could simply declare Trump the winner.” During testimony, the question was asked: Were there really 7 states of alternative electors? A:  “No, there were not.”

“There is very solid legal authority and historical precedent for the view that the President of the Senate (i.e., Mike Pence as VP) does the counting, including the resolution of disputed electoral votes.” (from Eastman). False. That statement was a bold-faced lie.

On Dec. 19, 4 days before the memo, Eastman admitted in an e-mail that the fake electors had no legal weight and that the argument would be“Dead on arrival” in Congress.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE VP’s POWER ON JANUARY 6th

Critically, no VP in history had ever claimed to have that kind of authority, nor had  claimed authority to return electoral votes to the states. At no time had electoral votes ever been returned to the states to be recounted. Justice Bradley had specifically looked at that question and had said that clearly the VP does not have the authority to decide anything nor to send things back for a public look. The history was absolutely decisive. “If you were right, don’t you think that Al Gore would have simply declared that he could declare himself President.” (from Gregory Jacob, Pence’s Chief Legal Counsel.) Al Gore did not and should not have this authority, agreed John Eastman. There is almost no idea more un-American. The VP did not have such power. (Statement from Litteg and others).

Marc Short, former Pence Chief of Staff:  “So, despite the fact that he may have said other things to the President or others, he understood that the VP did not have such authority.” (A: Yes)

“Yeah, they thought he was crazy.” (about John Eastman, as articulated by Jason Miller, former Trump campaign senior adviser, who was wearing a doofy-looking mask).

TRUMP ISSUES A TWEET SAYING HE & THE VP ARE IN TOTAL AGREEMENT; THEY ARE NOT

“The VP and I are in total agreement that the VP has the power to act.” (That was categorically untrue, said Greg Jacobs).

Marc Short:  The statement did not represent the VP’s viewpoint. “I think the record shows that it was incorrect.” So, essentially, the President is sending out a bald statement that the President and VP were in total agreement, which was untrue.  “He clearly was not pleased.” Jason Miller inquired, “What’s the process for putting out a statement for a meeting where only 2 people were in the room.”

Jason Miller: “The tone was very clearly ..he strongly inferred that the VP did not agree with this statement. Trump dictated most of it. Typically on these, I might have a couple of wording suggestions or maybe I have a sense or a rough framework, but I know with specificity on this one, it was me and him on the phone talking about it and ultimately the way it came out was the way he wanted it to.” (About their “agreement” on how the Pres and the VP were “in agreement on this.) 

Jason Miller wore a face mask throughout his testimony, and it appeared to be one of the truly unattractive ones that the government has distributed, free of charge. Was he hoping people would not recognize him later? No one else was wearing a face mask on the panel(s).

TRUMP 2:24 TWEET PUTS VP PENCE IN DANGER

The most dangerous part of what DJT did he, himself did, in targeting Mike Pence for retribution.  In early drafts of the Ellipse speech, there was no mention of the VP, but the President revised it to add mentions of the VP and he ad libbed more about Trump’s need to act on January 6th at the Ellipse speech. (“Send it back to the states to re-certify”) Example: “And Mike Pence is just gonna’ have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country. The only way re-certification can happen is if Mike Pence sends it back to the states.” Once Trump’s tweet went out, at 2:24 p.m., the mob went wild, chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” An FBI informant embedded with the Proud Boys said that, had they gotten their hands on Pence or Pelosi, they would have killed them.

2:24 p.m. tweet about Mike Pence was instrumental in riling up the crowd. Trump never called to see if his VP was in danger, before, during or after the riot. Not only that, but he has apparently said that he agreed with the crowd regarding the violence to be perpetrated against Mike Pence. Of the “Hang Mike Pence” chants, former Trump Press Secretary Sarah Matthews said. “It felt like he (DJT) was pouring gasoline on the fire.” Pence’s Cheif of Staff, Marc Short was alarmed enough about the possibility that Trump would seek vengeance against Pence for not doing his bidding that he warned Pence’s security detail one day in advance.

There is testimony that Pence refused to leave the Capitol because he did not want to give the insurrectionists the satisfaction of seeing the Vice President of the United States fleeing the Capitol in weakness.  Pence refused to get in the car with the Secret Service. Some have said that, although he trusted those he knew in his detail, his suspicion(s) and distrust of DJT were high enough that he did not want to be driven away by agents he did not know. [Think about that one for a moment.]

John Eastman’s constant insistence that Pence had powers he did NOT have, when conveyed to Pence himself, caused Pence to say, “That is rubber room stuff,” meaning that he thought Eastman was certifiably crazy.

 

 

 

January 6th Commission Hearings Open with a Bang on June 9th, Thursday

Thursday Night, June 9th, Commission Hearings About the January 6th Coup D’Etat:

Liz Cheney and backlash over her anti-Trump stance. She will pay the ultimate price for being loyal to the U.S. Constitution and calling out Trump’s treason.

Liz Cheney opened the impressive Opening of the January 6th Commission with these words: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

• Trump believed the rioters were “doing what they should be doing,” Cheney said, and yelled at advisers who said that he should call them off. He said that rioters who chanted about hanging Pence “maybe” had “the right idea.”

• The committee played video of Bill Barr, the former attorney general, saying that he had called Trump’s fraud claims “bullshit” and “crazy stuff.” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, testified that she “accepted” what Barr said.

• Footage shot by a documentary filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys showed members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two far-right groups who stormed the Capitol, meeting on the evening before the attack. This footage had not been aired previously and included the violent assault on a female Capitol officer, who testified in person and suffered a brain injury during the assault on the Capitol.

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

• In video testimonies, several rioters said that they had stormed the Capitol in response to Trump’s summons. “He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on Jan. 6,” one said. It seems logical that the individual who planned it all (i.e., Donald J. Trump) should also be charged and should suffer the consequences of selling out his country to attempt to hang onto power, no matter what.

• Cheney said that Pence, not Trump, ordered the National Guard to the Capitol during the attack, and that “multiple” House Republicans sought pardons over their efforts to overturn the election.

• My thoughts on the request by several Trump loyalists for pardons for their actions during January 6th, before he left office, begs this question: “If there was nothing illegal going on, why would any of these Trump loyalists need to be pardoned?” The obvious conclusion is that they knew damn well that they were playing with fire, and when the effort to overthrow the duly elected president did not succeed, some of them began scrambling for cover.

The second day/date of the hearings will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 13th.

Blog Dark for Five Days: Apologies to All

“Weekly Wilson” has been dark for 5 days, as you may have noticed if you are a regular reader.

My computer assistant, Allison, spent THREE HOURS on the phone with them, beginning on or about the 6th or 7th and they claimed to have “fixed” the problem. They told her it “might take a few days” to resolve, but it would be back up.

They lied.

This happened before, and I used Jennifer Lopez to draw eyes to the blog on December 1, 2021, when it went offline for a matter of days, and I looked further back and determined that it also happened in September, 2021, so, every 3 to 4 months, GoDaddy lets my blog go dark and then one or both of us have to spend hours on the phone trying to get it back “up.” I pointed out that MANY people work from home via computer these days, and that going “dark” for a week 3 times in one year is a lot, IMHO.

If any of you truly “tekky” people out there want to suggest other services that might have been able to get the blog up in, oh, say, a day, rather than five to seven days, I’d be interested in hearing the names of such services, since I am a person who was using a land line to call them and refuses to text on a cell phone.

I had been posting almost daily, as you may also have noticed, and I had a very good piece prepared about the Uvelde shootings. Perhaps I will run it tomorrow, as it is now after 1 a.m. and, as I told the technician I finally got (Jennifer, who succeeded someone with an unpronouncable Indian name) “I need this s*** like I need another hole in my head.” This is the truth.

Me, Craig and best friend Pam in “the good old days” on campus in Iowa City.

So, am having so many bad side effectswithout further ado and with apologies, I offer up (again) Jennifer Lopez in her jungle dress, which has absolutely nothing to do with this topic, but might draw your eyes to the blog. I spent an extra long time today being radiated (we jumped immediately to “the boost” because I am having so many bad side effects ) and then I went to the Toyota dealership and got red paint for a dent someone put in my brand new Prius. I had no red paint for the 20th Anniversary Prius, but John at the Toyota dealership ordered me some and then he actually came out and put it on the dent. (Thanks, John!)

Now THAT’s what I call “customer service.”

If I sound frustrated, fed up and less than patient, you have hit all three nails on the head, and I’ll move on tomorrow to post my piece on Uvalde (which is really highlights from around the world on what OTHER countries have had to say about gun violence in America) and to comment on last night’s first airing of the January 6 Commission hearings, which was riveting, historic television.

I never thought I would ever have very positive things to say about someone whose surname is “Cheney” but I have to admit that Liz has done her nation proud, and it is just too bad that the rest of the GOP are people like that Hawley dude from Missouri and Ted Cruz.

The January 6th Committee Hearings Hit the Air Waves Thursday, 6/9, at 7 p.m. (CDT)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot released new details Thursday about its first hearing, scheduled to kick off in prime time on  Thursday, June 9.

June 9th, television-watchers, is this coming Thursday (as I write this on Sunday, 6/5) and the timing for those of us in the Midwest on MSNBC, Channel 356, will be 7 p.m. CDT.

“The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the panel said.

Additional information about witnesses will be released this coming week, the committee said.

The hearing, scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, is expected to focus on former President Donald Trump’s role in the violence that unfolded at the Capitol during the official counting of the Electoral College votes before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. In a civil court filing in March, the House committee argued it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that [Trump] and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has said the hearings will include testimony from witnesses “we’ve not heard from before.”

One of those witnesses, who was hauled off a plane in leg irons as a flight risk, may be Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s inner circle who was among the most obnoxious spokespeople ever to grace the air waves. Navarro emerged as a legend in his own mind, moving away from the trade issues he was supposed to be expert in, to talk about matters as diverse as Covid-19 and the economy. Where he was supposedly going when apprehended at the airport has been variously reported as Nashville, but apparently those in a position of power had misgivings about his attitude towards telling the truth about his involvement in the January 6th coup d’etat.

There is a rumor that Jared and Ivanka Trump may take center stage via video-taped testimony during the televised hearings, although we will all have to wait and see if they say anything of note. Rachael Maddow and others will be handling the broadcast duties Thursday night.

Meanwhile, a lot of buzz has been created by a comedy duo who took the microphone during the NRA’s ill-advised Texas convention and more-or-less chastised the NRA for getting a lot of us killed by opposing sensible gun control laws. (The look on Wayne LaPierre’s face as they sound off on ” how Wayne LaPierre has offered thoughts AND prayers” is priceless. Check it out on YouTube or wherever you seek out memorable news moments.)

 

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