It never ceases to amaze how often highly-paid, so-called professionals screw the pooch. Here is a brief synopsis of just some of the boners pulled this past week.
The Oh, Really? Factor
Fox News stooge and formerly bow-tied dweeb Tucker Carlson recently hosted a Swedish filmmaker who, as part of his movie “Stockholm Syndrome” had interviewed a couple Swedish cops about rising crime in the country that brought us Anita Ekberg, Ingrid Bergman, Absolut Vodka, and Abba. The gist of Carlson’s interview with Ami Horowitz was that thanks to Sweden’s policy of unfettered immigration of less-blonde people rampant terrorism had infiltrated the fair country. But the cops Horowitz interviewed took umbrage of having their comments taken out of context. One of them protested, “It was supposed to be about crime in high risk areas. Areas with high crime rates. There wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration. We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. This is bad journalism.”
Such bad journalism that Trump included it in his speech at an ego-caressing rally in Florida.
Immediately afterwards, Trump’s observation was challenged by Swedish government leaders as uninformed cornpone. On command, partisans from both sides began their appointed routes either to vilify the Orange man or defend him to the death. In the latter category was Bill O’Reilly who just couldn’t wait to come to Trump’s defense; so motivated to prove Trump right that he failed to do a smidgen of due diligence. O’Reilly happily gave lucrative airtime to one Nils Bildt who, as a so-called Swedish Defense and National Security Advisor, corroborated all the fairy tales.
Sure enough though, within moments of Bildt’s 15 minutes of infamy, the Swedes came forward once again with something called “reality” and denied that Bildt was ever an advisor to their Defense and/or National Security apparatus. Proving he’s Fox-worthy, Bildt placed the blame on O’Reilly and team for the calamity, claiming he was just a U.S. based analyst and had nothing to do with being called a Swedish operative.
The show’s not called the Oh, Really? Factor for nothing.
Anti-Leak Meeting is Leaked
Trump is pissed that highly sensitive national security type shit is leaking out of from his cadre of lieutenants. That the material being leaked is almost universally negative about the inside operations of his nascent administration is the primary cause for Trump’s irritation; if the leakage was less anal – say a release about how Trump beat Putin in an arm-wrestling match – you can bet Mr. Orange would have no complaints. Don’t forget, Trump was a master of planting exaggerated stories about his love life and business dealings when he trolled the celebrity soirees of Manhattan’s night life.
Nevertheless, leaks from within the White House are no laughing matter. Given that much of the activity described in leaks passed through the press office, Press Secretary Sean Spicer took it upon himself to ferret out potentially nefarious activity perpetrated by his underlings.
He called and all-hands meeting where he confiscated everyone’s personal devices to be examined for evidence of misbehavior. When the inquisition was over, Spicer forbade everyone from mentioning that it ever took place.
Within minutes the existence of Spicy’s anti-leak meeting was leaked. So much for well-tuned machinery.
Is DeVos plural for Devo?
You’d think that after coddled billionaire Betsy DeVos secured the position of Education Secretary by the absolute narrowest of margins she might make at least a token effort to redeem herself with a demonstration that she had a clue. But no.
As part of a gathering in the White House of leaders of historically black colleges and universities, poor Betsy made these remarks:
A key priority for this administration is to help develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved. Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have done this since their founding. They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution. HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.
It’s beyond refute that DeVos is smitten with the promise of privatization of education (fondly known as “school choice”). She longs for the day when all public schools in America collapse to be replaced at taxpayer expense by Catholic schools run by the likes of Father Feely and Sister Mary Torquemada.
But to suggest that blacks who established their own institutes of higher learning because they were barred from attending whites-only colleges is somehow an illustration of school choice is just fucking addled. I suppose Negro-only drinking fountains were a form of beverage choice back in the good ole 1950s.
Give Betsy time. Perhaps she thought she had been appointed to head of the Department of Ejukashun.
Rumors Greatly Exaggerated
One of my favorite segments of the often dreary Oscars ceremony is the “In Memoriam” tribute to key figures – actors, directors, producers, editors, screenwriters – who have succumbed in the past year. It’s the only part of the ceremony that looks back at the movies’ rich heritage.
Not everyone cited is a household name which is a reminder that movies are more than what appears on the silver screen (or a 3.5 inch LCD).
Such is the case of Janet Patterson, a costume and production designer specializing in period costume from the 19th century, and a four-time Oscar nominee. No doubt her most famous movie involvement was with “The Piano” starring Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel. The Academy deemed Patterson worthy of a spot in the “In Memoriam” but not her likeness – for which they mistakenly substituted in that of Jan Chapman, a producer friend of Patterson’s who also worked on “The Piano.”
Most of the time the biggest controversy surrounding the “In Memoriam” is when someone connected to Hollywood croaked but didn’t make the cut. Examples include Abe Vigoda, Dennis Farina, Jonathan Winters and Adam Sandler’s career. This year however someone who didn’t croak made the cut – and for that we witnessed the biggest boner of this year’s Oscars!
Well, maybe not.
PwC heading to Ca Ca Land
For more than 80 years, PwC has been the sole accounting firm to handle the secret Academy Award voting, including the management of the dozens of sealed envelopes that hold the names of winners across all the categories. That means they’ve overseen the distribution of envelopes probably a couple thousand times without incident. Face it – although the job of handing envelopes to the stars who present the awards appears to be glamorous, it really is a job for monkeys. You take an envelope from the briefcase and give it to the famous dude in a tux. The whole process could be replaced by one of those machines that spits out a ticket before you drive into the parking garage.
Still, there is a lot of heritage at the stodgy Academy that would seem to rule out automation – and given PwC’s lengthy, spotless stewardship, there was never a reason to veer from the proven process. Until this past Sunday when a PwC partner named Brian Cullinan who was goofing off near the end of the show handed the wrong card to Warren Beatty who along with Faye Dunaway strode out in front of a billion people and announced “La La Land” as the Best Picture winner, when in fact “Moonlight” had taken the honor. Cullinan tweeted a picture of Emma Stone who had just won Best Actress for her role in “La La Land” – and apparently in this moment of distraction failed to move the Best Actress card to the dead pile, setting up perhaps the biggest gaffe in Oscars history, as well as a massive embarrassment for PwC who may lose the contract with the Academy, or at least suffer heavily in future contract negotiations. (Sidebar: Like many accounting firms that merged over the years, PwC was once called PriceWaterhouseCoopers, but from this point forward will be known as ProducedWrongCard.)
It’s a wonder flummoxed Warren Beatty didn’t reprise his role as Clyde Barrow and mow down all the PwC jerks with a Tommy gun.
The host for the evening’s festivities, Jimmy Kimmel said, “This is very unfortunate what happened. Let’s remember, it’s just an awards show.” I’m sure all the Academy brass appreciated that sentiment. Just an awards show? That’s like telling a Catholic that the Resurrection was just a magic trick.
After the biggest boner in Oscars history, don’t be surprised if the Academy ditches PwC. Maybe they can get the guy who did such marvelous work for Bernie Madoff.