Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

In Movies, Print Reporters 'Scoop' TV

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post takes note of Scarlett Johanssen’s portrayal of a bumbling student newspaper reporter in Woody Allen’s SCOOP and concludes, “TV journalists might be prettier and better paid in real life than their ink-stained brethren and sistren, but on screen there’s no contest about who comes off better.”
Sure, Scarlett’s character is a naif corners a film director (Kevin McNally) in a hotel lobby in search of an “exclusive,” then sleeps with him without getting an interview, gets a tip about a murder suspect and sleeps with him, too. (She may be inexperienced, but even a seasoned pro like the New Journalism heroine (Allison Lohman) of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (2005), the luridly entertainingly, lurid at a showbiz scandal, has pretty much the same M.O.: sleep with everyone and sort the story out later.)
But at least she’s not a corrupt, ratings-obsessed TV reporter or executive. From the nutcases of NETWORK (1974) to the dim local TV personalities of ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY, these are not people you trust.
The portrayal of Washington Post metro reporters Woodward and Bernstein in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) made print reporting seem exciting and noble. The Post piece cites the heroics of these real and ficitional scribes:
Denzel Washington in THE PELICAN BRIEF (1993)
Sam Waterston and Haing S. Ngor THE KILLING FIELDS (1984)
Humphrey Bogart in DEADLINE USA (1952)
Looking for an admirable TV reporter? Except for a few cynical thrill junkies (photographers and camera men) in war movies, the front-of-camera talent is usually portrayed as bubbleheaded compared to the real men doing the fighting.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon