Saturday, October 03, 2009


Polanski seems to be fighting Letterman for newspaper space this morning.

We know everything about the Polanski story but not very much about the Letterman. I have a feeling much more is to come. I also have a feeling that somewhere there's one of Letterman's old lovers who's been contacted by a lawyer (or who has contacted a lawyer) and is thinking of both payback and payday. I wouldn't be surprised (seriously) if she's already called Gloria Allred.

Then there's the question of the public's response. I haven't seen any general polls of Americans about Polanski but I think he was ill-served by Debra Winger calling those who thinks he should be jailed "philistines." He may even be ill-served by having so many Hwood people come out for him.

Letterman's another matter for two reasons. One the public hasn't had time to form an opinion and since he's on five nights a week their final decision make take weeks if not months to form. I've never liked Letterman much as a person. His arrogance rivals Carson's and for years he was always late night's numero uno homophobe. And his interviews with people of a darker hue always made me squirm. He might have been talking to Martians. And I never thought he was half as bright as he obviously thinks he is. That said he's the most gifted all of late night hosts, to me much better than even Carson ever was. He can be brilliant. And he's turned into an excellent interviewer, comfortable, informed, almost never stepping on the interviewee's moment. His recent interest in political has made him water-cooler fodder again.

I can't seem him losing much of his audience. NBC managed a two-fer when they went with Leno in prime. They killed Leno and they killed Conan behind him. I've seen Leno three times and I feel sorry for him. He's on the Titanic of gigs with a very bad show and stupid time slot.


Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

I used to watch Letterman all the time when I was in college, but dropped off afterward. I've seen his show on CBS, but always thought his humor was more cutting-edge when working for NBC.

I never watched The Tonight Show much after Carson left. I remember watching him when I was little, or lying awake in my bed at night while my Dad laughed at his antics in the living room and then I watched him all through high school.

Brian Drake said...

I can't work up an opinion on Letterman. I don't care anymore whether he's on or not. I used to follow him religiously when I was young; he was what I wanted to be, in my early days of broadcasting; in my college and post-college years, I stopped watching. Then I stopped caring. I think if Dave were a bachelor, fooling around with his female staffers would be gossip fodder and nothing more, but we must assume that he was doing this fooling around while allegedly committed to the mother of his child so, really, the only question is how does his admission affect that relationship; or, did the fooling around occur before? But I really don't care, and perhaps I'm not alone in not caring, so maybe that's why there isn't a bigger fuss about Letterman than there might normally be. At least, we can assume, the women Letterman messed around with were adults.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I never liked Letterman, never thought he was funny, and couldn't understand why Carson was his mentor.
I have zero interest in l'affair Letterman, which is a non-scandal unless there was something illegal about his conduct with his girlfriends.

Quite frankly, I couldn't care less about Polanski, either. Yes, he drugged and raped a teenage girl, but it was over 30 years ago, she got $500,000 in compensation, which is more worhwhile than seeing him serve a prison term. She doesn't want to see the case pursued, so it's doubtful he would be tried upon his return without her testimony. I don' see the practical benefit of expending the state's resources to drag him back here so the DA and Polanski's attorneys battle while the media devote all their time to this, especially when thousands of violent criminals are given early releases because we can't afford to build more prisons.

Deb said...

I'm a mother of a teenage girl and two pre-teen girls and a phrase like, "Yes, he drugged and raped a teenage girl*, but that was 30 years ago and she got $500,000 in compensation" seems an awfully cavalier way of expressing things. Perhaps I'm just wearing my mama-bear hat this morning.

*She was 13 by the way, which means she had only been a teenager for a year at the most.

I can't believe how many Hollywood stars are rushing to Polanski's defense (the only one I'm not surprised at is--natch--Woody Allen). Perhaps if he'd drugged and raped a 12-year-old, Scorcese et al would see how awful what Polanski did is, regardless of the passage of time.

As for Letterman, he committed an abuse of power in another way. His affairs were with adults women and, on the surface, consensual. But if he's the boss and the women are working for his company, how many of them had to include the ability to keep her job in the factors she had to weigh before having the affair?

Just askin'

Anonymous said...

Deb, I'm the father of two pre-teen girls and I find the comment awfully cavalier as well. In fact, that would be putting it kindly. Very kindly.

~ Ron C.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Letterman's problems will certainly wreak havoc with the sort of jokes he can do from now on.
I doubt there was a person on earth who thought five nights of Leno at ten was going to get many watchers.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I'm tired of the snickering about Woody Allen's signature on the statement favoring leniency for Polanski. "Well, gee, he would defend Polanski, wouldn't he," snicker snicker.

Woody Allen never raped anyone and never enbgaged in sexual misconduct. Sun Yi Previn was, as anyone with eyes can see, not remotely his biological daughter, so any suggestion of incest is just foolish. To my knowledge, she was at or above the age of consent when their relationship began, it was mutually consensual, and they apparently have been happiy married for quite some time.

I don't agree with he rationale behind the statement from he Hollywood directors but that should not be construed as a defense of rape.

Ive commented extensively about this - far more han I ever inended to - at Lee Goldberg's blog. I've actually given the legal issues serious consideration, despite accusations of cavalier sentiments.
Polanski's victim does not want to pursue this cae. He should have been punished then and fled the country, but we can't turn back the clock.

I ask you, what purpose is served NOW by dragging Polanski back and doling out some criminal penaly, except to satisfy some desire for vengeance?

Peter L. Winkler said...

Here's a pertinent comment I found online:

“Your judgements against Woody Allen are based on sensationalistic misinformation. As mentioned above, Soon-Yi is not his stepdaughter. He and Mia Farrow were never married and, in fact, never even lived together. I believe it is highly unlikely he ever had a father/daughter bond with Soon-Yi. And she was 21, an adult, when the relationship began.”

I don't agree with the rationale behind the statement from the Hollywood directors but that should not be construed as a defense of rape. None of the signatories has said that they're cool with rape, but that's the way their statement has been construed in the public's mind.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Winkler:

Several purposes, none of which involve vengeance:

1). To satisfy justice and, in so doing, cultivating a deterrent for those who wish to rape thirteen-year-old girls.

2). To affirm that no one – regardless of artistic, political or social standing – should be above the rule of law, and fleeing only delays the consequences, not eliminates them.

3). To affirm society’s negative view on child rape. There is a reason that many states do not have a statute of limitations on rape…California’s law on it is less straight-forward, but it too makes provisions for varying degrees of limitations. Child rape is akin to murder in that it is one of the most heinous things one human being can do to another, and it is in the interest of society to not only bring shame upon the act but severe penalties – ones that aren’t modified or diluted by time…because a societal repugnance to child rape, thank God, never goes out of fashion.

If one refuses to understand the fundamental truth of these points, they and their Hollywood brethren have a vastly different view of justice than I have.

~ Ron C.

Craig Clarke said...

I'm a big fan of Mr. Polanski's film work, but I can't see him being given special treatment because of his talent. I wonder where those people were when Michael Jackson was being given the same press coverage; he was another immense talent but never got a break.

Charlieopera said...

"I ask you, what purpose is served NOW by dragging Polanski back and doling out some criminal penaly, except to satisfy some desire for vengeance?"

You're kidding right?

The guy raped a kid and had the means to escape justice. He did escape justice. Are you seriously suggesting it's a wash NOW?