Sunday, July 19, 2009

Entourage; Walter Cronkite

It's not pleasant watching Entourage stagger to the finish line. I caught the new episode last week and it had the hyped-up feel of most shows when they're nearing the end. Not stunt-casting but stunt-plotting. Will Eric get hitched? Will Lloyd make it through Ari's boot camp? Isn't it ironic that somebody as cool as Vince can be so lonely in his big house?

To me the problem is that the show is too much married to fake Hwood macho. I logged on to the show's website this morning. Apparently they spotlight the Best Lines of every episode. Here's this week's spotlight: "Pussy can smell other pussy and they have to pounce on it. That's why when you're on a hot streak you got to press. Just like blackjack." (The website says "P---y"). Fake hardboiled and too cute and stilted for my taste. Maybe writers talk to each other like that but I don't think regular people do. But contained in those lines is the essence of the entire show. Strike a pose.

The problem is that even in Hwood with all its temptations these guys should be growing up a little. Maybe not in reality but in the series anyway. Same old same old is not only dull it marks them as losers. I mean I'm assuming there are in actuality some well-adjusted thirty-somethings in Hwood. What worked in the Larry Sanders Show was that Larry and Hank were the flakes but Artie was the sane, responsible one and held everybody together. You need a dramatic contrast. Ari's as crazed and self-indulgent as his wards.

Entourage was fun for awhile but that while is long gone.


I was probably ten when Walter Cronkite took over the CBS Evening News. He immediately became the only newscaster I believed. There was always something contrived about Huntley-Brinkley to me and Howard K. Smith at ABC came off like an irritating little know-it-all.

Glenn Greenwald, one of the finest bloggers and columnists in America, wrote about Cronkite said in 1968 when he used his newscast to denounce the Viet Nam war. The effect of his words could be felt worldwide. Uncle Walter said that LBJ was wrong about the war.

"The Vietcong did not win by a knockout [in the Tet Offensive], but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. . . . We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. . . .
"For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. . . . To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past" -- Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News, February 27, 1968.

Greenwald contrasts this with the words of David Gregory, one of the oiliest and most self-serving faux journalists on TV. By any standard you care to name the American press carried the Bush administration's water when it came to promoting the invasion of Iraq. They were craven and cowardly and as hawkish as anybody on the right wing. But Gregory bristles when someone speaks the truth about what a bunch of hacks and toadies the mainstream press was and remains. Only the people at McLatchy got it right. They debunked virtually everything the Bush administration said. They called them liars outright. Not that anybody paid much attention. The McClatchy reporters don't twinkle with stardust the way Gregory and his pals do.

"I think there are a lot of critics who think that [in the run-up to the Iraq War] . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn't do our job. I respectfully disagree. It's not our role" -- David Gregory, MSNBC, May 28, 2008.

(Ed here: The tributes Tim Russert got on his death pissed me off. He used his show to promote the Bush administration. Remember what Mary Matalin, one of God's sorriest creatures, said (paraphrase) When we wanted to get the word out, we called Tim Russert. I still remember him slapping down anybody who dared challenge the administration about the invasion of Iraq. Greenwald refered Russert today as well:

"A reader reminds me that -- very shortly after Tim Russert's June, 2008 death -- long-time Harper's editor Lewis Lapham attended a party to mark the release of a new book on Hunter Thompson, and Lapham said a few words. According to New York Magazine's Jada Yuan, this is what happened:

"Lewis Lapham isn’t happy with political journalism today. “There was a time in America when the press and the government were on opposite sides of the field,” he said at a premiere party for Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on June 25. “The press was supposed to speak on behalf of the people. The new tradition is that the press speaks on behalf of the government.” An example? “Tim Russert was a spokesman for power, wealth, and privilege,” Lapham said. “That’s why 1,000 people came to his memorial service. Because essentially he was a shill for the government. It didn’t matter whether it was Democratic or Republican. It was for the status quo.” What about Russert’s rep for catching pols in lies? “That was bullshit,” he said. “Thompson and Russert were two opposite poles.”


pattinase (abbott) said...

I think ENTOURAGE really only had one good season because the characters show no growth, are unlikable, and not very good actors play them. I'm sticking with this season only because my son's childhood friend, Matt Letscher is on it.
Love Cronkite's explanation of why he would never considering a run for President because it would jeopardize his credibility. Too bad nobody told the journalist of today that-including Franken.

Todd Mason said...

Well, fwiw, Franken's never been a journalist, as opposed to being a comdian, actor (playing a clueless journalist in LATELINE), and bloviator. And for what little (next to nothing) it's worth, at least Russert and Gregory seem/seemed to realize that they are tools...Chuck Todd seems to think he's delivering the True Writ, when, of course, he's simply a blinkered idiot.

I must admit that "And that's the way it is" was not my favorite catchphrase for a newscast. Even when Cronkite did something courageous.