Category Archives: entertainment news

Terrorism goes online

Twenty-first century terrorism has entered a new phase.

It’s highly offensive and utterly mind-blowing. It comes in the form of threats to hack into people’s emails if they dare attend a movie — a movie, for crying out loud! — that portrays the North Korean goofball/dictator in a decidedly unflattering light.

This is what terrorism looks like in the Digital Age.

The film in question is “The Interview.” It stars Seth Rogan and James Franco. Sony today cancelled the release of the film after major movie chains declined to show the film because of terrorist threats by computer hackers.

The film is about an attempted assassination of Kim Jong Un, the bizarre North Korean dictator who succeeded his equally bizarre father, Kim Jong Il. It’s a comedy. It’s meant to make people laugh. It’s meant to poke fun at the reclusive Marxist government that operates in the shadows on the Korean Peninsula.

So now some mysterious Internet terrorists are telling American movie-goers that they cannot watch the film. What do they fear? That someone is going to see the film and then become motivated to try to do what is portrayed on the screen? That the movie is going to produce an assassin bent on killing Kim Jong Un?

Sony already has been hit by hackers reportedly angry over the film.

All of this has me absolutely bumfuzzled.



Still waiting for Cosby's magic words

Bill Cosby has — more or less — broken his silence on the allegations of sexual abuse that have piled up on him.

The Hollywood Reporter link isn’t very long, as Cosby didn’t talk long to the New York Post reporter interviewing him. He made a reference to his lawyer not wanting him to speak to the media.

The allegations are serious and, to be quite candid, are sounding more believable with each new alleged victim coming forward. The most notable accuser has been supermodel Beverly Johnson, who has accused Cosby of drugging her and having his way with her.

My major source of skepticism about all of this centers on the length of time that has passed since these alleged incidents occurred. Moreover, Cosby’s never been charged with a crime.

Still, in the comments that have come forward, either from Cosby himself or from his legal team, I am still waiting to hear or read the “magic words” from the accused.

They are: “I did not commit these acts.”

It troubles me terribly that Cosby hasn’t declared categorically in public that these alleged acts never occurred. It also troubles me, if it’s the case, that his lawyers might have instructed him to keep quiet on that specific point.

The silence from this entertainment icon is speaking volumes. Maybe I’m just hearing things, so to speak.

My goodness, I hope that’s the case. I am fearing the worst.


Cosby once was the face of Temple U.

This is how far Bill Cosby’s star has fallen.

The comedy icon has resigned as a Temple University trustee. Why? Because of the outpouring of accusations that Cosby has sexually assaulted women — for decades!

Good heavens!

Cosby has done stand-up routines about his days as a student at Temple, not to mention recorded comedy albums. He’s given the school added fame and acclaim. He has earned his degrees from the Philadelphia school.

And he has served on the board of trustees, giving the board the heft of his once-good name and reputation.

Cosby is fighting back against at least one of his accusers. He calls the allegations all kinds of names, such as “baseless” and “ridiculous.”

I’m still waiting him for Dr. Cosby to say the magic words: “I did not do these things.”

Watching this man’s reputation unravel before our eyes remains a painful experience for us spectators. I only can imagine what this is doing to the man’s family.



Good bye to an American icon

Bill Cosby isn’t dead, but his reputation has been dealt a potentially mortal injury.

I hesitate to say categorically that it’s a self-inflicted wound. Charges of sexual abuse and out-and-out rape have come from multiple women over many years against the iconic entertainer.

No charges have been filed by any law enforcement agency. Cosby, though, appears to be toast. He appears headed for entertainment oblivion.

I get that U.S. citizens deserve the presumption of innocence. The allegations, though, are adding up. They have an eerie similarity. These women have talked about fear in bringing the allegations to light; they feared the fallout that would come by suggesting this gigantic entertainment figure would do the things they have alleged he has done.

Then one came forward. Then another, and another, and another. I’ve lost count of the number of women who’ve accused “The Coz” of doing terrible things to them.

Now we hear that the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has asked for — and received — Cosby’s resignation as an honorary faculty member; he received his master’s and doctorate in education at UMass-Amherst.

This ongoing and burgeoning scandal sickens me — as it sickens millions of other Americans who have laughed at Cosby’s everyman monologues and marveled at the role model he has become to so many men around the world.

I hope it’s false, as Cosby’s lawyer insists it is. I fear for the worst.


Et tu, Dr. Huxtable?

This cannot be happening to one of America’s most iconic entertainers.

Then again …

Bill Cosby has been accused by at least three women of sexual assault. His lawyer denies the allegations. Meanwhile, one television network, NBC, and an online entertainment provider, Netflix, have cancelled planned projects involving Cosby.

What in the name of all that is holy is going on here?

I believe we are seeing a case of the backlash hurting at least as much as the initial slap.

The allegations need to be proven and Cosby is entitled to the presumption of innocence. NBC and Netflix have been quick to distance themselves from the one-time Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, a character Cosby portrayed on the acclaimed series “The Cosby Show.”

In that show, Dr. Huxtable became the standard bearer for family men across the nation, rearing a boisterous family along with his equally successful wife, portrayed by Phylicia Rashad. More to the point, Cosby’s character became an important role model for African-American men, many of whom forsake their fatherly duties once they learn that a child is on his or her way.

I do hope these allegations lead to nowhere. However, hope by itself won’t make it so.

My fears are leading me to suspect something else might be about to transpire.


Three cheers for public television!

Public television deserves a serious shout-out.

So I’m going to give it one today. There will be more to come as situations arise.

I’ve just watched a magnificent 14-hour documentary special broadcast on Panhandle PBS, the Texas Panhandle’s public television affiliate. It was titled “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.” It is available online at — and I encourage readers of this blog to look at it if they didn’t watch it when it aired this past week.

(In the interest full disclosure, I must mention that I blogged daily on the “The Roosevelts” for Panhandle PBS. The blog, “A Public View,” can be found at — but hey, I digress. Back to the subject at hand.)

Why the shout-out?

Well, public TV occasionally surfaces as a target of political conservatives who have this idea that public money need not fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or the Public Broadcasting Service. They see PBS as some kind of propaganda tool — which it most assuredly is not!

“The Roosevelts” special was produced by Ken Burns, arguably the nation’s foremost documentary filmmaker. His list of acclaimed specials is getting too long to mention here. I’ll bring up one: “The Dust Bowl.” It aired in 2013 and told the story of humanity’s worst manmade ecological disaster. What’s more, it was centered right here, in the Panhandle and in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Burns’s special hit this region right in the gut, as many now-elderly residents recalled the terrible events of that era.

Burns delivered the goods once again with “The Roosevelts.” It told in intimate detail the struggles of this remarkable political family, centering on Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. They were all kin to each other, even though Franklin and Eleanor were husband and wife as well.

This is the kind of programming that the public needs to fund with public money.

You want educational television devoid of tacky commercials? That’s what public television provides us.

It’s also why the opposition to public television funding is ridiculous on its face.

Give me more of it.

'Role model' definition needs some work

There once was a time when I disagreed completely with Charles Barkley’s assertion that “I am not a role model.”

The events of the past few weeks involving some high-profile professional athletes are making me put that comment in an entirely new perspective. Role models? Probably not. Ambassadors? Yes.

The pro football players who have been caught up in cases involving domestic violence and child abuse are facing criminal charges. Barkley, to the best of my recollection, never got ensnared in criminal activity while he was playing professional basketball. He said some strange things and behaved a bit boorishly at times. He could play a great game of basketball, for which he was compensated handsomely.

The activity under scrutiny these days is quite different. It involves the law and whether highly paid professional athletes have broken certain laws that prohibit the abuse of children or committing acts of violence on another human being.

As I re-watched Barkley’s video, he said something that rings so true. The real “role models” in children’s lives are their parents. “Just because I can dunk a basketball,” Barkley said, “doesn’t mean I can raise your kids.”

I cannot pretend to know what kind of childhood the men involved in these recent cases of alleged criminal activity had. One of the pro football players, Ray Rice, apologized for hitting his then-fiancée by saying he was raised by his single mother and that his behavior wasn’t the kind of thing his mom taught him to do.

I’ll accept that.

However, what about the role that these athletes play as ambassadors for the organizations that pay them these huge sums of money? Or the communities they represent when they wear the athletic uniforms that carry the names of the teams?

The role of ambassador should mean something to these guys, their employers and the governing body — in this case the National Football League — that oversees everyone’s conduct.

Rivers was funny, but …

Heresy alert: I’m about to say something that isn’t gushing with praise for the late comedian Joan Rivers.

Rivers could be funny at times. She made fun of herself and her obsession with plastic surgery. She lampooned people mercilessly, a la Don Rickles. She was known to be generous with her time and her show biz wisdom, which she reportedly shared with up-and-coming performers.

But for the life of me I am having difficulty understanding all the adulation that’s being heaped on her in the wake of her death.

She was 81. Rivers had some throat surgery performed and went into cardiac arrest, or so I understand. She was put on life support, then sent home from ICU. And then she died.

I’m said she’s gone. I’m sorry for her daughter and I am sorry for those who idolized her.

But I’m not going to lament the passing of a “comedic legend” or a “genius.” I don’t consider her a particularly innovative comic talent.

Robin Williams? Now there was a genius of the first order.

Well, I’ll get through all these tributes that the broadcast and cable networks are going to air on television. They’ll be heartfelt, I’m sure.

For my money, though, show business still has many more comic geniuses who are still among us.

As for Rivers’s standing among female comedic geniuses, well I’ll just say she will remain a distant second to Carol Burnett.

Rest in peace, Joan Rivers.