Tag Archives: Seth Rogen

Rogen seeks to clarify 'Sniper' remark

Seth Rogen’s talent as a comic actor isn’t in question.

His judgment, though, on others’ work is open to discussion, such as his commentary on “American Sniper,” the Clint Eastwood-directed film about the Chris Kyle and his four tours of duty during the Iraq War.


Rogen likened the film to the third act of “Inglourious Basterds,” the 2009 fantasy about killing Nazis during World War II.

Rogen then compared “Sniper” to a “Nazi propaganda film,” which generated lots of reaction, almost all of it highly critical. It came from conservative media outlets and from those identified with conservative political causes.

Allow me to step in here. I’m an unapologetic lefty and I, too, disliked Rogen’s comments, along with those of filmmaker Michael Moore, who had the bad taste to say that snipers are “cowards.”

Rogen then issued a classic non-apology. He said in a statement: “My comment about the movie was not meant to have any political implications. Any political meaning was ascribed to my comment by news commentary.”

No, young man. There’s no need to tell us what you intended to convey. The message received seemed clear enough. Here’s what you ought to say:

“I messed up badly by speaking thoughtlessly about a film that has touched many Americans deeply. For my carelessness I am deeply sorry.”

Start shouting for Alzheimer's research

T.R. Reid, writing in the January-February AARP Bulletin, puts it succinctly and powerfully.

Alzheimer’s disease is “the most expensive disease in America” and it is “devouring federal and state health care budgets, and depleting the life savings of million of victims and their families.”

So, what are the federal and state governments doing about it? What kind of public resources are they committing to fighting this dangerous killer?

Too damn little, according to Reid.

He’s correct. That must change.


Reid, a former reporter for the Washington Post, notes that the “cost of caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias has surpassed the cost of treatment for cancer patients or victims of heart disease.” Alzhiemer’s disease, says Huntington Potter, a University of Colorado neurobiologist, is “going to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid.”

Let’s get busy, folks.

Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 5.2 million Americans — at the moment. The number is going to increase as the nation’s population continues to age. One projection puts the number of Americans suffering from the disease by 2050 at 13.8 million.

How has Alzheimer’s research funding stacked up to other deadly diseases? Reid writes the federal government has committed $5.4 billion on cancer research, $1.2 billion on heart disease and $3 billion on HIV/AIDS research. Alzheimer’s disease research will get $566 million.

My own interest in this disease is intensely personal. My mother died of complications of Alzheimer’s in 1984. She was 61 years of age when she died. Sixty-one! She’d exhibited symptoms for perhaps a decade.

The pain of watching a loved one lose their memory, their cognitive skill, their ability to take care of basic needs is beyond description. Take my word for it.

And that pain is going to spread as more Americans fall victim to this merciless killer.

Federal government estimates put the cost of Alzheimer’s care at about $214 billion annually. Medicare and Medicaid pay about $150 billion per year; the rest of the cost falls on patients and their families, according to Reid.

Why hasn’t there been an outcry for federal funding of this disease as there have been for cancer or HIV/AIDS? Part of it is stigma, Reid reports. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said, “I think the problem is that there’s still a stigma attached to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. People don’t want to talk about it. By contrast, LGBT groups have no qualms about campaigning for HIV/AIDS research. The cancer advocacy groups are extremely well-organized, vocal and politically skillful, with their Race for the Cure and everyone wearing pink for a month.”

I’ve made it my mission with this blog to call attention whenever possible to the need to boost attention to this disease. Its impact doesn’t just affect those who afflicted with it. It causes severe pain and anguish on care-givers and other loved ones.

The good news — if you want to call it such — is that some notable celebrities are beginning to put the word out there. One of them is Seth Rogen, the comic actor known most recently for his role in the controversial film “The Interview.”

“Americans whisper the word ‘Alzheimer’s’ because their government whispers the word ‘Alzheimers,'” Rogen told a Senate committee hearing in 2014. Rogen’s own interest has been fueled by his mother-in-law’s struggle with the disease. “It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attending and the funding it deserves.”

Well, young man, I’m with you. I’ll yell and scream for as long as it takes.


Rethinking this Sony film matter

Mea culpa time, kind of.

I’ve been getting beaten up over a blog I posted about whether Sony erred in making a comedy about an attempted assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. I said Sony Pictures’ biggest mistake was in making the film at all.

The chastening I’ve taken has forced me to reconsider what I wrote. Here it is:


President Obama said this week that Sony “made a mistake” in pulling the film from its scheduled release. He said the filmmaker should not be intimidated by a two-bit dictator. Others have noted that the United States, the strongest nation on Earth, shouldn’t be cowed by a tinhorn despot.

My friends on the left and the right have slung barbs at me for suggesting that Kim Jong-Un had a legitimate beef with the filmmakers and the film, “The Interview,” which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco.

No one likes admitting they were mistaken, but I think I’m about to go there.

Maybe I got caught up in the heat of the moment and didn’t think through the implications — all of them — in suggesting Sony had messed up.

Perhaps if I were running Sony, I would have been reluctant to depict the killing of an actual sovereign leader. Here’s the thing, though: I am not running Sony. That was someone else’s call. They had the right to make that decision.

Kim Jong-Un, therefore, didn’t have the right to bully Sony into pulling back the release of its film.

There. I actually feel better now.


Sony's bigger mistake was in making film

President Obama said today Sony Pictures made a mistake when it pulled a film depicting an attempted assassination of North Korean dictator/goofball Kim Jong-Un.

Well, Mr. President, from my vantage point, Sony’s bigger mistake was making the film in the first place.


The film and the reaction from North Korea has been the talk of, well, the world. “The Interview” was supposed to be released. It stars Seth Rogen and James Franco and it’s about a plot to kill Kim Jong-Un.

Sony pulled the picture, cancelling its release after North Korea launched a cyber attack in response to the film. Yes, the crazy Stalinists in North Korea were angry.

Why in the world would anyone be surprised? And why would anyone doubt North Korea would respond with a cyber attack that has done considerable damage around the world?

Why, also, wouldn’t Sony have anticipated this kind of unpredictability from the leader of a reclusive state known to do just about anything to make a point?

Obama said American filmmakers shouldn’t be pushed around by nations angry over their work.

That’ a fair point.

But don’t filmmakers have a responsibility to exercise some judgment in choosing the topics — and individuals — they seek to portray?

They made a “comedy” about an attempt to kill a living, breathing leader of a nation that has acted rather dangerously before.

Therein lies Sony’s mistake.


What was Sony thinking?

Time allows one to think things through and to cogitate a bit on the consequences of one’s action.

Perhaps the makers of the film “The Interview” could have thought just a little bit longer about the product that was supposed to be shown to American theater crowds.

I’ve been pondering the blowback from the film, the threats of Internet hackers striking back at the producers of the film — and at the public at large. My conclusion? I believe Sony Pictures should have known with whom it was dealing when it made a “comedy” about an attempt to assassinate the leader of North Korea.

My sympathy for Sony, the actors involved and those who thought they would make a lot of money from the film is waning — rapidly.

The film stars Seth Rogen and James Franco. It’s supposedly a comedy. The main characters are plotting to kill Kim Jong Un.

Let’s be real. The entire world knows about Kim Jong Un’s weirdness. The world knows he runs a country that gives hyper-secrecy a bad name. I mean, this place is reclusive beyond description. Kim’s antics — just as those of his late father, Kim Jong Il — are, to say the least, highly unpredictable.

Why couldn’t the makers of the film fictionalized the story? Why single out the leader of a nation — and a dangerous one at that — for this kind of “comic parody”? What would the reaction be in any country on Earth if someone made a film purporting to assassinate its leader?

My conclusion is that Sony should have expected a highly negative reaction from a country that hardly anyone knows with any certainty.

Terror threats in response to the film? Well, duh! Do you think?


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.



Comedic actor fights for serious cause

First, allow me this acknowledgment.

I know little about Seth Rogen’s professional life, other than he’s a comedic actor who starred in the film “Knocked Up.”

After Wednesday, though, I now perceive him as a courageous young man who’s trying to raise awareness of an affliction with which my family and I have intimate knowledge: Alzheimer’s disease.

Rogen sat before a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday and told a heartbreaking story of his mother-in-law.


She’s now in her early 60s. Rogen’s mother-in-law cannot speak; she cannot feed or bathe herself; she barely can walk and is confined mostly to a wheelchair; she doesn’t recognize anyone outwardly. She was diagnosed about seven years ago — when she was just 55 — with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Rogen is trying to raise awareness and I must presume raise the interest of lawmakers who control the federal purse to put more money into Alzheimer’s research. He’s founded an organization, Hilarity for Charity, to help educate young Americans about the disease.

Oh, brother, I feel the young man’s pain.

As he spoke to the mostly empty chairs that should have been filled by senators, Rogen’s testimony reminded me of my own late mother’s affliction. She died in 1984 at the age of 61. A doctor issued an official diagnosis of her condition in 1980, but in truth she had been showing signs of profound personality change for years prior to that.

We watched her disappear before our eyes. Her body was present, but the woman we knew was long gone. At the end, she couldn’t speak or feed herself or bathe — just like Seth Rogen’s mother-in-law.

My heart hurt listening to him.

Later that evening, on Chris Matthews’s cable talk show “Hardball,” Rogen took note of the shameful lack of attention given by the committee members. Only two of them attended the entire hearing: Democratic chairman Tom Harken of Iowa and Republican ranking member Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Rogen didn’t express outward anger at the lack of attendance by the rest of the panel. I’ll express it for him.

It is shameful that the committee didn’t bother to listen to all that Rogen had to tell them. They needed to be there, even if they had heard it all before. They needed to hear the testimony of someone who’s emotional heartache is as real as it gets — as he is speaking for millions of other Americans who have gone through, or who are going through right now, the agony of watching a loved one waste away.

Alzheimer’s disease afflicts roughly 5 million Americans. The reality, though, is that it causes pain to many times more than that number. It inflicts pain on family members who have to endure what Seth Rogan and his wife are experiencing. Those numbers will climb as the nation continues to age and as more Americans fall victim to Alzheimer’s cruelty.

I hope Rogen keeps up the fight. He is delivering an important message that needs to be heard.