Polanski’s Crime, Hollywood’s Arrogance

Celebrity makes people stupid. That's the only explanation for Harvey Weinstein calling Roman Polanski's drugging, rape and sodomy of a 13-year-old girl a "so-called" crime, or Whoopi Goldberg shrugging it off as not a "rape-rape." Today, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez brilliantly summed up my feelings about the case…and,  I suspect, the feelings of anybody outside the entertainment industry, where it's assumed that anyone with talent, fame and an award statuette should get a free pass for illegal, immoral, and just plain inept behavior. Is it any wonder that Woody Allen supports Polanski? Lopez writes, in part: 

I'd like to show all these great luminaries the testimony from Polanski's underage victim, as well as Polanski's admission of guilt. Then I'd like to ask whether, if the victim were their daughter, they'd be so cavalier about a crime that was originally charged as sodomy and rape before Polanski agreed to a plea bargain. Would they still support Polanski's wish to remain on the lam living the life of a king, despite the fact that he skipped the U.S. in 1977 before he was sentenced?

[…]
Yes, Polanski has known great tragedy, having survived the Holocaust and having lost his wife, Sharon Tate and their unborn son, to the insanity of the Charles Manson cult.

But that has no bearing on the crime in question.

His victim, who settled a civil case against Polanski for an unspecified amount, said she does not want the man who forced himself on her to serve additional time.

That's big-hearted of her but also irrelevant, and so is the fact that the victim had admitted to having sex with a boyfriend before meeting Polanski.

Polanski stood in a Santa Monica courtroom on Aug. 8, 1977, admitted to having his way with a girl three decades his junior and told a judge that indeed, he knew she was only 13.

There may well have been judicial misconduct.

But no misconduct was greater than allowing Polanski to cop a plea to the least of his charges. His crime was graphic, manipulative and heinous, and he got a pass. It's unbelievable, really, that his soft-headed apologists are rooting for him to get another one.

Why Are They Defending a Common Rapist?

Roman Polanski drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13-year-old girl and then fled to Europe to avoid imprisonment. If his name was Tyrell Washington, and he was black, and did everything Polanski did except direct movies, people would be thrilled that he was arrested. But because Polanski is an Oscar-winning director, we get abhorrent comments like these:

France's culture minister Frederic Mitterrand also criticized the U.S. "Seeing him alone, imprisoned while he was heading to an event that was due to offer him praise and recognition is awful," he said. "He was trapped. In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America, and that has just shown its face."

In Germany, there was also support for the director. The Berlin Film Festival demanded Polanski be freed. "The Berlinale protests the arbitrary treatment of one of the world's most outstanding film directors," the fest said in a statement. "We declare our deep respect for Roman Polanski and we demand his immediate release."

The German Film Academy also condemned Polanski's detention. Academy presidents Senta Berger and Guenter Rohrbach said in a joint statement: "The German Film Academy finds it revolting that Roman Polanski has been arrested for an act committed more than 30 years ago."

I'm the father of a 14-year-old girl, maybe that's why I find all this anger over the arrest of a child rapist disgusting and infuriating. I don't care if he's made good movies. Why?

Because Roman Polanski drugged, raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl…and fled the country rather than go to jail for his horrible crime. 

What is truly "revolting" is the defense of this criminal and the stunning hypocrisy that it represents. 

What the French government, German Film Academy and other fans of the director are saying is that raping a child, and being arrested for it thirty years later, is "awful" and "revolting" … if the rapist happens to be a talented actor, writer or director. They don't seem capable of drawing a distinction between Polanski the director and Polanski the rapist. Yeah, his movies may be great, but he drugged, raped and sodomized a child…and then he ran.

We don't forgive other rapists for their crimes…we hunt them down. Why should Polanski be given special treatment? Because he's talented? Because he's married with kids? Because he's old? Because his now-adult victim has forgiven him? Because the judge may have intended to renege on a plea bargain and make Polanski do the prison time he deserved?

Hell no. Why? Because there's a message here, folks. And the message is:  you can't drug, rape and sodomize children and run from the law. You will be punished for your heinous crimes.

How would Polanski feel if someone drugged, raped and sodomized his children? Would he want the rapist to walk free if he has directing talent?

I know that the French government, or the Berlin Film Festival judges, would be making the same appeals on behalf of a black American plumber who'd committed the same crime. We all know it.

I, for one, am pleased that the Justice Department has not given up, has not been blinded by celebrity, and has finally nailed him. I hope they drag him back here and make him do his time.

Talked to Death

Denis McGrath was talking about fanfic on his blog the other day, and happened to mention my many discussions here on the same topic, prompting someone to comment:

I find your posts re: fanfic far more fun because you actually address the issue whereas poor Lee, who is usually so eloquent, seems to be rendered a name-calling child in the face of the issue, unable to put an actual argument together. Just because he is on the side that is obviously right doesn't mean that slanging nasty words around is sufficient advocacy or even entertaining commentary.

Denis replied, saying what I might have said if I wasn't guilty of exactly what the commenter said.

To be perfectly honest? I think he's just been at it longer than I have. My recent experiences on the Copyright brief have kind of siphoned off my good humor and goodwill, too. There comes a point where you've made the arguments, and when you face utter illogic, misinformation and misunderstanding, that you lose that humor.

I couldn't have put it better myself. I've made the rational, coherent, good-humored arguments 10,000 times…and that's  just if you count my posts on the topic when I was producing SEAQUEST. I ended up writing a book about that experience (BEYOND THE BEYOND) and, to be honest, I think I do a better job dealing with the fanfic issues now in a fictional context (eg my novel MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE and my Diagnosis Murder episode MUST KILL TV) than I have done here lately.

I fear I am reaching the same point of humorlessness, repetition, and lack of clarity when I discuss the vanity presses that prey on the desperation and gullibility of aspiring writers.  At a certain point, you say everything you have to say, in every way you can possibly say it, and it might just be better to drop the whole thing (which I have largely done on the fanfic stuff, except when highlighting a special case, like the delusional woman who is writing & publishing her own TWILIGHT sequel).

But the vanity press thing is something else altogether. I'm not going to stop talking about those scams because it is so important to alert writers about them. But I'm dialing it down in that department, too, as you may have noticed.

Technology Rendering Some Cliches Obsolete

My daughter asked me what it meant when my wife told her that she sounded "like a broken record." I realized that technology was leaping way ahead of our cliches, rendering many of them obsolete to entire generations. 

I explained to her that  for years, people listened to music was on vinyl records, and that the music was picked up with a phonographic needle. A scratch on the album would cause the needle to skip and a piece of the song to repeat over and over and over again, much like her constant nagging for an iPhone.

"What a stupid way to listen to music," she said. "A needle?"

So now I'm wondering what are some other common, cliche phrases that are likely to make no sense at all to anyone born after 1990? 

(I guess referring to television as "the tube" makes no sense anymore. Same for "dialing a number.") 

FAME Doesn’t Live Forever

I got a laugh from the first paragraph of Betsy Sharkey's review of FAME in today's Los Angeles Times:

"Fame," it turns out, is not going to live forever. It's officially DOA.
Call the coroner. Then call in the top teams from "CSI," and that sexy pair from "Bones" while you're at it, because if ever there was a crime scene that should be yellow-taped and relentlessly investigated this is it.

Live Author Chat/Interactive Webcast with Me

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I'll be hosting a Live Author Chat/Webcast on Sunday, Oct 4 at 6pm PST…talking about my latest MONK book, MR. MONK IN TROUBLE & the Oct. 6 DVD release of my movie FAST TRACK: NO LIMITS. The cast of FAST TRACK is also scheduled to participate. But best of all, ANYONE ANYWHERE can join in by going to: 

http://live.expandedbooks.com/lee-goldberg 

Or you can talk to me, and everyone else who is watching, VIA WEBCAM…all you have to do is send an email first, with your Skype username, to: 

info@expandedbooks.com

Expanded Books will connect you via Skype so you can participate in the show….and be seen by people all over the world. 

Live Author Chat is a new service from Expanded Books that uses cutting-edge video streaming and television technology to broadcast author chats in real time, via the web. Each chat is a fully produced and customized live webshow where up to four people can communicate with each other simultaneously via video webcam while many more participate via chat and tens of thousands

MM_in_Trouble.revised

 worldwide can watch. The conversation happens in real time, while the Expanded Books team directs the show from their studio in Los Angeles. You can expect a lively conversation between me at home, fans on webcams, and chat participants, while the directorial team switches between the four multiple webcams, book covers, clips from MONK & FAST TRACK, and much more. I hope you'll watch…or, better yet, take part in the fun!

UPDATE 9/26/09: We are doing a live test run of the broadcast this Sunday, Sept. 27 at 4 pm PST. Here's the link:

http://live.expandedbooks.com/channels/3/with_player

You are welcome to log in …or send your Skype username to info@expandedbooks.com to participate by webcam.

Tom Selleck is Happily Stoned

I'm a big fan of Tom Selleck's JESSE STONE movies. I like them even more than the Robert B. Parker books that they are based on. The movies do very, very well for CBS, but that doesn't stop the network from inexplicably sitting on them for as long as a year before airing them. The sixth movie NO REMORSE, has been on the shelf since January, the seventh is currently shooting in Halifax, and Selleck tells Variety that he'd like to do an eighth…and see CBS broadcast two a year to add some regularity to what amounts to network television's last successful, TV movie franchise.

"We don't do cliffhangers. The movies stand on their own. But with regular viewing the audience gets the bonus of a continuing backstory," Selleck said. "People want to know what's going to happen with this guy. He's basically a decent guy with a lot of flaws. He's his own worst enemy…but he's a guy you want to root for.

He's got other TV and film prospects, but there's something special about Jesse Stone for Selleck — perhaps because he feels like complicated cop is carrying the flag for the longform biz on network TV.

"There's a market for us," Selleck said. "We're proving that the network TV audience does want to see movies — they just want to see good movies."