Tag Archives: actors

Award Ethics: Hollywood’s Casey Affleck-Nate Parker Controversy Is Ethically Simple, But Then, Hollywood Doesn’t Have Ethics

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (7734778do) Casey Affleck - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Manchester By The Sea 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Jan 2017

There were several possible Ethics Alarms posts that could have come out of The Golden Globe Awards last night, the obvious one involving the continuing arts community tantrum in the wake of the election of Donald Trump over Hollywood’s sweetheart, Hillary Clinton. Meryl Streep put herself in the running for “Gratuitous Cheap Shot Of The Year ” with her acceptance speech for something or other, but I decided that in a community where Rosie O’Donnell tweets “Fuck you!” to the Speaker of the House for simply completing his duty to certify the Electoral College vote, and over the weekend tweeted, “HE MUST NEVER BE SWORN IN – DELAY INAGURATION – INVESTIGATE – ARREST HIM” as her considered analysis of the proper workings of our democracy, Streep’s shot seemed like the height of restraint.

The more interesting issue on display at the Golden Globes  involves actor Casey Affleck, Batman’s brother, who won the night’s Best Actor in a Film Drama award for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” Last year, it was revealed that the actor had two sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him in 2010 that alleged he had groped women on the set and created a generally hostile work environment while directing the film, “I’m Still Here.” Since during the campaign Hollywood was all-in using misogyny and sexual  harassment as one of the many accusations against Donald Trump, some claim that honoring Affleck undermines the community’s assumed condemnation of the Trump-like conduct he was accused of.

Complicating the matter is the conundrum surrounding Nate Parker, the previously unknown black artist who was the main creative force behind the 2016 slave-revolt film “The Birth of a Nation.”  As Oscar buzz was ramping up for his film—remember that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences is more or less obligated to find plenty of nominations and awards for African Americans, regardless of objective artistic merit—  new details surfaced concerning a decades old criminal case in which Parker was accused of raping a female student while both were at Penn State.  He was acquitted,  but the facts were ugly, and the alleged victim committed suicide. Once that was known, all of the promise shown by “The Birth of a Nation” evaporated. Although the film was a smash at festivals, it received mixed reviews,bombed at the box office, and has been poison at the various awards so far, receiving no nominations.

The New York Times, among other media sources, has published several articles about the apparent double standard, saying most recently,
Continue reading

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UPDATE: Cyber-Zombie Peter Cushing And The Prospect Of Cyber-Zombie Carrie Fisher Remind Actors To Fight For Control Of Their Post-Mortem Acting Career

cgi

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who felt that Peter Cushing was being abused by finding himself in “Rogue One” without his prior consent. Of the late actor being digitally inserted into a role he never agreed to play and deliver lines he never contracted to deliver, I wrote…

The emerging technology raises many ethical issues that didn’t have to be considered before, but when it comes to using a dead actor in a new role, the ethics verdict should be easy. It’s unethical, unless a performer  gives informed consent for his image to be used post mortem in this fashion. Presumably, the consent or the lack of it will be part of future negotiations and standard contracts. Actors who agree to have their images used as cyberslaves will also probably want to limit the uses of their names and images.

Cushing’s exploitation and the subsequent death of Carrie Fisher with widespread speculation that she would soon be added to the “Star Wars” franchise’s army of CGI clones have now sounded the alarm loudly. But apparently many actors were already aware of the threat, and taking affirmative action to control their destinies. Continue reading

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“Rogue One” Ethics: Peter Cushing Returns From The Grave

He's baaaaack!

He’s baaaaack!

Hammer Films horror icon and Christopher Lee foil Peter Cushing died in 1994 from prostate cancer. That couldn’t stop the makers of the latest “Star Wars” movie from bringing his image back from the grave.  The gaunt-faced British actor—an early “Doctor Who”!—played Grand Moff Tarkin in the original “Star Wars,” a bad guy, Cushing’s specialty. Since “Rogue One,” the current addition to the series, is a prequel, Tarkin is alive again (he went down with the Death Star in Episode IV). Instead of recasting the part, the producers decided to recreate Tarkin/Cushing using CGI technology. Lucasfilm-owned digital effects house Industrial Light & Magic reanimated Cushing’s likeness so that a recognizable Tarkin could make a convincing  appearance in “Rogue One.” The results are not perfect, but it is still one step closer to allowing future movies to cast avatars of long dead stars to interact seamlessly with live performers.

We have recently seen actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeff Bridges and Anthony Hopkins digitally youthened, but forcing a dead actor’s image to perform is a different matter entirely. The use of computer animated images of dead performers to do the bidding of their director masters evokes memories of “Looker,” a science fiction film directed and written by the late Michael Crichton of “Jurassic Park” and “Westworld” fame. In that 1981 movie, a corporation transferred the images of living models to a computer program that could use the new cyber-models to do and say anything more effectively and attractively than the models themselves in television ads. Then the company had the models killed—less residuals that way.

The emerging technology raises many ethical issues that didn’t have to be considered before, but when it comes to using a dead actor in a new role, the ethics verdict should be easy. It’s unethical, unless a performer  gives informed consent for his image to be used post mortem in this fashion. Presumably, the consent or the lack of it will be part of future negotiations and standard contracts. Actors who agree to have their images used as cyberslaves will also probably want to limit the uses of their names and images. No porn films, for example. No uses of an actor in a role he would have never agreed to playing while alive. Don’t make John Wayne shoot someone in the back. Don’t show Fred Astaire as clumsy on his feet; don’t make Jimmy Cagney a weenie.

Allowing another actor to use a dead one’s face and body, like Andy Serkis wore his cyber King King suit, is a closer call. If it is clear that the dead actor isn’t the one doing the acting, and that digital technology is being used as the equivalent of make-up, maybe that practice is just icky rather than unethical, provided the credits are clear.To make Cushing’s Tarkin live again on screen, “Rogue One’s “film-makers hired Guy Henry, a 56-year-old British actor who resembles Cushing. Henry played the part of Tarkin on the set, then the tech wizards transformed him into a Cushing clone. Continue reading

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Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser

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I’m pretty sure the Ethics Alarms 2016 Jerk of the Year Award was locked up a while ago, but two new challengers for the title at least strengthen the field:

1. Daniel Goldstein, attorney

Goldstein, in the cabin of a JetBlue flight on which Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was also a passenger, verbally accosted the soon-to-be First Daughter before take-off. Holding a child in his arms, the New York lawyer started shouting, “Your father is ruining the country!” Then he asked, “Why is she on our flight? She should be flying private!”

Ivanka, who had her own kids in tow, tried to ignore him and attend to her family until he was removed from the flight by JetBlue personnel. “You’re kicking me off for expressing my opinion?” he yelled as he was led off the plane.

What a rude and obnoxious jerk.

Other observations: Continue reading

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The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part II: Dunces, Heroes, Villains, And Fools

The failure of the ugly Electoral College revolt scheme that ended yesterday—let’s ignore the coming storm of frivolous lawsuits for now, all right?—with the official, irreversible, like it or lump it victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton also settled some distinctions, some desirable, some not.

  • Ethics Heroes: All of the Republican electors who resisted the harassment, propaganda, intimidation and bad arguments and did their duty, avoiding a crisis and foiling the attempts of Democrats to cheat, which is exactly what the effort to flip the electoral vote was. The faithful electors get bonus points for making so many Democrats and progressives look silly in the process, a fate they richly deserved.

Come to think of it, it was predictable that Democratic appeals to electors would persuade more Democratic electors than Republicans. Which leads us to…

  • Ethics Dunces: A bevy of Hollywood B-listers joined forces in an offensive video that, like Brezenoff’s petition, misrepresented history and the Constitution to gull star-struck electors into defying the public’s will and its trust that their votes would be respected by electors. Led by Martin Sheen, who has no credentials in government or political science but played a wily President on TV, Debra Messing, James Cromwell, B.D. Wong, Noah Wyle, Freda Payne (Quick: who is Freda Payne?), “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk, J. Smith Cameron (?), Michael Urie, Moby, superannuated M*A*S*H stars Mike Farrell and Loretta Swit, Richard Schiff, Christine Lahti, Steven Pasquale, Emily Tyra and Talia Balsam tell the electors that they will be following the Founders’ intent by rejecting Donald Trump. This is flatly dishonest, as they are attributing the contrarian position of Alexander Hamilton, who detested popular democracy, to all the Founders, who rejected Hamilton’s proposals on how the government should be elected and structured.

“What is evident is that Donald Trump lacks more than the qualifications to be president. He lacks the necessary stability and clearly the respect for the Constitution of our great nation,” say the celebrities. Obviously it is NOT evident, since Trump’s voters won the day.  The Federalist accurately describes what was behind the video:

“The message is clear: the candidate for whom these celebrities spent months shilling lost the Electoral College, the metric granted ultimate primacy by Article Two of the Constitution. Now, as individuals with no substantial political background, these celebrities have organized en masse to produce content designed to “educate” our electors, chosen for their political pedigree, on their electoral duty. The whole situation reeks of condescension, dirisiveness, and social hubris. What these self-ordained celebrities are demanding is nothing short of the very opposite of what they claim to be purporting. They assert that they “stand with…all citizens of the United States,” yet admittedly only if those citizens agree with their political viewpoint. If said citizens disagree, then, unfortunately, these celebrities decidedly do not stand with them. In fact, they would prefer electors to actively oppose the wishes of these very citizens, so that the candidate they personally believe to be the best suited has a second shot at the presidency.”

That’s about the size of it, yes indeed. Continue reading

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The Rape Of Maria Schneider

tango_2011_a_l

There are many stories of directors crossing ethical lines by using abusive, unfair and disrespectful methods obtain a vivid performance from an actor. None are as bad as this one.

Now a video has surfaced of Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci admitting that in his acclaimed 1972 film “Last Tango In Paris,” the infamous rape scene where Paul (Marlon Brando) sodomizes Jeanne (Maria Schneider) with a stick of butter was not consented to by the 19 year-old actress, who was not warned of the unscripted sequence before it was thrust upon her, and in her. She was, in short, raped.

No wonder it seemed so realistic.

“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting it,” Bertolucci said in the 2013 interview at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris. “I’d been, in a way, horrible to Maria, because I didn’t tell her what was going on…I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress…I wanted her to react humiliated…I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her.”

The film was a sensation, though and both Brando and Bertolucci received Academy Award nominations, so it was worth it.

Right?

Apparently Schneider alluded to the rape in private conversations and interviews, but never explicitly enough that it was clear what had been done to her. Now Hollywood is reacting with appropriate outrage.

“The should be in jail,” tweeted actor Chris Evans. (Psst!...the actor is long dead, Chris, as is Schneider. Bertolucci is 76.)

What a disgusting story of complete ethics rot in the arts, and what a damning indictment of Bertolucci, Brando and the culture that produced them.

_____________________

Pointer: Fred

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Workplace Dilemma: Do You Really Want To Know What Everyone Else Is Being Paid?

Miles Teller, who really showed THEM...

Non-La La Land star Miles Teller, who really showed THEM…

The male star of the buzzy movie musical “La La Land,” which opens next week, is Ryan Gosling. The role was originally offered to Miles Teller, who was a rising hot property and star on the threshold for acing the role of the abused drummer in “Whiplash,” like “La La Land” directed by Damien Chazelle.

But according to the people familiar wit negotiations, Teller was insulted by money he was offered,  a paltry $1 million, primarily because his putative co-star, Emma Stone,was being offered almost $3 million. After some back and forth, Chazelle replaced Teller with Gosling. Thus did Teller lose out on an a rare opportunity to make himself a major star in a film that is widely believed to be an Oscar magnet, and, of course, he won’t have that million dollars, either.

This a particularly vivid example of the ethics dilemma created by comparative salaries. I have not seen or heard of a satisfactory solution to it, from the management side or the labor side. Management would prefer that employees not know what other employees are making, and with good reason. The information can cause envy, bitterness, anger and lawsuits. Every employee has a tendency to believe they are more valuable, and indispensable, than they really are. Of course, some employers want to keep salaries secret because there are disparities that they cannot defend, or that may be illegal. While transparency is desirable to prevent unfair salary differences, however, it can make legitimate disparities untenable. Continue reading

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