Published on: November 19, 2010
In “Your Views” the other day, there was some back-and-forth about California, which one MNB user had described in not-so-flattering terms, essentially saying that the state was filled with crazy liberals and hoping that it would fall into the Pacific Ocean.
I love what Timothy Egan, in his “Opinionator” column on the New York Times
website, wrote the other day about California, noting that the state seems to be out of money and almost out of options:
“The only thing not in short supply, it seems, is California schadenfreude. The Golden State has become the American France — everyone professes to despise it, but loves to go there.
“Consider: even in the last year, when 2.2 million Californians were out of work, the state added more new residents than the entire population of Pittsburgh. And about 335 million visitors came. The message from the seven out of eight Americans who do not live in California is: we love you, and enjoy watching you suffer.”
He’s absolutely right.
I was really looking forward to Morning Glory
the new romantic comedy about morning television wars starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, in part because I like all of the actors involved and in part because I find morning television to be so generally awful (with the exception of “Morning Joe”) that I thought it was ripe for a biting comedy along the lines of Broadcast News
, which remains one of my favorite movies.
I walked away disappointed, however, Morning Glory
is no Broadcast News
, though maybe it is unfair for any movie to be compared with one of the best serious comedies ever made. The idea is smart enough; the movie is about what happens on a fourth place morning news show when a new producer (McAdams) manipulates an aging, recently fired anchorman (Ford, essentially playing an embittered Dan Rather without the drawl and country aphorisms) into co-hosting the program with Keaton’s former beauty queen.
The movie actually offers some serious business lessons, as McAdam’s character tries to force Ford into doing “fluffy” features, while he wants to only do serious news pieces; the conflict creates only animosity and creative gridlock. This happens a lot in business, where executives sometimes try to put square pegs into round holes and don’t necessarily create environments that allow people to play to their strengths, preferring to cater to bureaucracy. This is something that effective business leaders should try to avoid; the ability to recognize creative strengths and cater to them, it seems to me, ought to be a high-priority in choosing who will lead any organization.
At the same time, the resistance of Ford’s character to doing new things offers a good example of the kind of people one probably should avoid hiring, if one has any choice. People who cling resolutely to the past can prevent organizations from embracing the future...and the movie illustrates how important effective hiring is.
So the movie offers good lessons, and to be fair, Morning Glory
has its moments. But in the end, the movie is problematic....and much as it pains me to say so, I think the biggest problem is Harrison Ford.
For some reason, Ford, as he has gotten older, has begun to develop a certain heaviness - not gravitas, but a gruffness that is almost unpleasant because he seems to take no pleasure in it. Morning Glory
is a perfect example of this. He plays the misery of his character perfectly, but as he made all the people around him even more miserable, the character took no pleasure in it, which made him a lot less sympathetic and more of a one-note entity. I kept thinking of how actors like Jack Nicholson or Alec Baldwin might have played it, and i’m convinced they would have given the anchorman more layers, made him funnier in a movie that is supposed to be a comedy.
There may even be a lesson here for all of us. Even as we get older, it is important that we not take ourselves too seriously, that we not lose the sense of fun that makes life worth living.
One note. Ford will be back on screen next summer in a sci-fi western called Cowboys and Aliens
, which also stars Daniel Craig. It looks like a hoot (check out the trailer online), and I hope Ford can recapture a little bit of that Han Solo/Indiana Jones magic.
I know this is sort of like sacrilege, but I have a question.
Am I the only person who finds Oprah Winfrey to be kind of annoying?
Now, I have to be honest here. While she’s been on television for more than a quarter-century, and has been an icon for almost that long, I’m not sure that I’ve ever watched more than 10 minutes of her show at a time, and probably not more than a dozen times over 25 years. Obviously I know who she is, am aware of her public persona, and know how much power she exerts in the media world. But she’s sort of peripheral to my life.
This week, however, I saw a clip from her show that I could not believe. As part of her final season, she had a show in which she had as guests former daytime talk show hosts such as Phil Donahue ... and proceeded to point out to all of them how she’d crushed them in the ratings. (I wondered why she had not just shot them, stuffed them and mounted their heads on the wall of the set.)
Then, when I was sitting in my office at one point, I saw a show she did in which the cast of The Color Purple
reunited, and she kept pointing out how people told her how wonderful she was in it.
And then, she kept using that odd vocal tic, where her voice goes up at the end of the sentence.
Then, I was at the store, and I saw her magazine, and it is all about her favorite things.
Like I say, maybe this is heresy, but I think this woman is really annoying.
But maybe it’s just me.
I had a wonderful wine the other night, served with my spicy meatloaf - the 2007 Central Coast Pinot Noir from Sunburst Cellars.
One last thing.
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Content Guy.
I couldn’t do it without you.
That’s it for this week...and the ninth year of MNB.
Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.