Levitt’s Take On The Week In Politics


Historically I have always hated politics and anyone who takes strong stances on anything outside their direct experience tiresome to listen to. I do, however, enjoy the theater of politics. I enjoy debates because, despite politicians being able to identify a problem and volunteer a solution (take an immediate and clear action, impanel a committee, make it a #1 priority on “day one” of their administration), usually the politician who is less objectionable cosmetically (looks at their watch less, takes more modest sips of water than their challenger, rubs their nose rather than picking it, smiles rather than grins, and pronounces the names of foreign leaders with more finesse than their competitors wins.

Despite my aversion to anything involving policy or the daily workings of government, even the casual observer does have to admit that it was a big week in politics.


Last Saturday Bernie Sanders was mimicked and reduced to a caricature by Larry David on SNL. Their similarity in voice and “rumpled-ness” of demeanor is hard to dispute and, consequently, the internet went bonkers in celebration and Larry David landed himself an excellent post-Curb gig. Soon, It got so bad that When Biden Suddenly dropped out of the race for president its quite possible that his thought processes went something like this: “After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I do not believe in my heart that SNL has any cast member who is competent enough to impersonate me in a sketch. That show rises or falls based on its ability to nail its political satire. With me as a candidate, they have to settle with some second rater like Kyle Mooney trying to impersonate me…and that’s just not something I can, in good conscience, allow.”


Later in the week we learned that former president George W Bush suddenly resurfaced to give his candid impressions of republican candidate, Ted Cruz. “I just don’t like the guy”. In the coming weeks I also look forward to Bush’s other poignantly stated and randomly unsolicited opinions. like “Carly Fiorina…she looks like someone whose hair smells”


This week we also learned that Jeb Bush finds the actress who plays Supergirl “Hot”. Creepiness aside, I think this revelation opens a door into Jeb’s unconscious desire to meet a powerful woman who will, like he said about his brother George W post 9-11, “Will keep him safe”.

Lastly, we were witness to the spectacle Hilary Clinton’s Bengazi hearings. Through 11 hours of tough questions, it was reported that Hilary Clinton used the techniques of Yoga to stay relaxed. I wonder if she was able to mirror the practices of many Yogis who, through careful meditation and biofeedback, are able to slow her heartbeat from 88 beats to 32 beat per minute In that case, its quite possible that the former first lady was able to maintain a semi-conscious state broken only by certain involuntary motions of the body such as rapid eye movements and the noisy expulsion of gas.


Right after the Benghazi hearing, Hilary appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and explained that the first thing she did after the hearing was to eat Indian food and drink beer/wine with her associates. Wow, who knew she could be that relatable! That is such a coincidience. After a tough 11 hour grilling from the Bengazi committee, I also like to kick back, flanked by my closest advisors, with a little chicken tikka and a good bottle of the ol’ Pinot.

Actors Who Are Always Cast In The Same Roles

Ron Rifkin


how many roles can this man get playing the concerned father? Age, it seems,has not been kind to him. He looks high strung and particular. constitutionally, He just looks like the kind of guy who would send his food back a couple of times and still eat it under protest demanding extra table condiments. Maybe Rifkin should consider going on along vacation where he can just decompress…or maybe someone should just give him a token emmy or tony already so he can just breathe out already.

Leslie Mann


Perennially cast as the Taken-for-granted and ignored wife in such films as The Other Woman, 17 again, knocked up, and this is 40. She’s in so many bad marital relationships in films and always plays the victim. However, now my assumption, as an audience member, is that she’s in so many failing relationships, that maybe she’s the problem. Instead of my sympathy going out to her, now I’m like what is wrong with you that you’re driving all these men away? Analyzing her movie work, I’ve come to the conclusion that her “go to”acting expression when the camera is on her is a cutting smirk where she seems to be looking at her husband and seems to be thinking: “geez look at this guy, I could have done so much better”. Maybe if she looked less like she was constantly rating her husbands like a good watermelon, maybe she would be cast in more happy marriages.

Michael Cera


cast as the well-intentioned nerd in such films as Juno, Scott The Pilgrim, and Superbad and just about everything thing else he ever did. Obviously, his physical wimpiness and high pitched voice would preclude him from being cast in traditional male roles who display even the smallest amount of testosterone. Yet, once Cera begins to age and bald, what roles will be left? An old nerd in film/TV is just creepy. So, what’s left for Cera except for playing outlier freaks or pedophiles? except for perhaps being cast as “Karl” in a new Stage Version of “Slingblade”?, what new acting challenges lay on the horizon for this dorky dude? My advice for Cera is to enroll in both a weight-training class and an actors “Voice Deepening” workshop to expand his repertoire.

Judy Greer


An Obligatory actress. Ever try and read her IMDB Page? don’t. You’ll have more success trying to slog through James Joyce’s Ulysses. She’s cast In virtually everything as the best friend with flexible morals. But, why is this actress in virtually every movie or TV show. Her on-screen personna doesn’t incite an immediate connection in the same way that Reese Witherspoon or Tom Hanks do. Her acting chops though decent are not undeniable enough to make a director cry out out “get me Judy Greer!” But she gets so much work she appears to hold the balls of Hollywood in an iron vice. Its gotten to the point that if a TV Show has been on for more than 3 years, they should just install an electronic countdown timer to how quickly Greer will be cast as something. I’m not really sure why Greer is in everything. Is her agent on steroids? does Hollywood have some kind of back- room Judy Greer Quota? Her appeal is truly mysterious to me. The only thing I can think of is that casting Judy Greer never threatens the other actors while on set or distracts from their star-power when on the screen. Simply put, she blends. Therefore, Hiring her presents a low-risk factor to film/tv producers who are interested in the bottom line. To a thespian, clasicallytrained in the method of Stanislavsky, there can be no higher artistic praise!

The Year Of Female Empowerment


So far, this TV season seems to be the year of female empowerment. Each female character must now show that she is both the mental and physical equal of every other male character. For example, in the new show “Blindspot”, the female protagonist, “Jaimie Alexander” cant JUST be a woman stranded alone in TImes Square who suffers complete amnesia. No, she also must posess kick-ass fight skills on par with a super-hero. Sure, she forgot who her mom was or her favorite color but she conveniently remembers how whip the asses of two martial arts experts in record time. She’s quirky that way. So, don’t ever make fun of her inability to name all the Beatles because “mama don’t like when you make fun of her brainy wainy”.

This season will also introduce a new version of “Supergirl” to the viewing public. It goes without saying that she’ll be insanely strong and fast but the shows producers may also have to work at tempering her physical prowess with an equally feminine side to be more pallatable to middle America.. So, expect her to whip out a few verses from the poems of Emily Dickinson, as she’s mercilessly bashing a thiefs skull in. While she’s not in leotards and cape, watch her to don a frumpy robe and pig-out on Mallomars as she binge watches The Bachelor from her couch.

Similarly, shows like “Limitless” and “Quantico” will now introduce kick ass female fbi agens (aren’t all FBI Agents kick-ass though?) and “The Blacklist” has even promoted FBI Agent, Elizabeth Keen to fugitive FBI Agent, Elizabeth Keen so that she can-like a cornered animal- prove even more formidable when attacked.

Like most trends, It won’t be long before this years female empowerment theme spills over into politics. conveniently, this year we have two women running for the top political office in the land. (incidentally 2 women is not that many as the crow flies, but two more than usual). With Clinton and Fiorina vying for top banana, enterprising Execs might come up with the brilliant idea to pitt them against eachother and their male counterparts in some sort of televised cagematch. So, in one match Fiorina might be forced to lock horns with Chris Christie (this match will no doubt be sponsored by planned parenthood). Hilary Clinton may not be able to hide-like she did her classified emails- from the agressive counterpunches of Donald Trump in their anticipated match-up.

With the rise of the strong female protagonist in the recent slew of shows comes the inevitable demise or “demasculation” of the strong, take-charge, male protagonist. The male stalwarts of many of today’s dramas have been sidelined to be house husbands (Secretary Of State), riding a desk, or in some thankless managerial position where their sole task seems to be to shout bitterly at their female kick-ass subordinates to “Just go by the book, damnit!”

Levitt “Faces Off” On Politics

trump fiorina

When Donald Trump made his controversial jab at fellow Republican Candidate Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face…Would anyone vote for that?!” it was considered a low, below the belt comment. It was considered below the belt because candidates should be judged on their accomplishments, not looks and also misogynistic because women’s looks are typically prized more than men’s and Trump was simply parroting that same old frat-house mentality.

Trump should not have said the comment. It was “ugly”. However, that doesn’t mean that a lot of the people in the audience weren’t thinking the same exact thing. In many households across America, it was not on politicians stand on issues but it was the superficial: how poised they looked, how snappy they dressed, how unflappable they were in the face of criticism, how snappy their comebacks were. The famous Kennedy/Nixon Debate illustrates how powerful the visual image is on TV. Nixon (sweaty beady eyed) Kennedy (polished, tan, unsweaty). Truth is Fiorina does look like she’s had a lot of work done…also Trump has bad hair, Christie is fat and Fred Flintstone-ish, Bush (looks like a Mr Potato-head version of his brother) etc. When the TV Camera was on them, all their faults, including their sweatiness, facial tics, were highly magnified.

People say that they vote on issues not looks. But, what if Harrison Ford was standing on the podium, how many women in the audience would be that critical on his stand on illegal immigration? if Jessica Alba was a hard-liner against Planned Parenthood how many men would raise up their hands-not to land dates-but to disagree?

True appearance, most would argue, is not as important in politics since our politicians have a heavy influence over our quality of life in the same way that doctors and accountants are in charge of our money and health. So, they don’t have to be hot just good.

However, its different with the president. we have look at the president all the time: CNN, state of union, debates, adresses etc. and ugliness is hard to take for long periods of time. For example, I know lots of people who wont watch any show with Jay Leno or Steve Buscemi regardless of their talent. Paul Giamatti has to act his pants off in every role just to get work in the next.

Most would say they value experience and character over looks because they find it hard to admit that they could be superficial with such an important decision. I think in a lot of cases, its a more close contest. If Look at the last 6 or 7 political match-offs. The more attractive, dapper candidate in 9 out of 10 cases wins. You call it a coincidence, say they had other positive qualities that also went into the decision etc. But good looking people are always getting brownie points for things they don’t deserve…avoiding parking tickets, getting free food, skipping lines etc. If one day you are walking down the street and see two women are arguing on the street,who do you think is right? yep.. the better looking one. Sure…of course she’s the one that’s right.

Levitt Sounds Off On Project Greenlight


I watched the Premiere of Project Greenlight last night with much interest because I’m also an aspiring film-maker. More of a writer than director etc but in the ballpark. Anyhow , first off not crazy about the show’s premise: the fact that Affleck, and Damon sponsor a contest and help to hand pick the director of a comedy film There’s just something too…” Success anointing success about it”. I realize that most deals in Hollywood done by successful people. this way but the fact that two primo sucess stories in the room and are personally choosing the director(with the exception of the one they actually picked) are expected to kiss their Affleck and Damon’s ass and make a case for themselves is just too much fawning for me. At least with shows like “Undercover Boss” the guy in the power position at least pretends to be on equal footing to begin with so that he can get a true perspective of his workers and not their “Best sucking up behavior”

To Heighten the stakes, In the very beginning of the show, Affleck and Damon claim they are putting their integrity/career on the line with their choices. Obviously, they’re not. The prior winners of Project Greenlight were barely a blip on the movie radar Yet Ben managed to go on to Box Office, Oscar and nanny boffing success regardless. Now, if Damon and Affleck, would agree to give all their money/posessions to charity if the winner of Project Greenlight didn’t succeed, then there would be real drama and we could see the duo get more emotionally invested in the show, instead of appearing occasionally in perfunctory phone conversations about this or that insignificant detail.

After some preliminary back and forth with Damon, Affleck, and the rest of the other judges (The Farrelly Brothers) and Brown (who argued for ethnic diversity), The show went out of its way to pick a volatile/arrogant director because they thought he had the most talent. Even though the director they chose specialized in dark films and they were shooting a broad comedy. But, Its also no secret that dicks are good for ratings: (ie Simon Cowell, or Dennis o’leary SharkTank). So, its likely they picked this guy at least partly because he was an obnoxious jerk. I mean No one is going to tune in to watch a show about a a well-run movie production team lead by nice guys high-fiving eachother

In the end result, if these contest driven reality shows (America Idol, The Voice etc) prove anything at all, its that you can’t engineer success. Even successful people occasionally produce shit -literally and figuratively- (Affleck and Damon not excluded). In addition, How can anyone really be expected to really “Create good art” in such a high stress atmosphere in which every decision they make is filmed for HBO, high profile stars like Affleck and Damon are breathing down your back, and every decision you try to make is second guessed by a committee?

Things You Never Hear Exiting A Movie Theater


“I don’t think Hugh Grant blinked nervously enough in that movie”

“Al pacino is a little hard to hear. He should really learn to project. Perhaps he should just bark out some of his lines like an army sargeant.”

“Wow, that Tim Burton Remake was even better than the original!”

“Russell Crowe needs to do more southern accents. The results are really satisfying.”

“That was a powerhouse Keanu Reeves performance. Oscar worthy.”

“I couldn’t decide if that film was more Merchant Ivory or Farrelly Brothers.”

“I felt Drew Barrymore came across too bright in that film.”

“it’s a pity Morgan Freeman didn’t imbue that historical figure with more dignity and gravitas.”

“I don’t think Oliver Stone’s usage of bad father/good father imagery in nearly every one of his films is heavy handed at all!”.

The Romcom Wedding Scene- The Real Victims


In Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” the character, Lysandra famously says, “The course of true love never did run smooth”. The Hollywood Romantic comedy takes this statement and takes it to ridiculous extremes: A botched wedding ceremony.

The climax of most romantic comedies is the obligatory wedding scene toward the end. The music swells, the couple makes the famous march down the aisle, and the preacher/rabbi begins the familiar oath. Yet, for some reason, the film-makers inevitably take this moment to get “real” and steer the wedding violently off its tracks. The groom puts his hand up to stay “stop” andmay awkwardly confess a former infidelity, the bride may counter with a former pregnancy, or even a third party may dramatically interupt (like Patrick Dempsty did in Maid Of Honor) and gallop in on horseback to stop the wedding.

What usually follows the interuption is a series of avowals by the bride and groom, a hashing out of their true feelings toward one another, and with a few stammers or a few awkward silences later, they resolve things in perfect unity and, in the end, decide either to proceed with the wedding or to go their separate ways. This is, of course, all good for the couple…clearing the air has given them the understanding and closure they have never had before. They sigh contentedly. In complete harmony. It does, though, happen to suck for the rest of the wedding party.

The bridal party in a romcom is treated like collateral damage. (examples are: The Wedding Crashers, The Proposal, “While You Were Sleeping”, ” 4 weddings and a funeral”, and the grandfather of all wedding interruption movies, The Graduate “Elaine!!!!” Elaine!!!) Guests must sit in the wedding hall quietly, Like stunned animals, watching helplessly as the bride and groom grapple with the supposed finality of the phrase “I Do”. But “aunt Irma” and “Cousin Jessie” probably had to take off work, buy plain tickets, hotel reservations, and expensive flatware in order to be spectators at this fiasco. They should be steaming mad. The bridal couple had all the time in the world to resolve their feelings. Nowadays with the internet, everyone is so eager to instantly express their feelings on Facebook and Twitter, Guests should be wondering why couldn’t this couple at least virtually “Get it together” before the ceremony.

Of course the romcom doesn’t deal with the emotional/financial fallout of wedding guests. That would be too time consuming and messy. it’s a film after all and the supporting players don’t really have feelings or lives. If we are lucky maybe the jilted bride or father of the bride may punch somebody in the face for putting them through the ordeal but for the rest of the 199 guests are expected to just dissapear; go back to their dreary un-cinematically interesting lives.

But where is the emotional payoff for the wedding spectator?

What I propose is turning the tables. Hold the bride and groom hostage and make them suffer through the emotional upheaval of their guests. Yes, both bride and group will pull up a comfy chair and plop themselves resignedly on the dais. Each guest, then will, in turn will confront their spouse in a highly overdramatic, yet emotionally cathartic way . Jim Soble will confront Jill Soble, his wife, and they will bare their emotional souls to each other. Jill never knew Joe resented her close bond with her brother. That made him extremely threatened. Bill Mansfield always resented rhonda Mansfield’s independence. How could he feel like a good provider then? Soon, the wedding hall will turn into an emotional free for all : Angry oaths, resentments, insecurities will fill the air like cheap wedding pasta-salad and the wedding-couple will be held hostage forced to listen.

Then the bride and groom will know what if feels like to sit through other people’s emotional baggage while you sweat through your tuxedo?

With any luck, the beleagured bride and groom will soon snap out of their own selfish emotional fog and realize that they have hijacked the lives of a room full of other people. I as a Romcom viewer have always looked forward to this kind of a moment of clarity or epiphany. If the wedding couple wont financially reimburse their guests for their time and expense, at least the maudlin duo owe them their own type of emotional closure and happily ever after.