New Showtime Series Look Explores World Of Security Cameras, Over-Sharing

With cell phone video cameras, security cameras and social media tools like Twitter, people in America are more exposed than ever. If someone wanted to be watching, and following, they could.

A new “very R-rated” series on Showtime, Look (premiering Sunday at Midnight), explores this theme. We talked to creator Adam Rifkin this week.

“It was definitely a challenge because you can’t fall back on movie magic tricks that you’ve learned,” writer, director and executive producer Rifkin tells Mediaite. He said the challenge was to create “a mini piece of theater per scene.”

The concept of the show follows several fictional storylines, shot using only surveillance cameras, webcams and cell phone cameras. Any time a character is texting or tweeting, the audience sees that too. This follows Rifkin’s previous movie of the same name back in 2007. But a lot has changed. “When we made the movie I had never heard of YouTube, there was no Twitter,” said Rifkin. “The whole point of the TV series, in addition to surveillance and Big Brother, is exploring Little Brother. All webcams, cell phones, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, iChat, all are different forms of communication where people aren’t just being photographed by the government, but are willingly voluntarily putting the entirety of their lives under surveillance.”

The show itself is using an active website and Twitter feed to push out information and get viewers interested. “It’s the most exciting time for a creative person who wants to be involved in cinema or media,” said Rifkin. New Media is an “absolute must for a project like ours.”

Besides the leeway gained from being on Showtime, Rifkin gets the added benefit of a Midnight airing. “It gives us the freedom to really take the concept and be true to it,” he says. “It’s a show about things people do when they don’t think they’re being watched. That’s not always in prime time-friendly ways. We can explore the darker side of the human condition in ways we couldn’t do on broadcast TV.” (The trailer below features heavy drug use and some almost-nudity – and, of course, that’s just the trailer.)

Rifkin has had a very varied career, from family films like Underdog and Small Soldiers to the R-rated projects like this. “I’ve been really lucky that way,” he said. “What those movies afford me is the freedom to be able to focus on smaller, more personal movies.”

You can follow the series on Twitter, check out the website here and see the trailer below:

Look premieres Sunday, 10/10/10, at Midnight.

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Greta Van Susteren Helped Give Eliot Spitzer His Start On TV: On CNN In 1995

Greta Van Susteren was a guest on our return to Office Hours yesterday, and the wide ranging conversation included Gloria Allred, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.

But Van Susteren also revealed how she helped give new CNN host Eliot Spitzer his start on TV.

Before Van Susteren began her now nine-year career at Fox News, she spent almost as much time at CNN. And as she watched Parker Spitzer this week, she recalled how she first met Spitzer.

I know Eliot because Eliot got his start on TV about 1995, 1996. Before he was state attorney general, he used to be a frequent guest on CNN’s Burden Of Proof as a former federal prosecutor. And of course, I was one of the co-hosts. So I’ve known Eliot for almost 15-20 years.

Van Susteren also is familiar with Kathleen Parker, who she spent time with while traveling around the Middle East with then First Lady Laura Bush. As for a review, “In cable news a show doesn’t develop its identity, in terms of what its going to be, probably three for five six months, because it really is a work in progress…While I like them very much, I certainly hope that they never beat us.”

Of CNN as a whole, Van Susteren said, “They’re desperate. They’re in constant flux.”

Van Susteren also talked about her two recent interviews with Allred. “The process should be fair,” she said of the California race. “There shouldn’t be some of this gamesmanship, and Gloria is inserting herself into it, in a very volatile issue having to do with the Latino vote.”

As for politics, we asked Greta about Palin. “I think the media makes a big mistake taking a swipe at Sarah Palin,” she said, while calling her “as qualified as any other potential candidate I’ve seen.”

Finally, Joe Biden got a shout-out as well. “The man is experienced, and he certainly is capable of doing the job,” said Van Susteren.

Check out our full interview with Greta yesterday – including her thoughts on Jon Klein, Hillary VP 2012 rumors and more:

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Rick Sanchez on GMA: Takes “Full Responsibility,” Brings Up Lack Of Diversity In Prime Time

Rick Sanchez appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America this morning in an interview with George Stephanopoulos – his first interview since being fired one week ago.

While he appeared remorseful, it is clear he is still bitter about the Daily Show ribbing and still feels there is something behind the lack of diversity in prime time cable news.

“I know this has not been the easiest week for you, but you’re still smiling,” said Stephanopoulos to start the interview. “It’s tough. I screwed up, George,” said Sanchez.

Here’s his first explanation:

I was tired. I’d been working 14 hour days for like two and a half months. I was doing three shows, I was exhausted. It was right off the air. My daughter had a softball game I desperately wanted to go to and I was a little impatient.

He said the comments he made were “offensive.” “It was my mistake, I screwed up, I take full responsibility. It’s not CNN, it’s Rick Sanchez,” he said.

It took him about two minutes before he, unprovoked, picked up and said the name of his book, Conventional Idiocy (he did it one more time in the interview as well). Sanchez also brought up the lack of diversity on cable news, and pointed to that as a reason he was “feeling a little sensitive.” But he kept bringing it back to Jon Stewart – it would have been interesting to hear his response if Stephanopoulos changed the line of questioning to Sanchez’ own bosses at CNN, who he called out in the radio interview as well (and, most likely, let to his eventual firing).

Then, this happened: Sanchez asked Stephanopoulos, “How many feet and how many inches are there in 10 meters?” You probably know where this is going. Stephanopoulos said 330 feet. Sanchez said it was “11 or something.” (It’s 33.) Sanchez thought Stewart was making fun of him for the fact that he didn’t know how many feet were in a meter – but that misses the point. Sanchez asked his guest to tell him what meters were “in English.” And it was the way he said it. You can check that out here.

Also, there has to be some ironic punishment to the fact that Sanchez shared the GMA spotlight this morning withLou Dobbs.

Here’s the full interview – including Sanchez’ third-person-filled closing:

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In Rare CNN Interview, Christine O’Donnell Won’t Say Sarah Palin’s Qualified to be President

Every journalist knows that when a politician tells you to “call my people and set something up,” that’s usually a definite signal not to hold one’s breath. In a shocking exception to that rule, media-phobic Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell made good on such a promise to CNN’s Jim Acosta the very next day.

O’Donnell may yet regret that decision, however, because when Acosta asked her if Sarah Palin is qualified to be President, O’Donnell couldn’t bring herself to respond in the affirmative (cue angry email from Todd Palin). The rest of the interview wasn’t much better. (h/t TPC)

What was O’Donnell’s response to the Palin for President question? “Is she running for president? Again, hypothetical.”

Ouch! Any Palin-backed candidate who’s reading this, repeat after me: “Is Sarah Palin qualified to be President? You Betcha!”

Even if you don’t believe it, just mutter “President of poop!” under your breath. This ain’t rocket science creationism.

Acosta also asked O’Donnell if Palin gives her advice. Great shot at damage control, right? “She gives me ‘You go, girl’ advice.”

As The Political Carnival points out, O’Donnell doesn’t think much about much, although she does offer up the threat of a Hillary Clinton candidacy to scare President Obama off of a health care repeal veto.

It definitely could have been worse, though. O’Donnell’s megawatt charm certainly does shine through, and she manages to successfully recite some GOP boilerplate. She’s most successful at answering for the parade of Bill Maher clips that have been trotted out to embarrass her, speaking about her youthful enthusiasm for a “new-found faith,” and saying that she saw the show as a “ministry opportunity.”

O’Donnell may have a witch’s chance in Salem of winning that Senate seat, but her camera-ready persona could have her casting a spell on cable news audiences for years to come.

Here’s the full interview: (printed highlights here)


Village Voice: White People In America Have Gone Insane

Day was one awaited the Tuesday night delivery of early Village Voice copies with a certain amount of anticipation (or at the its classifieds…but the rest of the paper to some extent, also!). These days the Voice generally makes itself known in the media world through its excellent blog Runnin’ Scared or by way of plain old aggregation, which is how I came across last week’s cover story: “White America Has Lost Its Mind: The white brain, beset with worries, finally goes haywire in spectacular fashion.” Which is sort a spectacular title, it must be said and attempts to explain the current national mood. Behold.

About 12:01 on the afternoon of January 20, 2009, the white American mind began to unravel.

It had been a pretty good run up to that point. The brains of white folks had been humming along cogently for near on 400 years on this continent, with little sign that any serious trouble was brewing. White people, after all, had managed to invent a spiffy new form of self-government so that all white men (and, eventually, women) could have a say in how white people were taxed and governed. White minds had also nearly universally occupied just about every branch of that government and, for more than two centuries, had kept sole possession of the leadership of its executive branch (whose parsonage, after all, is called the White House).

But when that streak was broken—and, for the first time, a non-white president accepted the oath of office—white America rapidly began to lose its grip.

That’s the thesis, more or less. Here’s some, er, highlights:

  • Glenn Beck is one of the downright terrified, and has said that Obama has “a deep-seated hatred of white people or the white culture.” Which makes you wonder, has Beck really not seen Obama in his golf attire?”
  • “The reaction from white America, who clearly had not remembered to take their thorazine that morning, was overwhelming: Who, if not Laura Schlessinger, should say “nigger” with impunity?…Sarah Palin then rushed to Schlessinger’s, side, Tweeting in her inimitable style, “Don’t retreat . . . reload!” Palin, we can only assume, wanted Schlessinger to utter “nigger” as often as she wanted.Perhaps the two of them, having both quit their jobs, can get together and put on a road show, opening with “Zip Coon” and finishing with a rousing rendition of “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny”?”
  • “Is there any hope? Can the white mind be cured? And what—other than a massive lobotomy—can salvage it? It’s hard to imagine a cure when, at this point, the patient doesn’t seem to realize that he’s sick. Rush Limbaugh, for example, has declared that it’s black Americans who have a problem. The “black frame of mind is terrible” because of unemployment, and, equally important, because of “Tiger Woods’s choice of females,” he has said. What was that about a pot and a kettle?”

Indeed. If nothing else, no one can accuse the Voice of not having cojones. Read the full piece here.

Rachel Maddow Gets In Epic Battle With GOP Congressional Candidate Art Robinson

Art Robinson is the GOP candidate for Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District. Last night he bravely went on to The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss his background and some specifics of his campaign. Host Rachel Maddow calmly tried to get to know Robinson by asking specific questions about his previous writings, but was not very successful in getting past Robinson’s claims that the host was “smearing his reputation,” “throwing mud” and “sarcasm.” Oddly, this style of”opiniotainment” was really fun to watch.

The segment was initially set-up by Maddow with concerns that Robinson is benefiting from an anonymous campaign donor who has provided $150,000 to help his campaign. Right of the bat, Robinson got his back up in a way that seems almost like he decided to be incredibly combative before the interview even began. Either that, or he’s extremely thin-skinned about his previous writings. Or maybe he’s just a jerk.

To her great credit, Maddow never loses focus, nor patience, in her attempt to ask Robinson about some of his theories, both scientific and conspiratorial, but never really gets past Robinson’s rather aggressive push back. Perhaps the following rough transcript of the last bit of the interview best exemplifies the “discourse” evidenced in the interview (provided by MSNBC):

>> one of the things that happens in satellite is there’s about a 1 1/2-second delay between me asking a question and you hearing it. so you can interpret that as sarcasm and interruption, but it’s just the way the medium works. i’m sorry that’s been so awkward for you.

>> no, no. that’s not the speed of the delay. it’s the speed of light. it’s much less on that.

>> you asked one of me.

>> if every time i try to clarify what i’m asking or what you’re saying you’re going to call me sarcastic, then no. let me try to get an answer to an earlier question.

>> ask a question and i’ll answer it.
>> do you get the speed of light thing? not happening here. there was no editor, you weren’t taken out of context that aids was a government conspiracy, that it wasn’t real that the government wuss misclassifying –

>> i never, ever in my life made a statement like that. you are lying. i never made a statement like that. i know it. the statement you made is an outright lie.

>> quoting from mr. robinson’s newsletter.

>> look, look, it’s on the screen. only government reclassification of more and more disease types as aids cases has kept the number of victims at politically necessary levels. you wrote it, i’m quoting it. do you no longer believe it?

>> no, you –

>> madam, i’m not going to discuss — what happened to hermeses. 15 years ago in a large discussion of many thing, you go right ahead. i can’t even check your quotes and i don’t trust trust you.
>> they’re your own quotes, but if you want me to send you your own newsletter back issues, i will.

>> ma’am, no, no. why don’t you read everything that was written about it.

>> oh, my god, i read so much of your stuff i can’t even tell you. there’s a reason i look glazed over today. it’s reading your conspiracy theorys. sads a government conspiracy, radiation at low levels is good for you and public education should be abolished. i have enjoyed learning about you. i’ve learned a lot about your temperament and also some interesting theories about the speed of light. a man who denies that his own words are his own and then accuses me of lying about them, republican congressional candidate art robinson, thank you for joining us tonight.

Ms. Maddow has been lauded for her sanity here on Mediaite, and she’s long been pretty vocal about how eager she is about have a Republican on her show (though with mixed results.) So while the following clip was fun to watch, it’s still rather disappointing that when she finally gets a chance for a reasoned discussion with a GOP candidate, it serves only to exemplify the bitter divide we are currently living in.

This is what it sounds like when doves cry.