Monday, December 1, 2008
Personal Asides: To Steve A Modest Proposal that May Save the Sun-Times. Who Knows? Both City Newspapers.
A very personal aside to Steve, the creator of the excellent Common Cents blog: Sure, link my website up. You know how to do it? I dont as Im still a novice at this stuff.
A Modest Proposal.
For decades now, the culture sage Michael Medved has been sharing with us certain bitter truths about Hollywood and one of them, surprisingly, is this: a host of examples show tinsel-town that America wants wholesome entertainment not saccharine stuff but entertainment that can give them a particle of hope. But Hollywood steadfastly refuses to package these shows not because they would be economic failures but because the film colony itself is so damnably cross-eyed that it is unable to see straight because it concentrates on a prism of abhorrent scripts hate America scripts, if you please gruesome, sadistic dark films of perversion and hatred...which generally either fail at the box-office or are keen disappointments to their investors.
I have just read an interview with Joe Eszterhas, a gifted screenwriter who has turned away from this Hollywood aura and wants to make wholesome, ethically redemptive filmsnot candy-coated ones. He thinks in fact KNOWS there is money to be made here: he cites Rocky The Passion of the Christ and Narnia. Dont get me wrong, Joe Eszterhas has spent a long time getting here and has made some turkeys in his earlier incarnationwhich included editorship of Rolling Stone and a stint as Hollywoods top paid screenwriter who ground out scripts filled with sex and violence. He says exactly what Medved has said: the Hollywood community is so screwed up it is passing up prospects of hugely successful enterprises because it is so inured with well sin. Consequently he says the town is consumed with remakes of Batman. He sees great film possibilities in the works of Thomas Merton and Graham Green.
If Eszterhas is right, the errant philosophy of Hollywood is responsible the perverted idea that objective truth is not discoverable. Well, last night before my radio show I attended Mass at Old St. Patricks and witnessed the christening of Jay Dohertys third child, Ignatius James (named after the late Father Mac, Ignatius McDermott). There and later at a reception for the family at Gibsons I saw Michael Cooke, the editor of the Sun-Times whom I have assailed from time to time here. I dont regret assailing any journalist, by the way, since that trade having belonged to it myself is replete with injurious remarks. In fact they OUGHT to be on the receiving end. In the past there was a publication called The Chicago Journalism Review which dished out criticism. It doesnt exist and hasnt for many years. So all by myself I try to make up for it.
But I digress. I was looking at Michael from across the room` (we conscientiously try to avoid each other and somehow yesterday didnt quite make it). Hes one whom I fancy is a pretty nice guy despite everything. Standing there studying Cooke, I applied Eszterhas theory to the Sun-Times. Both city newspapers have resolved to save their skins by appealing to very base valuesthe Sun-Times more than the Trib. Suppose, I thought, Cooke would undertake an entirely new tack a last-gasp effort to save his newspaper. What would he do? He would resolve to clean it up. He has some remarkably prescient journalists--outstanding daily reporters like Fran Spielman and Abdon Pallasch. (Believe it or not I have never met Fran Spielman never in my life but I deeply admire her City Hall coverage and her punchy style).
Okay, what would Michael do? He would get rid of most of the snarky, grubby columnists aside from Sneed and Huntley one by one and slowly replace them with conservative onesor at the very least, center-right ones. That means Mark Brown who writes poorly anyhow and has no insights to offer except lefty visceral ones. It most certainly means getting rid of Neil Steinberg who tirelessly reminds everyone he is a Jew and who insults center-right ideas and the Catholic church on a fairly regular basis. Then dump Mary Mitchell who has a sharp axe to hone against whitey.
Roeper who is pretty long in the tooth to keep playing the swinging bachelor. Jesse Jackson, of course, who is an ancient old-line black hangover representing contrition by the paper for having exposed some of his extortive machinations who has utterly nothing to offer but lefty boilerplate. Andy Greeley decidedly. Im glad Andy is on the mend but really his pathetic masquerade in clerical garb that scantily covers his abject Democratic partisanship is ridiculous: he is a lifelong exemplar of frustrated ambition to be a bishop so hes taking it out on the church the funny thing is that he would probably have been a very orthodox one. He was on that track with the man called the Dutchman, Cardinal Albert Meyer but Cody came in and scotched it. Greeley got even with Cody in a grisly way: having scouted up supposed rumor he contributed greatly to the old man dropping dead which is on Andys conscience correction: SHOULD BE. Not having made bishop he has vowed to stick it to the church. As he does regularly.
First to go would be Falsanito be replaced by one who has the semblance of a theological education to replace a school-girl with a God-squad mentality. Ill stop here.
See, if Michael would do that as a final shot it just may be that he saves what is now a rag. No, I dont want to come back as an Op Ed. I have the distinction of having been fired twice by both papers and rehired then fired finally by the Sun-Times. Now as an octogenarian, husband, father of four adults, grandfather of 13, Im having enough fun to last me to my final days with this website, WLS and The Observer, chairman of the City Club and of Catholic Citizens of Illinois.
What would I do to replace these discards? Id take Spielman out of city hall and give her a column which she should have made aeons ago. Mary Mitchell would be replaced by one who is not filled with rage a black who would concentrate on reporting from the fecundity of black churches and black business and black ideas without saying I-I-I. Brown would not be missed so nobody should even try to fill his shoes. Replacing Roeper would be a super-straight, Christian youngish businessman type: hows that? Greeley should be supplanted by Fr. Bob Barron, smarter than hackish ol Andy will ever be.
Oh yes, get rid of the sluttish column dealing with sex. You know who I mean. I cannot bear to publish her name. There: thats for a start.
Ill bet that with that jolt, Michael will be surprised stunned to see a pickup much like hospital attendants supply when they place the clappers on one whose heart has flagged.