“She was such a character, just marvelous. She came to me one day and said, ‘What’ll I do?—[studio head Harry] Cohn’s making passes at me.’ I said, ‘Do you want to really fix it?’ She said, ‘Yes,’ so we planned out something: I was in Cohn’s office talking with him, having a very serious discussion, and she just busted through the door and said, ‘I’ve decided to say "Yes,"’ and she began as though she were going to remove her clothes. And he said, ‘Now, wait a minute!’ She said, ‘I thought you—’ and I said, ‘I better get out of here if this is the kind of studio you run.’ And he said, ‘Now, wait a minute, don’t go!’ She said, ‘Well, make up your mind,’ and he said, ‘Just get out of here!’ And she said, ‘All right,’ and never had any more trouble with him after that.”—Howard Hawks on Carole Lombard, as quoted by Peter Bogdanovich in Who the Devil Made It
So, uh, what exactly was this? I can’t control what people think this was: I can only tell you my intentions.
This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear—they are, and we do.
But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus, and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.
The country’s 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult—not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker—and, perhaps, eczema. And yet… I feel good. Strangely, calmly, good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us, through a funhouse mirror—and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist, and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead, and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin, and one eyeball.
So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable—why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?
We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don’t is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!
But Americans don’t live here, or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done—not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.
Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.
(Points to video screen, showing video of cars in traffic.) Look on the screen. This is where we are, this is who we are. These cars. That’s a schoolteacher who probably think his taxes are too high, he’s going to work. There’s another car, a woman with two small kids, can’t really think about anything else right now… A lady’s in the NRA, loves Oprah. There’s another car, an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter; another car, a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan.
But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief, and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers’. And yet, these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze, one by one, into a mile-long, 30-foot-wide tunnel, carved underneath a mighty river.
And they do it, concession by concession: you go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. ‘Oh my God—is that an NRA sticker on your car?’ ‘Is that an Obama sticker on your car?’ It’s okay—you go, then I go.
And sure, at some point, there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder, and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare, and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst!
Because we know, instinctively, as a people, that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is there will always be darkness, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land.
Sometimes, it’s just New Jersey.
”—JON STEWART, closing out the Rally to Restore Sanity. (via inothernews)
Even when completely awake, his manner is mild to the point of being apologetic. An amiable, quietspoken giant (6 feet 4) of 30, Eastwood likes to describe himself as “dull but happy.” He has been married for the past seven years to model Maggie Johnson, lives in a San Fernando Valley ranch house, spends most of his time prancing about in the surf at the beach or sitting home listening to his homemade hi-fi set.
A gentle soul, Eastwood is the kind of man who carefully picks struggling bees or grasshoppers from the surface of a swimming pool and returns them to their own element. “I always feel,” he says a little defensively, “that they were put here for some purpose and it’s not my business to let them drown.”
”—TV Guide on Clint Eastwood (Local Programs Feb. 4-10, 1961)
The NBC executives greeted O’Brien and Ross formally and stiffly—there was no call for a bogus show of warmth. Gaspin got right to the point—they faced a crisis with the affiliates. NBC’s biannual Press Tour meeting with reporters was around the corner. Something had to be done. So he had come up with this plan: a half-hour of Jay at 11:35 followed by The Tonight Show. “I don’t want to choose between you,” Gaspin explained. Once again he referred to his refusal to make a “Sophie’s choice” out of the situation.
Conan remained calm, totally professional, which impressed both Gaspin and Graboff. Inside he was churning, but part of him was struck by how surreal, farcical almost, the moment felt: Sophie’s choice?
Still keeping his eyes averted, Conan responded, “I completely understand the difficult position you’re in,” but began to lay out his case. It included the commitment that had been made to him in 2004 that Jay would step down and he would inherit The Tonight Show, as well as a rundown on the money he had forsaken by spurning Fox and ABC. If someone had told you six years ago what he was going to do, and you based all your actions on that promise, and then he turned around and reneged on that promise … He had sacrificed a lot of money. He didn’t want to go to the competition; he wanted to be loyal to NBC.
“I get it,” Gaspin said. “It’s not perfect. I’m offering you both half of what you want.” He added, “This has been an unfair situation for both of you.”
But Conan was seeing no equivalency on the fairness meter. Leno had hosted The Tonight Show for 17 years. He had handed it over and immediately shifted to 10 o’clock, voluntarily. How, Conan asked himself, could any of this be construed as unfair to Jay?
“I know how hard I worked for this,” Conan told the NBC executives. “It was promised to me. I had a shitty lead-in.” His tone was soft, but the words were clipped. Graboff knew this was Conan in the raw, speaking from the heart.
Conan asked if Lorne knew; how about Jimmy Fallon? Gaspin said he had spoken to both of them already. He then urged Conan to give the idea some time, take it in, think about it.
Conan listened to Gaspin, still with a faraway look in his eye. Finally he did have something he really wanted to say, something that was all but burning a hole in his chest. “What does Jay have on you?” Conan asked, his voice still low, his tone still even. “What does this guy have on you people? What the hell is it about Jay?”
Neither of the NBC executives had an answer and cast their heads down. Conan thought they were working at looking sympathetic, following some lesson that had been taught at corporate school.