Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2014

Posts in "Flicks"

July 29, 2014

Mashup King Tortures Bill Murray With Droning Dick Cheney

Our condolences to involuntary time traveler Phil Connors, but political activist Diran Lyons has a rather rude awakening for you.

The “Groundhog Day Remix” is the latest viral vid bait to spring from Lyons’ news-saturated skull.

He told HOH inserting former Vice President Dick Cheney’s latest pronouncements about the war on terror into the nightmarish scenario was all about purging himself of mounting frustration.

“Cheney’s recent comments in the media about military spending, Syria and Iraq began to irritate me … I felt somewhat like Murray and the clock radio, constantly being subjected to views on foreign policy that I find disagreeable,” Lyons said. When he sat down last month to revisit the iconic flick — something he says he and his family do “at least once a year together” — the wheels started turning and, voila, another custom tailored clip was set in motion.

His most widely perused effort to date (940,000-plus views and counting) has to be the one wherein President Barack Obama choppily utters every last combative word of Jay-Z’s rap anthem, “99 Problems.”

Full story

Life on Sarah Palin’s Wavelength

After years of randomly popping up on cable news shows, conservative documentaries and in single-season series, one-time GOP vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin is ready to build a programming empire all her own.

The former governor of Alaska has teamed with digital media platform TAPP to launch the subscription-based Sarah Palin Channel. The SPC marks the second outing by TAPP, which waded into the online market this past March with the religiously themed “New Life TV with Steve Arterburn.”

“Together let’s live life vibrantly, purposefully and boldly,” the Alaska Republican implores viewers in her welcome video.

A TAPP aide told HOH that Palin’s new project has been in development for several months, and currently features a series of “sample” video clips — watch her frag President Barack Obama in response to a reader-submitted query regarding political leadership and weave a pro-energy independence pitch through commentary about Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The company has plans to court additional constituencies (a word cloud touts “fantasy sports,” “addictions” and “paranormal” content as viable contenders) in the future.

For $9.95 a month, or $99.95 per year, subscribers get all the current content — selected “behind the scenes” videos; the word of the day from Palin’s mother, Sally Heath; a real-time countdown until the end of Obama’s second term — plus the ability to comment and contribute to Palin’s planned infotainment portal.

There’s also a two-week, no-obligation trial period for those unsure about the self-styled news aggregator.

Those who register before Aug. 1 are promised two additional months of free viewing. Military personnel currently on active duty are encouraged to email SPC (proudlyserving@SarahPalinChannel.com) to receive free access to the evolving site.

Per TAPP, programmers are still working on the exact formula for populating the channel. “It will be 95 percent original content,” our contact said.

But they are leaving the door open to revisiting some of Palin’s greatest hits. Full story

July 28, 2014

The Bard Brings Schumers Back Together

Sen. Charles E. Schumer finally caught up with his comedian cousin, Amy Schumer, this past weekend at Shakespeare in the Park.

 

 

An aide said the New York Democrat just happened to bump into his rising star relative — Ms. Schumer has been nominated for an Emmy for the writing of her Comedy Central series “Inside Amy Schumer,” and is currently working on “Trainwreck,” the feature film she penned and which filmmaker Judd Apatow is directing — at the annual theater festival in New York’s Central Park.

Per Team Schumer, the boss did not know the stand-up comedian/actress and her Hollywood pals were also headed to “King Lear.” Full story

July 16, 2014

Joe Manchin Brings the ‘Hollow’ to D.C.

Wild and wonderful though it may be, West Virginia continues to wrestle with its fair share of challenges. Sen. Joe Manchin III wants to help shine a light on what life is like in the Mountain State by hosting a screening of “Hollow” (that’s “holler” to you and me, Russ), a cinematic labor of love released last year.

The “interactive documentary,” which continues to foster community building across the social media sphere, will be shown on July 22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center. Those interested in attending should RSVP to hollowevent@manchin.senate.gov.

Filmmaker and West Virginia native Elaine Sheldon McMillion is expected to participate in a discussion about her attempt at getting up close and personal with the community in economically depressed McDowell County.

Topical snippets — including a dizzying spin through a county fair — are available for viewing via Vimeo.

1 MINUTE IN APPALACHIA: County Fair from Hollow Interactive on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, McMillion has been urging social media users to collectively reminisce by flooding Instagram with pics tagged #hollerhome. Full story

July 11, 2014

Congress-edits Is Just the Latest to Keep Tabs on Pols’ Cyber Stumbles

Another day, another resource to expose the often clueless political operatives who foolishly tool around the Internet believing their subversive activities — be they illicit, shady or just plain dumb — will never come back to bite them in the arse.

It’s getting so that overzealous Hill staffers and campaign spin doctors can’t rewrite history without someone calling them out for flooding the online ether with lies, damned lies and, well, you know the rest.

Senate hopeful Mike McFadden, the Republican pick to challenge Minnesota Democrat Al Franken this fall, received a crash course in transparency after aides got caught tinkering with unflattering responses to a divisive TV spot. Full story

April 29, 2014

‘Compared to What’ Prompts Barney Frank to Look Back (and Forward)

Seeing one’s life unspool before you on the silver screen would undoubtedly make anybody take stock in whom they had surrounded themselves with, what all had been accomplished and perhaps what, if anything, there is left to do.

It certainly did for retired Rep. Barney Frank.

‘Compared to What’ Prompts Barney Frank to Look Back (and Forward)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The Massachusetts Democrat mentally ping-ponged through the space-time continuum while watching, “Compared to What,” a documentary about his political and private life that debuted this past weekend at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

In the movie, Frank credits the late Rep. Allard K. Lowenstein, D-N.Y., with motivating him to travel to Mississippi in 1963 to champion civil/voting rights, and is later shown wrestling with a decision to break the news about his sexuality to friend and mentor Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., D-Mass.

During a post-screening Q&A with co-executive producer Alec Baldwin, Frank revealed that he was, in fact, close to a number of lawmakers, both past and present.

The members he said he missed most include:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
  • Ex-Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif.
  • Former North Carolina Democrat-cum-Federal Housing Finance Agency Director  Melvin Watt
  • Ex-Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo.
  • Ex-Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, D-Calif.

He also expressed affection for Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine — an e-vangelist who, apparently, helped drag Frank into the 21st century.

A devotee of traditional newspapers — the voracious reader is seen devouring different sections of his beloved New York Times in just about every scene of the film during which he’s not being directly interviewed — Frank noted that he once borrowed a tablet from Pingree. That experience evidently gave him a new appreciation for the public fascination with e-readers.

“I’m going to get the Kindle,” he alerted the assembled film aficionados at Tribeca. Full story

April 28, 2014

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

NEW YORK — Flying directly in the face of confidence-draining legislative dysfunction and abysmally low congressional approval ratings, the few hundred Tribeca Film Festival fans who joined ex-Rep. Barney Frank for the emotional roller coaster ride of reliving his past came out on the other side laughing, cheering and feeling a whole helluva lot better about our elected officials.

In reality, the new documentary (“Compared to What”) surrounding the retired Massachusetts Democrat’s final year in Congress covers all the bases — the meteoric rise to power, career-threatening scandals and hard-won happy ending — of a soapy political drama.

Many of the folks who converged on the School of Visual Arts Theatre on Sunday here in Chelsea didn’t make the trip to gawk at the skeletons in Frank’s closet or revel in partisan warfare.

If anything, several attendees came searching for a glimpse into what makes the once and future comeback king of Capitol Hill tick.

“I want to know more about him,” Carmen Hendershott, a self-described liberal, said of her sudden interest in the retired pol. “I’m aware that Barney Frank is a stand-up, liberal politician. And I came here two hours early to get a seat.”

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The 40-year-plus resident of New York City hinted that she was “just getting into him,” but liked what she’d seen and heard so far.

“I think that in these times what people really want is to have hope,” Hendershott suggested. “Because things are so bad that if you find somebody who has integrity and who has stood up for things that needed to be defended, it makes you hope that perhaps others will. Or that perhaps the small things that you do can make a difference.”

“People still keep fighting. But, of course, with Citizens United you get Republicans burying any worthy candidate in a sea of money for the opponent. And you can’t have a democracy that way,” she argued, laying the blame for our alarmingly fractured political system squarely at the feet of the Supreme Court of the United States. Full story

April 27, 2014

Barney Frank Doc Fits Right In at Tribeca Film Festival

AMTRAK NORTHEAST REGIONAL, EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK — Spending an hour-and-a-half immersed in the minutiae of retired Rep. Barney Frank’s day-to-day existence may sound like an odd way to spend a Sunday. But it’s part of the peek-behind-the-political-curtain cinephiles have come to expect from the intellectually challenging Tribeca Film Festival.

Audiences will get their first taste of “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” later this afternoon.

CTW Trailer 2 mins from Pack Creek Productions on Vimeo.

An aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler picked the California Democrat’s brain as part of the process — told HOH his boss had seen an early cut of the flick and enjoyed the look back at her colleague’s illustrious career. Other House lawmakers and former congressional aides are very interested in seeing how Frank’s larger-than-life personality will come across on the big screen.

None of this, however, is particularly new to the Tribeca crowd.

TFF spokeswoman Tammie Rosen said the 13-year-old celebration of independent cinema has made a habit of welcoming those willing to get up close and personal with decision makers, as well as in-the-line-of-fire world leaders.

“We always have really buzzed-about docs that are political,” Rosen said of the festival’s rich history.

That tradition is alive and well this year, manifesting itself via hard looks at thought provoking subjects, including:

  • 1971“ — an examination of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI’s attempt at breaking into the top cop’s Media, Pa., HQ
  • All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” — reflections on the first woman to serve as governor of Texas
  • In Guns We Trust“ — a glimpse into mandatory firearms ownership in Kennesaw, Ga.
  • Of Many“ — Political scion (and mom-in-training) Chelsea Clinton showed off the religiously themed documentary she co-produced a handful of times during the festival. (The final showing is today at 2:30 p.m.)
  • Silenced“ — delving into the plight of whistleblowers in a post-9/11 world
  • True Son“ — chronicling aspiring pol Michael Tubbs’ run for city council in Stockton, Calif.
  • Use of Force“ — a “fully immersive documentary experience” that places viewers in the middle of the fatal confrontation (2010) between immigrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas and the U.S. border patrol

Rosen was unsure whether Frank was the first congressman to participate in a world premiere at TFF; she noted that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Rwandan President Paul Kagame added political power in previous years.

April 25, 2014

Colleagues Curious to See How Barney Frank Flick Plays Out

A couple of the folks who sat down to share memories of what it’s like to work alongside retired Rep. Barney Frank can’t wait to see how the Massachusetts Democrat will come across when his life story is screened this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“Compared to What,” which is scheduled to debut April 27 in New York City, follows Frank’s final year in office, but also reflects on the breadth of his decadeslong legislative career, as well as his personal life.

CTW Trailer 2 mins from Pack Creek Productions on Vimeo.

None of the lawmakers interviewed for the film — a roster that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.; Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; and ex.-Sen Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. — is currently scheduled to attend the debut, an oversight Frank said he totally understands.

“I am very respectful of their time,” the former pol told HOH, adding, “Members will hear about it, but I wouldn’t want to impose on them. “

Retired Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, who also participated in the film, told HOH that he is unable to make the trip. He noted, however, that he’s very interested in checking out the end product.

Oxley said he was interviewed by filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler over a year ago and that the documentarians focused mostly on the nitty gritty of the time the two lawmakers spent together leading the House Financial Services Committee.

“It was very much on the professional level,” he said of their line of questioning.

One thing Oxley said he hopes shines through is the good times they shared. To wit, he noted that he and Frank often enjoyed watching strange bedfellows emerge during the heat of a legislative tussle.

“I think we were talking about when I was chairman and we had [ex-Rep., now Sen.] Bernie Sanders and [retired Rep.] Ron Paul on the committee … and we had the far right and the far left meeting around the bend,” he said of unifying factors like personal privacy issues.

Per Oxley, those who only know Frank by his somewhat-prickly reputation might be surprised to learn the man was often quite diplomatic.

“I think a lot of people think Barney is a very partisan, outspoken guy. And he plays that role sometimes. But at the heart of him is a legislator,” Oxley asserted. “He was not one for flowery rhetoric or scoring political points.” Full story

April 9, 2014

Forthcoming Barney Frank Documentary Aims to Inspire

Documentarians Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler are still putting the finishing touches on “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” an unflinching look at the life and times of retired Rep. Barney Frank.

Forthcoming Barney Frank Documentary Aims to Inspire

(Courtesy Jim Ready)

The whole world will get a peek into the insights they’ve gleaned from the Massachusetts Democrat — and the handful of congressional colleagues who agreed to weigh in on his illustrious career — when the feature length project debuts April 27 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Canavan told HOH she first met Frank while working on the transition team for then-Boston Mayor Kevin White. As a lowly college student, Canavan recalled spending many long nights (she pulled graveyard shift duty) fielding constituent calls. Frank, who devoted his days to setting up the office of public service, would keep her company after work in order to keep his ear to the ground. Full story

March 18, 2014

John McCain’s Favorite Flick: Fargo

Sen. John McCain has rather dark taste in movies.

The Republican told a town hall meeting in his home state of Arizona on Tuesday that the 1996 Coen Brothers classic “Fargo,” which won multiple Academy Awards, is his favorite. McCain’s quip came in response to a question about the slow-moving approval process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“It’s still stalled in the Obama administration,” McCain said of the pipeline, before praising the economic boom in North Dakota as a result of energy production.

“Things that are happening in places like like North Dakota — do you know the unemployment rate in North Dakota today is less than 2 percent? They can’t get anybody to come up there and work, and I won’t go anywhere further with that,” McCain said. ”I happen to love North Dakota. My favorite movie is ‘Fargo’ … which was shot in Minnesota I understand, but anyway.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:57 p.m.
Flicks

February 5, 2014

Satirist Mines ‘Mean Girls’-GOP Connection

TV scriptwriter and social media maven Nina Bargiel is completely mystified by what our elected leaders are up to these days.

Satirist Mines ‘Mean Girls’ GOP Connection

(Courtesy Nina Bargiel)

Still, she’s hoping to crack the code by utilizing what appears to be a near universal translator for modern politics: “Mean Girls.”

Yep, the cult comedy about vindictive high schoolers that’s sparked thousands — nay, millions! — of BuzzFeed contributions continues to find new life in the battle to better comprehend the day-to-day lunacy that transpires on Capitol Hill.

Satirist Mines ‘Mean Girls’ GOP Connection

(Courtesy Nina Bargiel)

Bargiel — who said said she originally envisioned applying her love of language to speech-writing, only to be lured by the bright lights of Hollywood (she’s helped pen several hit kids’ shows including the Disney Channel’ s “Lizzie McGuire,” Nickelodeon’s “Romeo!” and Cartoon Network’s “Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”), launched her Mean GOP platform shortly after the new year.

Her fascination with our fractured government, however, has been a long time coming.

“I’ve become incredibly interested in politics since the George W. Bush presidency on,” she said of the psychosocial shock and awe she experienced during the previous decade. Full story

February 3, 2014

Milton Wolf’s Family Feud

Meet Senate hopeful Milton Wolf.

Milton Wolf’s Family Feud

(JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The tea party candidate hoping to knock off longstanding Kansas Republican Pat Roberts this fall is not only not at odds with the parties currently controlling Congress, he’s also at war with his own bloodline.

As Wolf explained to At the Races, the trained physician just happens to be a distant cousin of President Barack Obama.

The two are, admittedly, not all that close:

That’s a tough spot to be in.

And it’s not one that many others appear to be able to relate to.

Progressive problem solver Walter White is clearly stumped by Wolf’s antagonistic attitude: Full story

December 31, 2013

HOH Year in Review: It Takes a Village Edition

Keeping tabs on all the shenanigans our elected officials get into is what this column is all about. And, as you might have noticed, there’s more than enough ridiculousness to go around.

My former partner, Neda Semnani, was a wiz at ferreting out amazing tidbits about blundering pols and sex-starved government workers. And I manage to stumble into chuckle-worthy happenings every once in a while.

But, as we all learned from 80’s screwball comedies, the name of the game is teamwork.

Which is why I would like to lavish praise on all my hardworking CQRC colleagues for always keeping their radars up for bizarre political behavior.

Our entire newsroom helps make this little column shine.

Here’s just a sample of some of the whip-smart reporting I most enjoyed reading this year: Full story

November 1, 2013

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

New Documentary Puts Mark Hatfield Under a Microscope

Hatfield, right, is serenaded on his 73rd birthday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A trio of documentarians is working to ensure that the political legacy of the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon does not fade into obscurity, producing a feature-length retrospective on the compromise-embracing Republican, titled “The Gentleman of the Senate.”

Rick Dancer, one of the co-executive producers of “The Hatfield Project,” said his group has woven interviews with nearly six dozen people who worked with, and often alongside, Hatfield throughout his long-winding career into the roughly 150-minute film. The who’s who of Hatfield’s political pals includes: Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (he eulogized Hatfield on the Senate floor upon his passing in late 2011), ex-Rep. Elizabeth Furse, D-Ore., former Sens. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., and John Warner, R-Va., the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and President Bill Clinton.

Inouye, who toiled with Oregon’s longest-serving senator (30 years) on the Senate Appropriations Committee, revealed that he was so impressed by the then-chairman’s character, he crossed the aisle to contribute to Hatfield’s 1990 re-election campaign.

“He did not really believe in partisanship,” Inouye asserted.

To this day, Dancer says, left-leaning voters in hyper-liberal Portland continue to revere Hatfield’s penchant for putting sound policy above ideology. “They’ll say, ‘That’s the one Republican I voted for … because he stood on principle,’” Dancer said of the esteem in which Hatfield is still held back home.

All of which got Dancer et al. wondering: Could Hatfield make it in the modern political arena? Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:13 p.m.
Flicks, Nationwide, Sens

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