Jack Is Back

We all could use a little good news these days.  Here’s some exceptionally good news for me:  Jack Nicholson has decided to return to the big screen, after an absence of seven years (!), to star in a remake of the German film Toni Erdmann.

jack-nicholson-to-return-to-movies-toni-erdmannI haven’t seen Toni Erdmann — it hasn’t made its way to Columbus yet — but I’ve seen the previews and read about it.  Nicholson seems well-suited to playing the part of the daffy Dad who intrudes upon his daughter’s life.  But really . . . I think I’d watch Jack Nicholson in just about anything.  He’s been a huge personal favorite since I first saw him, way back when, in Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces.  And while he’s made some clinkers along the way, he’s been brilliant in so many movies — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chinatown, Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, A Few Good Men, About Schmidt, and the list goes on and on — I think he’s clearly the best actor of our time, and certainly one of the top five in history.  Hell, he even made Batman a lot more interesting.

Whenever somebody comes back to work after a long absence, you always wonder whether they’ll be at the top of their game, or whether they’ll be resting on their laurels.  With Nicholson, coming back after such a long absence, I don’t think that will be a problem.  He’s always good, and I suspect he’s want this film to really be special.

More Puppies

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Richard and Julianne are getting a new dog in the near future.  It’s a Lab that has been bred and recently gave birth to a litter of three puppies — who are now two weeks old — and the breeder sent us this photo of the pups.

It’s kind of shameless to post pictures of puppies, but I just can’t resist it.  Is there anything cuter than puppies?

Publishing Actors’ Ages

Let’s say you were concerned about age discrimination in Hollywood, where male stars seem to get roles no matter their age, while female actors — other than the peripatetic Meryl Streep — seem to have difficulty getting cast once they hit 45 or 50.  Would you:

(a) notify everyone in the film industry that you were assigning an extra investigator to specifically focus on enforcing existing laws against age discrimination in the industry;

(b) decide that current federal and state law wasn’t sufficient and therefore enact new legislation directly regulating age discrimination at the movie studios that make the films; or

(c) enact a law preventing internet sites, including specifically the IMDb website, from publishing actors’ ages and date of birth information.

Weirdly — or maybe not so weirdly — California chose option 3.  Yesterday a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the law, finding that “it’s difficult to imagine how AB 1687 could not violate the First Amendment” because it bars IMDb from publishing purely factual information on its website for public consumption.  And, the court found that although preventing age discrimination in Hollywood is “a compelling goal,” California did not show the new law is “necessary” to advance that goal.  The judge added:  “In fact, it’s not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all. And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal antidiscrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end. For example, although the government asserts generically that age discrimination continues in Hollywood despite the long-time presence of antidiscrimination laws, the government fails to explain why more vigorous enforcement of those laws would not be at least as effective at combatting age discrimination as removing birthdates from a single website.”  You can read the judge’s pointed, three-page ruling here.

This conclusion is not surprising to anyone who understands the First Amendment, and presumably didn’t come as a surprise to the lawyers trying to defend California’s law, either.  All of which begs the question of why California legislators enacted it in the first place — and that’s where the “maybe not so weirdly” comment from above comes in.  I’m sure the Hollywood community is, collectively, a big-time contributor to political campaigns on a California state level, just as it is on a national level.  If you were a politician who wanted to say that you had done something to address age discrimination in Hollywood, but without doing anything that might actually, adversely affect the rivers of cash flowing to your campaigns from the big studios, supporting a law that affects only an internet website that actors hate because it discloses how old they really are is a much safer bet.

It’s nice to know that we have federal judges who understand what the First Amendment means, even if California’s elected representatives are clueless.  And if those legislators are so concerned about age discrimination in Hollywood, maybe they’ll actually do something about it — rather than just taking steps to block speech they don’t like.