The Oscars

Something is seriously wrong if the dog from The Artist doesn’t go home with an Oscar and a big box of dog treats

Update: No sign of the dog so far. I hope Mitt Romney didn’t tie him to the top of his car.

Update II: The dog was shown in the audience. I’m glad Romney didn’t get to him.

Update III: There have been a lot of Oscars going to the French tonight. The Republicans will probably go ballistic over this

Separation of Church and State Makes Rick Santorum Vomit

Rick Santorum attacked the views of John F. Kennedy regarding separation of church and state today. Without realizing it, he was also attacking the views of many of the Founding Fathers, as well as the views of Ronald Reagan. Last year Santorum had said, “Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.” Kennedy had said:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Santorum defended his remarks on This Week:

Santorum defended his remarks, telling Stephanopoulos that “the first line, first substantive line in the speech, says, ‘I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.’”

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” Santorum said. “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

He went on to note that the First Amendment “says the free exercise of religion — that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.”

“Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, ‘No, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech. ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent at the time of 1960.”

Later in the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Santorum, “You think you wanted to throw up?”

“Well, yes, absolutely,” Santorum replied. “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”

Santorum’s claim that separation of church and state means that people of faith are not allowed in the public square is false, and certainly is not what John Kennedy had said.

John Kennedy’s view on the separation of church and state corresponds with the view of the Founding Fathers who created a secular republic, realizing that this is the best way to protect freedom of religion. Santorum’s views are also counter to the views expressed by Ronald Reagan in a speech at Temple Hillel on October 24, 1984 (emphasis mine):

We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.

This is just one example of why Ronald Reagan would no longer be welcome in a Republican Party which has moved to the extreme right. Maureen Dowd wrote about the GOP–Ghastly Outdated Party in yesterday’s column, quoting one of many Republican strategists who fear that the Republicans are becoming out of touch:  “Republicans being against sex is not good,” the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. “Sex is popular.”

SciFi Weekend: Secrets of Fringe and Alcatraz; The Economics of Building The Death Star; Community, Inspector Spacetime and The Game of Thrones Returning; Nude Shots of Kate Middleton on Californication?

The last two episodes of Fringe have included major advances to the plot in the alternative time line as Olivia began having memories from the Olivia of the original time line, we encountered the Nina from the universe, and Peter entered the mind of an Observer. The big revelation was that problems were caused by Peter having a child with Altlivia instead of Olivia. Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman were interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter last week, and Collider has a more recent interview:

Was the Observer intel something you’ve been wanting to reveal for awhile now?

WYMAN: Well, we always said that you’d find out about the Observers this season, and that we’re going to investigate them a lot more. So, we’re excited about it all because the Observers are a highlight. For us to constantly break what you think you know, and re-set and have viewers go, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” that’s why we get up in the morning. It’s to take people on the ride. We’re excited about what’s coming up, too.

This season, there have been some really great singular cases and stand-alone episodes, but “The End of All Things” was mythology heavy and really speaks to the larger arc this season. How will that effect what viewers see in the final stretch this season?

PINKNER: Well, it’s definitely a game-changer, in that our characters learn a lot more, and the audience is going to learn a lot more, about the uber-plot of our season bad guy, David Robert Jones (Jared Harris). For Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Walter (John Noble), it’s going to start to unfold in ways that, hopefully, will be both really satisfying and challenging to our characters. It’s the 14th episode out of 22, and it’s very much a hinge episode that’s going to launch us into the back half portion of the season.

Do you already know what the final episode for this season will be?

PINKNER: No, we have not written the finale, but we do know what it is. We’ve known the shape of our season before we even started this year.

WYMAN: Fortunately, at the end of every season, we close the chapter and start anew. That’s the language of the series now, so it can organically come to a conclusion that we love.

How soon is it going to become evident what David Robert Jones’ (Jared Harris) uber-plan is, specifically, and how Olivia fits into it?

WYMAN: We can’t say anything, but just remember that, on Fringe, nothing is as it seems. There’s always a little more to the story behind the story. He’s definitely a large part, going forward. A lot of things will come full circle.


PINKNER: We’re well aware of how intelligent our audience is. We’re well aware that Fringe is a show that you really need to lean forward into and pay attention to and think about. It’s not designed to be a show that you can watch while you’re folding laundry. So, we’re well aware of the questions that our audience is inevitably going to ask. We’re well aware of how carefully they watch the show and hold us to continuity. We’re certainly aware of the debates that are going to occur. Our audience holds us to an incredibly high standard of continuity and emotional authenticity. We don’t toy with that, but oftentimes we write stories, in order to spark debate. We’re very determined to always give the answer. We don’t want to leave a lot of things open to debate, at the end of the day.

Episodes of Alcatraz have a formula in which a different prisoner from Alcatraz shows up in the present and must be apprehended every week. Some of the prison staff has also been seen in the present, but very little has been revealed as to what is really going on. Whether the show is successful as a genre show as opposed to a crime show with a twist will depend upon how the mythology of the show is developed. With cancellation of the series a strong possibility after this season, I have feared that we might be kept hanging without real answers. In an interview with TV Guide, executive producers Jennifer Johnson and Dan Pyne indicate that we will receive answers by the end of this season:

Is there a particular reason why Alcatraz prison became the focus point of the disappearance?
Yeah. There are theories that our characters have. We’ll talk about what those theories are by the end of the season, but they may not be the real ones. We’ll understand what Hauser thinks about it and what his think-tank thinks about it, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. We may meet a character by the end of the season who does know that specific answer, who probably has a lot more answers than any of the characters we’ve met so far.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: How many ’63s are working with Hauser?

Will we learn who the powers that be are and what their motives are this season? Or is that a series arc?
Well, it’s a little of both. I think by the end of [Episode] 13 we’ll have an understanding of who that might be.
That’s the character that we were referring to. He might be part of the powers that be.
Pyne: But definitely by the end of the season there will be more of a sense of the game that’s afoot. We won’t be coy about it and keep holding back. There will be a better sense of what’s going on. We may not understand what the endgame is, but at least the players will become a little bit clearer.
It’s complicated because they don’t all have the same goals, which we’re going to hit upon before the end of the season. There’s almost a secret war happening between the ’63s, too. That all interplays with what their relationships were in the past when they were imprisoned or working on Alcatraz.

Is there a reason why some of the ’63s have gone against mission?
Johnson: We won’t say definitively, but we’ll give people the tools to have pretty informed theories about it.

What’s with the fascination with the number three — three keys, three bank robberies and three days of sniper shootings are just some of the few?
There may be more than one number clue.
Forty-seven is an important number, too. But we like three for its stability and the idea that it’s a triangle. We talk about triangles a lot and relationships that have three angles in them.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: Who is Lucy, really?

Lucy had mentioned in the past that she was going to fix the prisoners with memory-altering experiments. Did she end up being a puzzle piece in the overall mystery of how the ’63s disappeared?
She definitely is a puzzle piece, yes. We may not stick with this forever, but right now, everything that’s happened in the past has happened chronologically in 1960. So, there’s still three years left before the jump. Clearly, allegiances change. Stuff happens in those three years between the time when Lucy comes to prison to start her experiments and 1963 when she obviously disappeared along with everybody else. Certainly, she has some answers to what might have gone on, but she also may not even understand. She didn’t understand at the time what was going on. It may be just now looking back at it that she can start to unravel what she saw.
Yeah, helping the team unravel by knowing the psychology of the inmates. But the Warden (Jonny Coyne) is very Machiavellian. He does not want the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. So, he may utilize different players for their different challenges. But part of his M.O. is not to let any one person know too much of what is going on.

Diego mentioned in the pilot that the Warden had died many years ago. Did he really or is he part of the missing ’63s?
It’s possible.

Will we discover how Lucy came to work with Hauser in the future and see more of their relationship in the past?
Yes. Definitely, 100 percent.
Their love story is one of the great triangles of Alcatraz.
It’s kind of the love triangle between Hauser, Lucy, and the jump itself.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: Why is Tommy Madsen so important?

Will we find out what Dr. Beauregard (Leon Rippy) was doing behind closed doors at Alcatraz?
You may find out soon, in the next couple episodes. Then once you find out, you may be totally wrong, but you will see some of what he’s up to. He’s a little bit jealous of Lucy’s elevation to the prize poodle on Alcatraz, so he gets up to some hijinks that he maybe shouldn’t.

What can you tell us about the downstairs door that needs to be opened with three keys?
That we’re going to open it before the end of the season. We’ll understand by the end of the season what’s behind that door, at least one layer of it. It was very important to the Warden. There may only be one person that he shares that secret with.

We learned Diego was kidnapped at age 11. Will that come back into play?
That’s his deep, deep back story and a lot of what motivated his fascination with Alcatraz and with comic books. We won’t necessarily go there before the end of the season, but that is part of who he is as a character and why he became part of this team.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: Hauser and Lucy’s past revealed

Once Rebecca does finally come face-to-face with Tommy, will she be able to let bygones be bygones and realize that he is still her family?
We know the answer to that, but I don’t think we can tell you.

What can you tell us about what is in store for her?
She begins to get a little bit more focused on solving the mystery of what happened to her partner and delving into that day and why he was there. It slowly leads her to some revelations about her partner about the larger mystery of Alcatraz and also about Tommy Madsen.
And what everybody is doing here present day. They discover that there are different factions of ’63s here in present day San Francisco and beyond.

Sarah Jones, who plays Detective Rebecca Madsen, also indicated that there will be pay off for the fans in the last two episodes in an interview with Collider.

Last week the political blogosphere debated whether the Death Star was worth building. Kevin Drum looked at the economics and found that it was a surprisingly cost-effective weapon. A post at Enik Rising argued that it was a bad investment, even if affordable. I bet that such debates prior to the building of the Death Star didn’t take Luke Skywalker into consideration.

Community returns on March 15. There will also be a web series of Inspector Spacetime, a British time travel show which began in 1992 according to Community. Geeks of Doom has more information:

Inspector Spacetime, the Doctor Who-spoofing character whose cheeky sci-fi exploits are vastly enjoyed by Community characters Abed (Danny Pudi) and Troy (Donald Glover), will soon be seen in his very own web series, but don’t expect to see any cameos from certain Greendale Community College students. Travis Richey, the Inspector himself, is producing the six-episode series independently.

You can expect to see the Inspector and his trusty sidekick Constable Reginald battle their arch-nemesis Boyish the Extraordinary and take on the Blorgons of Second New Old Earth 7 with the aid of the Inspector’s “optic pocketknife.”

Richey wrote to io9 to further clarify his intentions for the web series:

“Dan Harmon, Community, NBC and Sony have nothing to do with this web series. I pitched it to them after my first episode of Community, but never heard back from them one way or another. So I’m going to do it myself, with the help of fans. I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign in a matter of hours for an equipment budget, and the complete story can be read there.”

The Game of Thrones returns on April 1 (preview above).

The BBC made a pilot for a series loosely based upon Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels in 2010. A three episode series begins on BBC 4 on March 5.

Emilie de Ravin of Lost, who also appears in Once Upon A Time as Belle this season, c0-stars in a pilot for ABC:

Lost alumna Emilie de Ravin is set to co-star in another ABC drama series project,  pilot Americana, a soap about a famous fashion industry clan. It centers on iconic fashion designer Robert Soulter (Anthony LaPaglia), the patriarch of a sprawling family who just welcomed a new member, a young designer whose shocking arrival turns the family and the legendary label inside out. De Ravin, repped by Gersh and manager Darren Goldberg, will play Robert’s chic and outgoing daughter Francesca who is the head of events at Americana but Robert doesn’t consider her a candidate for the heir to his empire, which may have treacherous consequences. Michael Seitzman wrote the script, with Phillip Noyce, who helmed the pilot for ABC’s Revenge last year, directing.

Camilla Luddington, who played Kate Middleton in the Lifetime movie William & Kate, has more recently had a role in Californication. In last week’s episode she was repeatedly seen naked in scenes ranging from swimming in the nude to getting caught by Charlie Runkle while getting out of the shower. In is safe to assume this is the closest we will ever get to seeing any version of Kate Middleton nude on television. Pictures are under the fold if you are seeing this on the main web page (double click on the pictures for larger versions).