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Anthony Weiner Won’t Be Silenced As New Film Puts Politician Back In Spotlight

By David Kocieniewski and Henry Goldman, Bloomberg News (TNS)

NEW YORK — For a man who built a career on his ability to be combative on television and yell on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Anthony Weiner now lives a surprisingly placid life.

He consults for clients on federal regulations through his advisory firm, Woolf Weiner Associates. He’s trying to get funding for a charity project to train low-income residents of Far Rockaway, in Queens, N.Y., to get into the restaurant business. The main focus of his life is his 4-year-old son, Jordan, whom he takes to school and ice skating. He’s assumed responsibility for preparing dinner, unpacking and cooking the Blue Apron meals ordered by his wife, Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. Once a week, Weiner plays goaltender in a late-night hockey beer league.

“I’m totally cool with this pace,” he says. “I’m not doing much, and that’s fine.”

Yet even in this low-key mode, Weiner can’t avoid attracting attention. On Jan. 24, Weiner, a documentary chronicling the demise of the former Democratic congressman’s 2013 New York mayoral bid amid a sexting scandal — his second — will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Josh Kriegman, formerly Weiner’s district chief of staff, the movie has been acquired by IFC and Showtime, which are planning a theatrical release in the spring and a TV air date shortly before the presidential election. Clinton’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The film was the product of a deal Weiner cut with Kriegman: unfettered access to the former congressman’s mayoral campaign, including Abedin, in exchange for footage the candidate could use in campaign ads. The timing of its release, almost three years after it was filmed, threatens to draw unflattering attention to his wife as the presidential nominating contest takes off.

“Having a profile like Anthony’s, it’s a double-edged sword,” says Risa Heller, who, like Weiner, worked as a staffer for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. “You have to be able to handle his past, but he also had an incredible run in Congress. He’s a guy with boundless energy, big ideas, and a lot of smarts.”

Weiner’s latest brush with unwelcome publicity came in September, when he was dropped by MWW Group, a public-relations firm in New Jersey that had hired him to expand its New York presence. Weiner was pushed out in part because of his continuing activity on Twitter, the vehicle for his first sexting scandal in 2011. (That began after he posted a link to a photograph of his erect penis, concealed in a pair of boxer briefs, to his public feed rather than sending it via private direct message.)

After getting the MWW job, Weiner, who also appears as a political commentator on the New York local news channel NY1, posted tweets critical of former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican. A Republican MWW partner close to Pataki objected, Weiner says. The New York Post ran a story about the discord he was causing his new employer. MWW Chief Executive Officer Michael Kempner declined to comment on the circumstances of Weiner’s departure from the firm.

Asked why he doesn’t just quit social media, Weiner cites his rights as a citizen. “I have no choice but to not let it debilitate me,” he says, speaking of the scandal. “It also doesn’t make me care any less, or make me think that if I have something clever to say on Twitter I shouldn’t say it, or if I have an idea I shouldn’t espouse it, or if I have a company that needs my help I shouldn’t help, or if someone calls me for advice on how to run for office I shouldn’t sit down with him. I don’t know what my alternative is.”

©2016 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Interview With Anthony Weiner in Isham Park – 9/7/2013. Barry Solow via Flickr

 

Portrait Of The Actor: Sean Penn’s Scenes In Real Life (Remembered)

Sean Penn sat in front of me in history class, junior year at Santa Monica High School — the school rising on a hill with a quadrangle you see in Rebel Without a Cause.

He kept turning around to talk, the blue-eyed boy with all the questions. The younger, brown-eyed girl had all the answers — at least in history class.

At 16, the existentialist devilish streak was already a mile wide. I got to know him well, coming of age.

Still, it was passing strange to see an old friend — my bittersweet first movie date — huddled in the jungle with a Mexican drug lord and ruthless killer: Joaquin Guzman Loera. “El Chapo” for short.

Sean roiled the rules and waters of the worlds I live in — politics and journalism — by his derring-do in getting a huge scoop by highly unorthodox means. His rambling style raised alarms and establishment eyebrows, but Rolling Stone magazine was the perfect place for his rough-cut writing voice.

The White House expressed disapproval in the words of chief of staff Denis McDonough: officially “appalled.”

So what? The shocking interview is best seen a radical extension of Penn’s powerful empathy for outsiders, outlaws and the dispossessed. Good for him for visiting Baghdad after George W. Bush’s dogs of war shed blood on false grounds, and for aiding the Haitians, hit by a devastating earthquake.

Penn also conducted interviews with President Raul Castro in Cuba and several conversations with his late friend, Hugo Chavez, former president of Venezuela, when few others could or would.

An immensely gifted Academy Award-winning actor, Penn is always smoldering, crossing boundaries in his work and life. Often he writes his own script.

We got a good fix on each other in class and spent many hours together, on the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, in tennis team company, or at parties at my house. Ping-Pong and piano songs were part of the clean fun. Sean once showed up with two friends, Frank and Joe, in a convertible Rolls-Royce. (My father has not forgot the tracks he once left on our lawn.) It was never boring when Sean was around.

Looking back, we had good times (not fast times) at Santa Monica High, surprisingly innocent. Sean liked to make a splash — literally, as when he jumped in the pool on the way up to accept a “most improved player” award at a boys’ tennis team party. He was making up time, since surfing was his sport before he seriously picked up a racket. I remember he once watched one of my singles matches, start to finish, sitting behind a fence with sunglasses. Another time, he carried a “Peanuts” lunch pail around campus.

Back to the first day of class, when I met him. Sean dared to speak a line that produced a hung jury silence. He declared he liked “history, track and blacks” as we went round the room. The teacher, Paul Kerry, an African-American track champion, smiled broadly to cut the tension.

I noticed Sean didn’t speak the usual Malibu dialect or write poems about waves. He played a stoned surfer dude in his first movie role — that history class cut-up, Jeff Spicoli — but that was not the lad I knew.

The way he called up to invite me out departed from the norm: “What time shall I pick you up?”

“Oh, don’t you know? We’re going to the movies tonight.”

We went, but Sean was never my boyfriend. The good girl and the bad boy were well-matched as friends. He became a budding actor, going to “cattle call” auditions, and I’d gone east for college. We kept in touch. I got a letter saying he had not been in one place for more than five minutes in the last 24 hours. I wrote a one-act play about us: “Table for Two.” His ears got red as he read it, but we — or David and Rachel — were a hit. My diaries tell the tale.

After he became famous, he remained a breeze on the phone: “What are you doing right now?” He invited me over to meet his children and see some cuts of an upcoming movie. Just like the old days, he asked me questions — this time about politics.

I could have dreamt this. Stardusted Sean parted waters, crossing a restaurant by the beach. There I was dining with my beau, the author Michael Lewis. Sean walked over to give me a warm hug. That was sweet, and it made Michael jealous, way out of character.

Depend upon it: Sean’s true talent for making scenes in the moment goes on. And he was the first boy I loved, as the song goes, for that.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit Creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

Actor and activist Sean Penn, delivers a speech during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 5, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Sylvester Stallone Leads Night Of Surprises At Golden Globes

By Piya Sinha-Roy and Nichola Groom

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) – Sylvester Stallone received a standing ovation as he won his first Golden Globe on Sunday, leading a slew of surprise wins as host Ricky Gervais roasted the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Bill Cosby and Caitlyn Jenner.

Stallone, 69, won best supporting film actor for reprising his iconic role as boxer Rocky Balboa in Creed beating presumed frontrunner Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies.

“I want to thank the legendary producers who mortgaged their house to take a chance on a mumbling actor and give me the shot of a lifetime,” Stallone said.

“I want to thank my imaginary friend Rocky Balboa for being the best friend I ever had,” he added. The last time Stallone had been nominated at the Globes was 1977 for Rocky.

Matt Damon won best comedy film actor for space adventure The Martian, beating Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Al Pacino and Mark Ruffalo.

“I’ve made a lot of movies that people just didn’t go to see, so to make a movie that people just enjoyed this much … it really came down to (director) Ridley Scott,” Damon said.

Other surprise winners included British actress Kate Winslet for her supporting role in Steve Jobs, and the movie’s screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

“I thought I had as much chance of winning the screenplay award tonight as I had of winning best actress in a musical,” said Sorkin. Steve Jobs, about the late Apple co-founder, floundered at the box office last year despite winning early critical praise.

Giolden Globe organizers, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, chose Disney-Pixar’s feel-good movie Inside Out for best animated film, and Hungary’s Holocaust drama Son Of Saul as best foreign language film.

Gervais, returning to host the Globes for the fourth time, riled up the audience with an opening monologue in which he called the A-list audience “disgusting, pill-popping, sexual deviant scum.”

He praised Caitlyn Jenner for being a transgender role model before quickly quipping “She didn’t do a lot for women drivers. But you can’t have everything, can you?” referring to Jenner’s Malibu car crash last year.

And Gervais, swigging from a glass of beer, took a swipe at Lawrence’s essay on why women aren’t being equally paid as men in Hollywood, saying “How the hell can a 25-year-old live on $52 million?”

In the television categories, Jon Hamm won one last award for his role as the troubled womanizing Don Draper on the 1960s advertising drama Mad Men.

“Thank you to Mr. Weiner who wrote this horrible person all the way to the end and picked me to play him,” Hamm said, referring to show creator Matt Weiner.

But other TV awards went largely to newcomers, including Mozart in the Jungle for best TV comedy series and Mr.Robot for best TV drama.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Mary Milliken)

Cast members Sylvester Stallone (L) and Michael B. Jordan pose during the premiere of the film “Creed” in Los Angeles, California, in this November 19, 2015 file photo.  REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

How Fox News Plans To Use Michael Bay’s Benghazi Film To Sink Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Run

This post originally appeared on Media Matters.

“Breaking tonight. A Kelly File exclusive on the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton’s hopes for the White House.”

That’s how Megyn Kelly fired the first shot in Fox News’ campaign to use a Michael Bay movie on the Benghazi attacks to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency. After their much-hyped Benghazi select committee fizzled, they’ve now pinned their hopes on the director of The Rock.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opens in theaters January 15. Based on a 2014 book written by journalist Mitchell Zuckoff and five former CIA contractors who defended the diplomatic post and nearby CIA annex during the 2012 assault, the film aims to provide a dramatic eyewitness portrayal of the attacks and the heroism displayed that night.

Based on the 20 minutes Kelly spent on the film during her broadcast Monday night, Fox thinks it can be something more: a way to redeploy all the shoddy reporting and conspiracy-mongering they’ve pushed for the last three years as a weapon against Clinton’s campaign. Interviewing three of the former CIA contractors about the movie based on their book, Kelly sought to revive long-debunked myths about the Obama administration’s efforts to respond to the attack.

In the weeks to come, we can expect the network to devote significant time and attention to the “questions”supposedly raised by the film.

Tactic 1: Make The Movie About Hillary Clinton

Treating a Michael Bay film that focuses on the events on the ground during the September 11, 2012, attacks as if it’s a documentary with bearing on Hillary Clinton’s service as secretary of state doesn’t make a lot of sense. But that’s exactly what Kelly did Monday night.

“The film is introduced as a true story and reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton,” she explained.

Kelly links the film to Clinton by reintroducing the tired claims that the then-Secretary had falsely tied the attacks to an anti-Islam YouTube video that triggered massive anti-American protests across the Middle East in September 2012. As congressional investigations have found, initial intelligence suggested that the Benghazi attacks had grown out of protests against the video. The CIA later changed its assessment, finding based on video footage and FBI interviews that no protest had occurred outside of the Benghazi facility. As for the motives of the attackers, they reportedly “did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video,” and the assault’s alleged ringleader reportedly said that they were acting in “retaliation” for the video.

Of course, Kelly aired Clinton’s exclamation during her 2013 testimony, “The fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

Kelly clipped Clinton’s comment right before the former Secretary explained why she didn’t think that issue was essential: “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.” That’s no surprise: Fox has highlighted the comment in scores of segments over the years, frequently taking her out of context to suggest she didn’t care about the deaths of the four Americans killed that night.

Tactic 2: Lie About The “Stand-Down Order”

Much attention has been paid to a scene in the film’s trailer in which the CIA contractors seek to rush to the rescue of the diplomatic post when it came under fire, only to be halted by their CIA superior at the annex who tells them to “stand down.”

Kelly zeroed in on this scene during her interview, depicting it as contradicting the numerous congressional reports finding that the Obama administration did not issue a “stand-down order”:

KELLY: You can hear the radio calls of the State Department personnel saying, we’re going to die, we’re going to die, we’re going to die. The CIA station chief where you were at the time told you repeatedly, according to the movie, stand down. We saw that in the trailer. Used the words “stand down.” Is that how you remember it?

JOHN TIEGEN: Yeah, I mean, it was the chief of base, the deputy chief, and our team leader sitting on the front porch when he told me to stand down.

[…]

KELLY: The Congressional investigators concluded there was no stand down order.

KRIS PARONTO: I don’t know where they got that … That’s just silly. I mean, there was, for us —

KELLY: I mean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and others rely on those conclusions saying, you know, they’ve really been cleared because investigators concluded there was no stand down order.

There’s no other way to put it: Kelly is lying about the “stand down order.”

On the night of the attack, the CIA contractors sought to immediately respond to the attack on the diplomatic post. Their base chief asked them to wait for approximately 20 minutes as their CIA base chief attempted to contact a local Libyan militia for assistance and to develop a plan. The contractors disagreed — and obviously still disagree — with that order. This is not new information — the Associated Press reported on the disagreement in 2013.

That is not the “stand down order” that Fox News and right-wing politicians trumpeted for years, leading to numerous congressional investigations into the claim. Instead, the myth they latched onto was the idea that Clinton or President Obama had issued the “stand down order” as a deliberate decision to “sacrifice Americans” for political purposes.

Fox devoted scores of segments to this inflammatory claim. According to CIA personnel, the Pentagon, the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tripoli commander Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, nine other military officers, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee, it did not happen.

Kelly has to know this. But she wants to go after Clinton and the only way she can use the film to do that is by moving the goalposts on what the “stand down order” actually was.

Tactic 3: Lie About Help Sent To Benghazi

“If there’s one theme that emerges,” Kelly said of the film during her interview with the former contractors, “that is it, that they were left alone. There was no one to back you up. Throughout the film, you see heroes assuming, understanding based on their experience that the American military will be there to back them up and support them. And help never came.”

Kelly knows that the military deployed forces to Benghazi, but those troops did not arrive until long after the fighting was over. Kelly knows this because then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta detailed the special operations teams that were ordered to deploy that night from Spain, Croatia, and the United States during congressional testimony nearly four years ago. She knows this because the Pentagon timeline of the Benghazi attack, released in November 2012, says the same thing. She knows this because contemporaneous Defense emails detail the deployments. She knows this because the GOP-led House Armed Services Committee confirmed those orders and concluded that there were no “response alternatives that could have likely changed the outcome of the Benghazi attack.”

But Fox has devoted dozens of segments to the farcical claim that no help was sent, so in the name of the anti-Clinton campaign, Kelly is lying about it.

Originally published on Media Matters.