Monthly Archives: October 2006

“Atlas Shrugged” Movie: Whither will Randall Wallace Lead Us?

After I wrote my post about Angelina Jolie being cast in “Atlas Shrugged”, Variety reported that Randall Wallace, writer of “Braveheart” and “Pearl Harbor”, and writer-director of “Man in the Iron Mask” and “We Were Soldiers”, will write and direct “Atlas Shrugged”.

I am only familiar with “Braveheart”, which was decent, and heroic, if somewhat convoluted and ultimately conveying a tragic/malevolent-universe view. I have also heard that “Man in the Iron Mask” was worthwhile. But “Pearl Harbor” was considered mediocre and historically inaccurate by most critics and people I know who saw it. Because of the less than ideal “Braveheart” and the fact that Wallace majored in religion at Duke University, I am less enthusiastic about him than I was about James V.Hart as the screenwriter. For example, I suspect that all of the explicitly atheisticandanti-religionideas willbe removed from the story.

However, James V.Hart is still listed on under “Atlas Shrugged” as one of the writers along with Wallace, so perhaps they are collaborating, which may help the overall script quality and faithfulness to the novel.

The good news is that Wallace is as Hollywood “establishment” as they come, moresuccessfulthan Hart, and with Angelina Jolie automatically makes “Atlas Shrugged” seen as a major motion picture with great box office expectations (by those people who don’t already know how commercial the story is even without famous names attached). The two of them also assurea huge amount of publicity. Wallace’s association with the currently friendless Mel Gibson in two films, and with the highly successful but critically berated “Pearl Harbor”, may bring negative publicity, but publicity the movie will get.

Interestingly, Jon Voight, Angelina’s father, played President Roosevelt in “Pearl Harbor”.

P.S. I just found this quote from co-executive producerKaren Baldwin saying “Atlas Shrugged” may not be a trilogy, and that Randall Wallace washired to revise the screenplay,but may not be the director:

“We’ve hired Randall Wallace (“Braveheart,” “We Were Soldiers”), and he’s going to revise the script, so we’re letting Randy and his writing determine how many movies there will be…Ideally we’d like to have the script so we could be in preproduction in the spring.” She added that a director won’t beconfirmed for the Lionsgate project until the script is complete.

I dislike thepremise that the decision on one versus three filmsis at the mercy of Randall Wallace’s desires. This means the producers are giving Wallace the power to make decisions the producers should be making. Clearly a single film is not going to be adequate to convey even a tiny percentage of the story. I think Wallace’s clout will cloud the minds of the producers.

If Wallace wants a bigger payday he will want to write three screenplays, so there is the hope thatwill be an incentive towards a trilogy.

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The World According To The Taliban

Shortly after September 11, 2001, I attended a concert by the prolific and accomplished songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson. He was long ago a major component of the Englishfolk rockband Fairport Convention, along with the late Sandy Denny (“Who Knows Where The Time Goes” is their most famous song). He wrote “Crazy Man Michael” and “Farewell, Farewell”, among others, for Fairport Convention. After leaving the band, his songs included “Valerie”, “Persuasion”and “I Misunderstood” and he recently released a mini-survey of the last 1000 years of popular music on CD and DVD.

At the concert, I was still shell-shocked and wondering if, after buying a home in New Jersey the previous month, I should sell it and buy another one much farther away from New York,so that I could survive anyfutureattacks onNew York Cityby Islamic Fundamentalists (I stillam consideringthat move, but for now we are staying).

During the concert, Richard Thompson introduced a song with comments of sympathy for what we in the area have been going through, and said he had recently written the songtoshowthe Taliban’s view of the world. I found the song to accurately encapsulate the frightening-to-ponder attitude of anti-Westerndeath worshippers such as the Taliban. I wasmoved by the performance asit was the first satire I had heard and it was an emotional relief tocontemplatethe evil we facevia satiricaljabs for the first time. It shows the mystic’sfeelings-based rather than reality-and-reason-based philosophy as experienced psychologically by a Taliban. I understand that Thompsonconsiders himself aMuslim, but obviously he doesn’t take the fundamentalist view.

Here are some of the lyrics to that song, which eventually appeared as “Outside of the Inside” on his CD entitled “The Old Kit Bag” in 2003.

A fewlyrics from “Outside of the Inside” by Richard Thompson:

“…what’s the point of Albert Einstein

What do we need Physics for? …

Shakespeare, Isaac Newton

Small ideas for little boys

Adding to the senseless chatter

Adding to the background noise

Hard to hear my oratory

Hard to hear my inner voice

Van Gogh, Botticelli

Scraping paint onto a board

Colour is the fuel of madness

That’s no way to praise the Lord

Grey’s the colour of the pious

Knelt upon the misericord.

There’s a message on the wind

Calling me to glory somewhere”

(To contact Zigory please email me at )

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The Zigory Show will make you hungry!

Onmy latest edition of TheZigory Show, I interview Michelle Steffens, who has been a chef at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Bolo restaurants in New York, and who operates her own catering business in New York and New Jersey. She talks about the business and pleasure of food, with anecdotes from her career, and tips on making your own dishes more flavorful.

You may listen to this podcast at now!

Thanks for listening!

(To contact Zigory please email me at

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