Friday, July 13, 2007

Hollywood gets religion (like a punch line)

Larry wants to be like Mike

I heard a film producer on the news yesterday talking about the grumbling among documentary filmmakers against Michael Moore. They want the Academy to create a new category to better fit the type of entertainment he actually makes.

A lot of documentary makers see Moore splice interviews and edit out of context and wonder why they're not allowed to do the same thing, said the man whose name escapes me because I hadn't considered blogging him at the time.

But today Lionsgate announced a distribution deal for the new Bill Maher/Larry Charles documentary on religion. And ladies and gentlemen, if you thought Moore's bastardization of the genre was egregious, just wait until Maher's rabid, illogical, self-important hatchet job debuts on too many screens than its actual audience will justify.

From the press release:
"The documentary follows Maher as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion. Known for his astute analytical skills, irreverent wit and commitment to never pulling a punch, Maher brings his characteristic honesty to an unusual spiritual journey. The film will mark Charles’ first feature project since the critically acclaimed, wildly successful BORAT. "
Larry 'Borat' Charles... Ken 'Civil War' Burns... It's all the same, right?
" 'It’s an honor and a privilege to be working with Larry Charles and Bill Maher, two of the sharpest, funniest minds in show business,” said [Lionsgate master pimp] Ortenberg. ... "We feel this film can play as broadly as a Michael Moore film, and it’s sure to be as provocative, informative and entertaining as any documentary in recent memory...' "
I knew it. Michael Moore was the butt double for Ken Davitian during that naked brawl sequence!
" '...Certainly, the promo reel that the sales team screened at Cannes generated enormous enthusiasm among acquisition executives across the board.' "
"Said Maher, 'Comedically, the topic of religion is hitting the side of a barn – it’s literally hard to miss. This movie will make you laugh so hard you’ll pray for it to stop.'

Observed Charles, 'Nietzsche said God is dead, but he didn't see the grosses for PASSION OF THE CHRIST.' "

It is indeed a man of faith who thinks Bill Maher and the guy behind "Mad About You" will bring in the receipts Jesus and Mel Gibson did once upon a time.

Hey, I'll be the first to admit "World Religion" is an excellent subhead for comedy. But something tells me few aboriginals, Native Americans, Africans, Jews or rain forest dwellers will get skewered here.

Nor will there be much footage earning the too-outrageous-to-stop Maher a fatwa like the one that ended Theo Van Gogh's career on a bloody sidewalk in Holland-istan.

We'll see some New Agers (Shirley MacLaine types, not Green Party members), maybe some Buddhists (but not the Dali Lama), Wiccans... A shot or two of those freaky rat worshipers at the Karni Mata Temple...

The other 97 percent of the film will focus on Catholics, Methodists, Charismatics, (white) Baptists, conservative Presbyterians, Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox...pretty much anything with "orthodox" in name or practice.

Better get in line now to avoid the crowds. And if you find yourself next to Bill Maher in L.A. traffic during a lightning storm on the way to the theater, pull back to a safe distance and get ready for the Fourth of July.

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