Hollywood Writers Go to War with Talent Agents

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Two Hollywood institutions, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Association of Talent Agents (ATA), are now in an all out battle with one another. Consequently, the way in which business is conducted in the entertainment world may never be the same.

A dispute between the two organizations arose over the 43 year-old Artists’ Managers Basic Agreement (AMBA), a pact between the WGA and the ATA, which regulates the terms of how agents represent writers.

The WGA by-laws stipulate that an agency must sign the AMBA in order to represent one of its members.

Questions about the AMBA arose after a survey of WGA members found that Hollywood writers felt as if the major agencies’ practice of “packaging” was a detriment to their careers.

Packaging refers to an activity in which agents engage whereby there is a combining together of creative clients to benefit film studios, producers, and television networks.

Talent agencies used to rely primarily on a 10 percent commission rate as a revenue source. However, the practice of packaging provided a means in which larger agencies would be able to earn substantial additional revenue.

So-called packaging fees are charged separately and comprise an additional revenue source that is over and above the 10 percent commission; this additional amount of income is earned in exchange for bringing to a particular entertainment project a group of artists, e.g., writers, directors, and actors.

Additionally, the three biggest agencies, William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and United Talent Agency (UTA), have spawned affiliate companies that participate in the ownership of content.

Writers contend that agents who package and gain an ownership stake have a conflict of interest, and they further assert that this conflict has caused writers’ earnings to decline.

The pursuit of packaging revenue places agents in a position of seeking deals that produce lucrative packaging fees rather than pushing for their clients to receive greater compensation.

When an agency owns and/or produces content, it places the agent in the dubious position of being an employer who is supposed to be representing the interests of an employee. This is a textbook case of a conflict of interest.

The growth of revenue streams for large talent agencies has attracted private equity investors and has even spurred some of the larger agencies to reportedly pursue the idea of going public. This has added more pressure as well as additional incentive to continue packaging and content ownership.

The agents that engage in such practices have actually made things worse through a lack of transparency, which has bred mistrust with their clients. Creators often had no knowledge that the content they had created was being packaged, with their agency generating a substantial amount of additional revenue off of their work. The agencies have acknowledged this error and have indicated that in the future they will be transparent.

The problem is that the damage has been done. Because the WGA and the ATA have come to an impasse in their negotiations, a tough-minded new talent agent code of conduct has been implemented by the writers union to end packaging and content ownership by agencies. The new code disallows any agent who represents a WGA member from receiving packaging fees and/or from working with agency-affiliated production companies.

WGA members have been instructed to disassociate from agents who do not comply with the new code of conduct. To this end, the union has provided members a DocuSign link with which they can send formal termination letters to agents.

These letters are now being sent out. Krista Vernoff, the showrunner on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” wrote an article for the Hollywood Reporter, which is titled “Why I Left My Agent, Despite the Sales Pitch.”

A sizable number of writers have taken to Twitter to announce their solidarity with the union by changing their profile pictures to icons that say “I Stand With the WGA.”

More than 800 writers have signed a statement of support and indicated that they “will only be represented as writers by agencies franchised by the Guild.” Most of the notable showrunners and TV creators that agencies desire to package have been visibly in support of the union.

The union has decided to play hardball with a new database for showrunners, where position openings are posted and writers may directly apply for work. It has put forth a plan for writers to be represented by managers and lawyers, as opposed to agents, although the ATA contends that the plan violates the law in California and New York.

Reportedly, the union has already drafted a lawsuit against the ATA and its member agencies, which would bring the battle to a courtroom on the East Coast or the West. The lawsuit will likely claim a breach of fiduciary duty by the agents who accepted fees from studios and allegedly failed to negotiate in good faith on behalf of their clients’ interests.

The outcome of this conflict will likely result in an entertainment industry realignment, whereby writers are represented by smaller agencies that agree to collect commissions, minus the packaging or content participation.

In a letter to members, the WGA described the significance of the big agencies firing in the following manner: “We know that, together, we are about to enter uncharted waters.”

Smollett Gets Hit with a Lawsuit as Chicago Seeks Justice

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Jussie Smollett may regret his failure to pay a bill sent to him courtesy of the City of Chicago.

After an extensive investigative process, a demand for payment was sent to the alleged hate crime hoaxer in an effort by the city to obtain reimbursement for costs incurred due to Smollett’s claims.

The letter gave the “Empire” actor seven days in which to pay an amount of approximately $130,000.

Smollett is refusing to pay the city anything, not a single solitary penny. He continues to publicly claim that he has been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” despite the fact that one of his lawyers has already fundamentally altered the facts of his claims.

Smollett may be about to reap the whirlwind because of a civil lawsuit that the city of Chicago plans to file against him. Bill McCaffrey, a spokesperson for Chicago’s Department of Law, released a statement indicating that because Smollett “has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false report on January 29, 2019,” a civil complaint is in the process of being drafted.

McCaffrey commented that the lawsuit against Smollett will be filed “in the near future” and that the city will “pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance.”

A provision in the municipal code allows the city to file a civil action to collect the costs incurred when individuals make “false statements” to law enforcement and cause resources to be wasted.

The law also allows the city to go after the actor for “up to three times the amount of damages the city sustains” as a result of the violation. Consequently, if Smollett loses he faces a possible judgment of $390,000. In addition, the city can recover court costs and attorney’s fees, which could push the amount he could owe to over $500,000.

Smollett will soon realize that civil law differs greatly from criminal law, just as O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake discovered. Civil lawsuits pose grave problems even in cases in which criminal defendants are acquitted after a full trial.

In civil cases, the burden of proof is significantly less than that required of prosecutors in a criminal proceeding. The standard for the prosecution in a criminal matter requires evidence sufficient to prove the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In its civil lawsuit against Smollett, the City of Chicago is only required to produce a “preponderance of evidence” to prove that Smollett is liable for the amounts sought. This civil standard requires that the city prove Smollett is more likely than not to have arranged for the attack upon himself, for the court, in the form of a judge or a jury, to hold the actor liable.

The $130,000 may in hindsight look quite inexpensive to Smollett, especially after he sees the amount of legal costs for which he will be responsible in order to defend himself against the City of Chicago’s lawsuit.

The extensive civil litigation that the city’s lawsuit would create would open the actor up for a sworn deposition under oath with the penalty of perjury hanging in the balance.

Smollett and his attorneys continue to make public statements proclaiming Smollett’s innocence. However, Joseph Magats, a lead prosecutor in the case, recently said that he “does not believe” Smollett is innocent.

Perhaps the greatest risk for Smollett is that a court will come to a legal conclusion that it was he himself who staged the alleged attack upon his person, thereby cementing his place in history as a B-list hate crime stager.

Dim Prospects for Jussie Smollett

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Despite the dropping of the 16 felony counts with which he was charged by the Cook County, Illinois state’s attorney, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s image and career prospects are still in jeopardy.

Currently, Smollett’s team is heavily engaged in the crisis management process, attempting to stop the decline of his public image. According to TMZ and other news outlets, offers of prospective roles have come to a halt since Smollett was arrested and charged with alleged involvement in orchestrating a hoax hate crime.

The actor, who for the time being remains a cast member of the television drama, is reportedly in pursuit of TV appearances so that he can tell his version of what happened and reverse the public relations slide.

Despite his claims of innocence, Smollett went from being viewed as a sympathetic victim to being perceived as a self-centered, morally challenged individual.

Because of the manner in which his criminal case has been jettisoned, he is now at the epicenter of a political corruption scandal, and as public outrage continues to grow he is even being compared to O.J. Simpson on social media, cable television, and talk radio.

There was recently an expectation that Smollett might attend the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( NAACP) Image Awards that took place this past weekend, but the actor was a no-show. Although he had been nominated for an award, he lost out on getting a win.

As an indicator of his standing within the culture, Smollett’s reputation has been taking a bruising of the comedic kind. During the NAACP awards show, when comedian Chris Rock was presenting the award for Outstanding Comedy Series, the presenter riffed on Smollett, despite having been instructed by the producers to avoid making the “Empire” actor a part of his humor.

“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock said. “I know. What a waste of light skin. You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. F***ing running Hollywood.”

Rock then struck directly at Smollett’s credibility.

“What the h**l was he thinking?” Rock asked. “From now on, you’re Jessie from now on. You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”

Smollett was also the subject of punch lines during the most recent broadcast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” During a sketch on Weekend Update, Cecily Strong portrayed Fox News’ judicial star Jeanine Pirro.

“[President Trump] is getting rid of Jussie Smollett and he is bringing back Roseanne,” Strong, playing the character of Judge Jeanine, said.

“She [Roseanne] is getting a new show, The Barrs; it’s going to be Roseanne and William Barr…they are going to tell it like they see it, and they are going to take all the d**n Ambien they want, period.”

In another sketch, Smollett was in an imaginary meeting with his manager, the “Empire” executive producer, and TV executives to discuss his criminal case.

A MAGA hat wearing Chris Redd portrays Smollett, who claims that he was the victim of another attack. In an attempt to lend credence to his story, the Smollett character produces a box of Crest Whitestrips, three red letter Ks, a receipt, car keys, and a purple Teletubby.

Even though Smollett appears to have avoided a prosecution in Cook County, the actor is being investigated in a federal probe over whether he authored and mailed a hate-filled letter that arrived on the “Empire” set earlier this year. The letter contained bigoted invectives, a stick figure hanging from a tree, and a white powdery substance that echoed the anthrax letter attacks of 2001.

Federal charges, if brought, could expose Smollett to the possibility of spending 5-20 years behind bars.

“Jussie, you know we’ve got to fire you, right?” the executive producer character on SNL said during the sketch. The line may prove to be prophetic.

Despite supportive statements issued by the producers of “Empire” and Fox, Deadline reports that the actor is not expected to be a part of the series next season.

After the news broke that the charges against Smollett were inexplicably dropped, ratings for “Empire” fell to an all-time low, which was even lower than the debut episode this season that had slid 35 percent when compared to last year’s ratings.

Smollett has already been written out of the remaining episodes of the current fifth season. The actor’s option is up in June 2019. In the interim, the network and producers will determine whether to, as one source said, “cut their losses if need be” by choosing to renew “Empire” without Smollett’s inclusion.

‘Unplanned’ Is a Must-See for a Nation in Denial

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Hollywood loves to rally around a cause, but only as long as the cause is solidly in line with its accepted left-wing ideology. One cause that definitely isn’t, is the advocating of the right of an unborn baby to live.

“Unplanned,” a daring new movie that pays no attention to Hollywood’s roster of no-go subjects, has been fighting a constant uphill battle as it forges its way toward release day. Along the treacherous road it has had to traverse, it has been blocked from using certain music in its soundtrack, banned by a Christian radio network, and unfairly rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The movie boldly tells the true story of Abby Johnson, one of the youngest individuals in the country to ever have served as a Planned Parenthood clinic director.

After working at an abortion clinic for eight years and winning an “Employee of the Year” award, Abby had the enormously disturbing yet incredibly enlightening experience of having to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. What she witnessed was absolutely horrendous: a tiny baby inside the womb, who was in the struggle of his or her life, having to suffer through the gruesomeness of dismemberment.

Following the experience, Abby summoned up the courage necessary to leave her financially lucrative position and extensive employment stint. She walked away from the nation’s largest abortion provider and set out to launch a ministry that would help other former Planned Parenthood employees to transition out of abortion related work.

The writing and directing team of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, who also wrote the screenplay for the film “God’s Not Dead,” understood the challenge that the latest movie project faced.

The hostility issue was driven home through the difficulties experienced in a previous pro-life film, “Roe v. Wade,” including an incident in which a significant part of the cast and crew abruptly left the project after learning of the script’s content.

While the casting of “Unplanned” was taking place, potential cast members were alerted by the directors that involvement with the film might mean that future work in the entertainment industry may be in jeopardy as a result of the movie’s content.

The film was shot in secret in Stillwater, Oklahoma. While on the set, the cast and crew used the code name “Redeemed” in order to keep the project under wraps and hold close to the vest the fact that they were making a film with the same title as Johnson’s memoir.

All of those working on the project were instructed not to reveal the movie’s content to the press or in any other manner disclose it on the Internet or on social media.

As the producers sought licensing rights for songs that they felt might assist the mood of certain scenes in the movie, they received the cold shoulder from the music industry. The required licensing was denied for a number of tunes, including Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party,” One Direction’s “Story of My Life,” The Fray’s “How to Save a Life,” and Trevor Rabin’s “The Guardian Suite.”

Additionally, the movie received some unexpected flack from a giant of the Christian world. K-Love is a Christian music radio network, which broadcasts on hundreds of stations in at least 47 states with markets that include New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. K-Love is also the sixth most online streamed station in the world. Essentially, the Christian music giant banned from its airwaves any promotion for “Unplanned.”

Abby was not at all happy with the network, expressing her displeasure in the following tweet: “Ever heard of the Christian radio station K-LOVE? Of course you have. They are huge, in just about every market. And, they are funded by their listeners. Well, here’s some news for you. K-LOVE has decided that they will not run any promos for my movie, Unplanned. So, a Christian radio network won’t advertise for a prolife movie. They have stated that they don’t want to promote anything ‘political.’”

In a wholly unfair and blatantly biased move, the MPAA informed the filmmakers that the organization planned to give the movie the “R” rating rather than a “PG-13” one, unless the visual depictions of abortion were edited out of the film.

It surely is not lost by anyone who pays attention to the movie ratings system that a “PG-13” rating, as opposed to “R” rating, is routinely handed out to films that include in their content profanity, gratuitous violence, and/or sexually explicit material.

Abby wrote an open letter to parents across America to make sure that they understood “Unplanned” is free from profanity or sexual content. In the letter, she describes a scene, which depicts what she saw on the ultrasound screen – images that transformed her life and redirected her path.

“You will see what I saw: a baby on an ultrasound screen in black and white 2D. You will see the abortion instrument, which looks like a big straw in real life and like a dark line on the ultrasound, introduced onto the screen. You will see the baby struggle against it. You will see the baby first slowly, then quickly disappear into the instrument as it does what it is designed to do,” Abby wrote.

A second scene that Abby cited as a reason for the “R” rating is one that she indicated was a re-creation of her experience with the abortion pill.

“I won’t lie to you; that scene shows some blood. In real life I hemorrhaged so badly I thought I was going to die. The movie captures that without being gratuitous or gory,” Abby wrote.

The MPAA has denied that it assigned the rating due to political bias. However, the group’s decision has resulted in a scenario in which a teenage girl can obtain an actual abortion without her parent’s permission, but the same teenage girl is not allowed admission into a theater, minus the supervision of an adult, to view a film that includes a scene that merely depicts the real life procedure.

The March 29 premiere of “Unplanned” is right around the corner.

In honor of all the babies who have had to endure the procedure that Abby witnessed and worse, let’s all go see “Unplanned,” and perhaps we can escort some teens and other youth who are secondary victims in this whole abortion tragedy.

College Admission Scandals Imitate TV Scripts

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The admissions scandal that recently hit some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities has resulted in the largest prosecution of an alleged scheme to influence higher education admission decisions made at top tier institutions.

Approximately 50 people have been caught up in the investigation, including the organizer of the alleged scheme, coaches and testing administrators who were purportedly bribed, and wealthy parents of admission seeking students.

The ongoing investigation is named “Operation Varsity Blues,” a title that was also used for a 1999 cult movie starring James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Paul Walker, Ron Lester, and Scott Caan. The film’s plot features a small town football team in a sports crazed Texas community, where players deal with teenage angst while coping with an obsessive coach played by Voight.

Van Der Beek portrays a backup quarterback who gains the starting position when the first string QB is injured. Much to the chagrin of Van Der Beek’s character’s father, he wants to attend an Ivy League school.

“Varsity Blues” is best known for a scene in which the quarterback son shouts to his football obsessed father the following words: “I don’t want your life!”

The actor recently referenced the famous film quote in a Twitter post about the breaking news of the college admissions scandal.

“If only there was a succinct turn of phrase these kids could have used to inform their parents they were not desirous of their life path,” Van Der Beek posted.

When prosecutors and investigators used the title of a movie as a name for their investigation, they may not have fully realized the bizarre “life imitates art” connections, which the facts presented with respect to the two most famous defendants involved in the case, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin.

The allegations in the indictment against Huffman are remarkably similar to a plot line in an episode of the television show in which Huffman starred, “Desperate Housewives.” In the fifth episode of the first season of the ABC television series, Huffman’s character and her fictitious husband contribute money to an elite private school in order to gain admission for their children.

“A generous donation will ensure our kids beat ’em out,” Huffman’s character explains to her spouse.

When the husband asks about the requisite amount, Huffman’s character replies, “$15,000.”

Ironically, the amount of $15,000 is the exact sum that Huffman is alleged to have paid in the form of a charitable donation to facilitate a higher score on her real life daughter’s standardized test. The scheme involved an alleged bribe to a proctor at a testing center who would then modify the daughter’s answers in order to raise her final score.

Meanwhile Loughlin, who starred in the television series “Full House,” appeared in one episode that had a plot line, which would end up foreshadowing future trouble with legal authorities. In episode fifteen of season six, which incidentally also aired on ABC, Loughlin’s character’s husband Jesse, played by John Stamos, attempts to prevaricate in order to obtain admission to a prestigious pre-school for their fictitious twin sons. In a conversation with Joey, portrayed by David Coulier. Jesse reveals his plans to lie in order to gain access to the school for his boys.

“I’m their father,” Jesse says. “If I don’t lie for them, who will?”

Jesse plots to misrepresent his profession as that of a diplomat and to boast of his toddler sons’ abilities to speak foreign languages and play various musical instruments.

Loughlin’s character puts a stop to Jesse’s plans and helps guide the family to the realization that an elite pre-school may not be the best thing for their children.

Loughlin’s character says to Jesse, “I know you want what’s best for them, but maybe the fast track isn’t it,” adding that the two boys are “normal, healthy kids and whatever track they’re on, they seem to be doing OK.”

Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, Loughlin’s real life fashion designer husband and creator of the Mossimo clothing line, were accused in the indictment of paying $500,000 disguised as a charitable donation, so that a university admissions committee would be led to believe that their two daughters would be joining the women’s rowing team at the school, when in reality neither had ever received training or participated in the sport.

Democrats Creep from Collusion to Obstruction

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In a cart before the horse scenario, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated with certainty that he believes President Donald Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice. Nadler declared this as his committee initiated an investigation to ostensibly determine whether or not the president obstructed justice.

Nadler’s panel sent out 81 document requests and subpoenas as part of an unprecedented partisan probe launched at a time it is widely believed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is wrapping up his investigation and issuing a report.

Nadler, who has evidently come to a conclusion prior to his committee’s investigatory work, has also moved past the Mueller report, apparently amid concerns that it will contain no evidence of the supposed Russian collusion, which the Democrat Party and its allies in the left-leaning media have been obsessing over for more than two years.

Politico has cautioned those who are eagerly anticipating the special counsel’s report to “prepare for disappointment.”

Despite denials from certain members of the party, Nadler and his ilk are on an endless search for a rationale that they will be able to sell to the public so that impeachment of the president can be pursued and the 2016 election can be reversed.

“I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. “Show me where the president did anything to be impeached…Nadler is setting the framework now that the Democrats are not to believe the Mueller report.”

Nadler opined that the president is guilty of obstruction of justice, citing the “1,100 times he referred to the Mueller investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’” He additionally pointed to President Trump’s 2017 firing of then-FBI director James Comey.

“It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice,” Nadler stated.

Nadler’s determination prior to the investigation begs the question: Can a case be made against President Trump for obstruction of justice?

There are two serious impediments facing Nadler and other Democrats who are looking to impeach a sitting president using an obstruction of justice charge. The first impediment is the law and the second involves politics.

An analysis of the current facts results in a finding that there is no viable case for obstruction of justice. A sitting president who exercises legitimate constitutional power cannot be guilty of obstructing justice for merely acting on such power.

In this case, President Trump carried out tasks in which he is fully authorized to engage, using powers inherent to the office of the presidency and granted by the Constitution. These powers grant to the president the ability to hire and fire officials under his charge, including FBI Director Comey.

Even if the president had suggested a de-escalation of an investigation, as Comey alleged, this would not constitute obstruction, since the Chief Executive is, in fact, in charge of the executive branch of government.

Immediately after the president relieved Comey from his position, the former FBI director leaked copies of memos to the New York Times in which Comey had written that President Trump asked him to drop the investigation into then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

The Comey firing was explicitly recommended via a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which stated, “Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives. The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.”

Obstruction of justice additionally requires a showing that the party who is obstructing possessed corrupt intent to interfere with, or had attempted to interfere with, the proceeding or investigation.

This means that the intentional aim of the interference is for self-interest.

Decisions made by a president that have arguable benefits for the people that the president serves are difficult for prosecutors to characterize as having the requisite corrupt intent.

President Trump’s decisions were arguably made to benefit the nation that his executive branch serves.

With regard to the tweets, presidents have a First Amendment right to express opinions. Moreover, the chief executive must freely express points of view as the leader of the executive branch.

President Trump’s tweets are not orders to those subject to his authority. They are instead expressions of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and proposals to the people.

If President Trump had desired to interfere with the Mueller probe, he could have ordered it to be defunded, minimized, or terminated. Instead he chose to express opinions using his Twitter account.

Prior to taking the office of attorney general, William Barr penned a memorandum indicating that a president should not be prosecuted over conduct that is less than clearly serious criminality.

Does this mean that a sitting president cannot commit obstruction of justice? Of course not.

However, to commit a prosecutable offense, the occupant of the oval office would have to do something outside the scope of his constitutional authority, such as bribing a witness, threatening a judge, or destroying evidence.

Politically speaking, obstruction of justice, if used as a hedge for the lack of evidence of collusion, will likely result in a public perception that a significant gap had occurred between the original purpose of the investigation and the endgame.

John Wayne Becomes Social Media’s Latest Target

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Social media trolls recently honed in on a new target of attack. The same agitators that consistently seek to tear down statues, ban books, and silence dissidents have now dug up an interview with legendary actor John Wayne, which appeared in a May 1971 issue of Playboy Magazine.

What are Wayne’s detractors aiming for?

Well for starters, they want to change the name of the airport that is located in Orange County, California and bears Wayne’s name. Presumably the 9-foot bronze statue of the famed figure that stands at the entrance would be knocked down as well.

Even though Wayne is no longer with us and thus unable to defend himself, the transforming America crowd who are attempting to destroy Wayne’s reputation will not be satisfied until the movie icon’s legacy has been completely redacted from Hollywood history.

Screenwriter Matt Williams used his Twitter account to publish portions of the 1971 interview of Wayne, and re-tweeters managed to push the post into the viral zone.

Although some of the quotes in the interview appear to be inappropriate when examined within the context of today’s more enlightened cultural prism, at the time of the interview Wayne, along with many of his contemporaries, spoke in a blunt and occasionally harsh style both on and off screen, which was part of a projected character image.

Williams attacked the movie icon personally in a profanity laced social media post.

“Jesus f—, John Wayne was a straight up piece of s—,” Williams tweeted.

Comments to various re-tweets seemed to be at odds, with some agreeing with Williams and others urging a consideration of conversational context as well as the era in which Wayne lived.

Wayne was a man who before becoming a film icon was known as Marion Morrison, a football star at Glendale High and later at USC. He called the Golden State his home from the age of ten on and in later years was intimately involved with the once-sleepy county just south of Los Angeles, which grew in size and stature and came to affectionately be known simply by its initials, the OC.

Wayne’s fame transcended the norm of the conventional movie star and rose to a level that few ever achieve – that of enduring icon. However, Duke had something all his own. His movie star identity was wrapped up in the symbolism, beliefs, and ideals of the country he adored.

In a tell of a great artist, Wayne was able to capture the emotions that people felt about their country and place them on the big screen in all their Americana glory. His stories were their stories, perfected in a way that only Hollywood at the time could.

Interestingly, Wayne was an outspoken conservative and anti-communist. During the Playboy interview, he queried aloud, “What kind of a nation is it that fails to understand that freedom of speech and assembly are one thing, and anarchy and treason are quite another, that allows known Communists to serve as teachers to pervert the natural loyalties and ideals of our kids, filling them with fear and doubt and hate and downgrading patriotism and all our heroes of the past?”

Wayne’s popularity and influence on the American mindset disturbed Russian dictator Joseph Stalin to the point that the Soviet despot ordered an attempted assassination of the actor that auspiciously never materialized.

According to Michael Munn, film historian and author of “John Wayne – The Man Behind the Myth,” back in the early 1950s Stalin ordered the KGB to assassinate Wayne because he considered his anti-communist rhetoric a threat to the Soviet Union.

In 1959, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev came to the United States, the autocrat had two requests he wished fulfilled: to visit Disneyland and to meet Wayne.

When Japanese Emperor Hirohito visited the United States in 1975, he also asked to meet Wayne, who was viewed as the personification of the American spirit.

Wayne’s iconic American status was recognized by the U.S. government, granting him the two highest civilian decorations in existence. In 1979 Wayne was given the Congressional Gold Medal, and in 1980 he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Jimmy Carter.

The legendary film star was nominated for three Academy Awards and was a one-time winner in 1969, taking the Best Actor in a Leading Role trophy for “True Grit.”

Despite attempts on the part of the left to characterize him as a bigot, the truth is Wayne was married three times and the three women he married were Latinas: Josephine Alicia Saenz, Esperanza Baur, and Pilar Pallete. In the wake of the coverage of the Playboy interview, Wayne’s family released a statement to the press.

“We hope America remembers John Wayne as we do: a devoted family man, great friend and cherished actor on the big screen, as well as for his continuing work to find a cure for cancer through the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and the John Wayne Cancer Institute,” the statement read.

“It’s unfair to judge someone on something that was written that he said nearly 50 years ago when the person is no longer here to respond,” the statement continued. “Regardless of color, ethnicity or sexual preference, [our] father taught us to treat all people the same, with respect.”

The outrage industry is on an endless quest to secure the next individual to impugn. As a result of the social media’s stoking of the fire, a virtue-signaling editorial was recently published by the Los Angeles Times, advocating that Orange County’s John Wayne Airport be renamed.

A formidable task awaits those who wish to erase Wayne from the public square, though. In addition to the airport in Orange County, opponents will also have to contend with a 21-foot bronze statue in Beverly Hills, which displays Wayne on horseback.

There is also a John Wayne Marina near Sequim, Washington, a 100-plus-mile trail named the “John Wayne Pioneer Trail” in the Iron Horse State Park, which is also in Washington, the John Wayne Elementary School in Brooklyn, New York, which features a 38-foot mosaic mural depicting “John Wayne and the American Frontier,” and the John Wayne Parkway, which runs through Maricopa, Arizona.