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.

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.

Jerry Seinfeld Sued over Sale of Alleged Fake Porsche

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Jerry Seinfeld has just been sued over claims that he sold a company a rare vintage Porsche Carrera sports car that allegedly turned out to be a counterfeit.

The lawsuit against Seinfeld alleges that when the comedian auctioned off the classic car for a winning bid of $1.54 million, he knew that it was “not authentic.”

Seinfeld’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, has denied the claims and called the suit “frivolous.”

An entity called Fica Frio Limited bought the vehicle in March of 2016 at an auction that took place in Amelia Island, Florida. Seinfeld himself was allegedly in attendance at the auction.

In a complaint filed in a Manhattan federal court, the car is identified as a 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster, which was sold at an auction that featured the “Jerry Seinfeld Collection” of cars. The lawsuit quoted Spike Feresten, who was the host at the auction.

Feresten also happens to be a former writer-producer for the “Seinfeld” television show and, as host at the auction, used a punch line that referenced the iconic sitcom.

“Jerry has been generous enough to let me drive an awful lot of his collection,” Feresten said. “And I can tell you: They’re real and they’re spectacular.”

Seinfeld’s current hit Internet show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” displays his passion for classic cars combined with his love of stand-up comedy.

The auction summary of the Porsche indicated that it was “From the Jerry Seinfeld Collection” and was a “stunning example of a rare thoroughbred Porsche.”

The 1958 Porsche was marketed at the auction as “one of 56” with “lightweight aluminum panels,” according to the suit.

“This exceptionally rare 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster is surely among the finest restored examples of a highly sought-after four-cam Porsche,” the marketing material indicated.

Between 1955 and 1959, Porsche built 151 Carrera Speedsters, and less than 60 percent of the cars had the GS/GT trim that the plaintiff believed the car possessed.

According to the lawsuit, a year later in March of 2017, Fica Frio had the car evaluated by a Porsche expert who determined that it was “not authentic.”

The suit quotes a voicemail that Seinfeld allegedly left for the buyer in June of 2018.

“[I want to] offer my apology for this nuisance and assure you that you will be completely indemnified in full and not have to keep the car and get all your money back,” Seinfeld purportedly said. “I did want to apologize to you personally for that happening.”

The comedian allegedly added that his experts never suspected there was anything wrong with the car, according to the suit.

Seinfeld also purportedly said that he “would also love to know how your guys figured it out because…my guys did not I guess see anything amiss with the car when I bought it.”

Fica Frio claims that Seinfeld has not paid back the money, and the company desires to rescind the sale, giving the car back to Seinfeld, with the purchase price going back to the buyer. Perhaps even more important to settlement discussions, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages from Seinfeld, which in theory may be considerable.

According to Seinfeld’s attorney, “Jerry has been working in good faith to get to the bottom of this matter. He has asked Fica Frio for evidence to substantiate the allegations. Fica Frio ignored Jerry and instead filed this frivolous lawsuit.”

The attorney added, “Jerry consigned the car to Gooding and Company, an auction house, which is responsible for the sale. Nevertheless, Jerry is willing to do what’s right and fair, and we are confident the court will support the need for an outside evaluator to examine the provenance of the car.”

Determining the authenticity of vintage cars is not as cut and dried as it would appear. The vast majority of civil suits end in some sort of settlement between the parties.

In an interesting little twist, one classic episode of “Seinfeld” deals with a plot line that bears a resemblance with regard to the “authenticity” theme.

The George character on the TV show is about to purchase a 1989 Volvo sedan, but the car salesman talks him into buying a 1989 LeBaron convertible instead. The smooth talking salesman is able to get George to believe that the vehicle was previously owned by famed actor Jon Voight.

It turns out that the car was indeed owned by a Mr. Voight, who was not an actor but rather a periodontist, and happened to bear the same first name but with the alternate spelling of “John.”

As Seinfeld, via his attorney, attempts to obtain some leverage for the negotiation process, he might ask Jerry how George handled his bad “Voight” deal.

Netflix Gets a Hollywood Makeover

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Netflix has just turned its back on the Silicon Valley tech firms in a move that signals a seismic shift in the entertainment business.

The streaming video giant pulled out of the Internet Association, which is the lobbying entity for web-based businesses, and locked arms with Silicon Valley’s nemesis, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Hollywood’s preeminent lobbying organization.

The Internet Association is a highly influential trade group that represents the biggest technology companies in the world, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The MPAA members are the six studio giants of Hollywood: Disney, Paramount, Sony, 21st Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros.

Although the tech firms of Silicon Valley and the entertainment companies of Hollywood have some common interests, they are on opposite sides when it comes to copyright protection and statutory immunities that are of benefit to Internet intermediaries.

Because of recent data scandals and charges of censorship by the largest tech firms, U.S. lawmakers are raising questions about two existing statutes: 1) Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields Internet concerns from liability for content published by their users; and 2) The safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which helps to protect such firms from copyright claims.

Hollywood, via the MPAA, has been pursuing more severe anti-piracy measures in an effort to prod Internet intermediaries into taking steps to prevent and remove illegal content that has been uploaded by users.

Immediately after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance in Washington, D.C. before a congressional committee, MPAA head Charles Rivkin requested that Congress begin looking into the possibility of holding Internet platforms accountable, which, of course, raised the specter of government regulation.

Rivken’s rhetoric infuriated Internet Association’s Michael Beckerman, who characterized the MPAA leader’s calls to regulate Internet companies as “shameless rent-seeking.”

Netflix is looking to the MPAA to assist in helping the streaming company expand into markets that in the past have proven to be difficult, if not impossible, to penetrate, which has been especially true with regard to China and India.

Netflix gradually morphed into a different entity from what it was at its onset. In the beginning, Netflix was a streaming platform that hosted third-party content and served as an alternative to Blockbuster and other video rental stores. The Netflix of today, though, is a full blown mega-studio, having reportedly spent about $13 billion on content just last year. Its service seeks to actively pair up content with needs and preferences of its subscribers.

In a recent letter to investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings indicated that because of the company’s success in producing original content, it plans to move away from outside programming and make content production the company’s primary objective.

Once dismissed by the industry as an entertainment flash in the pan and a mere rerun platform, Netflix has reshaped the way in which the public consumes entertainment. The industry realized that Netflix had become a threat to traditional entertainment business models, so CEOs sought comfort in mega-mergers and the establishment of new streaming services.

AT&T acquired Time Warner, and the newly formed entity presently has plans to launch a streaming service later in the year. Disney is also set to launch a streaming service, following its pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox. And Comcast will reportedly get into the streaming service business as well, after its acquisition of NBCUniversal is completed.

Netflix recently shocked its subscribers with its biggest price increase ever. A recent survey by Streaming Observer and Mindnet Analytics reveals that Netflix might lose up to 27% of its subscribers due to the price hike.

Another factor that poses a threat to Netflix’s bottom line is that major streaming service competitor Hulu reportedly has plans to lower its monthly charge from $7.99 to $5.99, starting at the end of February 2019.

Netflix is likely to lose much of its licensed third-party content at approximately the same time that Disney’s much-anticipated streamer is launched, complete with entertainment fare from its “Star Wars,” Marvel, and Pixar catalogues.

The current corporate model of Netflix is predicated on rapid growth. However, it now looks as though Netflix will have the brakes applied as emerging competition from Hollywood causes the streaming business to go through a remake.

Gladys Knight Takes a Stand for the National Anthem

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Gladys Knight earned the nickname “Empress of Soul” for good reason. The hit songs that she and her band mates, the Pips, delivered throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s left a unique gospel-pop imprint on the pages of American music history.

It is for this and so many other reasons that Knight seems to be the perfect voice to lend dignity and beauty to professional football’s great national anthem moment this year.

Super Bowl LIII is set to take place on February 3 in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots will battle to determine which team will ultimately secure the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Look for “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Knight to provide a graceful air of decorum to the pre-game ceremony and give an assist to a National Football League (NFL) in need of an image boost after suffering through the aftermath of some high-profile political posturing.

Knight began singing at the tender age of four. By age seven, she had secured a win for an appearance that she made in 1952 on “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.”

The following year Knight’s family formed a musical group, which they dubbed “the Pips,” a name derived from that of a cousin of Knight, James “Pip” Woods. The group would later come to be known as “Gladys Knight and the Pips,” which would be the vehicle that would ultimately propel Knight to superstardom.

Knight has an ecumenical faith background, having been born a Baptist, attended a Catholic grade school, and converted in the late 1990s to the Mormon church, the place in which she would create the Grammy Award-winning “Saints Unified Voices” gospel music choir.

The soul singer’s upcoming performance of the national anthem comes at a time following former member of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick’s game setting launch of a political protest.

Kaepernick’s protest began in 2016, during the third pre-season 49ers game in which he sat (and in later games knelt), instead of standing up with his teammates and the stadium fans as the national anthem was sung.

Kaepernick’s mode of protest, which continued throughout the season during the pre-game singing of the anthem, was offensive to many and distinctly out of place. It ended up hitting the NFL hard in the pocketbook, as some football players attempted to show their support for Kaepernick by emulating him.

The demonstrations by dissenting players during the anthem infuriated a significant number of football fans. However, liberal Hollywood elites and like-minded media outlets collectively nodded in unison and proceeded to lionize the protesting players.

Sports attire giant Nike added fuel to the football fire by making Kaepernick the poster boy of a signature advertising campaign. Kaepernick remains embroiled in a grievance arbitration filed against the NFL in which he alleges that team owners colluded to keep him out of the league after he lost out to being signed last season.

The whole Kaepernick controversy spilled over into this year’s Super Bowl halftime show preparations. Virtue signaling became all the rage as performers, which included singer Rihanna as well as rappers Cardi B and Jay-Z, declared that they would boycott the halftime show. Jay-Z even placed the following line in one of his tunes: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”

Meanwhile, those who are currently slated to perform, including singer and judge on “The Voice” Adam Levine’s musical group Maroon 5 and rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi, are being slammed by the social media and pressured to withdraw. Scott has even received backlash via Kaepernick’s own Twitter account.

Knight recently issued a timely and sage statement to the public, using a Hollywood trade publication as her outlet.

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight wrote as reported by Variety. “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

Knight’s statement continued, “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3, to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”

In light of the disharmony caused by the behavior and rhetoric on the part of Kaepernick and his allies in Hollywood and the mainstream media, coupled with the inept response by NFL leadership, Knight’s voice is going to be a musical tonic for those who have a passion for football and unabashed love for America.

Superheroes Save Hollywood’s 2018 Box Office

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After a great deal of handwringing, Hollywood is breathing a sigh of relief.

The 2018 box office showed growth, and the movie business owes its positive performance to an aggregate of superhero films.

After hyper-anxiety over the possibility that streaming entertainment was going to kill the movie theater business, Hollywood ended up raking in a record $11.9 billion in revenue last year.

The 2018 domestic box office was up 7 percent over 2017 as well as being up 4 percent when compared to 2016. The audience has grown, and although the actual number of tickets sold remains below the high mark that was set in 2002, attendance for 2018 was higher than the previous year by 4 percent.

With more than 26 percent of all domestic box-office revenue in 2018, Disney commands an unprecedented portion of the market share. CEO Bob Iger’s strategy of buying franchises and rights to superhero characters paid off enormously, and the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Disney’s share of the market is likely to increase in 2019, with the planned release of another “Star Wars” film and the fourth and supposedly final “Avengers” movie, as well as two animated features and three live-action versions of classic Disney tales.

Based on the 2018 box-office performance, filmgoers can expect movie studios to continue to deliver two predictable types of entertainment product in 2019: 1) additional sequels; and 2) more cinema that features costumed crusaders with super-human powers.

Of the top five box-office films of the year, four were superhero films, and amazingly the ten highest-grossing films of 2018 were either superhero movies, sequels, or both.

The top film of 2018 was the superhero offering “Black Panther,” which earned over $700 million domestically making it the third highest-grossing movie in the history of cinema. Following close behind was another superhero flick, “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The biggest take from last year’s ticket revenue arrived courtesy of the superhero genre, with four out of the top five films bringing in more than $2.3 billion. The “Spider-Man” spin-off “Venom” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp” hauled in another combined $429 million. The newly released “Aquaman” and “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” added an additional combined $300 million to last year’s superhero gross.

The enduring success of comic book characters that come to life begs the question: What is it about these superhero movies that draws people to the multiplex?

Family films pay the bills for Hollywood, and since parents are on an eternal quest for places to take their little ones, superhero films provide a relatively wholesome type of fare that adults and appropriately-aged children are able to enjoy together.

That the superhero phenomenon has become so deeply ingrained into the fabric of our culture suggests something more significant is occurring within the public consciousness. People instinctively long for stories in which moral tensions in plot lines are ultimately resolved in a fundamentally fair manner. Similar to the mythological gods of antiquity, superheroes possess powers and abilities that can rectify unjust situations. Superheroes also travel through storylines in which forces of good and evil have clearly marked boundaries and good generally triumphs over evil. In this fanciful realm, the universe is ordered and stability secured.

The successful releases in the superhero category typically feature characters with extraordinary powers, who, as they go about saving the world, must deal with ordinary relatable problems. When superhero characters possess an aura of authenticity, the stories surrounding them communicate a sense of hope that problems can be solved and obstacles overcome.

A study that took place in Kyoto, Japan, published in January 2017, explored attitudes of very young children toward heroic characters.

Six-month-old infants were presented with animations that depicted a character bumping into another character while a third onlooker watched from a distance. The onlooker intervened in one version and in a second version ran away.

When the infants were given the opportunity to select a real life replica of the intervening character or non-intervening character, the young subjects were more likely to choose the intervening character as opposed to the one who ran away.

The findings of the research indicate that pre-verbal six-month-old infants are able to recognize heroism, suggesting that the ability to identify a hero is an innate one.

This innate human attraction to heroism has been capitalized upon by the motion picture industry and explains, in part, the omnipresence of superhero characters in movies. Hollywood executives will soon debut even more superhero films. Scheduled for release in 2019 are Disney’s “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and Fox’s X-Men sequel, “Dark Phoenix.”

Adam McKay’s Oscar-seeking ‘Vice’

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Filmmaker Adam McKay has unleashed a cinematic hit piece just in time for Christmas.

McKay is first and foremost a comedian, whose stand-up helped him lock in a gig as head writer for “Saturday Night Live” for two seasons. He additionally formed a creative alliance with actor Will Ferrell, which opened the pathway for his directing of zany comedic romps including “Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights,” and “Step Brothers.”

One of the biggest turning points for McKay, though, came in 2015. He experienced critical acclaim and a whole lot of ataboys from his peers for his Oscar-winning movie “The Big Short.” The political dramedy about the 2008 financial crash was the winner of Best Adapted Screenplay and received four other nominations from the Academy.

Like so many modern-day stars, who have parlayed their success into full-fledged liberal activism in exchange for the secret promise of more accolades and awards, McKay’s latest outing, titled “Vice,” is a biopic of the hateful and distorted kind.

In the film, he re-writes the historical annals of Dick Cheney, who served as Secretary of Defense (1989 to 1993) during the presidency of the late President George H.W. Bush, and who went on to serve as Vice President of the United States (2001 to 2009) in the administration of former President George W. Bush.

As a self-identified Democratic socialist and an endorser of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election, McKay detests most Republicans, but he appears to have a special animus for one of Hollywood’s primary targets of vilification; that is, Cheney.

The filmmaker was seemingly intent on presenting Cheney’s rise to power from a left-wing perspective and was likely simultaneously motivated to win the affection of fellow GOP-haters within the film critic community and award granting organizations. He assembled actors from his prior successful ventures and enlisted others as well to create a project that is intended to please both film critics and Oscar voters.

To realistically portray Cheney, actor Christian Bale had to undergo a physical transformation through the use of facial prosthetics and weight gain.

Nominated five times without a win and viewed by Academy members as overdue for an award, actress Amy Adams plays Cheney’s wife Lynne. Adams’s role requires her to mature in age as she transitions from a college-years wife to a vice president’s spouse.

McKay’s strategy has already yielded awards season results. With six nominations, the liberal fictional treatment of Cheney’s life in “Vice” has resulted in the highest number of nominations in the upcoming Golden Globe awards. The movie has also garnered nine Critics’ Choice Award nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Award noms, as Oscar talk ensues.

An intriguing thing has coincided with the release of the film, though. Despite praise given for the performances of Christian Bale and Amy Adams, many establishment movie critics are expressing disappointment with the biopic and even some hostility. The critic community apparently loathes Cheney more than McKay does, and some have panned the movie for being too soft on the former vice president.

A Daily Beast review calls the film a “baffling tonal hodgepodge” that “at best marginally humanizes Dick Cheney and at worst lionizes him…” And a review in the San Francisco Chronicle states that “the failure of “Vice” is a failure on its own terms. If Cheney is really as bad as McKay believes — an empty shell of ambition, a destructive and malign force in American life — he warrants serious moral horror, not a smirky treatment that assumes, going in, that we all agree.”

Despite the fact that McKay channeled plenty of hate into “Vice,” his final cut appeared to move in two different directions. Apparently McKay’s humor background and sensibilities compelled the filmmaker to insert a sufficient amount of comedic material, but it may have served to undercut the perception by some that it met the appropriate attack mark.

McKay’s end product seems to be a conflicted work that is caught between comedy and drama, and the movie characters are thereby left without discernible motivations, floating about in a farcical superficial storyline.

Also, by presenting an all-powerful Cheney and an empty-suited Bush, the film unwittingly takes the 43rd president off the hook for the list of wrongs of which the left maintains the Bush administration is guilty.

Audiences get their first glimpse of the former vice president as a heavy drinker and brawler, who is expelled from Yale. He is being cajoled by his wife Lynn into changing his life.

Soon a revved up ambitious Cheney works for a future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is portrayed in an overly cavalier manner by Steve Carell. Cheney learns the political ropes from Rumsfeld and ends up conning the clueless caricature of G.W., played with zero depth by Sam Rockwell.

The “Vice” version of Cheney easily persuades the supposedly simpleton GOP nominee Bush into an arrangement that hands excessive power over to Cheney, allowing him to be the de-facto leader of the free world. Soon enough Cheney and his cadre of neo-cons slowly take over the reins of the presidency.

Although the movie starts out by informing the audience via an onscreen message that “Vice” is a “true story,” people in the know, including former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Undersecretary of Homeland Security Michael Brown, have pointed out that the film’s central theme of Cheney being the so-called man behind the curtain that called the shots for a feckless president is plain old fiction.