Watching Celebrities Self-destruct
It was Charlie Lederer who persuaded “Aunt Marion” in 1957 to pony up $10,000 to produce Gore Vidal’s play, “A Visit to a Small Planet.” Hence the connection.
“Citizen Kane” opened on May 1, 1941, and Hearst mobilized the entire might of his vast media empire in the fight to bring it down.
Seven months and six days later, the Japanese launched the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the film basically faded away.
I believe that it was Welles’s declaration of war against Hearst that scared the wits out of studios and backers who would forever view him as an enfant terrible— a dangerous and irresponsible loose cannon. As a result, Orson Welles’s career was one of anguish, no financing and—perhaps most hurtful of all—loss of authority over his work. He was perpetually in debt, forced to scrounge money wherever he could—including TV commercials for cheap Paul Masson wine—so that he could finish abandoned projects, only to have the money-men edit his masterpieces.
At the end of his life, when Welles heard that Ted Turner was threatening to colorize “Citizen Kane,” Welles reportedly said, “Keep Ted Turner and his goddamn Crayola pens away from my movie.”
Don Imus—A Lifetime of Insulting Everybody
Where Orson Welles picked a fight with the second most powerful man in America, Don Imus went after the powerless.
Remember as a kid when you had a loose tooth that you couldn’t resist playing with, even though every time you moved it, it hurt?
That’s why I used to watch Don Imus.
I remember the horror of a speech he made at the Radio/TV Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, March 21, 1996, with President Clinton and the first lady in attendance. He shamelessly stuck spikes in the eyes of the Clintons and a slew of noteworthy people in the audience. It was loose-tooth funny, but also so very hurtful, embarrassing and horrifying that the White House requested that C-SPAN not rebroadcast it. (C-SPAN ran it again, anyway.) Here’s a sampling of vintage Imus from what he later referred to as the “Speech from Hell”: