Hollywood, it seems, is ready for war. Battle lines are being drawn—and we haven’t even gotten to the bloody PR wars of the upcoming Oscar race.
The gloves came off, as they say, early this summer. To be specific, irascible megastar Tom Cruise threw his gloves down—one in the general direction of the glib Brooke Shields, another in the face of even glibber Matt Lauer (just weeks after Lauer had presented him as a finalist in that completely ridiculous “Greatest American” contest) and yet another at the glibbest of them all, famed shrink Karl Jung. (Don’t ask me why the man had three gloves on him.)
It all became very confusing. Nicole Richie found one of the gloves and fired it at Paris Hilton, while Angelina Jolie got in on the action and threw a glove down at Jennifer Aniston, everyone’s favorite ex-annoying uptown Manhattan neurotic/jilted lover. Aniston, evidently confused about the metaphor in question, threw down the proverbial “gauntlet” before sheepishly realizing her mistake and running out of sight.
Speaking of George Clooney, his good buddy Steven Soderbergh got in on the fray when M. Night Shyamalan attacked Soderbergh’s asinine new distribution plan, which would release films on DVD and the Internet at the same time they are released in theatres. Shyamalan said, “I’m going to stop making movies if they end the cinema experience.” Sadly, his statement proved to be counterproductive, as the 35 to 40 million people who paid good, honest money for “The Village” immediately sided with Soderbergh.
At which point Shyamalan responded, “Ha! I’m not really going to quit movies. That was just a clever ruse! I fooled you! Didn’t see that coming, did you? You fell for it, didn’t you? I fooled you all! Mmwua-ha-ha! I’m the master of deception!”
And in what may turn out to be the biggest celebrity battle of them all, Warren Beatty is doing a bit of gubernatorial posturing at the expense of Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps readying himself for a one-on-one battle with the Governator himself. Personally, I’ve seen Arnie defeat the scientifically superior T-1000 all by himself, mow down thousands of bad guys while somehow never running out of ammo, cut off the skin of his left arm, defeat Satan, singlehandedly eradicate international terrorism—and I’ve even seen him get pregnant and give birth, a feat previously thought impossible for a man. (Incidentally, this was all captured on film.) Has Warren Beatty ever done any of those things? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Beatty has been vocal in his criticisms of Schwarzenegger, accusing him of “bullying labor and the little guys,” and even said of the governor’s public-education policy, “he should defend the teachers because he has so much to learn.”
Mr. Kindergarten Cop himself answered, through his reps, by calling Beatty a “crackpot,” claiming he was “jealous” and also “old.” Yes, Schwarzenegger’s banter consists mostly of one-word remarks, grunts, and copyrighted one-liners from the mind of James Cameron and the like. I can only imagine a head-to-head televised debate between the two Hollywood heavyweights:
Arnold: Mr. Beatty. I see you’re running for governor. I guess that makes you a ‘running man.’ (audience laughter)
Beatty: Arnold, how can you defend the lucrative campaign contributions you’ve received from big business while the budget deficit continues to expand?
Arnold: I’m going to ‘terminate’ the budget deficit! (audience laughter)
Beatty: You were also responsible for the completely unnecessary “special election” last November!
Arnold: Oh yeah? After this election, it’s going to be ‘hasta la vista…Beatty.’ (audience laughter)
Beatty: What do you say to your plummeting approval ratings?
Arnold: I’ll be back. (audience laughter)
Beatty: Mr. Governor, your free spending and irresponsible fiscal policy have sunk this state even deeper into debt than when you got here!
Arnold: Um…come wit me if you want to live.
Beatty: That doesn’t make any sense.
OK, so maybe celebrity feuds are nothing new. But it wasn’t always like this. John Lennon and Paul McCartney just gave each other the silent treatment for a decade. East Coast and West Coast rappers had each other shot and killed. Ah, the more civilized days.
These modern feuds are all tied together by one common thread: TV and magazines are the battlefield. Feuds begin and end with the media. This celeb has his or her publicist tell that celeb that he or she has cooties. And vice versa. And, again! Even the rather civilized Shyamalan/Soderbergh fight is being fought through the pages of Empire magazine.
I’m not saying this is anything new, of course. In fact, I’m only exacerbating the issue, right here in this very publication. But isn’t it all getting a little bit tiresome, how celebs pit themselves against one another and gain instant publicity?
I don’t know, maybe “Celebrity Deathmatch” had the right idea. Put into practice, maybe that would settle things down. And if so, my money’s on Arnold.
craig [at] saltshakermagazine.com