Wednesday, 6 June 2007

New Zealand’s influence on the US presidential elections

Yeah, well done there tvc. Loved that apposite title you gave your post. You may have been lulled into some sense of anticipation that you would get a flood of comments and/or or a whole bunch of follow-up posts, but alas, it’s been a no-show. Welcome to the blogosphere! Nevertheless, don’t think you’ve been absolved from ongoing contributions, although you have managed to wipe the slate clean in terms of the demerit points you’d built up over the past few months. And to be fair, I will have something to write about your latest discourse shortly. What’s been holding me up is a gargantuan fuck-off essay I’m having to write for my university paper that as usual should have been completed a couple weeks ago. Don’t worry though – I won’t give you a blow-by-blow account of the subject matter since you’ve generously warned me off academic tirades.

All I really wanted to do is allude to New Zealand’s influence on one of the possible outcomes of the elections we’re so much looking forward to next year. I refer here to the anticipated announcement of Fred Thompson’s candidacy for the Republic Party’s nomination for President. Apart from being a lobbyist, lawyer (co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee – “What did the President know and when did he know it?”) and former senator from Tennessee, you’ll all know Fred better of course from his acting gigs on Die Hard II: Die Harder and Law & Order. So what the fek has he got to do with Aotearoa? Well, he got his big acting break from Roger Donaldson, director of the first ever New Zealand movie shown in US cinemas called Sleeping Dogs (starring Warren Oates because first-choice Jack Nicholson thought NZ$5,000 wouldn’t even pay his green fees back in 1977), which launched the career of Sam Neil. Roger Donaldson and Sam Neil these days are close neighbours in Queenstown, in the central South Island, where they both grow wine. Roger is also responsible for that huge box office and critical success, Cocktail, which destroyed Bryan Brown’s career while Teflon Tom Cruise managed to keep on turning out other bilge. Strange how Hollywood works. Roger is, however, also responsible for some minor successes, like No Way Out, Thirteen Days, and The Fastest Indian in the World.

But to bring an end to this long story, Donaldson and Thompson were introduced as a result of the the 1977 Ray Blanton-Tennessee Parole Board scandal when became the subject of a 1983 book, Marie (I assume you Americans know all about this coz I don’t). Donaldson bought the film rights and travelled to Nashville to speak with the people involved with the original case. After meeting with Thompson, Donaldson asked Thompson if he wanted to play himself in the movie; Thompson agreed. The resulting film, Marie, was released in 1985. Donaldson then cast Thompson in the part of the CIA Director in his next movie, No Way Out, in 1987. Enough already? In other words, Thompson owes his big break in the public eye to a Kiwi ;)
How about voting for another, better actor for President? Make it count and give one for Christopher Walken.

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