By Ray Pride

Emily Nussbaum on TV and Trump

“Donald Trump is my worst nightmare. He watches completely different television than I do. [laughs] I don’t think he’s ever watched a scripted show. James Poniewozik, who’s the wonderful television critic for the Times, is coming out with a great book called ‘Audience of One,’ that is specifically about Donald Trump’s relationship with TV. I very much agree with the central premise of it, which is that Donald Trump himself kind of represents the medium of television. He’s basically the worst version of television. It’s not just the shows he watches, or the fact that he became a TV star because Mark Burnett specifically built Trump’s brand on ‘The Apprentice,’ convincing people that anything else was just a performance and that he was a successful businessman. It’s also that all of Trump’s values are the old-school values of TV in its first few decades, and the reason people found it repellent. Which is to say, he believes that only ratings and money count, and that everything is about numbers, math, and being liked. I originally found this confusing and baffling about him, and then, to my horror, I was like, No. Of course he’s right. This was the essential problem of TV for years, there was no distinction between popularity and the value of something. I wrote about ‘The Apprentice,’ and then Patrick Radden Keefe wrote this amazing piece for The New Yorker about Mark Burnett. You know, what can I say? Trump was elected, in my mind, because of basically two things—Mark Burnett and Ivanka Trump. I feel like those are the two factors that made his brand acceptable enough for people to vote for him. I went to a panel at the Museum of Television and Radio for ‘The Apprentice,’ and it’s fascinating, because Burnett was totally polished and literally articulated Trump’s appeal, his brand. He said, ‘He’s going to make America great again.’ Meanwhile, Donald Trump on that panel was just Donald Trump. He was whining, kvetching about minor disputes and annoyances he has, and how much he just wants to win Emmys. It’s crazy.”
~ New Yorker TV Critic Emily Nussbaum

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“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier

“My first objective relationship in life was with the camera. I didn’t understand anything but then I realized the camera is my friend. It doesn’t lie to me. It doesn’t manipulate me. It only reports what I’m doing. And therefore, for me to work with a camera and the camera to be directed by an artist, a craftsman, someone who knows what he or she wants, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
~ Elliot Gould