December 19, 2017
But I’m too much of a con man myself to fool easily. All it took was a few phone calls to some publicists I knew, and I soon realized that none of the “committed” artists even knew about the project, so I took a pass. But I continued to watch from afar. Soon, Ivanovich brought in a fella named Claes Nobel, a tangential member of the Nobel family, and they began seeking money for their “peace concert” from China, where, they must have assumed, people really love stone soup. In one of the greatest moments of unscripted comedy in human history, the organizers took their stock-footage promo video and recut it, removing the image of the Dalai Lama and replacing it with…Mao. Yes, Mao, arguably the world’s greatest mass murderer, featured in a promotional video for a concert dedicated to “peace” and “nonviolence.” Don’t believe me? Here’s the video, posted in December 2006. Mao makes his appearance at 1:45 (check out the comments from some of the folks who got taken by the scam).
And some people were indeed taken. Eventually, the organizers gathered enough beef and carrots in their pot to hold a “We Are the World”-style sing-along. No Prince, Springsteen, or McCartney. But they did get Patrick Swayze and Christina Applegate, both of whom were dealing with cancer at the time (I’m tempted to look for a link there…perhaps lack of judgment due to chemo-induced dementia). They also got Al Jarreau and Edgar Winter. So, yeah, star-studded.
It’s because I’m familiar with this real-life farce, a bunch of nobodies and two cancerous B-listers singing “Give your love, give your faith, give your time, don’t hesitate. Show the world, that we all care. Show the children, that we will be there,” that I can genuinely appreciate And the Winner Isn’t for the deceptively biting satire it is. Because at this time in history, when we’re all distracted by Hollywood’s sexual-assault scandals, let us not forget that this town first and foremost wants your money, not your bod. This has always been a place for shell games, whether street-level, like World Peace One (which these days exists only as an un-updated website with dead links), or breathtakingly large, as in Buchwald v. Paramount, in which a studio attempted to argue that it saw no profit from a film that earned $350 million at the box office.
I have a great deal of affection for this business, so I don’t like seeing it misrepresented. It’s not just about pervs and abusers. For every exec who’ll have his eyes on a young girl’s boobs, there are twenty who’ll be looking at her purse instead.
It’s damn hard to satirize a town like this; it’s nice to finally see a film get it right.