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Gore Vidal on ‘Capote,’ ‘Brokeback Mountain’—and Why ‘Match Point’ Is the Best Picture of 2005

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Posted on Mar 3, 2006
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Vidal photo: Zuade Kaufman/
Illustration: Karen Spector

By Sheerly Avni

Prize-winning novelist, essayist, playwright and screenwriter Gore Vidal sat down with Truthdig’s Sheerly Avni on March 2 in the living room of his home in Hollywood. He spoke candidly about America’s prudishness, his admiration for Ang Lee, and Truman Capote’s Proust complex.

Listen to this item Click here for audio of the expanded version of this interview.

Sheerly Avni: Let’s start with “Brokeback Mountain.”

Gore Vidal: I liked it, I’m a great fan of Ang Lee. He did the best Civil War movie ever made, called “Ride With The Devil.” And it was really, really good. Lee had an extraordinary feeling, for somebody from Taiwan, for the American Civil War. It was just fascinating. So I was eager to see the movie about the two sheepherders, actually is what they are, they’re not cowboys. You can see there’s not a cow in the movie, just a lot of sheep. You can see how the two sheepherders might get tired of the sheep and begin to look to each other, as a kind of variation on a theme. I liked it, I thought it was quite moving, obviously thematically it’s important to do a picture like that about two ordinary men, seized at a time in which all this is forbidden and so on. 

It would have been nice, at the same time, if…it would have been better had they started with Kinsey, which was practically erased by the Academy, to which, alas, I belong. I thought that was a terrible error, because it was the best movie of last year, and informative and instructive: You learned a lot about the nature of human sexuality, that there isn’t just one good team and one bad team and one healthy team and one sick team. It’s not that at all. 

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Sex is a continuum. You go through different phases along life’s way ... and if you don’t, you’ve been sort of cheated. 

If this film were to win an Oscar, would it be a step forward in tolerance? How important is Hollywood in this equation?

Well, it never has been, and I don’t see why it should be suddenly now. That it was made at all and that it was made so honestly and so well is a good thing, better than to make a mess out of it, or not try at all…. 

Look, homophobia is fed into every child in the United States at birth. It is unrelenting, it never lets up. They asked a whole raft of high school boys across the country a couple years ago, one of those polls about what they would most like to be in life, and what ... they would hate to be, and so forth, and what they would most hate to be was homosexual. 

There wasn’t anyone, not one, who just skipped the question. They all said “oh no, that’s the worst thing you could be.”

To get over that training, that’s generation after generation. And it has not done the character of our nation much good. And that’s why we are a joke to the rest of the world, because we carry on about sexual matters everyone else has forgotten about. 

Mitterrand had his mistress at his deathbed, no problem.

No problem. And the events that befell poor President Clinton were all done because he wanted healthcare for everyone in the country, so you get him on dalliance with Monica in the White House. A matter of no importance at all—and no one’s business at all, except his. And that was interesting because that was the impeachment of a president for something that he had done, which was fibbing about—did he know her in the biblical sense. So they say, “That’s perjury, we don’t want a liar for president.” Look what we’ve got now; we don’t get the truth—ever. This was all cooked up to destroy the most intelligent politician in the history of the United States. And like a fool, he agreed to answer the questions. If I were he I would have ordered Starr out of the White House, and said, “If you come back I’ll have you arrested.” It’s as simple as that. And he would have won anyway, as it was proved. There are times that you must stand up and your private life is private and public life is public. 

So will this movie change anything? I think it might give some people a little more heart that what they’re doing is not so unusual. It is traditional, it is biologically correct; mammals have been performing same-sexual acts ever since the first mammal was created. I was not present, alas, at the time, but mammals do behave like that and to say they don’t or to try to frighten them as all those schoolboys have been frightened ... well that kind of indoctrination is awful, it makes us seem like a very stupid country to other people, with stupid laws. People are in prison for having done “unnatural acts” as they call it. 

Who is to say what is an unnatural act if it is natural for a person to [interrupts himself, affecting an outraged voice]—“Oh, but then you’re in favor of murder!” They go straight from sex to murder so quickly, just as they do in print. Sex and violence! Sex-and-violence! This is the only place on Earth that the two things are one word: sexandviolence! Well, sex has nothing to do with violence unless it’s rape, and then we have other laws to take care of that. 

May we ask you about “Capote”?

Oh, Capote. [Sighs.] I spent half a century trying to avoid him, in life, and now suddenly I’m surrounded by him. 

He was a pathological liar. He couldn’t tell the truth about anything, and he’d make it up as he went along. He always wore dark glasses, and his eyes would drop behind the dark glasses, and he would seem to be looking down at his nose, and then as he got more and more frenzied—the lies really very frenzied, they were orgasmic—you would start to see the eyes begin to roll up to see if you’d fallen for what he was saying. 

And it was always about famous people, some he’d barely heard of before. I remember he told me once “I’m the American Proust.” 

So I said, “So who’s your Mme Verdurin?” 

“Who?” 

He had not heard of one of Proust’s principal characters. He was confidently illiterate. It’s highly suitable that he would become iconic, because he didn’t know anything, and never told the truth. Doesn’t he fit in the age of Bush? 

Did you find the movie to be an accurate reflection of his personality?

Well no, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was a good movie, and they touched upon his treachery towards the two boys. He wants them to swing, because if they don’t he can’t finish his book and if he hasn’t finished his book, he’s in trouble. 

Kenneth Tynan, a great critic of that period, did an attack on “In Cold Blood.” It ran in The Observer in London. The headline was “For Cold Cash,” which was about the right tone, and that was pretty much the tone of the movie. The movie is quite brave about showing somebody who did not have any redeeming characteristics, nor did they pretend he had.

And how about the book itself?

Oh, I couldn’t read it. I read a bit of it in The New Yorker and thought; I’m not interested in murders, and pointless ones at that! I don’t know what excitement he got out of it. Obviously some voyeuristic aspect of himself was well served by contemplating it. 

In the film he had a frightening way of being able to create an empathetic connection with whomever he was trying to seduce at the time. Did he have that in real life as well?

Yes, he was a very astute flatterer.

Doesn’t sound like it worked so well on you.

No, it didn’t. We were always linked, my first bestselling novel was in 1948 and his was also published in 1948. He was a year older than—I was 23, he was 24. And there we were, our names were forever linked on the bestseller list, and he started saying things about me, which people were delighted to hear. 

But I just avoided him for years…. You know, there is a second Capote movie coming up, and I’m in it. I’m being played by quite a good British actor—Rupert Everett. I ran into him recently, and he told me he was playing me, and so I said well, have a good time, and he said, “You know I’ve been complaining it’s such a small part.” 

I said, “Because I avoided Capote!” [Laughs.]

And finally, which film do you think should win?

“Match Point” [which was not nominated]. I loved it. Woody Allen was the best filmmaker who was presented to us, and it’s one of his best movies. It’s realism. Life is mostly luck! And the protagonist is a lucky guy. The fact that he’s a bad guy is neither here nor there. Bad guys do very well too. 

It’s a very cold, dissecting movie. There’s not a lot of love there. 

I don’t go to movies for love, do you?

Don’t miss Part II of this interview coming the week of Mar. 6.

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By Garry Goodrow, March 31, 2006 at 12:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal has been, for some years, our very best political essayist. After he dies, that will be pointed out over and over (there will also be screaming fits from our so- called “conservatives.”) Intelligence that doesn’t apologize for itself, that isn’t dressed down into hometown malarky to make it easier to swallow, is much feared in our great land.In the land of Free Gift With Purchase, anyone who exhibits intelligence is seen as a snob. He is one of our very best writers, particularly in his historical work.

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By rudysdad, March 29, 2006 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh Glinda, you may be a good witch or a bad witch, but your litcrit definitely stinks.

‘Racist’ and ‘misogynist’? I think I may have read just about everything Vidal’s written, with the exception of ‘Williwaw’ and the pseudonymous mysteries, and I’ve never encountered a racist remark, nor even the hint of racism. ‘Empire’ and ‘Hollywood’ are written from the point of view of a woman of indomitable intelligence and resourcefulness who refuses to be treated as anything less than the equal of the powerful males she encounters. Throughout his work, women are often front and center, portrayed sympathetically and unsentimentally, not just interesting in their own right but absolutely indispensable, as muses and powers behind the throne, friends and lovers, to the lives and careers of men. The historical novels especially abound in fascinating, little-known female protagonists. I think of Mary Todd Lincoln and Kate Chase Sprague in ‘Lincoln’, or the shrewd, scary Atossa in ‘Creation’, and Aaron Burr’s last wife, a formidable fellow Rhode Islander, Eliza Jumel.

From all I’ve read of Capote, he seems to have been a shit, personally. Lately I’ve come to admire some of his writing, without revising my opinion of him as a person. Great artists are seldom ‘nice’ people.

If Vidal is indeed remembered by posterity for his vitriol alone, may I suggest my own personal favorite, which deserves to echo down time’s dusty corridors? Dismissing Ronald Reagan as “A triumph of the embalmer’s art”.

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By richard hydell, March 23, 2006 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

BUSH SAYS,U.S TROOPS WILL STAY IN FOR YEARS OUR GIRLS AND BOYS WILL DIE By http://www.wreckedband.com on March 23, 2006 - 7:14am.
BUSH LEAVES DATES OF WITHDRAWAL OPEN ENDED….IF ANY THINK THAT THE RIGHT WILL NOT BRING BACK THE DRAFT ...YOU ARE NUTS ..WE HAVE THREE YEARS TO SAVE OUR CHILDREN ...THE 60,70 PEOPLE TOOK TO THE STREETS WHEN THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WERE BEING KILLED AND STOPPED THE WAR…....N.KOREA THREATENS PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE AGAINST U.S. ...NO MORE COLD WAR ????IRAN NUKES ..INDIA..NUKES ...ISRAIL NUKES ..RUSSIA NUKES…U.S NUKES…CHINA NUKES ...PENTAGON PROBING CLAIMS THAT U.S. TROOPS KILLED 26 CIVILIANS ...MA LIA ..VIETNAM ...ALL OVER AGAIN ?? ...NOW IS THE TIME FOR US TO RAISE OUR FISTS AND SAY NO MORE DEATH .....RICHARD HYDELL AND WRECKED

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By Stephen Levy, March 18, 2006 at 9:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Einstein was the Man of the Century, Vidal is the intellect of the century.

“To truly understand history, one needs to read good fiction.”  GV

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By New Orleans Girl, March 17, 2006 at 11:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I totally agree - I am not a Woody Allen fan at all (though I do admit I did really like “Crimes and Misdemeanors”)
But I LOVED “Match Point” and I do think it’s his best film yet! 
I don’t know why it was ignored by the Academy either. I also agree much ado was made over nothing w/ Clinton and Monica - who cares? The rest of the world (even super Catholic Italy) was just laughing at our Puritanical obsession with Clinton’s (admitted or not) sex life. That’s between he and Hilary and has nothing to do with the rest of the country - Monica was young, but not a minor - this was not a crime…. Speaking of crimes - look who we have in the White House now - a blithering idiot who is making the whole country give him a blow job!

New Orleans girl

Oh! and PS - if the Republican convention had been held in New Orleans the weekend of the hurricane at the Convention Center on the River - you bet your ass Airforce One would have been flying in there with steak and eggs and Bloody Mary’s for breakfast to air lift his “posse” out of our destroyed city!

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By Anita Rushing, March 15, 2006 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you , Gore Vidal, for all the hours I have spent enjoying your books.Please,live many more years and guide us with your wisdom of the politi cal creatures.Also , thanks for the info about Capote. Just what I have always suspected.

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By klaus vonbulow, March 6, 2006 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Gore is a national treasure, let’s bury it.

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By rudysdad, March 6, 2006 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

‘Burr’ was the 1st book I read by Gore Vidal. Its corrosive take on our sainted founding fathers so shocked my teenaged mind, I threw it away. Then I bought another copy, reading it straight thru to the end. I’ve been an avid reader, and an admirer of Gore Vidal, ever since.

It’s commonplace to speculate that only the essays will interest posterity. I suspect that books like ‘Julian’ and ‘Creation’ will survive. Of the American history cycle, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Burr’, and ‘Empire’ are keepers. And Myra is one of the great figures of American satire, a truly subversive creation.

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By Cornet Joyce, March 6, 2006 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If “poor president clinton wanted healthcare for everyone in the country” why did he propose that monstrosity of a “managed care: system instead of healthcare for everyone in the country?

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By ZakAttack, March 6, 2006 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even if you don’t like any other Vidal book, you should give “Lincoln” a try.

Not is Lincoln brought vividly to life, the humanity of those around him, such as Seward, Chase, Stanton, and even Lincoln’s secretary John Hay, is unusually palpable. As is the evocation of the era.

Enthusiastically recommended.

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By sheerly, March 6, 2006 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks to readers for catching “Ride With the Devil”!

-SA

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By Richard Zeltner, March 6, 2006 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You know Gore it is far easier to criticize than
compliment or come up with a better alternative.
I do agree, however, that Match Point was an excellent and overlooked movie and that the same can be said of Kinsey. I cannot think why the performance of Liam Neeson was dismissed. He was brilliant

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By Chip DeNure, March 6, 2006 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think Vidal let’s the Clintons off the hook. Hillary botched health care. Clinton could have stood up for a single-payer plan like Canada’s but he didn’t. I thought he should have been impeached because he was guilty of trying to deprive Paula Jones of her constitutional rights in her sexual harrassment suit. Additionally, there’s his apparent rape of Juanita Brodderick-not to mention the mysterious deaths of Vince Foster, Ron Brown and many other political enemies back in Arkansas. He’s also the man who screwed the poor with his welfare reform and killed some 2,000 people bombing Serbia.

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By sally enttroe, March 5, 2006 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Finally a comment on the boys being ranch hands on a sheep ranch.  Really how perfect.
The writer and screen writers surely never called them—or had them referred to as—cowboys.  Sounds totally a media thing.

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By coal_train, March 5, 2006 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe Ang Lee also has a pretty good take on the next Civil War brewing in America.

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By blue golden, March 5, 2006 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore, I think our right to petition the government should be envoked, could you write up the petition?

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By D. K. Holm, March 5, 2006 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal is astute on Capote but neither he nor the filmmakers quite make it to the real point, which is that Capote needed the boys to die so that they could not dispute the things he made up about them for his book. Unless a statement is verrified by another, still-living person or comes from a checkable official document, nothing in that book that comes solely from Dick or Perry is to be believed. Vidal mentions Tynan’s piece on the book, reprinted in Tynan Left and Right and it is worth looking up, as Tynan consulted a lawyer about Capote’s claim that he couldn’t publish the book until the lads were dead. The lawyer disputes this, on legal grounds, and both he and Tynan point out that there is real restriction on Capote publishing a book on them without their execution. Capote said he needed an “ending,” but their committment to prison for live would have also served as an ending.  The real evil of Capote that Capote just falls short of establishing is that the writer needed the two criminals to die in order to promugate his own lies with impunity.

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By Blair Golson, March 5, 2006 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

Editor’s Note:

Thanks to readers for righting the name of “Ride With The Devil.” (and for the typo on “principle” character)

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By Jpeg, March 5, 2006 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal has an impressive intellect but it’s a shame he’s used it his whole life for marginal, unworthy topics like “Who should win the Oscar? Vidal is the lefts effete answer to the rights equally effete William Buckley. Vidal is at least as full of himself as Capote was. He’s become some sort of chiding grandmother in absentia. Gore, anyone who would listen to you has already figured out what’s wrong with the Bush administration and America. You’re not actually adding ANYTHING to the equation. Give it a rest, huh? Whining peppered with withering dismissals while sitting in your comfort zone is not going to displace this admin.

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By JIM FRAILEY, March 5, 2006 at 11:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

IMAGINE GORE VIDAL’S FUSTRATION…. WHEN THE GENIUS SPEAKS, INTELLIGENCE IS REQUIRED TO APPRECIATE IT.

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By Bunny, March 5, 2006 at 11:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All Gore Vidal interviews re: his contemporaries reduce to one word: meow.

“Match Point” was not original (see Crimes and MisDeMeanors), not sexy, not suspenseful, utterly predictable, not well shot, the actors banal, the dialogue banal (I know about the banalityy of evil but that’s no excuse), and the ring hitting the rail the only bit of cleverness. I"m an Academy voter too, and I’m proud to nullifyl Gore’s vote every year.

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By Big Russ, WWII Icon, March 5, 2006 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I liked Gore Vidal.
Then he came out with a VF article called: “Timothy McVeigh Was Right.”
He gave aid and comfort to the White Supremacist Movement and other intolerant NecroCults.
Why?
Think, a la Capote, he wanted to suck off his subject, and that blurred his integrity.

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By crackbaby, March 5, 2006 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal was also one of the first big name artists to speak out forcefully against the Bush Administration in the early days of the Dark Period. 

I remember reading an interview with Vidal when the wool had been pulled over the faces of nearly 70% of the people in this nation. It was like a piercing bolt of light that landed on me for a moment, lighting my way and giving me a brief but intense look into the future. That future came and was worse than even Mr. Vidal had predicted and described. 

But that tiny little glimmer of clean air that for a moment had removed the dread and grey poison of the Bush from my senses, also gave me hope to continue to the next island of truth in the sea of lies we now swim in.

Since that time, I’ve made it from islands to the mainland - much of the country has woken up and now the 70% who oppose these bastards make up themajority.  And I made it in no small part because this excellent author and insightful citizen saw fit to speak the truth during some or our nation’s most evil days. 

Thanks Gore Vidal, for all you have written and said.

CB

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By R.T.Tihista, March 5, 2006 at 9:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My problem with Gore Vidal’s books is the same problem i have with James Michener’s, they need editing.  I haven’t been able to finish one of either author’s books and after several hundred pages I wear out.  I like to hear Vidal speak, he’s an excellent and astute political observer, but his books, “oy yoy amma” as my sainted mother used to say, he goes on and on and on…...

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By Bruce Stinson, March 5, 2006 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a non-American, I continue to be bewildered by what matters to you guys.

Vidal is right - but let me put it in international terms: How did your country get bushwacked by Linda Tripp et al into believing that Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica was at all important?

It beggars belief. And now you have a moron who has led the free world into a situation which has killed tens of thousands and has no upside while alienting the entire Arab world.     

Wake up America! Rise up. Kick out these idiots with their neocon ideology. One blow job does not equal the end of the world - which we now face - courtesy of George and his pals.

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By comandante che, March 5, 2006 at 12:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

mr vidal’s comments are always a welcome (insert whatever positive metaphor may be appropriate here); however, what i found most interesting where the number of comments by readers. 
it gives one hope that america still has within its borders a great number of people who are not afraid to think or question.  may i suggest we all ban together, design a nice flag and begin the revolution at once.  hopefully mr vidal would consent to accept the position of president of the second american republic.
ONWARD VIDALISTAS!  DOWN WITH TYRANNY!
oh, and the reader who spotted the missuse of the word “principle” for “principal” will be named minister of education.

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By GuitarsandMore, March 5, 2006 at 12:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t see anyone on the horizon with the equivalent political instincts and intellectual capacity as Bill Clinton and after seeing what they did to him if such a person does exist I doubt that they would want to subject themselves to the same type of humiliation, insults, and witch hunts, the Republican party now sees as standard operating procedure.

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By Glinda, March 4, 2006 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That’s Vidal for you!

Frankly I’m was surprised to learn he’s still alive. I guess Billy Joel was right ...

I’ve had a love/hate thing with the man for decades and this piece encapsulates the problem with Vidal: he can be so brilliant and incisive in some of his non-fiction essays, but he can also be tedious / off the mark in his conclusions about life-related things / racist in ways that he’ll never understand but the younger liberal set can spot in a second in in his work / misogynist (but that’s a function of his generation’s gay males and their mindset ... see Larry Kramer and The Boys in the Band) and a really dull, unliterary fiction writer. At best you’d call his fiction “literary pastiche”.

Oy!

And he is jealous and vicious ... as his remarks about Capote illustrate. Capote wrote a small handful of really excellent prose. Vidal is just an interesting critic but no writer.

The problem with his vitriol: that is what he will be remembered for after he dies.

Sad.

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By GuitarsandMore, March 4, 2006 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There have been years when it was difficult to find even one movie that could be held up to the world and recommended as a great movie.  The last two years there have been many movies that were interesting and fun and enriching and educating.  Selecting one as “winner” does a disservice to all of the films that are not selected and perhaps a greater disservice to all of the people who will then dismiss those other films as fluff.

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By GuitarsandMore, March 4, 2006 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We wrote about “Kinsey” because Gore Vidal commented about “Kinsey” in his interview and yes everyone knows it came out in 2004 and we also know that it deserved something more than it was awarded.

“Kinsey” was a true story which earns it points right there but in addition to that the story is about the very first clinical scientific study ever conducted on sex and on such a large scale and with a broad range and scope.  Kinsey’s study rescued the subject of sex from eternal darkness and brought it into the light of day where it belongs.

Bizarre procedures are allowed where Doctors can cut a person open with a knife revealing one’s personal entrails to the world and even on TV sometimes and even replacing some of the organs with artificial plastic components or spare parts from another person.  This procedure is viewed as quite normal and often necessary while sex which is something that everyone does all the time is viewed by many as a taboo topic.

I would like to see the academy recognize each movie on it’s relative merit and not have to pick one as “winner” as that implies that the others are losers in some way and may not be worthy of your time and interest.

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By Griff, March 4, 2006 at 11:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d like to weigh in on Capote.

Can you separate the artist from the art?  It’s a tough question, and Truman Capote pushes it to the limit.

I am a writer and once read that the best way to learn writing is to read good writers.  That’s what I did, too.  Faulkner, Capote, Welty, Gilchrist, Twain and even the one-shot wonder John Kennedy Toole have made me a better writer.

However, none has made as much of an impression as Truman Capote (and I’m not including “In Cold Blood” as an influence since it’s my least favorite example of his prose).  But, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the many short stories he wrote—not to mention his first novel “Other Voices, Other Rooms”—are to me, sui generis. 

I don’t write like Capote but I wish I did; I savor every word he writes in his short fiction.

Now, as a person, I suppose he was “the little terror” he’s purported to be.  It’s awfully easy to malign Truman Capote; but my goodness, the literary landscape is littered with the corpses of writers who led private lives of ill repute.  Even Faulkner was called “Count/No count” in Oxford.

And finally, with all due respect, Gore Vidal hasn’t exactly been Little Mary Sunshine throughout his career.

So everyone, here’s to Truman, and his writing, and to regret that he isn’t alive to enjoy the attention he has received over the past year.

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By Greg, March 4, 2006 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Skimble

Gore didnt written the article, so your objection is adsurb.

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By R. A. Earl, March 4, 2006 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In #4583, Guitarsandmore wrote:

“I think that picking a winner is a process that needs to be retired.  Who is to say that “Kinsey” was any better than “Hotel Rwanda”?  It would be more meaningful to have people stand up and say why these movies were important and why they should be seen.
... 
“Best Picture” seems unfair to me because it excludes the possibility that there are many great movies out there that could be seen and enjoyed.”

I’ve often thought it ridiculous to acclaim an orange “better than” an apple.

If I were King for a Day, I’d issue a proclamation that the only valid awards would be those voted on by those who’ve SEEN the product. No nominations by interested parties (Members of the Academy). Just release the film to theatres and count the votes as deposited by patrons as they exit the theatre. One PAID ticket gets ONE VOTE. “Best” would be judged by the public as it should be. And even then, it would be “best” in category… musical, drama, comedy, etc. No overall “Best Picture.”

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By DA Blyler, March 4, 2006 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Vidal discusses Clinton in the recorded interview, he does not say:

“This was all cooked up to destroy the most intelligent politician in the history of the United States.”

He says: “This was all cooked up to destroy the most popular politician in the United States.”

A very glaring mistake which should be corrected.

And why delete from the transcription that Vidal was uncertain about the title of Ang Lee’s film and what year Kinsey came out—details which should have been kept in for the sake of clarity.

When Truthdig interviews someone of the stature of Vidal, they should take greater care about quoting him accurately and fully.

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By socrates, March 4, 2006 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Skimble:
It was an interview, not a typescript.  Blame the typist for mispelling “principal”

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By Keyser Soze, March 4, 2006 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment
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Flash video of Gore Vidal being interviewed by Ali G at: http://tinyurl.com/f3y7m

Gore Vidal is the first segment on the show.

(enable flash)

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By Lee Waits, March 4, 2006 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment
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Excellent interview because it’s Vidal….However, Vidal is misquoted in the written transcript. In the audio Vidal refers to Clinton as the ‘most popular politician in the United States’—not ‘the most intelligent president in the history of the United States’, as the transcript reads. Since these are two very different things this is not a minor point.—- Just one of the perils of doing interviews.

Lee Waits

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By Kathy, March 4, 2006 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment
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Gore is a national treasure.

But don’t look to Myra for any insight into transsexual lives. It plays much more like a gay man’s voyeuristic projection of our lives, or a drag farce. Ms. Huffman worked with two very well known and respected members of our community in perfecting her exceptional performance.

Though - I do hope we’re finally coming to a time where transpeople will be allowed to portray our own lives.

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By richard hydell, March 4, 2006 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
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On March 4, 2006 - 3:34pm http://www.wreckedband.com said:
http://www.wreckedband. com on March 2, 2006 - 11:00pm.

feingold ...said ..that this does not mean its over ..he will keep om fighting ......you weak need…yes need ....yellow ..human ....so many coments talk about ..bushes poll #s ...that the world hates bush ...well heres the thing ...raise your hands if u read the dem ...platform ...i mean picked the thing up and read ..what your party stands for ...really u should know it like a perverted precher knows his ...bible ...because we are the ones that make change ...martin luther took it to the streets ....jerry rubin took it to the streets ...kent state students ...were shot dead in the streets ....artists ...were out their taking it to the streets ...its your falt the act was passed ...u and the world dont seem to like george ....well he is the fucken pres ...he runs the show ..like it or not ....this is not scull and bones ..friends ..this is our ..our kids ...world ...get pissed at the leaders ...and then look at who we have become ...fat pigs ..cell phone ..video games….every distraction ...oh did i say money ....lots and lote of money ...bono ..100 million ..paul mccartney 1 billion ...bill cosby 300 million john cary 1 billion ..well his bitchie wife ....jessie jackson ...holy shit ....the sleeping giant is out their but the 60 s and 70 s people that took to the streets are fat ,inshape ...now have the time to get back out their ,,,look beatles ,,,cream ...hendrix ...rock gods ...sex drugs rock ....now the young ....who complane ....whip the fucken parents ...smack the people who made so much great change ..before ....take to the streets ...a house divided can not stand ...the greatest power on earth your in it u can controll it ,,,but we get pisser at the dems ..feingold ....holy shit ....look up folk your getting deep throuted ...and the islams the capitalest bill gates will sell your kids out like i.g. farber did in world war two ...look it up ....WAKE UP THE SLEEPING GIANT>>>>richard hydell and wrecked
http://www.wreckedband. com | Homepage | 03.03.06 - 12:40 am | #

————————————————————————————————————————

bi the way those bands i spoke of and their are a lot more ...a bunch of bands played on the oldies station ...not that theirs anything wrong with that ...but come on lets get some real new young rock ...hip .hop..rap .. and shake thing up ...everyone is so worried about their shit well ..make some noise at the grammies ..american music awards ...soul train awards ...tv shows ..talk shows ...any were ..those bands has fucken balls ...lennon had balls ...it does not take a village ..it takes a nation ....the most powerfull nation that their ever was ....richard hydell and wrecked
http://www.wreckedband. com | Homepage | 03.03.06 - 12:51 am | #

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By Sandy, March 4, 2006 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment
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I always enjoy Gore Vidal’s take on things, and his writing, but I have to disagree about “Match Point.” I thought it was a pale rehash of the much superior “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

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By David Ehrenstein, March 4, 2006 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment
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I was there that night at UCLA. too. Gore Vidal is a Nationl Treasure. I’ve just finished reading “The Smithsonian Institution”—one of his very best and highly reccomended to a nation that seems unable to deal with fiction—only fake “truth” a la Oprah. 

Love to hear his reaction to “Good Night and Good Luck.”

Gore’s war with Truman Capote is one of the funniest chapters in American Arts and Letters. A truly hilarious movie could be made about it. I love the story about the time Truman wanted to visit Paul Bowles in Tangier but was afraid Gore might show up. So he investigated. Gore caught on to what he was up to and gave the impression that he was going to be elsewhere when Truman planned to go. So Truman arrives, by boat. He’s overjoyed. There’s Paul Bowles at the dock to greet him. But right behind Bowles is Gore. Truman’s face falls through the floor. Gore stays around long enough to drive Truman crazy—then splits. It’s kind of like a real life Roadrunner cartoon.

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By Tim, March 4, 2006 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
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I agree with Gore Vidal that this country is sex obsessed, but then many of our films deal so graphically with the subject. I think the sex-obsession (prudish and permissive) works both ways, and Hollywood is milking the sex theme for all it’s worth (hetero, homo, whatever).

I did not see Brokeback Mountain, nor do I have any intention of seeing it. It may be a wonderfully made film, but the subject matter does not interest me, and it only seems to add fuel to the problem we have in this country between the socio-political extremes. I did see Ride With the Devil, and as a Civil War buff, I was not impressed.

I agree that the U.S. is the laughing stock of the world in many respects, but it is our money dominated, consumer-driven, entertainment ‘pop’ culture that makes us what we are, and continues to create morons like George Bush who run for office, and/or vote for other morons.

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By skimble, March 4, 2006 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
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“He had not heard of one of Proust’s principle characters. He was confidently illiterate.”

I hate to bitch about such things, but because it’s Gore Vidal speaking, I must. It’s “principal.”

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By Susan E. Siens, March 4, 2006 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment
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If when I don’t agree with him, it’s always a heartening and often humorous experience to read Gore Vidal’s comments and essays. But there were cows in “Brokeback Mountain”: Ennis worked as a ranch hand on cattle ranches (he refers to heifers birthing and we see him feeding Herefords).

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By Jack Plum, March 4, 2006 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
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ROSIE:  “If you are a moron, this is the time and place to be alive” ... that is truth verbatim and I am going to have a bumper sticker reading just that.  Hilarious.  By the way everyone, I am going to be the next Gore Vidal….so nanny nanny boo boo.  Jack Plum

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By Elizabeth, March 4, 2006 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
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I totally second his thoughts on match point; I hope it at least wins best original screenplay.

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By Al Capone, March 4, 2006 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
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Well, the only thing Gore Vidal did better than Capote: he lives longer. Capote as a person was surely intolerable but he wrote one of the best books of the last century, without any doubt. Vidal just tries to be witty by saying that he never read it, but hey, that’s surely the best prerequisite to judge it. Why Vidal didn’t continue “trying to avoid him”? And let’s be honest: Anybody will remember any book of Vidal in fifty years? Sigh.

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By Roy Gardner, March 4, 2006 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
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For the record, Ang Lee’s Civil War movie is called ‘Ride with the Devil’. ‘The Devil Rides Outside’ is the title of a novel by the US author John Howard Griffin.

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By bc, March 4, 2006 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
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It’s the first time I’ve heard someone say what I have contended all along:  Bill Clinton’s attempts to “re-enfranchise” the working class and the poor are what got him into “trouble”.

Any leader who tries to empower the common man- at the expense of the ruling class- is either assassinated or smeared out of town.

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By dannyinla, March 4, 2006 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
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Ang Lee’s Civil War movie is RIDE WITH THE DEVIL - although Gore Vidal’s title is better

to the “Kinsey” fans - You’re both a year late. It came out in 2004… and Laura Linney was nominated.

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By LordMoon, March 4, 2006 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
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In point of fact, the worst thing to be when you grow up is a Republican…

Great interview…

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By Vicki Davis, March 4, 2006 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment
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I love to hear anything that Gore Vidal has to say!  He has always been my choice when asked “if you were stranded on a desert island, who would you like to have with you?”

I look forward to the next installment.

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By Ron Samuels, March 4, 2006 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment
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Of course, Gore Vidal is right about Clinton’s intellect and the fact that he was impeached for what should have been a private act.  However, he is wrong that it only concerned Clinton himself, as it also affected at least the rest of his family when it became public, as anyone with a lick of common sense should have known it would.  So all that genius and no judgement caused Clinton, perhaps the most astute politician in modern times, to make a decision to indulge himself that had disastrous consequences for himself, his family, the institution of the Presidency, and not least of all his own political party, which the Democrats are still paying for.

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By Rosie, March 4, 2006 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal is, to put it simply, a national treasure.

I recall the mammoth intellectural brawls between Gore and Normal Mailer when TV still featured programs for people with working brains. Much missed.

So tragic that American culture is now dominated by nincompoops, religious nuts, repressed fascists and Walmart shoppers. If you are a moron, this is the time and place to be alive.

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By Liz, March 4, 2006 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment
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I had the distinct privilige of hearing Gore Vidal speak at UCLA on March 18, 2003—the night before Iraq war started. I felt powerless, sitting in Royce Hall that night—knowing something was about to begin that so many believed was wrong—and we couldn’t do anything to stop it.  When Gore came onto the stage, he was gracious, acknowledging the appreciative audience.  He spoke, not without hope but with an understanding of what was about to happen and why.  I am so glad that he is around to make us think about the world differently and to be open to the possibilities that we otherwise might not see. May you live a long and healthy life!

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By Christine Smith, March 4, 2006 at 10:23 am Link to this comment
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Highly recommended to those who appreciate Vidal’s film commentary:
his book “Screening History,” and I second David Macaray’s recommendation of Vidal’s “The Best Man.” 

Excellent interview—a topic it’s good to hear Gore Vidal’s comments upon….again his astute observations of our society and its preoccupations, taboos, indoctrination, is always refreshing. 
Looking forward to Part II.  Thanks, to TruthDig and to Mr. Vidal for sharing with us.

I enjoyed “Screening History,” and thus welcome this interview sharing Vidal’s thoughts on current films as they relate to society…would be a topic I’d welcome Vidal again writing upon-but as in this interview-in regard to recent films, perhaps say, of the last ten years would also be interesting.  His comments, no matter the topic that initiates the discussion,  always elucidate truth.  “Screening History” was an insight into the films he appreciated during his life.  I particularly enjoyed his recollections in that book.

—Christine Smith

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By Francesca Redwine, March 4, 2006 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal is a rare brilliant thinker, writer, social critic and great wit. I enjoyed his comments on “Brokeback Mountain” and Truman Capote, and I agree 100% with his thoughts about President Clinton. I was fortunate to meet Mr. Vidal two or three years ago at his book signing, he gave a wonderful speech, he’s still exceedingly handsome and glows with charisma. Yeah, I’m in love with the guy, what thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing person wouldn’t be?

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By bboldt2, March 4, 2006 at 9:38 am Link to this comment
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The voice of Gore Vidal, like the prophets of old, is a badly needed remedy for what ails us.  In our excessively sex-obsessed, sex-repressed country, his voice has always spoken for reason and tolerance. 

I especially appreciated his comments concerning the merits of the Kinsey movie.  I think one of the main reasons for the fact that it won no Oscars was the pressure from the hysterical Christian religious right that campaigned actively to even keep the film from being made.  I heard that members of this group even went so far as placing harassing calls to Liam Neesan’s mother in an attempt to cause him to turn down the role. 

It is interesting that three of the most significant social reformers of our modern age: Margaret Sanger, Roger Baldwin and Alfred Kinsey have had their legacies besmirched by the likes of these latter-day Torquemadas.  There are dark clouds gathering over human rights in this country.  First they came for the Arabs and I did nothing, then they came for my wife and daughter…  Already the first piece of draconian legislation to strike down Roe v Wade is being enacted in South Dakota. My gods, they will not even allow abortion in the case of incest or rape!  All their ducks are finally in a row from Alito and Roberts to the red-state legislatures.  I predict that within the year Roe will be history and the blue-noses will have returned women to the only permissible status allowed by their Old Testament God:  second-class citizen-breeders.

Live long and prosper Mr. Vidal!

Peace,

Bob Boldt

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By felicity smith, March 4, 2006 at 9:27 am Link to this comment
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I walked out of “Match Point” muttering to myself, “Allen’s lost it.”  The theme of the movie is, of course, one that has run through literature, myths, fables etc. since such have existed. The directing was abysmal: The plot was infantile:  The editing was careless: The denouement?  Was there one?  At lease it wasn’t any worse than “Titanic.”

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By karl tank, March 4, 2006 at 4:55 am Link to this comment
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Nostalgic for integrity. Thank you Gore.

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By Betty Lockyear, March 4, 2006 at 3:53 am Link to this comment
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I remember when Mr. Vidal was frequently on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar and later Johnny Carson.  He is always entertaining and makes one think.  Unfortunately, he is just too intelligent to make the guest list of the bobbing heads, lock-step, oh, let’s just call them “Stepford Wives” TV hosts these days.

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By Mitch Silverstein, March 4, 2006 at 3:43 am Link to this comment
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Now I’m convinced that Hoffman deserves the Oscar for Capote.  The reason:  his Capote performance was at least as CREEPY as the real Capote that Vidal describes!

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By racetoinfinity, March 4, 2006 at 1:53 am Link to this comment
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Very astute and entertaining post, Mr. Vidal.

Yes, Clinton may very well be the smartest president we’ve had (or one of them) - his Trilateral NAFTA and further “free trade” enthusiasms and some “please like me” cowardices have to be pointed out, though.

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By Dan Weisman, March 4, 2006 at 1:26 am Link to this comment
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If I ever got to introduce Mr. Vidal at a wrestling event I would announce: “And now!......entering the RING!....The Lazer Eyed Eagle!....The Asshole Assasin!....The Sacker of Socialites! The Recontuer of Rascality!...THE REVEALER OF REALITIES….THE ONE, THE ONLY!....MASTERTRUTHBLASTER!....GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE…VEEEEEEEEEEEDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!”

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By Robert Lipton, March 4, 2006 at 1:22 am Link to this comment
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I would rather listen to, and read, Gore Vidal than any other critic of our country and culture I can think of.  While others are as knowledgeable, no doubt, who else is so wittily fearless in his opinions.  If I had a show, I wouldn’t just invite him on, I would turn it over to him.

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By Guitarsandmore, March 4, 2006 at 12:40 am Link to this comment
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I think that picking a winner is a process that needs to be retired.  Who is to say that “Kinsey” was any better than “Hotel Rwanda”?  It would be more meaningful to have people stand up and say why these movies were important and why they should be seen.

I would like to see recommendations and favorites for Science Fiction for example as a category. 

“Best Picture” seems unfair to me because it excludes the possibility that there are many great movies out there that could be seen and enjoyed.

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By nate, March 3, 2006 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment
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I think we,re the same,so they say I,m out there!Ha, If I stand alone here against ,the slave/tyrent,millitary,public ,who love digging their own grave ,so be it.Such small minds ,who have developed a taste for dog shit are the norm in fair town USA. PORE Alaska.

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By STEVE STRATFORD, March 3, 2006 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment
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I liked the comments on President Clinton’s misfortunes in the oval office with pretty Monica. I think most men with two palotas twixt their legs would be tempted. And it is their business only. Ken Star is nothing but an oportunistic hipocrite which seems to be a popular thing to be these days in and out of Washington.

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By David Macaray, March 3, 2006 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment
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Nice interview, so far; I’m looking forward to Part II.  One point, if I may, about “Match Play.”  While it is set in London town, Allen’s original script called for the action to take place in the Hamptons (this according to the New Yorker’s David Denby).  Why was it moved across the pond?  Woody couldn’t obtain the necessary American financing to launch the picture.  And when it became an English shoot, it also became, not surprisingly, an “English story.”

Tip for Vidal fans:  Rent his film, “The Best Man.”  Although almost 50 years old, it’s still vital and shockingly relevant.

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By skipper geanangel, March 3, 2006 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal is a wonderful social critic and an astute aristocrat. I enjoy his ideas very much and I agree with them. Please read other observations of the past two-three years. He has this age covered well and his truth is heartfelt and relentless. Mr. Vidal has been deliberately ignored by the media powers and most people don’t know of him That is so sad. He’s a genius.

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By Dr. Susan Block, March 3, 2006 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment
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Once again, Gore Vidal tells it like it is.  Clinton was (one of) the smartest presidents we’ve ever had, and probably one of the most honest.  “Kinsey” and “Match Point” both should have been nominated for Best Picture of the Year.  It is the height of Hollywood unfairness that they were not.

But Match Point makes its own point: Life is rarely fair.  It’s almost all about luck.  Well, we’re all very lucky we’ve still got Gore Vidal around to tell it like it is. 

I love you, Gore!  Please accept my invitation to be a guest on my show sometime soon.  You can talk about whatever you want, and I will pack my studio audience with your fans, so luck will hardly be a factor.

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By Paul Cotur, March 3, 2006 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment
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I completely agree:  “Kinsey” was one of the best, most honest movies I’ve ever seen, and clearly deserved to be nominated.  No surprise that the very lame acadamy awards people overlooked this gem.

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By Jim Slater, March 3, 2006 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal you are my hero!

  I have read “Palimpsest” and I truly enjoyed all of it. . . I wish I could meet you, as I feel I already know you.  I have started “Hollywood” and have just finished “The City and the Pillar”.  Your writing style is magnificent, and I marvel at your beautiful weaving of the language.  I have ordered your last four books concerning our faultering nation under George W. “DumbAss”, and his gang of lying liars. . . And I have listened to every interview you’ve given by way of ‘Google’on my computer.  If the truth is to be told, you’re the man for the job. I only wish we could get you more on the major news channels: CNN, C-Span, etc…Your voice is important!
  As a 46 year old gay man, you and only you have given me more hope and confidence, through your writings and commentary, than I ever thought possible!  I only wish I had discovered you thirty years ago.
  Keep up the great and important work you are so diligently maintaining.  You may be 80, but you are the youngest mind speaking up today and I am proud you can keep reminding all of us that as Americans WE CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!!!  I continually watch for your next appearance on “RealTime with Bill Maher”, and all your new publicity. 
  You are a National Treasure!  Your Friend, Jim Slater

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By Tarja, March 3, 2006 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment
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Gore is right about Clinton’s formidable political intelligence. Also, as he says, the not-nominated “Match Point” should, but obviously can’t, win Best Picture Oscar.

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