Jan 292003
 
Authors: Eric Todd Patton

In 1981, television producer and visionary Chuck Barris wrote what he called an ‘unauthorized’ autobiography on his controversial life. He titled it ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,’ and it was optioned years ago by a Hollywood production company but bounced around to different studios without anybody holding the courage to set it into production. That is, until George Clooney got hold of it.

Chuck Barris starts off as a man enthralled with women. He was quoted in the movie saying ‘I was fueled only with the desire to get more p****,’ so he worked hard at achieving jobs that he thought would get him laid. He began work at a television studio, but found no woman wanted him unless he was someone of importance. He started pitching ideas to the executives and they bit.

The first pitch he gave got the executives excited, the idea for “The Dating Game.” After filming the pilot episode, the comments and actions of the unpredictable, unscripted guests terrified the executives, who said, “we cannot put people discussing sex out of wedlock on national television, let alone some guy simulating getting a blow job!”

The show was shelved. Enter George Clooney as a CIA director. Intrigued with the idea of being a CIA operative, and “laying some hot eastern European chicks,” Barris quickly accepts the offer. Soon after his first killing, the studio calls, offering him the job to produce his show, “The Dating Game.” Thus begins his life as a television producer and a CIA hit man, spiraling in and out of paranoia and to the brink of insanity before he gets the urge to write a tell-all.

Sam Rockwell, playing Chuck Barris, is brilliant. Very rarely do we see an actor who is so much fun to watch on the screen. His line delivery, his facial expressions and modernist demeanor all amount to Clooney making an incredible casting choice.

Clooney should actually be the talk of Hollywood right now. He managed to find his own unique directorial style with darkened images and what seemed to be a soft (fuzzy) picture throughout. It is horribly difficult for a first time director to find a characterizing style and voice. This is as great as when Redford jumped into directing with “Ordinary People” and as exciting as when first time director Guy Ritchie came out with “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

The controversy, or at least debate and mystery, around Barris’ life is whether he is truthful about what happened in his life or not. That debate does not matter here. This film is intriguing in fact or fiction. Furthermore, Barris has been met with criticism surrounding his television shows.

People said that he lowered the standard of entertainment. He was the gateway into reality television that plagues us now with “American Idol,” “The Bachelor,” “Survivor,” “Temptation Island,” and just about every other show on the set today. But I do not think it was a lowering. Ever since America started entertainment back on stage in the 1700’s we have been known as lowbrow entertainment … not sophisticated. But is that bad? We have more viewers of television than any other country in the world and most of our shows are requested overseas. We can appeal to the masses. We appeal to what people want to see.

So that is what was great about Chuck Barris. He knew what people would want to watch as he started “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game,” “The Gong Show” and many others. He appealed to the masses and was successful. So is he autobiography true in regard to the rest of his “secret” life? Nobody knows. But look what has happened again. He appealed to the intrigue that surrounds such a claim and got the masses to watch him once again. Brilliant. A-.

FOR THE BOX;

Starring; Sam Rockwell, George Clooney, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts.

Directed By; George Clooney.

What You Need To Know; Very Intriguing, in fact or fiction! (or if it sounds better Dustyn) Clooney has managed to finding his own unique directorial style!

Final Grade; A-

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