'Judge' Jack Valenti rules in favor
of a film that murders the truth

He belittles critics, calls their complaints a 'tragedy,'
and pronounces a false movie 'true'

Point-by-point critique of the movie | Why Denzel Washington should not get the Oscar

Hurricane Carter: The Other Side of the Story -- Main Page

VarietyOn March 20, 2000 -- four days before the close of Academy Award balloting -- Jack Valenti issued an extraordinary statement in support of the movie "The Hurricane." In effect, he came out in support of an Oscar for Denzel Washington. Valenti is the head of the Motion Picture Association of America. His comments were covered in the March 22 issue of Variety.

[Variety, it should be noted, is the paper that refused an ad from the families of the murder victims but happily ran Valenti's statement and ads praising the movie and its producers. For example, the cover of the March 17 issue (right) is made up entirely of an ad containing a picture of Denzel Washington with the headline, "For your consideration, Best Actor, Denzel Washington, The Hurricane."]

Some thoughts on Mr. Valenti's statement:

In addressing the controversy surrounding the inaccuracy of the movie "The Hurricane," Jack Valenti says, "The tragedy of this avalanche of censure is that it intrudes on the message of the movie which illuminates the rightness of American justice."

The movie illuminates nothing. Instead it casts a dark shadow over the truth and does harm to the good people who worked hard to send Rubin Carter to prison. The movie falsely depicts both the crime and the prosecution and serves as propaganda for a man 24 jurors and two prosecutors determined was guilty of murder. Unlike Judge Valenti, those people made their determinations after weighing the evidence from both sides.

Mr. Valenti is defending a movie that is an insult to the honest and dedicated people in our justice system and an embarrassment to our country. The film is being shown to overseas audiences who are buying into its false message that an obsessed racist cop was able to frame Rubin Carter. Hollywood is trashing our country, and Mr. Valenti is saluting the garbage.

Mr. Valenti belittles the complaints from the families of the victims by saying the movie requires "a taut narrative which sometimes vaults over the nooks and crannies of every detail though honoring the basic facts of the true story."

Mr. Valenti has been misled. The "nooks and crannies" being ignored are actually the Grand Canyons of truth and justice. The only story being honored is the one told by a man two juries pronounced guilty of murder.

"The Hurricane" is a special story about the triumph of truth," Mr. Valenti says.

He is wrong.

"The Hurricane" is a special story about how you can fool most of the people some of the time.

-- Cal Deal, 3/24/00


You Don't Know, Jack

What does Jack Valenti really know about the Carter case, and when did he start knowing it?

Mr. Valenti has made a second attack on the many people who believe Rubin Carter is guilty of murder. His latest critical comments appear in a letter published March 26, 2000 in the Los Angeles Times,

Mr. Valenti must have put on his Sherlock Holmes hat, taken considerable time out of his busy Oscar-season schedule, and spent many hours investigating the case before writing his letter, because he states as fact that critics have "unfairly taken aim at both Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter and Denzel Washington."


He goes on to take sides with the man twice convicted. He writes:

"It's tough to figure who's getting the worse deal: Hurricane Carter, who because the movie of his life is up for an Oscar, is suddenly being retried in the media and on the Internet; or Denzel Washington, whose beautiful and poetic performance has been caught up in the controversy.

"It's wrong to retry Rubin Carter in the media. The Supreme Court should have had the last word on his case. It's wrong to judge Denzel Washington's performance on anything other than its artistic merit. Let the academy members have the last word on his performance."

Mr. Valenti seems to feel it's okay to retry the case in the media as long as it's Universal Pictures which does the retrying. One wonders whether Mr. Valenti's position is inspired by rock-solid principle or by the knowledge that Universal Pictures contributes a nice chunk of his budget.

Mr. Valenti apparently doesn't know that it was just two alleged procedural errors cited by a rather liberal judge that got Rubin Carter out of prison. The evidence that convinced two juries still stands.

Mr. Valenti also seems to forget that it was Denzel Washington who took Rubin Carter by the hand, brought him onstage and declared "this man is love" to the world -- forever entwining the "private" controversy with his professional life. It is Denzel Washington who appeared at Rubin Carter's side on "Oprah" and "Larry King Live."

Denzel Washington put on the bathing trunks of publicity and dove into this swirling controversy; Mr. Valenti is complaining because we're saying Mr. Washington is all wet.

Denzel Washington would have been better served if Mr. Valenti had handed him a towel.

-- Cal Deal, 3/26/00

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