At the Movies: Opens Feb. 19
“Race” is the first dramatic film about Jesse Owens, the great African-American track star who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Nazi Germany. The film covers Owens’ college career, his difficult time as a movement grew in the United States to boycott the Games, his performance at the Games, and the “benching” of the two only Jewish members of the U.S. track team. I haven’t seen the film, so I don’t know how they cover a couple of big myths about the Games---first, that Hitler snubbed Owens after his wins because Owens’ was black (didn’t happen) and that Owens’ symbolically “won” the Games by establishing that blacks, who the Nazis regarded as “sub-humans,” could beat the “Nazi master race.” While reasonable people could agree with the latter point, the Nazis shrugged off Owens’ wins and, overall, the Games were a great propaganda coup for the Nazis—Germany won the most medals and the film of the Games, “Olympia,” directed by the “evil genius” Leni Riefensthal, a film character, greatly aided the Nazis’ image.
An American boycott of the Games was headed-off by Olympic Committee head Avery Brundage, an odious anti-Semite who is played by Jeremy Irons (who plays ‘odious’ very well). As depicted in the film, he ordered the head of the American track team to replace, at the last minute, two Jewish runners (MARTY GLICKMAN and SAM STOLLER) on a four man relay team, with two non-Jews. The motive was clear—not to “embarrass” Germany by having them lose to two Jews after losing to Owens in four events. Of course, this motive was denied at the time with absurd excuses, but the evidence was so clear that in 1998 the US Olympic Committee awarded a special medal to Glickman and Stoller by way of apology. (Playing Glickman is JEREMY FERDMAN, 29, a Canadian landsman with a lot of smallish acting credits.)
Glickman went on to be a famous and really great sportscaster. As for Stoller, I say this—while most Wikipedia entries are uneven, his is very well-written and sourced—it contains a comprehensive account of the Olympics controversy (link below). By the way, Stoller, a Cincinnati native, and Owens, a Clevelander, frequently competed in high school and college. They were great friends, despite the fact that Owens won every race but one.
This and That
JAMES BURROWS, 75, is often called the best TV sit-com director of all-time and on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 9PM, NBC will broadcast a tribute to him. Most of the cast of “Friends” is expected to appear on the show, including LISA KUDROW, 52, and DAVID SCHWIMMER, 49. Burrows is the son of the late composer/writer ABE BURROWS (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”). Jim Burrows, a ten-time Emmy winner, co-created and directed “Cheers”. He also directed dozens of other good sit-coms, including “Friends” and “Big Bang Theory.” Still active, he just directed his 1000th TV episode.
Here’s a “karmic” footnote to an old scandal. No doubt, you will recall that back in 2006, Mel Gibson was arrested for drunk driving by Los Angeles County deputy sheriff JAMES MEE and Gibson said to Officer Mee,” F-cking Jews... the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?" (Mee is Jewish). Well, Gibson was friends with Lee Baca, then head of the L.A. County Sheriff’s office, and many suspected that Mee’s written report of Gibson’s behavior and statements was put into a vault at Baca’s orders. The report was leaked to TMZ, and Mee was suspected of doing the leaking—but he denied it. However, Mee was on the department’s bad list and, in 2011, he was fired for allegedly violating department rules during the arrest of a speeding motorist. This firing was overturned in Sept. 2015 by a hearing officer and he was re-instated with full back pay. Mee had hardly any write-ups before the Gibson arrest, and his lawyer said his firing was “pay-back” by Baca and others. As for Gibson, his career has never recovered and Baca, no longer a sheriff, was just (Feb. 10) sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to charges of lying to the FBI (in 2013) about County jail conditions.
Here are articles about Mee's re-instatement and Baca's Sentencing
Mee Firing Overturned
Baca Pleads Guilty