Borat Sagdiyev discusses the politics of Central Asia during a visit to Washingtons.
** 7:30 PM UPDATE: SADDAM EXECUTED. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has just been executed by hanging, according to multiple reports. He was executed at dawn in the country he ruled with an iron fist for decades.
The earlier confusion about his disposition was clearly deliberate, intended to throw potential saboteurs and protesters off the scent.
** GEORGE LUCAS SAYS INDIANA JONES 4 SET FOR NEXT YEAR. Now the really big news of the day. In his pre-Rose Parade comments, 2007 grand marshal George Lucas , creator of the franchise, says the long in the making fourth Indiana Jones picture will go before the cameras next year, for release in 2008. Star Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg have at last approved a script. Or so we hope.
** UPDATE: ROB LOWE OUT! Arnold Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Julie Soderlund advises that former West Wing star Rob Lowe has just cancelled his headlining role for the Schwarzenegger Inaugural’s big environmental event on January 4th at the state Capitol. Okay. I like Rob Lowe. He got into a little trouble in 1988 with some underage girls. But they looked older, you know. Later on, his leaving The West Wing played havoc with a TV show I was a consulting producer on. Hmm. Maybe not so okay. Not that his new show got nearly the ratings ours did. Now he has ditched the Arnold for yet another TV show. That is the latest.
** ARNOLD GOES GREEN AND VEGAS FOR HIS SECOND INAUGURAL IN SACTOWN. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s inaugural committee announced green and Vegas-oriented lineups for his second inaugural as governor of California. On January 4th, the Schwarzenegger Inaugural galas kick off with an open to the public festival of environmentalism in Capitol Park headlined by former West Wing star Rob Lowe and former NBA star and fellow European Vlade Divac. (Incidentally, an appearance was made by yours truly on the infamous Rob Lowe tape. More about that another time.)
Further Arnold Inaugural entertainment choices are set for January 5th, including welcoming taiko drums (bring your extra strength Excedrin), Irish folk dancers with loud clogs, mariachi bands, Jose Feliciano, Paul Anka, and Donna Summer.
Ms. Summer will perform her famous hits, “Hot Stuff” and “She Works Hard For The Money.” I think I know what that song is about. Anka will perform “My Way,” the Frank Sinatra standard, with special lyrics customized for Arnold. Feliciano will perform the national anthem at the actual inaugural ceremony. (Which will not actually be the actual inaugural, but ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies.)
I think I know where the governor got the Feliciano idea. (He had the fabulous Vanessa Williams perform the national anthem at his much bigger, overflow inaugural three years ago.) At a recent dinner with a special friend in the capital, at a Schwarzenegger favorite restaurant, Feliciano was singing his version of the Doors classic “Light My Fire” while I was in the men’s room. As for Anka and Summers, let’s say that I love Vegas. I’ll be there in a few weeks for my first 2008 presidential campaign road trip. But couldn’t Arnold have been into, you know, the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac or the Police as his ’70s/’80s fixation? Just asking.
** BIG CROWDS FOR JOHN EDWARDS. Former Senator John Edwards is doing well on day two of his Democratic presidential campaign announcement tour. Yesterday, he announced his candidacy in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, then did an overflow town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, site of the first-in-the-nation Iowa presidential caucuses. This morning he was in New Hampshire for a big event. He’s flying across the country for a 5:30 PM event today in Reno, Nevada, site of the second-in-the-nation Nevada presidential caucuses.
“My vote was a mistake and I should never have voted for this war,” he said of the Iraq War, adding that the Bush Administration “has been an absolute disaster in the conducting of the war. But none of that changes or affects my responsibility. I’m responsible for what I did.”
** U.S. FORCES FREE IRANIANS. Two Iranians operating in Iraq with diplomatic credentials, captured by U.S. forces on December 21st during a Baghdad raid and suspected of weapons trafficking and related insurgent activities, have been released. The two were reportedly in Iraq at the invitation of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani as part of the aftermath of his summit in Tehran with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
** 4:30 PM UPDATE: SADDAM EXECUTION. The former Iraqi dictator’s execution is now reported to occur in a matter of hours. US forces have been holding on to his physical, as distinguished from legal, custody, to ensure his continued custody and to avoid his humiliation while still living and mutilation once deceased.
** SADDAM HUSSEIN REPORTEDLY HANDED OVER TO IRAQI AUTHORITIES. Saddah Hussein has, according to his lawyers, been handed over by US forces to the Iraqi government for execution. The Iraqi government, however, says it does not yet have him.
** CASINO ROYALE PASSES TERMINATOR 3 ON ALL-TIME GLOBAL BOX OFFICE LIST. Not only did Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger break his leg last weekend, his third Terminator picture was passed on the all-time global box office list by the new Bond film, Casino Royale. Coming out of Christmas weekend, Casino Royale — released on November 17th — had taken in $454 million at the box office around the world. Terminator 3 is at $435 million. Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as the new Bond, also passed the last Pierce Brosnan outing in the role, Die Another Day, which was the previous highest grossing Bond film around the world.
But it’s not exactly all bad. Schwarzenegger is a huge Bond fan. Indeed, he played his own version of Bond in True Lies — replete with a Goldfinger homage at the beginning in which the former action superstar emerges from a lake in scuba gear with a white tuxedo underneath — which Casino Royale passed a couple weeks ago. Despite being passed by the new Bond, Schwarzenegger has three movies on the Top 100 all-time global box office list: Terminator 2, Terminator 3, which Schwarzenegger opened just before parachuting into the tumultuous 2003 recall campaign in which he was elected governor, and True Lies. Popular as the new Bond film is, it’s not likely to catch up with T2.
What’s number one on the all-time global box office list? That would be Titanic, at $1.8 billion, from Terminator director and Schwarzenegger motorcycle buddy James Cameron. Number two is the final Lord of the Rings picture, The Return of the King, at $1.1 billion.
** Monitor computer memory prices on a daily basis. Prices are stable.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices dipped below $60 per barrel in one one market on milder than normal weather in much of the US.