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Column
'Iron Man,' Fox Defies FCC and Pop CDs
by Scott Holleran
Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man
 

 
April 11, 2008

Burbank, California—Judging by the juicy trailer shown at the ArcLight's new stadium-style theaters in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, Robert Downey Jr.'s hard rockin' Iron Man looks like it might be a special effects, comics showcase with brains, for a change. Downey—an extremely talented actor who shines in every role, especially Chaplin, Less Than Zero and the thoroughly benevolent Heart and Souls—steps into the metallic suit with his crackling rhythm and wit.

With direction from Jon Favreau, an actor and director who brought a childlike sense of wonder to the solid 2005 adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's children's book, Zathura, and the year's best tag line—"Heroes aren't born, they're built"—Iron Man, featuring Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard, may be the summer's first popcorn smash. Here's wishing Mr. Downey, Jr. huge success; he is an actor of ability, he's worked hard and he deserves a moneymaker.

Producers

Bravo to 20th Century Fox for acting on principle against the John F. Kennedy-created Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates free speech in the United States. Fox Broadcasting, in a bold move against government intervention that motion pictures studios and broadcasting companies (and everyone standing in TSA lines) ought to emulate, stood up to the state. Fox rejected one of the FCC's so-called indecency punishments.

In a recent statement, Fox declared that the FCC's $91,000 fine—the feds originally demanded $1.2 million—for a Fox program's content is "arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent and patently unconstitutional." Fox is 100 percent right, particularly on the FCC being arbitrary. Fox, already fighting two fines in the Supreme Court, is smart to challenge the FCC, which should be abolished. Silence implies consent.

Music

A hilarious scene in Albert Brooks' wonderful Defending Your Life that always makes me laugh is the one in which the Brooks character is driving with the top down while listening to Barbra Streisand; he fumbles with the case and, well, he winds up defending his life. I'll miss the compact disc when it finally goes the way of the rotary telephone. It's a treat to let the artist choose his own sequence of songs, especially while sitting in traffic.

For anyone on earth who still uses CDs, three good driving discs came out last year: John Fogerty's Revival, Celine Dion's Taking Chances, and Bruce Springsteen's Magic (his somber 9/11 album, The Rising, also plays well in the car). Go ahead and make fun of le diva Dion and that Farrah Fawcett-Majors mane on the cover; she can belt them out and her signature overproduced tunes (executive produced by Vito Luprano and John Doelp) are toned down to let her sing 16 neat melodies. The assertive "I Got Nothin' Left" and the title track stand out as strong anthems for spring.

Fogerty's rasp covers 12 seamlessly arranged tunes (produced by the singer). Favorites including the catchy "Gunslinger" and "Somebody Help Me," with a wicked guitar lick that makes ya wanna pull 'yer pants down. Springsteen's rocking "Radio Nowhere" and "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" are part of his well-received, bestselling Magic, produced by Brendan O'Brien. Though all three CDs are packaged in those flimsy, easily damaged cardboard cases—plastic cases were tougher—each CD comes with notes and lyrics. I'll miss those, too.

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RELATED ARTICLES
Interview: Chris Van Allsburg on 'Zathura'
Review: 'Zathura'
Scott Holleran: New Music for Fall
Scott Holleran Column Index

RELATED LINKS
Washington Post: Fox Refuses to Pay Indecency Fine
Celine Dion
John Fogerty
Bruce Springsteen

Publisher's note: This column was updated on May 5.

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