Thursday, December 18, 2008


It is the holiday season and I, as much as anyone, tend to get so caught up in the activities and pressures of this time that I tend to forget those whose lives are less fortunate than my own.

This weekend, while my wife and young niece were in the bathroom at a local movie theater, I wandered down a dark hallway where a few kids were hanging out and saw something that jarred me to my core. I’m 53 years old and have seen a lot of things in my life, but my heart fell at this sight.

Perhaps not fully grasping the situation or maybe just hoping that what I saw was not real, I rushed home to the internet to better understand what was going on in my own neighborhood.

It was not a joke and it was absolutely true. In February of next year, Steve Martin will appear again in a Pink Panther movie. I had hoped it was just another quick-money independent feature like Sean Connery’s last gasp as Bond in “Never Say Never Again”, but both MGM and Columbia Pictures seem to be involved and it is almost certain that this will be used as evidence against giving Hollywood a much needed bailout when they go to Capital Hill next year.

True, those obscenely high paid executives did everything they could to make the best of the situation and upon reflection, I don’t know what else they could have done. They sent Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel’s original script into countless rewrites by someone who had been an on-set assistant to Robert DeNiro on a previous film (yes, THE Howard H. Weber), they also nailed down a young director who could navigate the complicated spy-comedy genre (Harald Zwart of “Agent Cody Banks”), signed on a Bollywood actress and even gave Blake Edwards a cameo walk on. Then they tinkered endlessly with the title, torn between “The Next Pink Panther” and “The Pink Panther Deux” (you know how funny the title “Hot Shots! Part Deux” once was), before finally settling on the edgy, “The Pink Panther 2”.

So this holiday season, while you are working overtime at a thankless job or tolerating a blow hard boss at the office Christmas party, remember that you have something that Steve Martin, John Cleese and most of Hollywood do not have - dignity and a deep sense of what is right and what is wrong.

You can go home to your wife and not lie to her about what you did today. You fixed someone’s computer, installed a radio in some guy’s car or cleaned someone’s dirty clothes. You contributed something of value that will not hurt the world or the people who live in it and you do not ever need to feel ashamed of who you are.

Merry Christmas and God help us everyone.

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