by G. H. Harding
ROMAN FREED —This comes straight from The Associated Press: Poland will not extradite Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski to the U.S. in accordance with an almost 40-year-old case after prosecutors declined to challenge a court ruling against it.
Prosecutors in Krakow, who had sought the extradition on behalf of the U.S., said Friday they found the court’s refusal of extradition to be “right” and said they found no grounds to appeal it.
Polanski ‘s lawyer, Jan Olszewski, told The Associated Press that Polanski’’s reaction was of “great relief” and of “satisfaction” that the irregularities in the U.S. procedure have been exposed. Polanski spoke to his lawyer over the phone from Paris, where he lives with his family.
The decision by the prosecutors now closes the case in Poland. As a result, the 82-year-old Polanski is free to reside and work in Poland, where he grew up and studied filmmaking, and where he is preparing to make a new movie. Preparations for the movie were stalled by the extradition request that the U.S. made last year.
The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. In a deal with the judge, Polanski served more than a month in prison but then—fearing the judge would have him imprisoned for much longer—Polanski fled from America. The U.S. has been trying for years to bring Polanski back and put him before a court.
A judge in Krakow ruled last month that Polanski’’s extradition is inadmissible, arguing that the U.S. trial was not fair and that Polanski would not face a fair trial there.
The Krakow prosecutors said in a statement they agreed with the court’s reasoning.
Among the irregularities, the court and the prosecutors named: violation of Polanski’s right to defense; “unethical” discussions between the judge and only one side of the case; informal instructions to the judges; intentional destruction of some of the documents in the case, along with loss of some others and excessive influence foisted on the judges by the media—turning a potentially fair trial into a bias-reflected madhouse circus during which no even-minded verdict could ever be reached.
I remember well when this whole incident occurred in 1977—at Jack Nicholson‘s house, no less. All these years later, even the victim has moved on with her life and publicly forgiven the director. In those times, attitudes and the social mores were far different than our world today. What most likely seemed de rigueur back then, is a definite “no-no” now. Let’s not forget, however, what an immense talentPolanski was and still is. He’s lived since then with an albatross hanging around his neck. That alone should serve as sufficient punishment that will probably never go away.
AWAKENED — A new Star Wars: The Force Awakens clip posted to Facebook yesterday, just in time to give fans an extra something to be thankful for on Turkey Day. The one-minute trailer for the seventh installment in this world-famous franchise is titled “All the Way,” and will also serve as an upcoming TV spot. In the clip, we hear Andy Serkis’s Supreme Leader Snoke tell Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, “Even youhave never faced such a test.” There’s more X-Wing fighter and Millennium Falcon action here, too.
While the clip says the film is not yet rated, that was clearly before the MPAA declared this past Tuesday night that JJ Abrams’s extension of George Lucas’s classic will be given a PG-13 rating.
With international rollout beginning on December 16, two days ahead of the U.S. release, the Force has been increasingly strong in recent days. The film appeared on domestic tracking this week and was the subject of an entire episode of ABC-TV‘’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, during which Abrams dropped the bombshell that the first word spoken in the film is . . . “This.”
So many clips . . . but perhaps too much has been shown. Nearly every major plot point is being offered . . . unless, of course, the fate of the great young hero from the earlier films—Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill—is such that a sudden and unexpected change has occurred in the Star Wars universe . . . something that will hoodwink us all! For now, here’s the newest trailer:
SHORT TAKES — Next week is NBC’s live-TV version of The Wiz. Interesting to see original-star Stephanie Mills so heavily involved in the show. The Broadway musical was a huge hit; the movie (even though it starred Diana Rossand Michael Jackson both in their prime) was not that much. Also, Van Dean’s Broadway Records imprint will co-release with Sony the soundtrack to The Wiz. Congrats Van! … Welcome back, Ms. Mills! . . .
Yesterday’s 89th annual Macy‘s Thanksgiving Day Parade was so-so. Singing her own holiday-song composition “All I Want for Christmas Is You” at the end of the parade, Mariah Carey was a delightful eye opener as always, as was Matthew “Glee” Morrison and his Finding Neverland cast. Shawn Mendez, Daughtry, and Train were also rather superb. It was a great treat to see the greatly talented rock ‘n roll couple Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo (I always loved them). And in homage to the department store’s great legacy to Manhattan, we saw over on PIX-11 that the author and Macy’s historian, Robert Grippo, was on for a live morning interview. He talked all about the marvelous history of the Macy’s department store, with the annual festival standing front and center during the talk. Grippo’s book is called Macy’s: The Store The Star, The Story (Square One Publishers), and it’s available everywhere that books are sold. (To learn more about what he shared during the PIX-11 segment, feel free to click on the following link): http://pix11.com/2015/11/26/exclusive-look-at-historical-photos-video-of-macys-thanksgiving-parade/
. . . Hard to believe that Time Inc. has moved from its legendary NYC midtown headquarters (where they’ve been since 1959) to new downtown digs at 225 Liberty Street instead. The building served most recently as one of the backdrops for the classic AMC cable-TV show Mad Men. The relocation isn’t just a milestone for the publishing company, which has been struggling to stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital landscape, but also for its old neighborhood: The area around Times Square and Rockefeller Center is losing its standing as the city’s media hub . . . Kent Kotal‘s brilliant site Forgotten Hits turns sixteen years old today. Happy Birthday! . . Several weeks back, we took some time to visit NYC’s music club B. B. Kings, where we saw a stunning show from the group America. In fact, their performance was certainly one of the best I’ve seen this year. The club’s Peter Abraham set it all up for us, and nabbed us great seats. Many thanks, Sir Peter!
Till next time… Don’t forget to tell us what you think! Leave your comments below!