Sounding Off: Al Gore Blasts Politics, Dustin Hoffman Scolds Studios


Dustin Hoffman in HBO’s “Luck.”

Former Vice President Al Gore and actor Dustin Hoffman gave journalists an earful at the recent gathering for the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. Gore took shots at the Republicans and basically all politicians during the interview session for Current TV; while Hoffman was on hand for a panel for his new HBO series Luck, and took his swipes at Hollywood studios.

Gore is co-founder and chairman of Current TV, and was critical during his comments. “I think that one of the reasons why politics in America seemed to get crazier and crazier is that it is now dominated by big money,” Gore pointed out. “Of course, the Supreme Court, whose opinions I’ve not always agreed with, declared that ‘corporations are people, and that money is free speech.’ You know this, but now you’re seeing how it plays out, with a casino billionaire dropping five million dollars into Newt Gingrich’s so-called super PAC. That’s happening in a very pervasive way.”

He continued, “And when you see all these candidates line up to deny science, and say that black is white, it’s because that helps them get more big money. And when you see the gridlock in the Congress, where they are willing to put up the credit rating of the U.S., when the Tea Party Republicans are willing to drive the country towards actual bankruptcy in order to avoid any slight increase in the tax rates paid by the wealthiest Americans, that’s because that’s where the campaign contributions come from. They are bought — lock, stock and barrel.”

Gore said that his Current TV presents frank discussions of the state of cable news and the importance of independent progressive political commentary and analysis as America faces one of the most important presidential elections in a generation. Among the shows offered are The War Room with Jennifer Granholm, hosted by former Michigan Governor Granholm, and The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur as its outspoken host.

Speaking during the HBO session, Dustin Hoffman was there to plug his latest role on the series Luck, filmed at Santa Anita Race Track. It’s from producer David Milch (Deadwood) and director-producer Michael Mann giving a behind-the-track look at the world of horse racing, with the owners, trainers, jockeys, and gambling denizens. Nick Nolte, Richard Kind, John Ortiz, and Jill Hennessy are among those in the impressive cast.

Oscar-winner Hoffman, best known for his many iconic movie roles, said, “I have not had this experience with TV before. [With movies] it’s very hard to do your best work now, but you want a shot at it. You cannot do your best work in the studio system with committees and meetings. They are on the set. They get involved in a kind of creative way. They buck heads with people that they shouldn’t be bucking heads with. With HBO there is no committee. Once they give a go, there is no committee, there are no meetings. These guys are allowed to do their best work and they give it to us.”

Hoffman revealed, “I was expecting 20 pages a day. I was expecting an atmosphere that was monkeys on cocaine, or something. And it’s the opposite. We did the best we could with as much as we had, and we came back the next day. Producer Michael Mann hired all film directors, not to disparage TV directors, and to me there was no difference of making a movie, except he did it digitally, and we had three cameras which actors love because you don’t have to repeat in coverage. We are given the best shot to do our best work, and I’m very thankful for that. You always want to do your best work. When you’re lucky enough to work with heavyweight talent, there’s no problem because they’re not afraid of suggestions. Movies are a bastard art form. A script is never what the movie turns out to be, or vice versa. It’s either better or worse, but it’s a blueprint, primarily.”

As for his move to television after his lengthy relationship with the big screen, Hoffman said, “It goes back to wanting to do your best work. You never know what a marriage is going to be like until you get married. And if you’re not laughing at the same stuff; if you’re not being moved by the same stuff; if the director, producer, whatever — they’re being satisfied before they should be satisfied — you want a divorce.” Thus begins his affair with TV.

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