AIN’T IT BACKLASH: HARRY GOES ON TV, BUT TV GOES OFF ON HARRY

Over the first half of Summer 2000, Film Threat posted a series of three articles examining the sometimes questionable behavior of Harry Knowles and others at Aint-It-Cool-News.com. Deconstructing Harry: Ain’t It Unethical? opened the series with a number of allegations already public knowledge. That was followed in The Geeks Strike Back with a lengthy Knowles interview and an analysis of his answers. The finale, titled Ain’t It Criminal, stated new and more damning accusations and facts uncovered through a large variety of sources. Since these features were originally posted, we at Film Threat have rarely responded on the record about the man or his site. As the existing articles contained nearly everything we wanted there was never any need. That is, until now.

The occasion for this visit is a pair of major television appearances for Harry broadcast in the last week. Following the ABC Oscar telecast, he was a panelist on a special live edition of “Politically Incorrect”. Days prior to that, Comedy Central’s weekly talkshow “Turn Ben Stein On” featured him as the lone guest. Pretty high-profile gigs, right? They were also quite significant for Knowles future.

Why? Well, for some time, Harry has set his sights on having his own nationally broadcast TV show. Until now, previous opportunities, particularly a doomed project at FOX, have met with failure. Things changed once Harry hooked up with producer Scott Carter. Though long in development, their proposed program has apparently borne some fruit. Reportedly, earlier this year Comedy Central approved the funds to produce at least a pilot episode of the show. Still, you’ve got to think that network suits might have been unsure about the whole thing due to the would-be star’s performance on the small screen to date. As such, it is our belief that strings were pulled to allow Knowles a couple of prime venues where he could finally prove himself. Sure didn’t work out that way.

POLITICALLY INCORRECT
Scott Carter’s biggest notoriety to date is his credit as co-creator of “Politically Incorrect”. It’s not a stretch to believe Carter might have called “PI” host Bill Maher for a favor concerning his new protege. However, the favors ended once the cameras actually went on. Of course, Harry’s biggest enemy is usually himself. He didn’t help himself with a demeanor that ranged from distant to arrogant. At first, during few times he did try to engage in the discussion, his awkward responses seemed only to be what he thought appeared authoritative. Unfortunately, they weren’t all that insightful or entertaining.

Then the situation got MUCH WORSE. The conversation turned toward topics directly involving Harry. He managed to deflect focus from AICN on the subject of Internet reviews of work prints, but Maher soon began questioning him about studio-paid excursions, specifically the notorious trip involving “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. When Harry responded with a misleading analysis of his tainted coverage on the film, Maher countered, “That’s not what I heard!” Before I could wonder where exactly he got his information, the increasingly heated exchange turned really ugly. At one point Knowles childishly snapped, “Well I’m going to have my own show!” Maher quickly lost any trace of pleasantries with a response that included, “…I could do your show, but you couldn’t do mine. Let’s just see how yours does in the ratings.” Ouch.

TURN BEN STEIN ON
Okay, you can argue that no one can really tell Maher what to do. You’d have to believe that Harry’s real moment in the spotlight would be his appearance on Ben Stein’s 30-minute single-guest talkshow, the most time ever devoted to Knowles on television. This is also coming on the same network that has supposedly paid to develop Harry’s show. You might think that everything would be done to make the red-headed kid from Texas look as good as possible. Of course, you’d be wrong. Hey, don’t take my word for it. Harry himself uncharacteristically never promoted the show on AICN, hoping few would see it. Few did. Not to worry, though, Film Threat is here to help. For your enjoyment, we now present a complete transcript, interrupted only by my snarky commentary. THANK YOU, COMEDY CENTRAL. Look for my comments throughout the transcript in italics.

TURN BEN STEIN ON – MARCH 22, 2001:

BEN STEIN G-Love! Welcome, welcome, welcome, G-Love and Special Sauce our new band! (applause) Alright, years ago, years ago I was a critic for The Wall Street Journal. I was the TV critic and I was actually in charge of assigning almost all of the criticism assignments and it was a great, great job, never in my life have I had my ass kissed so much, and I had a lot of training to be a critic, I’d studied film criticism at Yale Drama School and Yale School of Art and Architecture and I used to think, “boy everybody in the world would want this job if he or she could get it.” Now, anyone can get it because of the Internet. You can just set yourself up as a critic, start getting scoops to make yourself a reporter and a gossip columnist too, and suddenly, if you’ve got enough charisma you are an online dynamo of criticism. And the man who is our first guest, our only guest, tonight is a dynamo, an actual Grand Coulee Dam of charisma in the world of film criticism and commentary. We’re very lucky to have with us tonight, from Aint-it-Cool-News dot com, a hugely successful Internet site, from Austin, Texas, home of George W. Bush, please welcome Harry Knowles! (applause)

BEN STEIN Have a seat. Harry, welcome to LA.

Get the entire transcript of Harry’s Ben Stein appearance with commentary from Ron Wells in part two of AIN’T IT BACKLASH: HARRY GOES ON TV, BUT TV GOES OFF ON HARRY>>>




Posted on March 29, 2001 in Features by
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