Feel the Burnett

Is there any point at which Hollywood feels the need to suspend business as usual for a bit?

For all the hourly grandstanding about the occupant of the Oval Office from people in this town, a geniune–if fairly idiosyncratic–industry poohbah might be sitting on tapes that have the potential to genuinely move the story, but why should Hollywood let even that stir up the status quo?

The Apprentice outtakes have been the topic of considerable interest since 2016, when another tape of Trump speaking candidly came as close as anything to derailing his campaign. But in the two years since, Mark Burnett has steadfastly refused even to discuss the possibility of what may or may not exist on those years of tapes. Reporters have amazingly agreed to a “No Trump questions” ground rule for interviews with him.

In this piece, Burnett was subjected to a withering barrage from Hollywood’s once leading trade publication, hard-hitting queries like “What do you think has given you such momentum?” and “Will you shop the U.S. edition of “The Contender” or the format rights to the show to international buyers? Or both?” I mean, who can even remember to ask about tapes that might bring down a presidency when the foreign rights to The Contender hang in the balance?

Elsewhere across Resistance Hollywood, if there have been any calls to boycott Burnett, his company or his shows, I haven’t heard them. If there have even been any calls to say, You know he really should answer questions about this . . . before anyone else gives him a platform for self-promotion, I haven’t heard those either.

And then there was this little jaunt back a year before the campaign that with hindsight, makes one wonder what conversations got this ball rolling;

What earns Burnett such deference? He is more than just another reality show producer: It’s not too much to say the fates of two of our Great Legacy Network rest on his contributions. He engineered the ouster of Gary Barber from the company he re-invented, siding with the arriviste Kevin Ulrich over his erstwhile leader. MGM steams ahead even as its string puller potentially sits on global affairs altering footage.

Currently, the President is claiming that he has Burnett’s word that no damaging tapes along the Omarosa-described lines exist. Will Burnett even have to respond to that use of his name? If disrupting Hollywood business as usual is the price, global affairs will have to take a backseat.

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