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In 1998 on the Paramount Pictures lot...my old stomping ground...a visionary dropped a video on my desk.  "You can thank me later."

The film was SAFE MEN.  

It bombed.  

There aren't many visionaries.  

There aren't many more interesting actors left either and sometimes it's a long dry spell in between Christopher Walken releases.  

George Clooney agreed to direct CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND under one condition -- that Sam Rockwell star.  The backers response:  You're talking about a 30 million dollar Sam Rockwell movie...there's no such thing.

They relented when Clooney agreed to bring Julia Roberts along.  But never mind Roberts...you won't even notice her.  It's all Rockwell and he's never been better.  Acting is risky but when you take on the character of a living person, well...you're just asking for it. But Rockwell really does it. And not as a pinch hitter this time. 

It's been said that Chuck Barris was the producer of some of the worst television of his time.  Is it possible he just wanted something real? Something spontaneous? Didn't he give those contestants what they wanted by turning the spotlight on them? Maybe he just wanted to know if the world would spin off its axis if we were brutally honest. And wouldn't all of our fantasies and confessions...if we were honest...be pretty fascinating and disturbing? And what of CIA agents that kill the 'bad guys'?  How do you decide how that stacks up morally?

But probably he wasn't. An independent assassin for the CIA. I hope not -- he seems tortured enough. There's a chance he's still trying to find out what happens if he comes clean...i.e. tells the world he's killed 33 men on the sly. 

But I think he's done it again -- he's given the public exactly what they want. To would-be lovers (THE DATING GAME) a forum equivalent to most bars but with a veil, the element of chance; to newlyweds (THE NEWLYWED GAME), the chance to test intimacy in front of strangers; to the overlooked (THE GONG SHOW), the spotlight and to the people their Barabus (also THE GONG SHOW); to us, a decade more sophisticated, a book of confessions that have left us talking...engaged once again...buying movie tickets and out-of-print books some 25 years later. 

There aren't many visionaries.  

A toast to Chuck Barris -- whoever he is and Sam Rockwell, who's finally gotten the chance to show us who he is.

--by Delight Underwood



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