A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Thane Rosenbaum

A Mighty Evening with “A Mighty Heart”

A Mighty Heart

By Zachary Edelman

The eighth annual Forum Film Festival put on by the Forum on Law, Culture, and Society at Fordham Law School wrapped up its six nights of provocative films on October 23 with the screening of “A Mighty Heart”, the emotional and tragic story of journalist Daniel Pearl. I had high expectations for the film festival and post-screening discussion, and it did not disappoint.

For those of you who don’t know the story: In January 2002 Mr. Pearl, the Wall Street Journal South Asia Bureau Chief at the time, arrived in Karachi, Pakistan with his wife to research terrorism in the post 9/11 world. She was pregnant with their first child, and it was an exciting time for this intelligent, worldly, happy, and beautiful couple. Pakistani militants abducted him on January 23, 2002 while he was on his way to what he thought was a meeting with spiritual leader Sheikh Gilani. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the same monster of a man who is believed to have been the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, beheaded Mr. Pearl nine days later. The brutal slaying was videotaped and made public.

“A Mighty Heart,” based on the book by the same name, is Marianne Pearl’s account of her husband’s kidnapping and eventual murder. There is a beautiful scene in the film in which Mrs. Pearl, sensitively played by Angelina Jolie, describes her husband’s last moments alive and begins screaming, as if picturing, and reacting to, the grisly assassination. But the camera transitions to the hospital where you realize you are hearing a woman in the throes of labor, as she brings a new life into the world, their son, Adam Daniel Pearl.

Fordham Law School and the Director of the Forum on Law, Culture & Society Thane Rosenbaum led the post-screening discussion. He was joined onstage by Wall Street Journal foreign-affairs columnist and 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Bret Stephens and former Harvard professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of the American Political Science Association’s 1994 Gabriel A. Almond Award-winner and international bestseller “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust,” and the recently published “The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism”.

A conversation about the motive behind Mr. Pearl’s murder and the role his religion played began the discussion. Mr. Goldhagen said he was not surprised that Mr. Pearl was targeted; the region virulently anti-Semitic, and Mr. Pearl was openly Jewish. Today, said Mr. Goldhagen, there is more public hatred against westerners in general and Jewish people in particular, than there was during the Nazi regime.

Mr. Stephens recalled the kidnappings of Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor in 2006, and of David Rohde of the New York Times in 2008. Neither Ms. Carroll nor Mr. Rohde is Jewish; both survived their kidnappings. According to Mr. Stephens, kidnapping someone who is American and Jewish is a “double fudge sundae” to Islamic extremists. Sort of a two-for-the-price-of-one bonus.

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Sotomayor, Rosenbaum, and Three José’s

Sonia Sotomayor

By José I. Ortiz

I’ve met my fair share of celebrities back home in Puerto Rico. It seems that you can’t fling a chancleta without hitting a politician, musician or actor on the island. So, I think I have had enough experiences to be able to say that I do not get star-struck. But, when I attended one of 92nd Street Y’s Talks events featuring a conversation between Thane Rosenbaum and Justice Sonia Sotomayor my anti-star-struck streak was over.

As she walked out onto the stage – after being introduced by Professor Rosenbaum to this packed Upper East Side theater, I saw a Puerto Rican woman calmly making her way to a chair on stage with a warm smile on her face.  She sported a bright yet elegant turquoise top. And she seemed to me like any one of my aunts. For a moment, I felt like I was at a family Christmas gathering and that I could walk up to her, giver her a kiss on the cheek and (as we do with all of our elders) ask her for a blessing, bendición.

This very personal side to Justice Sotomayor seems to be what she hopes to share with anyone who would pick up her new book, “My Beloved World”. Appropriately available in both English and Spanish (Mi Mundo Adorado), her book is near the New York Times Best Sellers List in the non-fiction hardcover category. The New York Times’ review says that it seems Justice Sotomayor has “mastered the art of narrative.” I’m reading the book myself and so far, I wholeheartedly agree.

Justice Sotomayor’s stated mission is to bring hope to those who feel life’s circumstances are stacked against them. (Her speaking tour is undoubtedly working wonders for book sales, as well. But, I won’t go down that cynical road.) The fact is that this Supreme Court justice is different. All of a sudden this salsa-dancing, Spanish-speaking judge is giving a rock-star feel to the black robes and mahogany desks. She summed up her experience dancing salsa with Jorge Ramos (Univision’s Latin version of Anderson Cooper) by saying that he was atrevido.  Not quite Felix Frankfurter’s style.  Or any other justice’s, for that matter.

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“Will & Grace” & Bruni & Quinn

Christine Quinn - Fordham Conversations

By Meghan Lalonde

It may be the city that never sleeps but for a tired law student in New York, seldom does anything truly eventful happen on a Monday night. This night was a rare exception.

It seemed that every fashionable young professional had come straight from work to the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle for a Conversation on Same-Sex Marriage presented by Fordham Law’s Forum on Law, Culture & Society. All of us waited impatiently to hear from some of the most outspoken names affiliated with gay rights in New York City: Frank Bruni, the inspiring Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times; Max Mutchnik, the Emmy-winning producer and co-creator of “Will & Grace”; and Christine Quinn, New York City’s first female and openly gay Speaker of the New York City Council (and a 2013 mayoral candidate).

After polite introductions by Thane Rosenbaum, the Director of the Forum on Law, Culture & Society, the conversation began. Mr. Rosenbaum led the panelists’ discussion by asking a variety of questions, ranging from why having legal recognition for same-sex marriage is so important to whether Ms. Quinn would have stood a chance against Rudy Guiliani in the 1993 mayoral election. To that last question, Ms. Quinn responded, “Oh, I would have kicked his ass,” to appreciative laughter from the audience (other media outlets have suggested this was an attempt at boasting but as a spectator I’m certain the comment was said lightheartedly).

But the truthful answer to that question was obvious. In 1993, openly gay and lesbian politicians stood no chance of winning any election in the country. As a matter of fact, several openly gay candidates for office back then were attacked during campaigns because of their sexual orientation. Just ask Karen Burstein (now a professor at my alma mater) who was attacked for being a lesbian during her 1993 run for New York Attorney General.

But the biggest difference between 1993 and 2013? At least in New York, there’s not only a lesbian in the New York City mayoral race… there’s a lesbian in the lead. Amazing how much can change given some time and hard work.

“The passage of time alone is not indicative of cultural change or acceptance,” said Ms. Quinn. “It’s what we do with that time.” Ms. Quinn’s tone throughout the evening was sassy and smart. Her infectious laughter and pointed humor was both timely and refreshingly down to earth. “I don’t come a la carte. If you don’t like the lesbian part, you’re shit out of luck. It’s a lump it or leave it kind of situation.”

There were other moving personal examples of social progress that evening, some of which were illustrated through clips of “Will & Grace” and the behind-the-scenes story of what it was like to work on one of television’s first shows to feature openly gay characters and help change the social climate for gay individuals. Mr. Mutchnik had many entertaining stories to share, including some about coming out to his boss and the real-life people who inspired the characters for “Will & Grace.”

After a clip of actor Sean Hayes (Jack on “Will & Grace”) was shown defending a boy from bullying in school, Mr. Mutchnik recalled that back when the scene was filmed, it was not even implied that the character being bullied was intended to be gay, let alone that the actor may be. Today, while filming a pilot for Mr. Hayes’s new series on NBC, a young, openly gay character was auditioned for by a young, openly gay boy.

Some things, though, said the panel, had not changed enough.  “Not having marriage equality sends a horrible message that you aren’t the same, you’re different, you don’t deserve as much,” said Mr. Mutchnik, whose husband, Erik Hyman, is an attorney in Los Angeles. Ms. Quinn, who married Kim Catullo last May, agreed, “A marriage is a happy event, God willing, and a marker in one’s life. Everyone should be able to wear a beautiful dress, or a tasteful pantsuit, if you know what I mean, and take part in that.”

Ms. Quinn also discussed the legal implications that come with not being given the right to marry, specifically in terms of taxes and federal benefits. Her comments alluded to the case of Edie Windsor, whose lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and will soon be heard by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Bruni was perhaps the most stoic and poised member of the group, making some of the more elegant remarks throughout the evening. After discussing the homophobic comments made by San Francisco 49er, Chris Culliver, Mr. Bruni observed, “The pushback against the homophobia has become greater than the homophobia itself.” Mr. Rosenbaum also spoke extensively with Mr. Bruni about his work as an openly gay journalist and his stirring piece – “A Father’s Journey” – in which Mr. Bruni interviewed his father about his personal journey from silent rejection of his gay son to loving acceptance.

It was an evening of taking stock of where we are, of looking at how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. It was an evening, overall, of celebration.

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John Adams and the Rule of Law

John Adams

By Will Bartholomew

On Friday, October 19 Fordham Law School’s Forum on Law, Culture, and Society kicked off its annual film festival at the HBO Theater with a screening of Part One of the mini-series “John Adams.” The evening took on a hint of Hollywood gala as smartly-dressed patrons mingled over drinks and appetizers in the theater’s foyer before the show with the event’s guests-of-honor, Kirk Ellis, who wrote the screenplay for the series, and Judge Denny Chin, of the Federal Court of Appeals.

The festival, which is in its seventh year, seeks to spur discussion of the role of law and lawyers by showcasing films that deal with legal themes. Actors, writers, intellectuals, and members of the legal profession with a connection to the film are invited to help facilitate the discussion after each screening.

This year’s festival drew a capacity crowd for its opening night. As showtime neared and the audience filed into the theater, the room became so packed that even the festival’s lion-haired director, Thane Rosenbaum, had to search for a seat.

As the crowd settled in, Professor Rosenbaum rose to the podium at the front of the theater and, after thanking the people who had made the event possible, posed a question to the audience:

“Why did we choose Judge Chin for this post-show discussion? Why is he the perfect person to speak after Part One of “John Adams”?”

No one even ventured a guess. The answer would have to wait.

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Wall Street Occupies Fordham

wall_street

By Drew Carroll

Sunday, October 16, 5:00 p.m.

As protestors continued to rage against corporate greed by occupying the streets of downtown New York, a few miles uptown an audience is buzzing in Fordham Law School’s McNally Theatre. A large projection screen has faded to black at the end of the iconic 1980’s film that gave a face to corporate greed, Wall Street. While most movie audiences would be filing towards the doors by now, this one sits in hushed anticipation. The evening’s main attraction is yet to come, as Thane Rosenbaum, a professor at Fordham University School of Law and director of the Forum Film Festival, assures the gathering that his guest of honor is only moments away. With longish, flowing light hair, Professor Rosenbaum projects the image of ringmaster, a learned version of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka.

Professor Rosenbaum directs our attention to the double doors across the room, from where we can now see the burly and imposing figure of Oliver Stone.

“Good movie,” he says, settling into his chair.

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