Review: ‘Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos,’ starring Rob Zombie, Ice-T, Duff McKagan, Lars Ulrich, Tom Morello and Lzzy Hale

April 24, 2021

by Carla Hay

Fever 333 singer Jason Aalon Butler in “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” (Photo by Jordan Wrenner/Abramorama)

“Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos”

Directed by Jonathan McHugh

Culture Representation: The documentary “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” features a predominantly white, mostly American group of people (with some African Americans and a few Asians and Latinos) who are musicians, fans and industry people discussing the impact of hard rock/heavy metal music in their lives and in other people’s lives.

Culture Clash: Hard rock/heavy metal often has a reputation for violence at concerts and in song lyrics, while musicians in the genre who aren’t white males face discrimination barriers. 

Culture Audience: “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” will appeal primarily to people interested in watching a documentary that gives a broad but not-very-revealing overview of hard rock/heavy metal fandom in the United States.

Rock fans at a concert in “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” (Photo by Jordan Wrenner/Abramorama)

There have been many documentaries that have tried to capture the essence of hard rock/heavy metal culture, but few have truly succeeded. “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” is like a rambling ad campaign for hard rock/heavy metal’s die-hard fandom. The documentary doesn’t reveal anything new, the editing is horribly unfocused, and the movie often comes across as a long infomercial for rock concert festivals.

And there are parts of the documentary where the sound mixing is so amateurish, it’s embarrassing. For example, the sound levels are sometimes mismatched and uneven in the same interview. You know it’s bad when a music documentary can’t even get the sound right.

Directed by Jonathan McHugh, “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” gives a lot of screen time to fans who are devoted to seeing their favorite artists in concert and meeting up with other fans at big rock festivals. There are entire segments of the movie about concert rituals such as crowd surfing, mosh pits and the wall of death. It’s mentioned that a wall of death can be security personnel’s biggest nightmare because it simulates a war battle with large numbers of people on one side charging into large groups of people on the other side.

But it begs the question: Why is a documentary that’s meant for hard rock/heavy metal fans spending so much time on basic things that they already know about these concerts? The segments on crowd surfing, mosh pits and the wall of death all look like they were filmed as instructional videos for people training to work in concert security, not for people who are in the audiences at these concerts. If you think it’s fascinating that some concert promoters hire college football players for audience security at rock concerts, then “Long Live Rock” is your kind of movie. The documentary has an entire segment on that too, with Urbana University head football coach Tyler Haines introducing his team members who do concert security, and showing how they interact with the crowds at concerts.

And there’s a lot of contradictory statements in the documentary. Although several people in the movie talk about friendly and welcoming communities at these concerts, they also acknowledge there’s disturbing violence at these shows. The general consensus is that people who choose to participate in a mosh pit and a wall of death should expect to get bloodied and some other type of physical injury. Crowd surfing can also be hazardous, especially for women, who are more at risk than men of being sexually groped and assaulted while crowd surfing.

But then in the documentary, concertgoers and artists pipe in with comments that even if people get physically hurt at these concerts, there are always other people who will help anyone who gets injured. Here’s an idea: How about just not hurting each other in the first place?

Although most people who go to hard rock/heavy metal concerts have a great time and don’t get physically injured, the movie has a bizarre and borderline irresponsible tone of glossing over the serious injuries that do occur. The violence is described as all in “good fun” and people just letting off steam when they go to these concerts. But maybe trying to justify and endorse this violence should be no surprise from a documentary whose subtitle is “Celebrate the Chaos.”

One of the best things about the documentary is the concert festival footage that effectively captures the positive aspects of the shows, such as the adrenaline and excitement of safely being in the audience of a big music festival. Some of the artists also talk about the rush that they get from being on stage, but it’s the type of commentary that artists have said countless times. This is not a movie about bands struggling in tiny clubs. The live concert experiences presented in the documentary are mostly about the spectacle of being at a festival that can attract at least 10,000 people per show.

As such, all of the artists interviewed in the documentary are those who are at the career level of performing at major festivals. The artists in the movie span a few generations, but most are artists who first hit it big in the 1980s, 1990s or early 2000s. They include Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich; Rob Zombie; Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello; Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell; Guns N’Roses bassist Duff McKagan, Body Count vocalist Ice-T; Zakk Wylde; Korn singer Jonathan Davis; Stone Temple Pilots members Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz; Slipknot singer Corey Taylor; Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows; Godsmack singer Sully Erna; Shinedown singer Brent Smith; Papa Roach singer Jacoby Shaddix; Myles Kennedy; Skillet spouses John Cooper and Korey Cooper; Live singer Ed Kowalczyk; Sevendust singer Lajon Witherspoon; Mastodon singer/drummer Brann Dailor; Steel Panther members Stix Zadinia and Michael Starr; and The Offspring members Dexter Holland and Noodles.

Younger musicians (those who released their first albums in the mid-to-late 2000s and 2010s) are also interviewed in the documentary. They include Machine Gun Kelly; Greta Van Fleet twins Josh Kiszka and Jake Kiszka; Halestorm members Lzzy Hale and Arejay Hale; Dorothy singer Dorothy Martin; Radkey; Beartooth singer Caleb Shomo; In This Moment singer Maria Brink; Fever 333 guitarist Stephen Harrison; The Pretty Reckless singer Taylor Momsen; Fire From the Gods singer AJ Channer; and Black Veil Brides singer Andy Biersack.

In addition, other people from the music industry weigh in with their comments. They include concert promoter Gary Spivack (one of the documentary’s producers), Spotify global head of rock Allison Hagendorf, record company executive Jason Flom, manager/producer Andy Gould, Halestorm manager Bill McGathy, artist manager Rick Sales, concert security staffer Seyth Boardman, artist manager/addiction counselor Jeff Jampol and MusiCares senior director Harold Owens. Media people who are interviewed include radio personalities Eddie Trunk, Matt Pinfield, Bob Lefsetz, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Jose Mangin.

Republican politician John Kasich, the former Ohio governor and congressman who was a candidate in the 2000 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections, is one of the people interviewed. However, his time on screen is reduced to one soundbite. He comments, “Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, a liberal, or a conservative, when the music catches you, we’re all one.”

The documentary has no explanation for what Kasich is doing in this movie. Is he really a hard rock/heavy metal fan? And if so, who are his favorite artists? How does he feel about laws that affect the music industry? The documentary never bothers to ask and answer these questions. It’s an example of how this movie has substandard filmmaking. “Long Live Rock” helmer McHugh makes his feature-film directorial debut with this movie. Maybe a more experienced feature-film director would have done a better job.

There’s even an interview with a psychotherapist named Kevin Stolper, whose specialty is in treating adolescents. Stolper explains how hard rock/heavy metal appeals to people who want to have a youthful, party mentality. Hard rock/heavy metal fans, who often describe themselves as misfits when they were in school, find the fandom appealing because it’s a community where they feel like they belong.

Metallica drummer Ulrich describes heavy metal fandom this way: “All the disenfranchised feel like they belong to something that’s much bigger than themselves.” In fact, many of the comments in “Long Live Rock” are about how hard rock/heavy metal fandom is about this strong sense of community. The words “tribe,” “tribalism,” “community” and “finding your people” come up a lot when people in the documentary describe the main reasons why they love the music and going to concerts.

And many of the interviewees mention that even though hard rock/heavy metal isn’t as popular as it was in the 1980s, there’s an adoring appreciation for the music that gets handed down through generations. The die-hard fans admirably don’t care if the music is trendy or not. “I don’t listen to reviews. Anyone who says rock is dead is ‘out’ for me,” Guns N’Roses bassist McKagan comments, as he flicks his hand in a “tossing out” motion.

The stereotypical image of a hard rock/heavy metal fan is of a white male stoner, but the fandom is a lot more diverse than people might think. SiriusXM host Trunk comments: “I never liked the clichés and stereotypes that came with this music. People think you can pick out who is or isn’t into this music by how they look. Doctors, lawyers, brain surgeons love this music. The music is way wider-reaching than people give it credit for.”

The documentary includes segments about gender and racial diversity in hard rock/heavy metal. The general consensus is that although a male majority still exists in hard rock/heavy metal, the numbers of females who are musicians and fans have increased over the years, compared to how it was in the 20th century. New Year’s Day lead singer Ash Costello comments on female participation in the hard rock/heavy metal scene: “Females have always been there. Now, it’s more of an equality than a separation.”

However, the documentary completely ignores any #MeToo stories in hard rock/heavy metal. It’s as if the filmmakers don’t want to acknowledge hard rock/heavy metal’s reputation for glorifying toxic masculinity. If you were to believe this documentary, sexual abuse and sexual harassment don’t exist in hard rock/heavy metal. The closest that someone comes to describing gender discrimination is when Halestorm lead singer Lzzy Hale mentions that sometimes she meets people while on tour who assume that she’s a band member’s girlfriend instead of a member of the band.

Black people and other people of color are still very much a minority in hard rock/heavy metal. And although no one denies that racism exists, black artists such as Ice-T believe that most hard rock/metal fans don’t care what color an artist is if that artist has talent. However, he adds that there are still misconceptions some people might have about his heavy metal band Body Count, because the band members are black.

Ice-T says in the documentary: “When we got in trouble for [Body Count’s 1992 song] ‘Cop Killer,’ they called it a rap record, That was a racist way of saying it because they didn’t want to call it rock. Maybe [‘Cop Killer’] was a protest record.”

Fever 333 guitarist Harrison mentions that it isn’t just the subset of white racists who have a problem with black people being hard rock/heavy metal fans. He says that some black people have a hard time understanding why any black person would be a fan of hard rock/heavy metal. But on the plus side, Harrison thinks that most music fans have this belief about hard rock/heavy metal: “It isn’t a white thing. It’s for everyone.”

That belief might be true for most music fans. But, for whatever reason, the filmmakers of “Long Live Rock” only chose to feature white American fans in the documentary’s interview segments on people who love to go to hard rock/heavy metal concerts. The main diversity that they have is in their jobs. The documentary gives no mention of the loyal hard rock/heavy metal fandom that exists outside of North America, particularly in Europe, Japan and South America, where certain hard rock/heavy metal artists can headline shows at arenas and stadiums.

The interviewed fans include medical billing manager Andrea Rickord, a married mother of two children who were about 7 to 9 years old when she was interviewed for this documentary. Rickord (who’s from Springfield, Ohio) describes what going to concerts means to her: “It’s definitely like therapy.” And when she goes to a big festival, she calls it her “mom trip” that she enjoys for herself, because her kids and husband don’t have the same passion for hard rock/heavy metal that she does.

Ex-con Josh Guikey, his nurse wife Jami Guikey, and corrections officer Scott Prince (who met and befriended former burglar Josh Guikey when Josh was sent to prison) also talk about the therapeutic benefits of hard rock/heavy metal. Dental technician Sarah J. Kazan and dentist Dr. Gytis R. Udrys, who are a couple and co-workers, say that part of their initial attraction to each other was their mutual love of the same music. Dr. Udrys says he also likes going to hard rock/heavy metal concerts because he can let loose and not have the straight-laced image that’s required for his dentist job.

Justin “G” Griffin (an architect) and his wife Tiffany Griffin (an elementary school teacher) discuss his passion for building an online community for hard rock/heavy metal fans, going all the way back to the days when MySpace was the top social media platform. Tiffany says that she knew that she and Justin would be a good match for each other when he said that he had to listen to Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album (also known as “The Black Album”) every night before he went to sleep. One of their first dates was a Shinedown concert.

“Long Live Rock” gives a lot of screen time to the fans who consider themselves to be expert crowd surfers. They include crowd-surfing married couple Etienne Sabate and Michelle Sabate, who are shown going into a festival crowd while encased in giant plastic bubbles. Abby McCormick, a mother of two who lives in Georgia, is probably the most memorable fan in the documentary because she likes to crowd surf in her wheelchair. The documentary has plenty of clips showing her doing that.

McCormick lost her one of her legs in a motorcycle accident that killed her fiancé. She has a prosthetic leg, and she also likes to be in mosh pits at concerts. McCormick has a lively personality and she’s hilarious when she tells some of her stories, such has an experience she had when her prosthetic leg got ripped off while she was crowd surfing at a concert. The leg was eventually returned to her, with an unopened bottle of beer placed inside the leg. She also proudly says of crowd surfing in a wheelchair: “I’ve never been dropped.”

Although these fan anecdotes can be entertaining, “Long Live Rock” has such atrocious editing, that the fan segments sometimes abruptly appear in random moments throughout the film, resulting in clumsy tonal shifts. For example, toward the end of the documentary, the tone gets dark and depressing when it covers the topic of rock stars with alcoholism and drug addiction. The documentary then segues into discussing mental-health issues and the untimely, tragic deaths of Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell and Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who died just two months apart in 2017. (Both of their deaths were ruled as suicides.) But then, after all this talk of addiction and death, the documentary cheerfully goes back to the crowd-surfing married couple to show them in their plastic bubbles. It’s an awkward editing transition, to say the least.

And the fan segments sometimes have unnecessary footage that shouldn’t have been in the documentary. For example, the documentary shows a fan named Jessie Shrewsburry, who is a rehab trauma nurse, going fishing in a creek because she says fishing, just like going to concerts, helps her reduce stress. Dr. Udrys is shown piloting a small plane in another scene. It’s meant to show that these fans have additional hobbies, but it’s an example of how the documentary has a tendency to lose focus by going in these off-topic tangents.

“Long Live Rock” should have had more behind-the-scenes stories from the musicians instead of mostly fluffy soundbites from them. Most of the artist interviews are reduced to short quips that don’t say anything new that they haven’t already talked about in other interviews over the years. For a documentary about hard rock/heavy metal fandom, it’s lacking in unique fan interaction stories from the artists’ perspectives.

For example, Rob Zombie says in the documentary, “I’ll be at something like Comic-Con. And the actors will be like, ‘Oh my God, this is insane with all these fans and having so much interaction!’ And I’m like, ‘This is every fucking day on the tour.”’

Zombie has said this before many times in other interviews, so this documentary should have had more insight into how Zombie interacts with fans or how he prepares for a show, to explain why the interaction is so “insane” on tour. Several people in the documentary praise how he blends horror movie concepts with his music. But that’s not news to anyone who knows anything about Zombie.

The closest that “Long Live Rock” comes to showing what it’s like to be a rock band on tour is when Skillet spouses John Cooper and Korey Cooper show the inside of their tour bus and talk about how their son and daughter go on tour with them. There’s also a brief segment with Halestorm doing a meet-and-greet session with fans at a music store, where Halestorm superfans Dave Rumohr and Lizzy Gravelle gush about how much they love the band and how lead singer Lzzy Hale inspires them.

Although “Long Live Rock” has interviews with some of the biggest stars in hard rock and heavy metal, there’s a shortage of perspectives from artists who are not from U.S.-based bands. How could there be a documentary about heavy metal without anything from the bands of the highly influential New Wave of British Heavy Metal? (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Def Leppard, for example.) It’s a glaring omission.

X Japan lead singer Yoshiki is the only musician interviewed in the documentary who’s from a band that’s not based in the United States. Five Finger Death Punch co-founder Zoltan Bathory, who is originally from Hungary, is also interviewed, but Five Finger Death Punch is primarily an American band, based in Las Vegas. Metallica drummer Ulrich is originally from Denmark, but he’s also in a U.S.-based band consisting primarily of Americans.

And this movie almost completely ignores the impact that non-American musicians have had on hard rock/heavy metal. A few people mention Black Sabbath’s influence, but that’s about it. No one mentions Led Zeppelin, the first superstar hard rock band to sell out arenas around the world. No one mentions AC/DC, Rush or Scorpions, who were breakthrough hard rock bands for Australia, Canada and Germany, respectively.

Maybe this documentary’s American bias is because “Long Live Rock” producer Spivack works for American concert promotion company Danny Wimmer Presents, which produces U.S. hard rock/heavy metal festivals that include Louder Than Life, Epicenter and Sonic Temple. But the simple fact is that you can’t do a credible documentary about hard rock/heavy metal fandom by not including fans and more musicians from other countries.

As the popularity of hard rock/metal declined after its peak in the 1980s, many bands were able to sustain themselves because of their fandom outside of the United States. The band joke “We’re big in Japan” is rooted in hard rock/heavy metal bands’ real-life experiences of making a huge chunk of their income outside the United States. And whenever hard rock/heavy metal artists talk about which places in the world are their favorites to perform, there will be mention of places in and outside the U.S.

Although well-intentioned, “Long Live Rock” missed an opportunity to be a revealing documentary that shows how artists’ interactions with fans are the necessary fuel that keeps the fire of hard rock/heavy metal burning at a time when this genre of music has been declared “dead” but is still very much alive. And by “artist interactions,” that doesn’t just mean showing the artists saying a few words on stage to the audience. People can see concert footage for free on the Internet.

There’s a whole other level of promotion and marketing that a lot of these artists have to do, especially when they’re not played on mainstream commercial radio. The Internet and social media are barely mentioned in this movie. “Long Live Rock” had a documentary concept that needed to go beyond what’s seen on stage and give more personal and interesting stories about artist experiences with fans while on tour, not just in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world.

The filmmakers had the right idea to include the perspectives of fans, but this idea was executed sloppily. There’s tailgate concert footage in other films that’s more interesting than a lot of the fan footage that’s in “Long Live Rock.” (See the 1986 documentary “Heavy Metal Parking Lot.”) Unfortunately, what viewers get in “Long Live Rock” is a jumbled mishmash of an electronic press kit for concert festivals, rehashed comments from artists, and fan interviews that talk more about crowd surfing and moshing than what they saw on stage.

Abramorama released “Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos” in U.S. virtual cinemas on March 12, 2021. Amazon Prime Video’s Coda Collection (a spinoff subscription available to Amazon Prime members at an additional cost) will premiere the movie on May 1, 2021. The movie’s VOD premiere date is June 1, 2021.

Review: ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ starring Ice-T, Dan Baum, Ethan Nadlemann, Keith Stroup, Jack Cole and Marsha ‘Keith’ Schuchard

June 12, 2020

by Carla Hay

Ice-T in “Public Enemy Number One” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

“Public Enemy Number One” 

Directed by Robert Rippberger

Culture Representation: The documentary “Public Enemy Number One” takes a historical look at the “war on drugs” the United States, by interviewing several experts and commentators (who are mostly white male Americans), such activists, authors and past and present law enforcement.

Culture Clash: The documentary takes the position that the war on drugs has been an abysmal failure and that U.S. drug laws need major reforms.

Culture Audience: “Public Enemy Number One” will appeal primarily to people who believe that certain drugs (such as marijuana) should be decriminalized, but the movie also should be informative to people who aren’t aware of the long-term social impact of the war on drugs.

Keith Stroup in “Public Enemy Number One” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

Several documentaries have been made in the 21st century about the U.S. government’s “war on drugs” and almost all of these documentaries come to the same conclusion: The war has failed and is a reflection of the racial inequality in the criminal justice system. Most people who buy and sell drugs in the United States are white, but most people who are in U.S. prisons (whose numbers are growing) on drug charges are black and Latino. “Public Enemy Number One” (directed by Robert Rippberger) takes a chronological look at how various U.S. presidential administrations handled the war on drugs, beginning with the administration of Richard Nixon to the administration of Barack Obama. There really isn’t anything new uncovered in “Public Enemy Number One,” but the documentary might be informative to a lot of people who are unaware of these issues.

“Public Enemy Number One” follows the traditional documentary format of mixing archival footage with new interviews. The movie has a clear agenda to advocate for decriminalization of certain drugs (particularly marijuana) and aims to shine a light on how the prison system has become a big business that relies on racism to thrive. (Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-winning 2016 Netflix documentary “13th” extensively covers this topic of racial inequality in the American criminal justice system.)

The Nixon administration was the first to formally declare a “war on drugs,” with Nixon’s notorious 1971 speech that drug abuse was “public enemy number one” for America. It was a way for the federal government to create a new law enforcement agency—the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which on the surface was supposed to enforce the illegal drug trade.

Drug Police Alliance founder Ethan Nadlemann says that the DEA was really just the Nixon administration’s way of trying to control civil unrest over the Vietnam War and race inequality, because the DEA disproportionately targeted black people and radical protesters of the war for arrests. Dan Baum, author of “Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure,” says in the documentary that the late John Ehrlichman, who was Nixon’s counsel and Assistant to the President for domestic Affairs, admitted this government targeting in a 1993 interview that Baum did with Ehrlichman.

Baum comments that the DEA is “half-law enforcement, half-Hollywood. They go out Elliott Ness-ing around the country and making sure that the cameras are there.” The arrests of black people and left-wing radicals during the Nixon administration were done for a show for the media. Those media images and reports then created negative stereotypes that radical left-wingers and black people were mainly responsible for the drug problem in the United States.

Dr. Robert Dupont, who was the U.S. Drug Czar from 1973 to 1977, says in the documentary that he was told he would be fired if he ever went against Nixon’s anti-marijuana agenda. Jack Cole, co-founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, remembers his days as an undercover agent in New Jersey, where he would bust small-time drug users who used drugs in small friend groups. Cole says that the biggest mistake that the government made back then was to classify all illegal drugs as the same.

It was during the Nixon administration that National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was formed in 1970. Most of the members were white people with professional jobs (such as lawyers), thereby contradicting the media’s untrue stereotype at the time that most marijuana advocates were radical hippie types. The main goals of NORML were to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in all 50 states, and not put marijuana in the same category as drugs such as heroin or cocaine. NORML founder Keith Stroup says in the documentary: “We thought we would be finished [with our goals] within five years of 1978.”

After Nixon was impeached and resigned in disgrace in 1974, U.S. culture during the rest of the 1970s (under the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter) had a more relaxed and accepting attitude toward illegal drug use, particularly marijuana. The 1978 Cheech and Chong marijuana stoner movie “Up in Smoke” is named as an example of a mainstream movie that couldn’t have been made before the 1970s.

NORML founder Stroup admits that during the late 1970s, NORML took a hit in its credibility when Stroup began feuding with Dr. Peter Bourne (who was U.S. Drug Czar from 1977 to 1978) over paraquat, a toxic chemical that is mostly used as an herbicide. NORML accused the U.S. government and the Florida state government of deliberately spraying paraquat over marijuana plants, in order to poison marijuana users. The conspiracy theory was later debunked, and Stroup admits in the documentary that he was wrong. Bourne comments on the paraquat controversy: “I believe it was blatant nonsense.”

The U.S. administration eras of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush marked a return to stricter drug laws and less tolerant views on drugs in society. Nancy Reagan made the “Just Say No” campaign famous. More parents groups were formed as lobbyists to government to make stricter drug laws. The shocking cocaine-related death of rising basketball star Len Bias in 1986 is also mentioned in the documentary as an important milestone in American society’s backlash against illegal drugs during the 1980s. And, of course, the epidemic of crack cocaine began in the ’80s, destroying many families and communities.

Rapper/actor Ice-T (who is an executive producer of “Public Enemy Number One”) explains why drugs and poverty are intertwined in so many African American communities: “It all starts off with no hope, lack of education, not being able to actually enter the system.” He adds that many people in these communities think, “‘I can’t make a living wage, but over here is a way.’ And you try to do that, and you end up in prison or with your life devastated.”

Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, also attributes the increase in drug-related arrests in the 1980s to another factor: more money for law enforcement. Franklin says, “That’s why so many cops liked Ronald Reagan—because we got raises.” Franklin and others in the documentary point out that illegal drugs are the only type of crime in the U.S. were police officers get paid extra for arrests.

The Bill Clinton administration of the 1990s gets heavy criticism for implementing mandatory minimum sentences (also known as the “three strikes” law), where the punishments often don’t fit the crimes. Mandatory minimum sentences are usually cited as one of the biggest examples of why the war on drugs has failed. Nadlemann calls mandatory minimum sentences “McCarthyism on steroids.” In recent years, Clinton has admitted that the mandatory minimum sentencing law was a mistake.

People interviewed on the judicial side say the war on drugs has failed because of agendas and ambitions of government politicians. James Gray, a former California Supreme Court judge, calls the war on drugs: “Great politics, lousy government.” Gerry Goldstein, a U.S. Supreme Court trial attorney, says there’s little incentive to change most drug laws if the general public thinks these laws are working. “Politicians want to get re-elected, plain and simple.”

The 2000s (when the George W. Bush administration was in power for most of the decade) saw the continued rise of the U.S. prison population, due in large part to mandatory minimum sentences. Prisoners are essentially used as little more than slave labor. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition founder Cole doesn’t mince words: “The war on drugs is the new Jim Crow. It’s aimed at controlling black folks … and making money off of it.”

That doesn’t mean that all people in prison are innocent and don’t deserve to be there, say the experts in the documentary. It means that black people, more than any other racial group in America, tend to get arrested and punished more harshly for the same crimes that other racial groups also commit, according to Perry Tarrant of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. Ice -T comments, “There’s a lot of money being spent to not solve the problem.”

“The easiest way for people to understand the absurdity of the war on drugs is to focus on marijuana,” says Nadlemann. Under the Obama administration, more states began to legalize marijuana. The Obama administration also made attempts to lower federal sentences for crimes involving marijuana. Because “Public Enemy Number One” only covers the war on drugs up until the Obama administration, the documentary unfortunately looks very dated.

However, the documentary does a good job of presenting both sides of the issue, by including viewpoints of anti-drug activists Those who are interviewed are “Parents, Peers and Pot” author Marsha “Keith” Schuchard; Parents/Pride Movement founder Thomas Gleaton; Dr. Howard Samuels of The Hills Treatment Center; Smart Approaches to Marijuana founder Kevin Sabet; and Ian McDonald, U.S. Drug Czar from 1987 to 1988, who says, “Marijuana’s risks and dangers were being ignored.”

“Public Enemy Number One” packs in a lot of information in its total running time of 70 minutes. People who’ve seen similar documentaries or news reports about the war on drugs probably won’t learn anything new. But for people who don’t know anything about this aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system, this documentary is a good place to start without having to make a big time commitment.

Gravitas Ventures released “Public Enemy Number One” on digital and VOD on June 12, 2020.

Hollywood Walk of Fame announces 2018 star recipients

June 22. 2017

The following is a press release from the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

A new group of entertainment professionals in the categories of Motion Pictures, Television, Live Theatre/Live Performance, Radio and Recording have been selected to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was announced today, Thursday, June 22, 2017 by the Walk of Fame Selection Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. These honorees were chosen from among hundreds of nominations to the committee at a meeting held in June and ratified by the Hollywood Chamber’s Board of Directors. Television Producer and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona, Chair of the Walk of Fame Selection Committee for 2017, announced the new honorees with Leron Gubler, President & CEO for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who is also the emcee of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

The new selections were revealed to the world via live stream exclusively on the official website www.walkoffame.com. The live stream began at 2:15 p.m. PDT and was held at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offices.

“The Walk of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce our newest honorees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Committee looked carefully at each nominee and we feel that we have selected an eclectic group of talent that will appeal to the tastes of many fans around the world,” said Di Bona. “As a Walk of Famer myself, I know these honorees will remember the dedication of their stars with great memories and will be proud that they are part of Hollywood’s history now and forever. We look forward to their big day as the Walk of Fame Class of 2018 becomes cemented one by one on the most famous sidewalk in the world!”

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2018 are:

In the category of MOTION PICTURES:   Jack Black, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Goldblum, F. Gary Gray, Mark Hamill, Jennifer Lawrence, Gina Lollobrigida, Minnie Mouse, Nick Nolte and Zoe Saldana

In the category of TELEVISION:   Anthony Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Lynda Carter, Simon Cowell, RuPaul Charles, Taraji P. Henson, Eric McCormack, Ryan Murphy, Niecy Nash, Mandy Patinkin, Shonda Rhimes, and posthumous Steve Irwin

In the category of RECORDING:  Mary J. Blige, Sir Richard Branson, Petula Clark, Harry Connick, Jr., Ice T, Snoop Dogg, Carrie Underwood and “Weird Al” Yankovic

In the category of RADIO:   Steve Jones

In the category of LIVE THEATRE/LIVE PERFORMANCE:   Charles Aznavour, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and posthumous Bernie Mac

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its Walk of Fame Selection Committee congratulate all the honorees. Dates have not been scheduled for these star ceremonies. Recipients have two years to schedule star ceremonies from the date of selection before they expire. Upcoming star ceremonies are usually announced ten days prior to dedication on the official website www.walkoffame.com.

Oxygen network debuts new logo and begins re-invention as true-crime network

May 11, 2017

by Carla Hay

Oxygen logo

Oxygen, the female-oriented TV network owned by NBCUniversal, has announced the new shows that will be part of the network’s  re-invention as a destination for true-crime programming, beginning in the summer of 2017. The move is a concerted effort to make Oxygen a rival to Investigation Discovery, the true-crime network that Discovery Networks launched in 2008. “Law & Order: SVU” star Ice-T and former HLN host Nancy Grace are among those who will be hosting the new Oxygen shows. (See the complete list at the end of the article.)

“Snapped,” Oxygen’s flagship true-crime program about female murderers, will remain on the air. “Snapped” has also two spinoff series: “Snapped: Killer Couples” (still on the air) and “Snapped: She Made Me Do It” (cancelled). Other existing true-crime shows on Oxygen include “Three Days to Live” and “It Takes a Killer.”  Before focusing on true crime, Oxygen had primarily female-oriented reality shows that centered on relationships and conflicts, such as “Bad Girls Club,” “Fix My Mom,” “Last Squad Standing” and “Sisterhood of Hip-Hop.”

Here is the list of new shows. The descriptions are from an Oxygen press release:

New Series:

“What Happened to…Jessica Chambers?” (working title)

Produced by Wilshire Studios and BuzzFeed Motion Pictures with Joe Berlinger and Matthew Henick serving as Executive Producer.

This active crime investigation docu-series takes a deep dive into the mysterious death of Jessica Chambers, the Mississippi teen who was doused with gasoline and set on fire in December of 2014. The series is inspired by the investigative journalism of BuzzFeed News’ Senior National Reporter Katie J.M. Baker, who reported Chambers’ story, uncovering developments and helping raise awareness about the case. Executive Produced by Academy Award® nominated, two-time Emmy® and Peabody Award winner Joe Berlinger (“Brother’s Keeper,” the “Paradise Lost Trilogy” and “Intent to Destroy”), the series looks at the mystery and unanswered questions surrounding Chambers’ death, which has made it one of the most-talked about cases on the internet. In 2016, a grand jury indicted Quinton Tellis, 27, charging him with capital murder. Tellis has pled not guilty to the charge.  A trial date has been set for October of 2017, which Wilshire Studios plans to cover as part of production.

“Mysteries and Scandals”  

Produced by Wilshire Studios with Jason Sklaver and Soledad O’Brien serving as Executive Producer.

Hosted and executive produced by multiple Emmy® and Peabody Award winner Soledad O’Brien, this new true crime series investigates Hollywood’s most intriguing criminals, murders and cases of corruption, exploring infamous headlines that captured the nation’s attention using archival footage, new interviews and stylized depictions of past events.

“Final Appeal”

Produced by Peacock Productions with Sharon Scott, Elizabeth Waller, Melody Shafir and Siobhan Walshe serving as Executive Producers.

Brian Banks was a star football player with NFL aspirations before he was wrongfully convicted. He spent five years behind bars until he was fully exonerated a decade later. The series will follow Brian along with former prosecutor, Loni Coombs, as they attempt to unravel details of criminal cases where the defendants claim to have been wrongfully convicted. The series will expose viewers to a thrilling whodunit mystery as the puzzling cases unfold and potentially reveal new information that could change the fates of the suspected criminals.

“Ice Cold Murder” (working title)

Produced by Asylum Entertainment with Steven Michaels and Jonathan Koch serving as Executive Producers along with Final Level Entertainment with Ice-T and Jorge Hinojosa serving as Executive Producers.

Hosted by Ice-T, this series exposes outrageous tales and shocking true stories involving sex, money, murder and sometimes a fatal cocktail of all three. Captivating reenactments will spotlight the very dark side of playing with fire and the tangled webs of lust, greed and death.

“Criminal Confessions”  

Produced by Wolf Reality and Shed Media with Dick Wolf, Tom Thayer, Pam Healey, John Hesling and Adam Kassen serving as Executive Producers.

This series delves into the psychological showdown that takes place inside actual police interrogation rooms and dissects what happens to yield a confession.  Each hour-long episode takes viewers through the twists and turns of a real homicide case from the crime scene to the suspects’ questioning to the ultimate confession. The police officers and detectives assigned to each case will reveal their methodology while interviews with the suspects’ and victims’ friends and family will shed light on the crime.  In every case, the interrogating officer will “break” the suspect and get a shocking reveal of what really happened.

“The Disappearance of”

“The Disappearance of…” is a series of multi-part documentaries that dive headfirst into a rabbit hole of unexplored leads, missing evidence and unnerving suspicion surrounding the most puzzling cases of young women who have gone missing.

The first two cases in the franchise are:

“The Disappearance of: Natalee Holloway”

Produced by Brian Graden Media with Brian Graden, Dave Mace, LB Horschler and Alex Weresow serving as Executive Producers.

Since her mysterious disappearance, Natalee’s family has been plagued by false leads and confessions of what happened that night. Then, two years ago, Natalee’s father Dave Holloway, was presented with the most promising lead to date. A first-hand account from someone who claims to actually know the specifics of what happened to her and the remains of her body. This could be Dave Holloway’s final chance at getting justice for his daughter and finally having peace for his family after so many years. This six-part series will follow Dave Holloway and a private investigator as they delve into this new lead. This riveting and shocking series will be an active journey with new evidence, never-before-seen footage, and real potential for resolution.

“The Disappearance of: Maura Murray”

Produced by Texas Crew Productions with David Karabinas, Eric Begley and Sonia Slutsky serving as Executive Producers.

When a young nursing student, Maura Murray, vanished in 2004 under strange circumstances, she became the first prominent disappearance of the social media age. Since then, the investigation into Murray’s case has fueled a legion of online armchair detectives, causing an endless procession of blogs, books, websites and podcasts, becoming a rabbit hole of unexplored leads, eyewitness discrepancies, missing evidence, questionable actions and strange characters. Now, in this six part docu-series, an investigative journalist, attempts to unravel one of the most complicated and mysterious cold cases of the last quarter century. With access to Murray’s family and friends, unique connections to local law enforcement, and the cooperation of the most prominent investigators on social media, she’ll attempt to find resolution once and for all.

“Patricia Cornwell’s True Conviction” (Working title)

Produced by All3 Media with Greg Goldman and Patricia Cornwell serving as Executive Producers.

Patricia Cornwell, a world-renowned author who has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and has built an entire career on extensive scientific research and unprecedented forensic detail, has assembled an all-star team of world-class experts in the fields of psychology, forensics, and clinical pathology.  Together, they will apply their collective knowledge toward a real life case where the stakes are life and death.

The Price of Duty (Working title)

Produced By Intellectual Property Corporation and Turn Left Productions with Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Todd Crites and Jackson Nguyen serving as Executive Producers.

From Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman, the producers of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” “The Price of Duty” delves into the most haunting cases of homicide detectives’ careers.  Each episode takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride to the front lines of the investigation, retracing their first steps on the crime scene to the final bust and the emotional aftermath that they still carry today.

Acquisition:

“Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” (Working title)

Produced by Peacock Productions with Sharon Scott and Andy Cashman serving as Executive Producers

Real-life mysteries. Investigative reporting. Justice. Dateline is the long-running, award winning newsmagazine bringing viewers stories ranging from compelling mysteries to powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations. Hosted by NBC News’ Craig Melvin, each episode of “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” incorporates the classic elements of drama and great storytelling: good guys, bad guys, conflict with the highest stakes, suspense and resolution.  Hear the chilling tales directly from those most affected and involved, including investigators tasked with cracking the case and the families confronting tragedy. In every story we tell, we help the real people who lived the events share their journeys with you.

In Development:

“Retried”

Produced by Leepson Bounds Entertainment with David Leepson, Stephanie Lydecker, Nancy Grace and John Terenzio serving as Executive Producers.

This true-crime series follows a group of legal experts lead by Nancy Grace as they reassess an adjudicated murder case to see if they can uncover new information that could potentially lead to a retrial. Each week, the team will tackle one new case, studying key moments from the trial, inadmissible evidence, and crucial facts that were never made public.  Could the reexamination ultimately produce a different theory, or did our justice system get it right the first time?

“Kept Alive”

Produced by All3 Media and Maverick with Adam Greener, Simon Knight, Greg Lipstone, and Emily Mayer serving as Executive Producers.

This investigatory series explores the true stories of missing person cases where the attacker convinced the world their victim was still alive by impersonating them.  Through text messages, social media posts, and more, the murderer or murderers were able to divert suspicion of foul play.  On each case, family, friends, key witnesses and the detectives assigned will unravel the tangled mystery and expose the mistakes that finally brought a killer to justice.