Tv Reviews Poliwood
Producer/director Barry Levinson takes a look at the convergence of celebrity and politics in the documentary Poliwood ,which airs tonight (Monday) on Showtime. Featured in the film is a raft of Hollywood celebrities, including Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Ellen Burstyn, Tim Daly, Anne Hathaway and the late Ron Silver. Levinson, a celebrity in his own right with films such as Rain Man and the political satire Wag the Dog and with TV shows like Homicide Life on the Street and Oz , attempts to show not only what happens when celebrities come together with politicians but also with ordinary folks. Most critics suggest that the result is confusing. Boston Herald critic Mark A. Perigard says that Levinson's documentary is simply too simplistic. Levinson, he notes, calls his film an "essay." That, says Perigard, is "like calling the back of a cereal box a novel." The Wall Street Journal 's Dorothy Rabinowitz comments that Levinson presents "a tonnage of vague pronouncements." Ellen Gray in the Philadelphia Daily News remarks that "for all the eye-rolling that goes on as noncelebrities weigh in on what they believe is Hollywood's undue influence, Poliwood doesn't pack much of a punch." And Alessandra Stanley concludes in the New York Times " Poliwood feeds our prurient fascination with celebrities' fascination with politics, but Mr. Levinson's thesis is undermined by an election process that he bemoaned but didn't film."