07/17/2012 08:25 am ET Updated Sep 16, 2012

Andrew Garfield, The Best Spider-Man Ever.. Madonna Turns Up The Radio And Turns Off The French Far-Right

"IMITATION IS the sincerest form of flattery," goes the old saying.

But we know this isn't always true. Sometimes it is a sincere insult or a crass rip-off.

  • SO, I wonder if the producers of the new USA Network limited series, "Political Animals" are patting themselves on the back, for using such restraint in not casting an African-American actor in the "Barack Obama" role of the President of the United States, in this lurid parody of Hillary and Bill Clinton?

    Did it take the writers more than 15 minutes to dash off the first episode, which parallels the Clintons in almost every particular? (Okay, Sigourney Weaver's former-first-lady-turned-presidential candidate-turned-secretary-of-state has two sons rather than one daughter. An
    astonishing bit of creativity. Emmys, please!)

    There are other characters as well, none of whom seem to be based on anybody real. They are just idiots. Especially with the lame soap-opera-ish dialogue they are required to spout. ("Never call a bitch a bitch. Us bitches don't like it.") I will do these actors a favor and not mention their names.

    What is the point of "Political Animals" arriving four months before the election? Liberals might say, with good reason, that it is conservative propaganda--the Clintons come off as fairly unpleasant and Obama as weak and faltering. (I am not going to bother to refer to anybody by their character's names.)

    Conservatives might say it is liberal propaganda, as it puts forth the theory that Mrs. Clinton will run again for the presidency.

    Sigourney Weaver is a great actress, and some might find it distressing to see her in this exploitive show. One wonders if she would blush or scramble to escape if in the future, she is ever in the same room with Secretary of State Clinton. Or former President Clinton. And if you thought John Travolta's impersonation of Bill Clinton was unflattering in Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors" wait till you see how Bill is presented here! I am sure many people will enjoy "Political Animals" precisely because it is so lurid and obvious.
  • "THE AMAZING Spider-Man." It is amazing, with a brand new hero, Andrew Garfield, who can really act. This time out a comic book Marvel Man has a storyline worthy of the myth. And add to this that two former Oscar winners Sally Field and Martin Sheen are Spider-Man's aunt and uncle. The new girlfriend Emma Stone, is also given a hefty part with nuance and believability. She and Garfield impress together with their sensitivity and "smarts" making them equals. She doesn't just scream; he doesn't just soar and crawl up buildings. In fact, the Spider-Man costume is slowly created and for a change makes some kind of sense. I think it is the best rendered movie myth I have ever seen. Take your kids but mainly take yourself. Oh, and I know it is hopeless and silly of me but I think young actor Garfield should win an Oscar nomination for this! He didn't get the Tony for his role in "Death of Salesman" on Broadway. He was praised for his performance in the movie, "The Social Network." But as Spider-Man he is really a special kind of star and a brilliant actor.
  • MADONNA'S LATEST video for her new single, "Turn Up The Radio" has the icon back in form, at least for my taste. Filmed in Florence, it has an amusing narrative-- Madonna is shown as beleaguered star trying to avoid the paparazzi. (Yes, alright, she's playing herself.) She escapes in her car, turns up the radio, and picks up a lot of interesting people along the way--mostly attractive young men. She looks great. If this video is not up to the masterpieces of old--"Bad Girl," "Take a Bow" "Vogue," etc., it is more engaging and glamorous than her recent efforts. It's always better to tell a little story in these videos, and nobody does it better than M. Of course the big story about Madonna is that she is facing a lawsuit from France's far-right National Front party, because of a brief image in one of her concert videos of that party's leader, Marine Le Pen, with a swastika on her forehead. Madonna was warned not to use that bit in France or face the consequences. Silly National Front! Never tell Madonna what she shouldn't do. It doesn't work. And what are the "consequences?" Worldwide publicity for Madonna's concert.
  • MORE OF the great ones passing on. Last week it was Ernest Borgnine, at age 95. Two days ago Celeste Holm died, also 95. The last time I saw the elegant Oscar-winning Miss Holm was earlier this year at a photo gallery exhibit/tribute to Marilyn Monroe. I was surprised, because Miss Holm, who could have an acid tongue, never seemed too impressed by Monroe, with whom she shared a few moments in "All About Eve." (Holm once remarked, "Gregory Ratoff, who was also in the movie said to me, 'That girl is going to be beeg star. I said, 'Why, because she keeps everybody waiting?'") Celeste, with her husband, Frank Basile, was gracious as always that night, if a wee bit fragile. Motioning to the blow-ups of MM on the wall, she said to me, "Well, she really was a dear girl. And beautiful, so...why not?" As for Ernest Borgnine, it's hard to believe this amazing life force is gone. He had at least 131 acting credits, and that doesn't even include his various TV series. (He won the Oscar for 1955's "Marty.") Borgnine was one of those people who just seemed so happy to be alive, appreciated the fact that a big not-handsome lug like him became a movie star, and was still vigorous and amusing, the last time I saw him onscreen in "Red." He survived a very brief marriage to Ethel Merman, which seemed to amuse both of them. (In her autobiography, Merman's chapter on Borgnine was a blank page.) However, Borgnine's marriage to his Tova Traesnaes, was still going strong after nearly forty years. Dear Celeste and Ernie, thanks for everything!