Letter to Secret Service Expert Vince Palamara
by Cantara Christopher
First of all, I think you’re right to shift your attention from Gerald Blaine’s memoir and focus instead on the film version of The Kennedy Detail, as it will probably attract a larger audience than the book (though this is far from a certainty). There are quite an interesting number of JFK Assassination movies coming out this year. Let’s consider how The Kennedy Detail stacks up against its competition:
Parkland is a major motion picture produced and starring Tom Hanks. Its theme: Valiant Doctors Battle the Odds to Save the President. It follows the no-conspiracy line, but audiences should warm to this movie easily. It’s got Tom Hanks!
Legacy of Secrecy is another major motion picture that’s been in the works for over two years and stars Leonardo DiCaprio. Its theme: The Mafia Did It. Sounds more edgy and intriguing than the Oliver Stone movie. It’s got my interest because it’s based on the books by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann. And while I think Waldron jumps to the wrong conclusions a little too often, I appreciate Hartmann for doing his bit to exonerate Abraham Bolden, the former Secret Service agent who Blaine smeared, in not-too-subtly racist terms, in his own book.
Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot is the working title for the History Channel movie based on Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s book and produced by top director-producer Ridley’s Scott’s outfit, Scott Free Television. Its theme: JFK’s Assassination Changed the Course of History. I hear the book was fairly lame, but the producers intend to fill out their two-hour movie with recreated scenes, archival footage, and talking heads expounding their theories of what Kennedy’s death has meant to America. I’m no fan of O’Reilly, and I’ve heard these arguments before, but this project smells as sweet as a rose compared to
The Kennedy Detail, produced by Achity Entertainment and Ramos & Sparks, with absolutely no big names attached as of this moment, and I doubt we’ll be hearing of any come March when the cameras start rolling. As my friend, a Hollywood publicist who wishes to remain anonymous, pointed out, Achity Entertainment spends an inordinate amount of time trawling around writing schools and workshops in order to exploit hungry novice writers, while Ramos & Sparks primarily does public relations for sports personalities. The production team though includes some competent below-the-line people; the line producer, set designer, and casting directors all have good reputations, so the look of the movie may turn out all right.
Unfortunately, they plan to show it first on the Discovery Channel, a basic cable channel already notorious for offensively dubious “reality” programs like Amish Mafia.
Even if this movie had a serviceable script, I’d have reason enough to doubt its success. But Stephen Gyllenhaal (mediocre director and way less than mediocre screenwriter—check out his last effort Grassroots) seems to consistently have writing problems. So it comes as no surprise that he has enlisted his new young wife (who has absolutely no screenwriting credentials whatsoever outside the academic world) probably to bail him out from an embarrassing failure. Being no fool, she quickly seized the opportunity to wangle her first Hollywood co-writing credit, as evidenced by the movie poster.
Oh by the way, the theme of The Kennedy Detail: Yeah We Fucked Up, But It’s Kennedy’s Fault.
All this is to say that if you want to nail Blaine on his questionable account of What Really Happened, you won’t accomplish it by going head-to-head with him armed with mere facts. Because at no point has Gerald Blaine ever attempted to defend factually the truth of his case and he never will. He’s just a shill—for his book and now for the movie. So no, you are never ever going to get him to engage in an honest debate.
The best way to back him against the wall, in my opinion, is to question the veracity of the film and to do it publicly and repeatedly. Here are a few points you should make:
1. There Is No Disinterested Historian Attached to The Kennedy Detail Film
Do you recall that TV moderator who dismissed your commendable research and your offer to confront Blaine because you were “too young to remember the assassination”? Well, Associate Producer McCubbin is also “too young to remember” and so is co-writer Kathleen Gyllenhaal, Stephen’s new wife, who’s around his daughter Maggie’s age (Maggie was born in 1977).
2. Blaine Was Not Present at the Assassination
Remember that TV moderator also sneeringly remarked that “you weren’t there”? Well, Blaine, who was supervising agent of the actual Kennedy Secret Service detail, may have pretentions to being the absolute last word regarding the president’s murder, but let’s not forget that HE wasn’t in Dallas either–he had been sent on to Austin that day.
3. Not All Secret Service Agents Present At the Assassination Agree with the Warren Report
And here’s another thing you ought to make clear again and again: Of the three agents still living who were actually present at the assassination, two—Win Lawson and Paul Landis—gave testimony that conflicted with the Warren Report aka The Official Story. Never mind how much flattery or chicanery Achity might have used to get them to sign releases to be depicted in this fiction. Never mind what contributions Lawson and Landis may want to make to this story. As I’ve said, this is Hollywood, they’ll be cute and irrelevant. Landis only wants to talk about Caroline Kennedy’s horse Macaroni anyway. Hell, I remember Macaroni.
5. Using CGI, They Plan to Interpolate Images of the Real JFK to Interact with the Other Characters
Even with the disclaimers, there will be morons out there who will nevertheless believe they’re watching the real President Kennedy really joking anound with his real bodyguards. Wow, the story must be true ’cause Kennedy himself is starring in it! I will bet a more than a dollar the producers are counting on this.
Before the cameras even roll, this film already is destined to be more offensive to more people than Discovery’s Amish Mafia is to the Amish. Offensive to the memory of JFK, offensive to honest filmmakers, but most of all offensive to admirers of the late president. You mention propaganda in your writings a lot, Vince. Well, I agree wholeheartedly with your use of the term, and this little Hollywood trick they plan to use is the smoking gun.