Hollywood on the Potomac

'The Outpost'

June 29, 2020

The Outpost is based on Jake Tapper’s bestselling book detailing true events of the Battle of Kamdesh during the Afghanistan War. The Battle of Kamdesh was the bloodiest American engagement of the Afghan War in 2009 and Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV became one of the most decorated units of the 19-year conflict. Scott Eastwood portrays Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha and Caleb Landry Jones portrays Specialist Ty Carter (who also appears in the movie), who were awarded the Medal of Honor. Orlando Bloom plays Captain Ben Keating. Director Rod Lurie, himself a former soldier and graduate of West Point, cast several other veterans of the American military in various roles, including Henry Hughes and Daniel Rodriguez.

 

The film was scheduled to premiere at the 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on July 2, 2020, with a VOD release the following day according to news sources.

 

Hollywood on the Potomac covered Jake’s book launch. “If you were thinking about doing an inside the newsroom reality show, you should have been at Juleanna Glover’s book party for Jake Tapper on the occasion of his just released book. The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.”

The then ABC news talent was surrounded by colleagues – producers and on air talent –  from all the networks and cable stations.

 

We then followed up in July of 2017:

“Congratulations to Jake Tapper. Millennium Films has acquired a package for CNN chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper’s The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.  Rod Lurie (The Contender) will direct.”

 

“The basis of the 2020 film starring Orlando Bloom and Scott EastwoodThe Outpost is the heartbreaking and inspiring story of one of America’s deadliest battles during the war in Afghanistan, acclaimed by critics everywhere as a classic. At 5:58 AM on October 3rd, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating, located in frighteningly vulnerable terrain in Afghanistan just 14 miles from the Pakistani border, was viciously attacked. Though the 53 Americans there prevailed against nearly 400 Taliban fighters, their casualties made it the deadliest fight of the war for the U.S. that year. Four months after the battle, a Pentagon review revealed that there was no reason for the troops at Keating to have been there in the first place.”

“In The Outpost, Jake Tapper gives us the powerful saga of COP Keating, from its establishment to eventual destruction, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of soldiers and their families, and to a place and war that has remained profoundly distant to most Americans. A runaway bestseller, it makes a savage war real, and American courage manifest.”

The Outpost is a mind-boggling, all-too-true story of heroism, hubris, failed strategy, and heartbreaking sacrifice. If you want to understand how the war in Afghanistan went off the rails, you need to read this book.” –Jon Krakauer


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'Democracy in One Book or Less'

June 21, 2020

Written by Janet Donovan & Liz Sizer

 

Former Obama speechwriter David Litt held a book party at Comet Ping Pong to launch the publication of his latest book: Democracy In One Book Or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think. While the party was virtual for all guests, the author was at the restaurant in person, broadcasting from the normally packed Ping Pong dining room, while host James Alefantis (Chef & Owner) joined the call from outside the storefront where he was overseeing a bustling takeout dinner service.

 

Book synopsis: 

“Bill Bryson meets Thomas Frank in this deeply insightful, unexpectedly hilarious story of how politicians hijacked American democracy and how we can take it back. The democracy you live in today is different—completely different—from the democracy you were born into. You probably don’t realize just how radically your republic has been altered during your lifetime. Yet more than any policy issue, political trend, or even Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the peril America faces today. What explains the gap between what We, the People want and what our elected leaders do? How can we fix our politics before it’s too late? And how can we truly understand the state of our democracy without wanting to crawl under a rock? That’s what former Obama speechwriter David Litt set out to answer.Poking into forgotten corners of history, translating political science into plain English, and traveling the country to meet experts and activists, Litt explains how the world’s greatest experiment in democracy went awry. (He also tries to crash a party at Mitch McConnell’s former frat house. It goes poorly.) The result of Litt’s journey is something you might not have thought possible: a page-turner about the political process. You’ll meet the Supreme Court justice charged with murder, learn how James Madison’s college roommate broke the Senate, encounter a citrus thief who embodies what’s wrong with our elections, and join Belle the bill as she tries to become a law (a quest far more harrowing than the one in Schoolhouse Rock!). Yet despite his clear-eyed assessment of the dangers we face, Litt remains audaciously optimistic. He offers a to-do list of bold yet achievable changes—a blueprint for restoring the balance of power in America before it’s too late.” HarperCollins Publishers

 

As nearly 100 guests dialed in to the Zoom call, Litt and Alefantis bantered about current events and how much things had changed since their last book party together for Litt’s 2017 memoir: Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years.


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'Brag Better'

June 16, 2020

Have you ever wanted to brag about yourself and your accomplishments but were afraid to do so? Join the crowd. If you have no problems with bragging, then congratulations – you are getting closer to your goals. According to Meredith Fineman, author of Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion, if you are willing to take the leap from thinking bragging is vulgar to embracing it, your life is headed in the right direction.

 

The general overall definition of brag shows up in most dictionaries as ‘pompous, boastful, arrogant talk or manner and a braggart.’  Having said that, we asked the author to define bragging as she sees it and why she chose bragging over an alternative option.  “So I’ve been working with the word brag for about seven years  Many people have tried to dissuade me from using it.  I mean, my work is centered around helping my audience which is the qualified quiet.  It talks about people that have done the work but who don’t know how to tout it, talk about it, showcase and brag about their work. So as a writer for a very long time and someone who’s really interested in language, the problem is that we don’t really have any other words to talk positively about professional accomplishment, like singular words. You have some colloquialisms like hyping yourself, but that’s not really sufficient. So I chose to use the word brag and define it as true statements about your work that you are using consistently, loudly, proudly, and strategically to advance your career. That’s how I would define it,” Fineman told Hollywood on the Potomac

“One thing that interests me a lot about the definition is that yes there are obvious negative connotations with this word, but we suffer from a lack of other ones,” she added. “I thought about that and I decided that instead of inventing a new word – while I think a new word should be invented – that until we’re there linguistically we have to work with what we’ve got. And so a lot of the definitions of brag, whether it’s to talk about oneself boastfully or talk about oneself with excessive pride which are pretty subjective, make bragging so difficult. However, one person’s bragging is just another person sharing. Bragging specifically for me and for my work for purposes of this book, is really strategic messaging around the work you’ve done around your accomplishments, around the things in your career that you’re proud of. It’s just whatever you’re most passionate about. I think that is how I would differentiate it from self confidence. I think it’s a skillset that I have trained people on and developed that is also rooted in public relations activities and this idea of packaging and pitching and telling a solid story. But more than anything, brags are strategically loud about what they’ve done. [It’s] a professional goal.”

 

Since so many of our attitudes can be attributed to our childhood environment, we asked Meredith how that many have influenced her.

Q: “Did your parents brag about you and if so, directly or to friends?”

A:  “I think my work stems from an interesting combination where I have a very vocal mother who had particularly women around bragging and talking about their work. So I was lucky that I never had a mother who demonstrated that silence was effective. Then you couple that with growing up in the media and the political bubble of Washington having a dad who is a writer and on television, I think those two things combined make me feel lucky, like I’d never felt like as a woman I was supposed to be quiet. That was reinforced to me in other ways,  not just through my parents. Having a dad who effectively performed on TV, those things together taught me a lot about how to frame yourself and your work and be unafraid to do so.”

Q:  The second part of that question: “Did they ever suggest to you that you brag about yourself?” 

A:  “I don’t think it needed to be said, they did in their actions. I think it was never explicitly, but I think they did, like when we would meet people they would certainly be encouraging of me to share things in general. And they always bragged on my behalf. A huge part of bragging better is doing so for others then asking others to do so for you, not just for your own purposes, but for their work too so you can help other people. I think it was just sort of almost understood. I call it the five minute family media circus.” 


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