Writer Salman Rushdie has a unique perspective on the recent violence in the Muslim world. In 1989, before social media could spread messages like wildfire, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini condemned the British author to death over his novel, The Satanic Verses, and incited rioting in the streets. He has spent many years on the run with a bounty on his head, which was just raised again days ago by an Iranian religious foundation.
In an interview with NBC's TODAY, Rushdie called the anti-Islamic film that sparked widespread unrest "disgraceful."
"I think clearly the video was a flashpoint," Rushdie told Matt Lauer. "From what I can see it was an outrageous, disgraceful little malevolent thing, but by now I think that the reaction we’re seeing is really the release of a much larger outrage. We sort of live in an age of outrage, and people seem to be defining themselves by their outrage and seem to feel that it justifies itself."
While he sees some connection between the current protests in the Middle East over and his own experience running from a fatwa, or religious edict, he doesn't feel sorry for the creator of the film.
"He did it on purpose," Rushdie said. The filmmaker "set out to create a response, and he got in spades."
Rushdie joins us a guest tonight on The Last Word at 10pm ET in an exclusive interview.
After last night's show, journalist and author Rula Jabreal continued the conversation with Lawrence O'Donnell about the recent turmoil in the Arab world, and we thought it was a good idea to film it so you could see it, too.
Presented with a Gallup poll showing a 54 percent approval rating of U.S. leadership, Jabreal quickly added, "Probably in Egypt it will be 60 percent. In Tunisia it will probably be 55 percent. Look, the Arab world is big and vast, and no doubt this administration has turned some things around." She suggested the protests in Africa and the Middle East are reflections of internal conflicts in countries not used to the ways of democracy.
Extremest groups, she said, use Islamic derision, such as that seen in the film "Innocence of Muslims," to incite mobs and make political points.
"They always did it before," Jabreal said. "We didn't know about it because...the regimes, the dictators, they would hammer them and kill probably hundreds of them, and we wouldn't know about it. Today, we know about it because you have an elected government that react to the mob in a different way."
A new photo has surfaced of Daniel Day-Lewis in character as Abraham Lincoln, and he seems to be a spitting image. The actor is portraying the 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming biopic, aptly titled "Lincoln."
The film will focus on the latter period of the president’s life. Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tommy Lee Jones are also starring in the movie.
Actor Christian Bale with flowers as he visits a memorial in Aurora, Colorado on Tuesday.
Christian Bale visited movie-goers today who were injured in the deadly shooting spree at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."
The Denver Post reports the star of the last three Batman movies spent more than two hours at the Medical Center of Aurora, meeting with seven patients.
The fans' chance to see the his latest film got cut short early Friday morning when a gunman — who we shall not name — allegedly opened fire on the crowd, killing 12 and injured 58 others.
The actor and his wife, Sandra Blazic, also visited a makeshift memorial across the street from the Century 16 movie theater.
Warner Bros., the studio behind "The Dark Knight Rises," told NBC News it plans to make a substantial donation to the Aurora Victim Relief Fund. The fund was established along with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to help victims of the massacre.
Due to the sensitive nature of recent events, studio execs canceled the film's red-carpet Paris premiere and yanked the movie trailer "Gangster Squad" from theaters, which happened to show a movie-theater shooting.
Nora Ephron, celebrated screenwriter, director and mother of some of the best known romantic comedies, died today in her beloved New York City.
Earlier in the day, various media outlets first revealed that she was gravely ill. The New York Times cited her son, Jacob Bernstein, also a freelance reporter for the paper, as confirming her death brought on by complications from leukemia.
During her long career, the three-time Oscar nominee published many books and articles. Though, she was best known for writing romcom classics like "When Harry Met Sally" and writing and directing "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail," and most recently, "Julia & Julia."
She is survived by her husband, writer Nicholas Pileggi, and her two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein.
The Last Word had the opportunity to speak with Ephron in December of 2010. During her visit to our set, she discussed her own character studies of D.C. politicians and explained to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell the romanticism of being a Democrat: "They break your heart. You believe them. They make promises hope spring eternal."
There is no shortage of sentimentality in HBO’s new documentary, "41," about the life of George H.W. Bush, no lack of sweet music played over archival footage, or b-roll of the churning tide at Kennebunkport in Maine, where the Bushes have their summer home. But the sentimentality plays. And the man is charming.
Bush is the last U.S. president to have served in war. A naval pilot in the Pacific theater of WWII, his Grumman TBM Avenger was clipped by anti-aircraft fire above Chichijima, and, parachute barely opening, he bailed out into the sea. Four hours later, the USS Finback found him floating in a small, inflated raft.
Later he played baseball for Yale, where he met Babe Ruth. And later still he was elected to the House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas. He served as Ambassador to the UN, envoy to the People's Republic of China, Director of the CIA, and when he lost the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, he accepted Reagan's offer to serve as vice president. Eight years later, he took the presidential oath himself.
As the film quickly makes clear, Bush's military, diplomatic, and political experience is unmatched by Reagan and all the presidents who succeeded him. He was a statesman, through and through, and brought his experience to bear on the many decisions of his presidency. Sometimes he was praised for his pragmatism, other times he was criticized for it, but both praise and criticism seem to come cheap to Bush, who served the best he could in that murky and misrepresented office.
Maybe what's so compelling about the life of a president is the great contrast between the office and the man who fills it. The Office of the President (cue trumpets) is so immense that we as citizens can’t help but fill it with all our hopes, anxieties, ideals, desires — its largeness, like the largeness of celebrity or esteem, is what we dream of against the smallness of our lives. The big secret, of course, is that the lives of presidents are just as small, just as painstaking in their minutiae, their alarm-clocks, their fish-hook collections, their family, their love. And it’s this simple but powerful contrast, portrayed simply, that makes "41" a worthy biography.
Team Obama turned to Hollywood for a lengthy promo video short documentary. The loveable Tom Hanks narrates the 17-minute video capturing President Obama's dramatic first term in office (matched with a dramatic soundtrack, naturally). And Academy Award-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim directed the short, which was described in the newly released trailer as a "film about determination and progress." Vice President Biden, Rahm Emanuel and Elizabeth Warren make cameos.
We've gotten our first look at Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. He's on location in Richmond, shooting the Steven Spielberg-directed film, "Lincoln."
A local native Michael Phillips tweeted out this picture of Day-Lewis grabbing some food at a local restaurant. Who knew they had casual Fridays when Lincoln was president? The beard's looking might fine, too.
Other cast members include Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln.
The movie is scheduled to come out in late next year, around the 2012 presidential election.
Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe at the world premiere of "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part II" in London on Thursday.
Next Friday marks the U.S. opening date of the final installment of the Harry Potter films, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II." However, just a few hours ago in London's Trafalgar Square, the cast gathered for the world premiere of the much-anticipated final film. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, stars Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Ruper Grint (Ron Weasley) and dozens of other actors and actresses from the eight films gathered together for the last time to watch the series' final installment.
The Last Word Sorting Hat, watching over the newsroom as we work.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the HP7 world premiere was that thousands of fans camped out for days waiting to get a glimpse of the stars and pay tribute to their favorite wizard. There were many tears as the cast thanked the fans and the woman behind it all, J.K. Rowling, even teased the crowd by starting her speech with "maybe I should just write another book." Um, yes please!
We here at The Last Word are huge Harry Potter fans. Many of our staff members have taken the 130-question quiz that sorts you into one of the Hogwarts houses (I'm a Hufflepuff) and we even have our own Sorting Hat that watches over us as we work. Next Friday, we promise an appropriately epic goodbye to the Harry Potter films, complete with lightning bolt scars and Gryffindor hats. Who knows? Maybe we can convince Lawrence to hold a wand during the broadcast.