Tom Hanks And HBO - Tag Team Mormon Bashing in BIG LOVE

By Thomas Fredericksen

March 27, 2006 - Hollywood, CA - - Like many of my fellow Sopranos junkies, I was tuning in to see the return of my goombas after an almost two year absence, I also stuck around long enough to watch the new offering from Tom Hanks' production company "Playtone," the new HBO series "Big Love."

If you haven't seen the promos, it is a one hour dramatic series about a middle class hardware store owner with three wives, and a bunch of many?

I lost count.

Set in the fun-loving state of Utah - surprise...they are Mormons and typical if one is to accept what HBO and Hanks are proffering.

Oh, it's not all happy bed-hopping, though there is a considerable amount of that.

No, this poor guy has problems like the rest of us.

The main character, played to perfection by Bill Paxton, finds he can't keep up sexually with the insatiable demands of all his women and resorts to stockpiling Viagra.

As if he doesn't have enough on his plate at home, he must also find time to deal with his old polygamist compound where his possibly arsenic wielding mother - part of his father's harem - may be trying to poison his father, played by a quirky Bruce Dern who is near death from said arsenic.

Nope, this isn't what we might call a traditional family...and a long jump from Ward, June and the Beav.

There is the evil Mormon bishop with his new bride, fourteen years old no less, and the hapless protagonist also must deal with the interpersonal relationships between the wives. You see, wife number one doesn't get along with wife number two who is upset about not getting her cut of the family money while wife number three isn't getting enough sex and is feeling overwhelmed. Meanwhile, wife number one tries to keep it all together while coping with the demands of the sexual appetites of the other two [much younger and oh-so hot] wives and the all important...wait for it...bed schedule...and the kids.

Oh...the kids?

I'm not even going to go into it.

In the dreamlike show opener, Paxton's main character is shown dancing with all of his three wives as the planets revolve about them, an obviously negative - there are dozens of them - reference to Mormon theology which rewards having many children with baubles in the afterlife.

Now I personally don't have anything negative to say about the Mormon religion or anyone who practices it. As far as I am concerned If you aren't driving into a crowd and killing people in the name of your religion, I'm all for it. A guy with three wives just isn't a threat to me.

What puzzles me is why this show is on the air. And why is Tom Hanks behind it?

Up to this point Hanks seems to have resisted the tug of the far-left in Hollywood and has the reputation as a stand-up guy.

His statement at Cannes in 2004 in support of the troops in Iraq is noteworthy.

So why has he jumped into the culture war in such a big way, considering that "Big Love" is a shot not just over the bow of the conservative Christian political community, but a direct broadside?

This isn't a cute little show produced for entertainment, it's a de rigueur and nasty leftist assault on what they perceive as the "whacky" Christian right.

The not-so-subtle little digs are everywhere - Mormon mothers removing handguns from their purses and throwing them in a glove box so they could pass through hospital security gates - to scenes depicting children begging dad for new rifles - to shots of the more secularly inclined teenagers of the community referring to religious Mormons as "Mormbots."

The show casts the Church of the Latter Day Saints as an empire populated by gun toting, fanatically religious, over-sexed nut-balls - huddled in the soft green hills of Utah.

Since Hanks heads the production company we must assume that is the stereotype he wishes to impress on the rest of America.

Why choose the Mormons to portray this way?

Because they seem an easy target, if Playtone had gone after a more populous Christian sect there might be a risk of a severe and immediate backlash. Consider the recent national outcry against the assault on Christmas, a case in point where years of liberal agitation finally resulted in over-reaching.

Tom Hanks is going through the back door. This is an attack on Christianity, but a cleverly veiled one.

Hanks, by inferring that pretty much the entire state of Utah is inhabited by folks not far removed from space aliens, has accomplished what he set out to do. The show is well acted and produced. It's also well written and might be on the air for years, just give it a few months and let it seep into the mainstream a little. It won't be long before the rest of Christendom is dragged through this same muck in copy-cat productions.

My guess is NBC will be first to bite, maybe a nice Sunday evening show, Thursday's already night you know.

There is no substantive reason to make fun of a group of people like this - aside from the fact that companies like HBO/Playtone can - polygamy is not mainstream by a long shot - even in Utah - and everyone knows it.

Regarding that practice, the official teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, i.e., "the Mormons" is as follows:

"Polygamy was officially discontinued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1890. Any Church member adopting the practice today is excommunicated. Groups that continue the practice in Utah and elsewhere have no association whatsoever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of their practitioners have never been among its members."

If this were not a white minority Christian sect it simply would not happen, the hallowed strictures of multiculturalism would not permit it.

Of course multiculturalism and moral equivalency only goes so far even amongst the leftist culture warriors.

While they are fully prepared to accept and defend as normal the most out of phase "non-traditional" marriage - that between people of the same sex - they gleefully savage a Christian group on the basis of a created and false association with polygamy.

Aside from the obvious negative fallout that takes place in such a wholesale slandering of a religion, several immediate losers come to mind - Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-Ma) presidential run and Mormon kids in public schools who will feel the brunt of this senseless attack on religious belief.

The larger story here is that Hollywood isn't even pretending to hide their distain of mainstream America anymore...shame on Tom Hanks and HBO.

Troubling Associations

Given Hanks reputation I felt moved to give Big Love the benefit of the doubt and decided to watch the second episode of the show only to find that experience opened an entirely new set of questions.

It seems that Mr. Hanks might be feeling some heat.

The first episode had his name as producer prominently displayed on opening and ending credits along with his Playtone Productions' logo.

Not so however in episode two; though the Playtone logo was visible, in a move that might be as an attempt to disassociate Big Love from the stellar image of its producer, the mention of Hanks was fleeting, almost subliminal.

The BUZZ in Hollywood is that the debut of Hanks' HBO series and the - scheduled for release this summer - "The Da Vinci Code," proves that he has indeed come out of the Hollywood leftist closet.

No, that is imprecise, Hanks seems to be bursting out of it.

We find it hard to believe that Hanks, leading with soft-target Mormon bashing and following up with the full-out assault on Christianity's fundamental beliefs - the Da Vinci Code - is accidental.

Is it the influence derived by osmosis from his friendship with a post-Munich secularized Spielberg?

In further researching why Playtone would be involved in the Big Love project we uncovered an interesting link between Hanks' Playtone Productions and a film company called Hazel Wood Pictures of Santa Monica CA.

Hazel Wood Pictures has produced two controversial films, most recently "The Other Side Of Aids," by Eric Paulson. This film was recently rolled-out at the Rochester Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival.

What is controversial is that this work challenges the well-accepted scientific theory that the HIV virus is the causal factor in AIDS. That film fits nicely with Paulson's first in this vein, "Questioning AIDS In South Africa," which was written and directed by Robin Scovill.

What is the connection between Hazel Wood and Hanks' Playtone?

According to Image Out, they shared the same phone number [310-394-5700] at least at one point and we doubt that was done for reasons of simple economy.

[Editor's note: We talked to Mr. Paulson on March 23 and he denied any relationship between Playtone and Hazel Wood Pictures. Paulson was so intent on creating the impression of a - Jamie Gorelick like - wall of separation that he asked to be made aware of - and I am paraphrasing - "the source of the information so I could correct it." Oddly, a call to Playtone Productions on March 24 asking to be connected to "the producer of 'The Other Side Of AIDS,' Eric Paulson," found us immediately being routed to Paulson's voice mail.]

While Paulson denies a link between his company and Playtone that is really a case of a distinction without a difference, since he works for Playtone, and has done so since 1998.

From the Eric E. Paulson website:

"Eric Paulson's production experience includes such films as THAT THING YOU DO!, SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, and the HBO mini-series FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. In 1998, Paulson joined Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman at their film, television and record entity, The Playtone Company. Recently, he served as Production Manager on Playtone's AIDS tribute THE MAKING OF: WHAT'S GOING ON and was the Production Associate on the feature film MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. Paulson is also pursuing a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology in addition to having produced the controversial documentary THE OTHER SIDE OF AIDS."

Hence it seems eminently reasonable for Playtone's telephone number to have been used as a contact point for Paulson's AIDS films, where it remains today.

This article began by asking why is Tom Hanks and his production company Playtone involved with the "Big Love" Mormon bashing project on HBO? To that we must now wonder why Paulson [whose AIDS films are morally and scientifically indefensible] would want to so vehemently quash any conjecture regarding a Hazel Wood/Playtone link?

We can't offer anything but supposition as to the "why" of Hanks apparent sudden epiphany, just that it has apparently happened.

What we can say is that "Big Love" and the "Da Vinci Code" are a synchronized one-two punch into traditional America's solar plexus, possibly the opening salvos of an even more concerted attack on the culture, targeting its Judeo-Christian bedrock.

It seems reasonable that Mr. Paulson's denial of a formal link - something we are willing to accept absent proof to the contrary as this is written - between Playtone and Paulson's Hazel Wood AIDS polemics is necessary because the relationship between Paulson's output and Hanks' reputation at this point is a net negative for Hanks, who is starting to discover that there are repercussions attendant to his fifth column work.

1999-2006 Thomas Fredericksen/, all rights reserved.