Pursuit of the Truth: Series Premiere Recap

by Wilson Garrett

Watch the full episode of Pursuit of The Truth ON DEMAND with a subscription to TheBlaze TV PLUS!

“The documentary film is one of the most powerful and effective vehicles for human expression ever invented. For over 100 years documentary films have given us a glimpse into worlds we wouldn’t otherwise see. They’ve brought to life serious issues that concern humanity and the world as a whole. And they’ve been an important catalyst for change.”

No pressure there, right guys?

On Thursday, TheBlaze debuted Pursuit of The Truth, a new reality series from Executive Producers Vince Vaughn and Glenn Beck. Focused on finding the next great documentary and documentary filmmaker, Pursuit of The Truth follows contestants as they pitch their ideas and are selected to compete with one another to prove they have storytelling ability and the filmmaking skills to turn their dream into a reality.

On the series premiere, audiences were introduced to several contestants – some of who clearly had what it takes,  and a few whose ideas were just a little bit out there (ok, very out there).

One of the most impressive pitches came from Joshua Ligairi, who pitched his idea for “Plan 241”, a documentary about an Alaskan militia leader who gained a cult-like following that were arrested by the FBI for some very questionable rhetoric and the belief that they would commit a crime, even though they didn’t actually do anything.

Josh showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm during his presentation, and the judges were clearly impressed with his resume and thought his concept had a lot of potential. However, his documentary really was dependent on one thing that they weren’t quite sure he could deliver on: access to the people who had been incarcerated. With thousands of applicants and hundreds of people to interview, will the judges decide to let Josh in with that huge question mark on his project?

Watch his pitch and the judges reaction below:

Chris Bell was another standout with a solid background in filmmaking. The man behind the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Bell wants to move from tackling steroids to taking on one of the biggest, and most unspoken, health threats in the world today: prescription drugs. While America is engaged in a war on drugs, there is a lack of awareness of addiction to legal prescription drugs.

The project is a personal one, as Bell’s own brother passed away due to his addiction to prescription drugs.

The filmmakers really liked Bell, citing that he had proven skills and knew how to pitch a compelling story. Chalfen and Hatkoff knew that even without the competition this film would get made, but they wondered if Bell would be able to make it a “great” film that went above and beyond, or would it simply end up being a good film.

Bell also had a pretty creative submission video, dressing up as Hulk Hogan:

And (I think) Clark Kent?

While Josh and Chris may have had the skills, no one had more passion than Jon Eric Anderson. Jon pitched the story of Rodney Nelson and the South Shore Drill Team, who found out that his best friend was killed at the same time he was winning a major competition. Jon proposed focusing on how Rodney and his team came from one of the most deadly neighborhoods in America, yet were able to overcome their environment to excel.

Why does Jon feel like Rodney Nelson’s story is one that needs to be told? Watch his pitch and personal confession to the judges below:

Who would have thought that someone would reveal their past as a low-bottom alcoholic to not only three judges, but the world as well, in order to show the passion they have for their story?

While all the judges were impressed by his passion, Peter Billingsley and Daniel Chalfen were unsure whether Jon would be able to get the pieces he needed, including archival footage of Rodney’s competition, in order to make a compelling documentary. Hatkoff, clearly the champion of the underdogs of the competition, was impressed by Jon’s passion and said he would fight for his documentary.

The most unusual concept came from Angela Hefner, who pitched “Growing Temptations” which focuses on the dangers of homegrown gardening. Hefner believes that compost can have damaging effects on the human body not unlike tobacco.

When the judges started to question Hefner, her idea seemed to fall apart before our very eyes. Is there a scientific foundation for this? No. Who would you interview? I would explain to people and they would nod their head “Yes”. 

As Chalfen put it: I don’t even care about a hook, or proof, or science. I care about story – and she’s got no story.

Last up was John Bartosz, whose idea “Gold in September” would seek to tell the story of a deadly childhood illness. The story would focus on the story of Bartosz’s daughter Annie who would be on a mission to raise awareness on childhood cancer.

Bartosz was by far the most passionate presenter, and his pitch concluded with an emotional call to remember the thirty kids who die every week from childhood cancer.

The judges were moved by his story, and believe that Bartosz is so committed to this project that he will find a way to raise awareness on this issue no matter what, but they weren’t sure if it worked as the “next great documentary”.

Next week: The search for the next great documentary film continues in New York and Dallas as more contestants bring their ideas to the judges.

Meet the Judges:

Craig Hatkoff is a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival along with his wife Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro. The largest film festival in North America, the festival was created immediately following the events of September 11th to help revitalize lower Manhattan. In 2010, Craig created and curates the annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards in collaboration with Professor Clayton Christensen, with whom he is Co-founder of the Disruptor Foundation. Craig is Chairman of Turtle Pond Publications LLC, a private entertainment and media based company.

Peter Billingsley is an Emmy and Tony nominated producer and a partner at Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Productions based in Los Angeles, CA.  He has executive produced the documentaries Art of Conflict and Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland.  Other credits include directing the blockbuster hit Couples Retreat, executive producing Iron Man, Four Christmases, The Break-Up, and the Emmy nominated television show Dinner for Five.  He currently is an executive producer on the TBS hit sitcom Sullivan & Son  which is entering its third season, and is preparing to direct the feature film Term Life  film for Universal Pictures.  Billingsley is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Daniel J. Chalfen is a world-renowned producer and documentary filmmaker. He is the co-founder of Naked Edge Films. His recent credits include “State 194” for Participant Media; "The Revisionaries" and “Donor Unknown” for PBS’ Independent Lens; Emmy-nominated “War Don Don” and Oscar short-listed “39 Pounds of Love” for HBO; and “Gone” for Discovery ID. Other credits include the Sarah Jessica Parker Executive Produced “Pretty Old,” the Danny Glover Executive Produced "The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan," “Code of the West,” “Budrus,” and "Meeting Resistance." Chalfen’s forthcoming films include Academy Award nominated director James Spione’s “Silenced,” Gabriel London’s “The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest,” and Meghan O’Hara & Mike Attie’s “In Country.” Chalfen is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and a Founding Member of the DCTV Cinema Advisory Council.

 

The FEC is bad. The House of Representatives isn't doing anything to make it better.

When it passed H.R. 1 by a vote of 234-193 on Monday, Congress attempted to address a laundry list of nationwide problems: rampant gerrymandering, voting rights, and the vulnerability of elections to foreign interference, among other concerns. But H.R. 1, billed as the "For the People Act," also takes a shot at reforming the Federal Election Commission (FEC). It fails.

The FEC isn't good at enforcing the nation's campaign finance laws, and, when it is does, it's often an entire election cycle after the given offense. As it is, candidates don't have much difficulty circumventing campaign finance laws, undermining the fairness of elections and opening the door to further corruption.

RELATED: Lawmakers are putting the death penalty on trial

The FEC was created by the Federal Election Campaign Act following the Watergate scandal, as Congress sought a better way to police federal campaign laws and prevent future presidents from interfering with investigations as Nixon had. The FEC has six commissioners, and no more than three can be of the same party. Four votes are required for most actions taken by the agency, and that hasn't been an issue for most of its history. But since 2008, the frequency of 3-3 tie votes has increased dramatically. It's why the FEC is slow to investigate cases and even slower to prosecute offenses. Supporters of H.R. 1 complain, with good reason, that the FEC has become toothless. But H.R. 1's reforms introduce new and potentially volatile problems.

FEC's rampant dysfunction won't be fixed by H.R. 1— the bill doesn't get at what actually went wrong. Since its inception, the FEC has been able to operate without excessive gridlock, and, for the most part, it still does. At the height of FEC turmoil in 2014, the FEC only had a tied vote 14 percent of the time (historically, it has been closer to one to four percent of the time) on substantive matters, although many of these tie votes occur on matters that are particularly contentious. The greater problem afflicting the FEC is touched upon by NBC Washington's findings that the Republican and Democratic commissioners of the FEC almost always vote as blocs. At various times, both Republican and Democratic commissioners have put party interests ahead of their agency's responsibilities.

At various times, both Republican and Democratic commissioners have put party interests ahead of their agency's responsibilities.

H.R. 1's Democratic supporters instead believe the FEC's six-commissioner structure makes it dysfunctional. H.R. 1 introduces a new system of five commissioners —two from each party and one independent, eliminating tie votes. But that independent commissioner's de facto role as a tiebreaker would grant them far too much power. Save for Senate approval, there's nothing preventing a president from appointing an "independent" like Bernie Sanders or Angus King.

The bill's proponents are aware of this problem, creating a Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel that will help inform the president's decisions. But this panel has problems of its own. The Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel's decisions are non-binding and not public, a result of its exemption from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which ensures the transparency of advisory committees. There are arguments against FACA's necessity, the panel's deliberate exemption from the law undermines the idea that its goal is to ensure non-partisanship. Instead, H.R. 1 will allow future presidents to tilt the scales of the FEC in their favor, a fate the post-Watergate creators of the FEC were so desperate to avoid they originally had members of Congress picking commissioners before the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Apparently, the solution to excessive gridlock is one-party control.

H.R. 1 also seeks to grant unilateral powers to the Chair of the commission in the name of expediency, again giving leverage to the Chair's party, and allows the General Counsel to take actions independent of commission votes. While some of the FEC's problems, such as its notoriously slow pace and the delayed appointment of commissioners under Presidents Obama and Trump, might be solved with legislation, the consolidation of power in the hands of a few at the expense of the FEC's integrity is not a winning strategy.

The FEC is afflicted by the same problem that has afflicted governments for as long as they have existed – governments are made up of people, and people can be bad. The Founders, in their wisdom, sought to limit the harm bad actors could do once in power, and the FEC's current structure adheres to this principle. Currently, the consequences of bad actors in the FEC is dysfunction and frustration. But under H.R. 1's reforms, those consequences could be blatant corruption.

Michael Rieger is a contributor for Young Voices. Follow him on Twitter at @EagerRieger.

On Monday's radio program, Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere discussed former Starbucks CEO and progressive Howard Schultz, a lifelong Democrat who has not only been disowned by the Democrat Party but he can no longer set foot inside of a Starbucks store because of his success in business.

In this clip, Stu explained how at one time Starbucks only sold coffee in bags until Schultz, an employee at the time, convinced the company to open a Starbucks cafe.

Click here to watch the full episode.

At one point, the owners came close to closing down the cafe, but Schultz eventually managed to purchase the company and transform it into the empire that it is today.

Stu continued, describing how Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, went on to implement liberal corporate policies that earned the company a reputation for being a "beacon" of liberalism across the country.

"And now he (Schultz) can't even get into the Democrat Party," Stu said."That is craziness," Glenn replied.

Citing a "60 Minutes" interview, Glenn highlighted the journey that Schultz traveled, which started in the New York City projects and evolved, later becoming the CEO of a coffee empire.

"This guy is so American, so everything in business that we want to be, he has taken his beliefs and made it into who he is which is very liberal," Glenn explained.

Catch more of the conversation in the video below.


This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

This weekend, March 17, Rep. Rashida Tlaib will be speaking at (Council on American Islamic Relations) CAIR-Michigan's 19th annual "Faith-Led, Justice Driven" banquet.

Who knows what to expect. But here are some excerpts from a speech she gave last month, at CAIR-Chicago's 15th annual banquet.

RELATED: CLOSER LOOK: Who is Rep. Ilhan Omar?

You know the speech is going to be good when it begins like this:


CAIR-Chicago 15th Annual Banquet: Rashida Tlaib youtu.be


It's important to remember CAIR's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Think of CAIR as a spinoff of HAMAS, who its two founders originally worked for via a Hamas offshoot organization (the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP)).

A 2009 article in Politico says feds "designated CAIR a co-conspirator with the Holy Land Foundation, a group that was eventually convicted for financing terrorism."

The United Arab Emirates has designated CAIR a terrorist organization.

In 1993, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.

In 1998, CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad said:

Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran … should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.

Notice the slight underhanded jab at Israel. It's just one of many in her speech, and is indicative of the growing anti-Semitism among Democrats, especially Tlaib and Omar.

Most of the speech, as you might expect, is a long rant about the evil Donald Trump.

I wonder if she realizes that the Birth of Jesus pre-dates her religion, and her "country." The earliest founding of Palestine is 1988, so maybe she's a little confused.

Then there's this heartwarming story about advice she received from Congressman John Dingell:

When I was a state legislator, I came in to serve on a panel with him on immigration rights, and Congressman Dingell was sitting there and he had his cane, if you knew him, he always had this cane and he held it in front of him. And I was so tired, I had driven an hour and a half to the panel discussion at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus. And I sit down, my hair is all messed up, and I said, 'Oh, my God, I'm so tired of this. I don't know how you've been doing it so long Congressman. They all lie.' And he looks at me and he goes. (She nods yes.) I said, 'You know who I'm talking about, these lobbyists, these special interest [groups], they're all lying to me.' … And he looks at me, and he goes, 'Young lady, there's a saying in India that if you stand still enough on a riverbank, you will watch your enemies float by dead.'

What the hell does that mean? That she wants to see her enemies dead? Who are her enemies? And how does that relate to her opening statement? How does it relate to the "oppression" her family faced at the hand of Israel?

Glenn Beck on Wednesday called out Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric, which has largely been excused by Democratic leadership. He noted the sharp contrast between the progressive principles the freshmen congresswomen claim to uphold and the anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, anti-Israel groups they align themselves with.

Later this month, both congresswomen are scheduled to speak at fundraisers for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a pro-Palestinian organization with ties to Islamic terror groups including Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State.

Rep. Tlaib will be speaking at CAIR-Michigan's 19th Annual Banquet on March 17 in Livonia, Michigan, alongside keynote speaker Omar Suleiman, a self-described student of Malcolm X with links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Suleiman has regularly espoused notably "un-progressive" ideas, such as "honor killings" for allegedly promiscuous women, mandatory Hijabs for women, death as a punishment for homosexuality, and men having the right to "sex slaves," Glenn explained.

Rep. Omar is the keynote speaker at a CAIR event on March 23 in Los Angeles and will be joined by Hassan Shibly, who claims Hezbollah and Hamas are not terrorist organizations, and Hussam Ayloush, who is known for referring to U.S. armed forces as radical terrorists.

Watch the clip below for more:


This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.