The scene first aired last year and appears on a DVD released in March.
Ironically, the scene made headlines this week — when the network premiered a documentary on Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush.
Bush’s head was one of several on spikes in a scene where King Joffrey reveals to his fiancée the severed head of her father, who he had judged disloyal. The former president’s features on the prosthetic head were partially obscured by long, scraggly hair and the picture flashes by quickly. But in a commentary included with the DVD, producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff pointed out the Bush head.
The producers said they often order prosthetic body parts in bulk for “Game of Thrones” because it can be too expensive to make new ones. It wasn’t until the scene was shot that someone pointed out the resemblance to Bush, they said. Their DVD commentary mentioning the Bush head made its presence clear to any fans who might not have noticed it the first time around.
“We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise,” the producers said in a statement.
HBO, in a statement issued by spokesman Quentin Schaffer, said it was dismayed to learn about the Bush head. “We find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste,” the network said.
HBO said it has halted all further shipments of the DVD and removed reruns of the episode from its networks until the scene with the severed Bush head is edited out.
*Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday she resented what she viewed as an attack on her integrity by former Vice President Dick Cheney in his just-published memoir.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Rice rejected Cheney’s contention that she misled President George W. Bush about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.
“I kept the president fully and completely informed about every in and out of the negotiations with the North Koreans,” Rice said in her first public comments on the matter. “You can talk about policy differences without suggesting that your colleague somehow misled the president. You know, I don’t appreciate the attack on my integrity that that implies.”
Rice, in a telephone interview, also disputed a passage in Cheney’s memoir, “In My Time,” in which he says the secretary of state “tearfully admitted” that the Bush administration should not have apologized for a claim in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address on Iraq’s supposed search for uranium for nuclear arms.
Cheney, who opposed a public apology for the unfounded claim, wrote that Rice “came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right.”
“It certainly doesn’t sound like me, now, does it?” Rice said in the interview. “I would never — I don’t remember coming to the vice president tearfully about anything in the entire eight years that I knew him.”
“I did say to him that he had been right about the press reaction” to the administration’s acknowledgment that the remarks about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa should not have been in Bush’s speech, Rice said.
“And so I did say to the vice president, ‘you know, you were right about the press reaction.’ But I am quite certain that I didn’t do it tearfully,” she said.
Rice is the latest former senior Bush aide to fire back at Cheney’s memoir and its characterization of the vice president’s bureaucratic rivals. As previously reported, Rice’s predecessor, former secretary of state Colin Powell, on Sunday said Cheney’s book levels “cheap shots” at colleagues and mischaracterizes events.
Rice said she believes her last contact with Cheney was at the groundbreaking ceremony for Bush’s presidential library.
Asked if Cheney were trying to settle scores, Rice said, “I am not going to question the vice president’s motives, because he is somebody with whom I had a good relationship and for whom I had, and still have, a great deal of respect.”
“But I have to say that some of the things that he said about his colleagues are not in keeping with the high respect that I have always had for him,” she added. “I think they do fall into the category of cheap shots.”
Rice played down speculation that she might be asked to serve as a Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. “I am not cut out for such things,” she said.
When a reporter pointed out that this was not an absolute, Shermanesque denial, she laughed and replied: “No, no no. I am a happy university professor… We’ll all find great candidates. I won’t be one of them.”
*Without mention of the controversy surrounding rapper Common’s participation, President Obama welcomed an audience to the White House’s “Evening of Poetry” Wednesday night, revealing that he, too, considers himself a poet.
“I have actually submitted a couple poems to my college literary magazine and you will be pleased to know what that I will not be reading them,” President Obama joked from the East Room of the White House Wednesday evening.
The president also spoke about the emotion of poetry.
“The power of poetry is everybody experiences it differently. There are no rules on what makes a great poem,” Obama said. “Instead, a great poem is one that resonates with us and challenges us and teaches us something about ourselves.”
Some critics of the participation in the White House event by Common were upset that the rapper and actor — who has recently appeared in a romantic comedy opposite Queen Latifah and contributed to a Jonas Brothers song — has previously slammed former President George W. Bush in his poetry.
During Wednesday’s celebration, Common recited lyrics to a rap song in poem form, which tipped his hat to the nation’s first African American president and started and ended with words of Martin Luther King playing over the loud speaker.
Here’s the poem in its entirety:
“I woke up with the sunshine. A sunshine I had never seen. There was light at the end of it. Reminded me to forever dream. I was dreaming I walked into the White House. With love on my sleeve. And love for each and every one of you. Reminding you to believe. These are the words of a believer achiever. Leader of the globe, feed the souls of those in need. I bleed the blood of the struggle. Walking over troubled puddles. The hustle is in my chest. No hustle no progress. Extremities of life in this process. The birth of a son. The death of another. With love I caress both mothers. And told ‘em whose in control is the one that’s above is. I walk where money talks and love stutters. The body language of a nation. Going though changes. The young become dangerous. Spent into anger. Anger gets sent through the chamber. It’s tough when your own look like strangers. We are the sons of gangsters and stone rangers. If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us? Look at the picture. It’s hard not to blame us. But time forgives in the shy where the young die often. Do they end up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them? Is it what we talkin’, we really ain’t walking. Dudes, hustlers, paid. How much did it cost them? I find myself on the same corner that we lost them. Real talkin’ in their ear like a walkman. My thoughts been around the corner to the world. So when I see them I see my baby girl. The Lord lives among us. The youngest hunger, recover. Means to get it by anyways necessary under pressure. Children feeling lesser with the spill upon the dresser. Killer, willer aggressors. Destiny’s children, survivors, soldiers. In front of buildings their eyes look older. It’s hard to see blessings in a violent culture. Face against rappings. Sirens holsters – that ‘aint the way that Langston Hughes wrote us. So controllers on the shoulders of Moses. And Noah. We go from being precious to Oprah. Cultivated to overcome. Ever since we came over. Seize the day in the way that you can see the determined. The soul that keeps burning. Shorty’s know to keep learning. Lessons in my life are like stripes that we earning. I took Grant’s advice that Christ is returning. Like a thief in the night. I write for beacons of light. For those of us in dark alleys and park valleys. Street hits spark valleys of the conscience. Conquerors of a contest . Even the unseen know that God watches. For one King’s dream he was able to Barack us. One King’s dream he was able to Barack us. One King’s dream he was able to Barack us.”
“Thank you and God bless,” Common said at the end of his poem, without referring to the controversy. “I appreciate being here.”
After Steve Martin’s band played following Common’s performance, President Obama stood up, clapping, and then brought everyone back onstage, thanking all of the performers by name.
Before exiting the stage, Obama gave Common a big hug.
Watch Common’s performance below, followed by the entire Evening of Poetry event.
*Fox News is questioning rapper Common’s invitation to a White House event this week celebrating American poetry – all because one of his poems included wordplay the suggested the burning of former President George W. Bush.
President Obama and his wife Michelle will host the gathering of poets, musicians and artists at the White House on Wednesday night. Joining Common on the performance bill are Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott.
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., is also expected to take part in rap workshops with schoolchildren in the afternoon before performing in the evening.
The White House said the readings and performances will highlight poetry’s influence on American culture.
But Fox News’s website pointed out in its story “Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper at White House?” that Common’s “poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.”
The article was referring to Common’s poem about governmental abuse of power, “A Letter to the Law,” which he recited on a Jan. 2007 episode of HBO’s “Def Poetry.”
The line in question, “Burn a Bush, cuz for peace he no push no button,” comes at about 1:59 in the video below.
DC’s conservative newspaper The Washington Times is running a column on its website today that accuses President Obama of inappropriately “taking credit” for Osama bin Laden’s death, and suggests the entire victory should go to President George W. Bush.
In his first column, On Deck with Decker, editorial page editor Brett M. Decker says Obama speech Sunday night proves that he thinks “everything is about him” and that the personality flaw makes him “weak” and a “lackluster leader.”
Below, an excerpt from the column:
President Obama took to the airwaves shortly before midnight to confirm the good news and take credit for it. The wording of his short statement made it clear that the campaign season for his 2012 reelection bid is fully underway. He used the words “I,” “me” and “my” so many times it was hard to count for such a quick message. Not only is this consistent with his view that everything is about him, it also reflected the reality that this president is weak and perceived by the world to be a lackluster leader who has undermined American power. He needs to grab any opportunity he can to make himself believable as a commander in chief. Crowds flocked to White House gates to celebrate bin Laden’s demise, giving this unpopular president a rare glimpse of public support that won’t last long.
Mr. Obama called his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, to tell him the news. This was only fitting as it was Mr. Bush’s policies that took the fight to the enemy and didn’t back down despite opposition from timid politicians such as then-Sen. Barack Obama. Bin Laden’s death is more Mr. Bush’s victory than Mr. Obama’s because American forces wouldn’t even be fighting in South Asia had Democratic doves had their way. Mr. Obama may indeed have instructed CIA Director Leon Panetta to make the capture of bin Laden a top priority, as he boasted Sunday night, but he was reiterating a mandate already established as national policy. It was Mr. Bush who first identified bin Laden as “an evil man,” designated his “dead or alive” capture as a top U.S. priority and relentlessly pursued it throughout his presidency. We would not have seen this day without the groundwork he laid, from the use of military force to the building of coalition support with other nations, including Pakistan.
Interestingly enough, this column’s comment section at the website is full of folks who label themselves Republican or conservative and believe this columnist is way off base.
“Club B2 in Moscow showed LOVE LOVE LOVE last night!” . . . “Next up: a collaboration w/the lovely Alina Orlova.”
Those are just a couple of the Twitter musings John Forté has posted during his latest adventure: a tour of Russia billed as “From Brooklyn to Russia With Love,” reports Billboard.com.
It’s one of several projects the Grammy Award-nominated singer/rapper/songwriter/producer — best-known for his work with the Fugees (“The Score”) — has launched since President George W. Bush commuted his 14-year sentence for drug trafficking in 2008.
“In this air of globalization, I want to share but I also want to learn,” says Forté, who’s concurrently writing a memoir for Simon & Schuster and is the subject of a feature-length documentary about his life. “That’s been part of my spirit for the past couple of years: letting things happen versus attempting to force anything.”
And that’s how his cultural odyssey in Russia came to fruition. Christophe Charlier, Forté’s friend and former Phillips Exeter classmate, suggested the tour. The deputy CEO of Onexim Group and chairman of the board for the New Jersey Nets is providing the funding in exchange for a 50/50 share of the profits.
“Here is someone who loves music, saw the opportunity and said, ‘Let’s be partners,’ ” Forté says of Charlier.
Besides Moscow, the trek’s two-month itinerary includes stopovers in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod as well as cities along the Trans-Siberia Railway. Forté and his band — bassist Brian Satz, percussionist Ryan Vaughn and keyboardist Patrick Firth — will perform, collaborate and record with classical orchestras, local musicians and various singer/songwriters, including Lithuania’s Alina Orlova.
A feature film plus a live and studio album are the planned offshoots of this musical and cultural exchange. As is a philanthropic tie-in: The trip will culminate with a concert on Easter Sunday, with proceeds donated to various charities in Russia.
It’s all in the spirit of what Forté embraces as the industry’s new business model. “It’s not only about maintaining ownership of my art, it’s about being unlimited — able to promote or produce art however and whenever I want to,” he says. Published by Primary Wave, Forté also gives fans a taste of his work through audio streaming service Soundcloud.
“It’s about sharing and getting my music out there,” he says. “What I do is beyond entertainment for me. It’s about opening up and being more honest, which resonates with people in the audience more and will continue to keep them showing up. And when it’s time for me not to say anything else, I won’t. I won’t force it.”
*Usmagazine.com is reporting that Kanye West took another swipe at Taylor Swift during a surprise performance of his new album at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The 33-year-old rapper, who famously hijacked Taylor’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards, seemed to suggest that the 20-year-old country star used the VMA incident to bolster her fame.
“Taylor never came to my defense at any interview,” West ranted. “And rode the waves and rode it and rode it,” he said of Swift.
Swift wasn’t West’s only target. He also ripped into Matt Lauer, with whom he recently sparred on the “Today” show.
West charged that Lauer “exploited” him as they chatted about former President George W. Bush, who lamented that West called him a “racist” for his handling of Katrina.
Bush had said that West’s comment was a “lowest moment” in his Presidency; West also objected to the Today Show playing a video clip of the VMA moment during their “Today” show interview.
“Because [of] the popularity of me, they exploited that…That’s not what he f*cking said!” West railed. “That’s not what he said! He said it was one of his lowest moments. But it shows you—the way they try to villainize, the way they tried to do that.”
*After Kanye West fired off a series of tweets Wednesday complaining of being “misused” in his “Today” show interview about George W. Bush, co-host Matt Lauer responded this morning by playing a longer version of West’s pre-taped interview to explain his actions.
During Lauer’s live interview with President Bush on Wednesday, the co-anchor played a snippet of West’s interview taped the previous day, in which the rapper said he “didn’t have the grounds to call Bush a racist” during a 2005 telethon for Hurricane Katrina.
In his new book “Decision Points,” Bush characterizes West’s comment, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” as the worst of his presidency, and had expressed to Lauer that the words upset him: “He called me a racist…I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now.”
“Today” then secured an interview with West. When the rap star was asked by Lauer about his characterization of Bush as a racist, West seemed to soften his stance about the former president.
“I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration that I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist. But I believe that in a situation of high emotion, like that, we as human beings don’t always choose the right words,” he said in the lone portion of the interview played for Bush on Wednesday.
The former president responded by saying, “I appreciate that. It wasn’t just Kanye West who was talking like that during Katrina. I cited him as an example. I cited others as an example as well. And, I appreciate that.”
Lauer asked Bush if his religious faith allowed him to forgive West, and Bush responded: “Absolutely. Of course it does. I’m not a hater. I didn’t hate Kanye West.”
Hours earlier, West had taken to Twitter and complained that he had been misused by the “Today” show and by Lauer. His main complaint was that the show began airing b-roll of his Taylor Swift debacle (with the sound low, but audible) when the conversation turned to his interruption of her at the MTV Video Music Awards. West was attempting to explain how he felt unfairly labeled as a racist after the Swift incident, and how his own comments put Bush in a similar situation.
“I went up [to 'Today'] to express how I was empathetic to Bush because I labeled him a racist and years later, I got labeled as a racist…,” West explained in a tweet.
In the unedited interview that aired this morning, West was shown stopping mid-answer to complain that the clip was distracting, telling Lauer it’s difficult to answer the question with it playing in his ear.
Lauer responded by telling production to turn the sound down.
At another point in the interview, Lauer told West to look at “the emotion” on Bush’s face in the monitor as the president discussed West’s 2005 comment. Lauer then asked West what he would say to Bush, knowing how hurt he was by the “racist” label. West was clearly put off by the question, saying he doesn’t need to look at Bush in the monitor to understand his feelings. He then accused Matt of trying to manipulate his responses.
He also expressed the sentiment in a tweet hours later: “He tried to force my answers. It was very brutal and I came here with only positive intent.”
In another, he said: “I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused.”
Also during the interview, West stopped mid-sentence a second time to tell some people off camera to be quiet.
In response, “Today” said only that it looked forward to airing the Lauer interview with West – which took place this morning. [Watch in its entirety below.]