The People Speak

Earlier this year, Benjamin was involved in the making of the documentary “The People Speak”, inspired by a Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States”, and from a book he co-authored with Anthony Arnove, “Voices of a People’s History”.

The project – that had been discussed for over a decade before finally getting off the ground – includes four one-hour programs featuring music, readings based on America’s struggles with race, class, war and women’s rights, archival footage, photos, and supplementary interviews. Shooting took place in front of live audiences at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, MA, on January 8 and 9, 2008.

The documentary brought together accomplished performers that read up to eight selections.

Benjamin reads

  • Jermain Wesley Loguen, Letter to Sarah Logue (March 28, 1860)
  • Daniel Ellsberg, from Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2003)
  • Camilo Mejia antiwar statement in Chicago (June 2005).

I uploaded a picture of Benjamin taken while he was recording one of his selections in the gallery (publicity shots).

For more information about the project, please see

The People Speak

Edited to add:

It was pointed out to me that there are terrific videos of Benjamin Bratt reading in earlier performances of “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” (the text that serves, in part, as the basis for “The People Speak” documentary) online at

http://www.peopleshistory.us/watch/videos

Law and Order: The Sixth Year

News about Benjamin and his projects definitely seem to come in waves.

Anyway, I think North American fans of Benjamin and Law & Order will be happy to learn that Region-1 DVD’s of the sixth season of Law & Order (the first of the four featuring Benjamin) is going to be released on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. The 5-disc set has the season’s 23 episodes.

The Next Best Thing

A trip to my local library on Friday resulted in my picking two movies, one being “The Nest Best Thing”, which I had not seen for a quite a long time. (The other one “Mystic Pizza”, a very nice movie that I can recommend.)

“The Next Best Thing” is a comedy-drama about best friends – one a straight woman, Abbie Reynolds (Madonna), the other a gay man, Robert Whittaker (Rupert Everett). In a night of drunken excess, they sleep together and she is pregnant as a result and they decide to set up home as a family, remaining best friends as they take on the joint responsibilities of parenthood. Six years later, Abbie falls in love with a straight man, Ben Cooper (Benjamin Bratt), who wants to move away with her and Robert’s little boy Sam, and a nasty custody battle ensues.

In spite of its receiving poor reviews when it was released, I like “The Next Best Thing”. To be honest, I was not expecting much from this movie. Although I love Madonna as a performer, her choice of movie projects has not always been great. Indeed, most have been completely dire. But I was actually rather surprised, because “The Next Best Thing” – though no masterpiece – is actually a pretty compelling movie, with solid performances all round and a convincing story, and though somewhat PC, it raises real social questions about rights and responsibilities towards children, without preaching. What could easily have become a very sickly sweet story is turned into a quite sombre piece about the loss of friendship and people’s true nature. Although Abbie and Robert are clearly the best of friends in the beginning, once the fight for their son ensues, their true natures become apparent. A child can make someone do things they thought they were not capable of to ensure its welfare. The movie also blends some nice moments of comedy along with the drama to even it out, which makes it all the more enjoyable. The one qualm I had with this movie was that it seemed to move along at lightning speed. You weren’t given much of a chance to get to know the characters as it swept along very quickly.

DVD Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words & Music

Since Christmas is getting nearer, an item that those fans of Benjamin who also love John Lennon’s music can include in their wishlists is “Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words & Music”, which has just been reissued after its original dvd release in 2002.

“Come Together: A Night For John Lennon’s Words & Music” is a 90-minute show meant to celebrate the life and music of John Lennon 20 years after his death and it features a guest appearance by Benjamin as well as several other celebrities. The show – hosted by Kevin Spacey – was broadcast from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on October 2, 2001, is dedicated to New York City and its people. Considered that it took place just three weeks after the tragic events of 9/11, the show has a somewhat somber tone, but that makes Lennon’s message of universal peace somehow all the more relevant.

Law & Order – Corruption Empire

Yesterday afternoon, I went to my local library to return a book and took the time to leaf through dvds before leaving. A dvd caught my attention, Corruption Empire.

It is an odd release. Although presented as one program, this show is actually two (loosely related) episodes of Law & Order  tacked together to form a “movie”, with the end credits removed from the first and the opening credits removed from the second. The episodes are from 1996 and 1999 and feature the same detective pairing, Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Rey Curtis (Benjamin Bratt), although Benjamin is obviously younger in the second episode. Both also feature ADA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) as the prosecutor in charge of the case. These are good quality episodes of the show but why they have been released in this fashion is not something I can answer. The episodes are:

  1. Empire – Series 9, Episode 20 (May 1999) – A businessman and philanthropist dies of a heart attack in his city apartment after taking Viagra. Two people who seem to be involved are a business associate of his, Julian Spector and the professional fundraiser who organized the dinner he attended on the evening before. Her name is Miss Ludlow (Julia Roberts) and the presence of a pair of her knickers in his apartment seems to point to her intimate involvement.
  2. Corruption – Series 7, Episode 5 (October 1996) – A cop shoots a drug dealer during an undercover operation while being backed up by Briscoe & Curtis. He says the guy went for his gun but Curtis is not convinced and starts to investigate despite threats and the objections of Briscoe.

No prizes will be awarded for guessing how they came up with the title for this disc – Corruption Empire. ;)

It was good entertainment for a Friday night and it was nice to go back to the days when Benjamin was still starring in L&O. Actually, I still enjoy watching L&O, though now without Jerry Orbach and Benjamin – Briscoe and Curtis made up the my favorite detective pairing – it still focuses on good old investigation work without indulging on gory details as it is so often the case with procedural shows today.

Benjamin Bratt and Che Guevara Biopics

I’d like to remind to those interested that The Argentine and Guerilla – a two-part biopic of Che Guevara – will soon be released in theaters (actually, between November 13, 2008, and March, 2009, depending on the country) and trailers and teaser trailers are floating on the Internet.

Hopefully, there aren’t many people who were planning to see these movies just because of Benjamin’s role in them. In fact, he is still listed on the cast of characters for Guerrilla on many sites (here, too) and he was really in talks to play a key role in it (The Argentine Movie – Reviews), but delays in the filming for The Argentine/Guerilla made so that Benjamin had to drop out due to other commitments, at least according to an entry on MTV Movies Blog dating to late last year  (Benjamin Bratt Bows Out Of Che Guevara Biopics), though he had supposedly been excited about the projects and talking about them since at least 2004 (An Interview with Benjamin Bratt – scroll down almost to the end of the interview).

Michael Crichton Has Died

Michael Crichton has died at the age of 66 and I would like to express my sympathies to his family and friends.

What is the connection with Benjamin? Though he is best known as the author of Jurassic Park, and its sequel The Lost World, both adapted into high grossing films (that I liked, especially Jurassic Park) directed by Steven Spielberg, Michael Crichton also wrote The Andromeda Strain, the book that provided the basis for the mini-series produced by A&E and broadcast earlier this year, starring Benjamin.