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Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie
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Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (2012) More at IMDbPro »

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Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie -- Long before Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, Morton Downey, Jr., was tearing up the talk-show format with his divisive populism. Between the fistfights, rabid audience, and Mort's cigarette smoke always in your face, "The Morton Downey Jr. Show" was billed as 3-D television, "rock and roll without the music." Évocateur meditates on the hysteria that ended the '80s and ultimately its most notorious agitator.


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Daniel A. Miller (written by)
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Release Date:
7 June 2013 (USA) See more »
Before entire networks were built on populist personalities; before reality morphed into a TV genre; the masses fixated on a single, sociopathic star: controversial talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Entertaining Documentary That Offers Insight Into Today's Media See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)

Morton Downey Jr. ... Himself (archive footage)
Glenn Beck ... Himself - TV Host
Victoria Jackson ... Herself - Comedian
Bob Pittman ... Himself - MTV Founder & Media Mogul
Joe Pyne ... Himself - TV Host (archive footage)
Josh Rothman ... Himself - History Professor & Fan
Michael Rosen ... Himself - Advertising Executive & Fan
Pat Buchanan ... Himself - Conservative Commentator
Ron Paul ... Himself (archive footage)
Joey Reynolds ... Himself - Radio Host & Friend
Peter Goldsmith ... Himself - Senior Producer
Thomas DiBenedetto ... Himself - Business Owner & Fan
Jim Langan ... Himself - Writer
Richard Bey ... Himself - TV Host

Sally Jessy Raphael ... Herself - TV Host
Lyndon Larouche ... Himself - Guest (archive footage)

Chris Elliott ... Himself - Comedian & Fan
Angi Metler ... Herself - Guest (archive footage)

Gloria Allred ... Herself - Feminist Lawyer
Alan M. Dershowitz ... Himself - Criminal Lawyer
Curtis Sliwa ... Himself - Radio Host
Lloyd Schoonmaker ... Himself - Mort's Friend
Barbara Bennett ... Herself - Mort's Mother (archive footage)
Kelli Downey Cornwell ... Herself - Mort's Daughter
Melinda Markey ... Herself - Mort's First Cousin (archive footage)

Joan Bennett ... Herself - Mort's Aunt (archive footage)

Dean Martin ... Himself - Singer (archive footage)

Ed Koch ... Himself - NYC Mayor (archive footage)
David Kagan ... Himself - HR Executive & Fan
Lenny Geller ... Himself - Social Studies Teacher

Bill Boggs ... Himself - Executive Producer
Rebecca Johnson ... Herself - Associate Producer
David Clarke ... Himself - Death Penalty Opponent (archive footage)

Jonathan Alter ... Himself - Newsweek (archive footage)
David Giegold ... Himself - Bodyguard

Lloyd Kaufman ... Himself - Film Director (archive footage)
Stu Stein ... Himself - Social Studies Teacher
Melody Miller ... Herself - Aide to Senator Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy ... Himself - Senator (archive footage)

Stanley Crouch ... Himself - Cultural Critic
Herman Cain ... Himself - Radio Host
Stephen Kruiser ... Himself - Conservative Comedian
John McJunkin ... Himself - Radio Producer

Michele Bachmann ... Herself (as Rep. Michele Bachmann)
Skip Murphy ... Himself - Radio Host
David Bianculli ... Himself - New York Post (archive footage)
Andrew Napolitano ... Himself - TV Host
George McDonald ... Himself - Homeless Advocate (archive footage)
Kim Downey ... Herself - Mort's Third Wife
Rasa von Werder ... Herself - Stripper (as Kellie Everts)

Al Sharpton ... Himself - Activist
Steven Pagones ... Himself - Accused of Rape
Roy Innis ... Himself - Civil Rights Activist (archive footage)

Lori Krebs ... Herself - Mort's Fourth Wife (archive footage)
Farrokhzad Khorsheed ... Himself - Guest (archive footage)

Larry King ... Himself - TV Host (archive footage)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wally George ... Himself (archive footage)
Daniel A. Miller ... Lips
Jeremy Newberger ... Himself

Directed by
Seth Kramer 
Daniel A. Miller 
Jeremy Newberger 
Writing credits
Daniel A. Miller (written by)

Produced by
Seth Kramer .... producer
Daniel A. Miller .... producer
Jeremy Newberger .... producer
Graham Wright .... associate producer
Original Music by
Peter Rundquist 
Cinematography by
Ken Fuhr 
Roger Grange  (as Roger T. Grange)
Seth Kramer 
Richard Patterson 
Rodney Patterson 
Chad Wilson 
Ben Wolf 
Film Editing by
Seth Kramer 
Art Direction by
Jeremy Newberger 
Sound Department
Ron Bochar .... sound re-recording mixer
Paul Levin .... additional sound re-recording engineer
J.C. Schlageter .... sound recordist
Aaron D. Weisblatt .... sound editor
Camera and Electrical Department
Dave Dodds .... gaffer
Ken Fuhr .... camera operator
Roger Grange .... camera operator
Animation Department
Murray John .... animation director
Stefan Nadelman .... animator
Amy Sutton .... assistant animator
Editorial Department
Eugene Lehnert .... on-line editor
Don Wyllie .... colorist
Music Department
Erik Friedlander .... musician: cello
Art Labriola .... musician: piano
Ben Neill .... musician: trumpet
Corey Rundquist .... musician: tenor saxophone
Peter Rundquist .... composer: additional music
Peter Rundquist .... musician: guitar
Other crew
David Magdael .... publicist
Sally Jessy Raphael .... archive footage
Karen Shatzkin .... legal services
Valerie Visconti .... researcher
Pat Buchanan .... special thanks
Dar Williams .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Rated R for language and some nudity

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
Entertaining Documentary That Offers Insight Into Today's Media, 8 September 2013
Author: teaguetod

Morton Downey, Jr. was a kind of real-life Howard Beale (the mad-as-hell crazy anchorman from the 1976 classic "Network"), and his meteoric rise and fall parallels that of another fictional populist TV personality: "Lonesome" Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith in Elia Kazan's under-rated 1957 movie "A Face in the Crowd." But this story really happened, and Mort really existed.

Downey's New Jersey-based talk show was only on the air for two years, from 1988 to 1989. So why is he important? Why watch a documentary about a talk show that ran for just two years, 25 years ago? Understanding this story can help us understand how we got the media we have today.

Journalist William Greider called it Rancid Populism. This was the appeal of the Republican Party starting as far back as Nixon. The party posed as the voice of the "Silent Majority," the disaffected common man, while in reality it appealed to the angry, white working class who jumped ship from the Democratic Party following the Civil Rights movement.

White working-class people felt "their" country was going down the tubes, and they were partly right. There was a lot to be unhappy about: de-industrialization leading to the decline of manufacturing and the rise of the Rust Belt (go watch "Detropia" for that); the decline of working peoples' wages and the rapid growth of inequality and creation of a new Gilded Age in America. Politicians like Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. were all better at tapping into this anger than the Democrats, making Republicans seem like the party of Joe Sixpack and Joe the Plumber -- instead of the party of Big Business, Big Money, and Wall Street (which is ultimately what both major parties became).

The Republicans also understood the marketing of this message better than the Democrats: tap into people's hatred of "the Government" and make the Dems synonymous with Big Government. (How many times already have we heard conservative politicians running for office who say they hate government? Then why run?)

The early 90s was when the right-wing Big Media really started up in earnest (what former conservative pundit David Brock has called "The Republican Noise Machine"). Rush Limbaugh, for example, got his start during the Clinton presidency. The Fox News Channel itself also started during the Clinton years, in 1996. Both were part of a generalized conservative backlash against a Democrat in the White House.

And this tactic of right-wing populism continues to work today (especially with another Democratic president to attack), and is bigger business than ever -- with billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel going strong, the Koch brothers' successful Tea Party movement, and all those TV and radio hosts like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity who are paid tens of millions of dollars to tell us they're speaking up for the "little guy."

Morton Downey, Jr. helped lead the way to this kind of TV "news" or "journalism," even if his show appears obvious and amateurish compared to the slick format and presentation we see today. But a figure like Bill O'Reilly, in particular, owes a tremendous debt to Downey's confrontational, damn-the-torpedoes style of doing "news" and interviews. At the same time trash-talk-show hosts like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich also partly owe their style of crazed three-ring-circuses to Mort. Even the Reverend Al Sharpton, perpetual African-American leader and professional racial ambulance-chaser, owes a debt to Mort, appearing on his show frequently during its short run.

The friendship between Sharpton and Downey (briefly shown in the film) offers a clue to the truth behind the image: Mort didn't really believe what he said on the air. Or maybe he did. Anyway, it really didn't matter: it was all just for ratings. Working the crowd into a frenzy, yelling at his guests, having a fight break out in the middle of the show -- Downey knew this was what made for great TV . . . or, at least, it got people's attention. (Most certainly, this is also the case of Bill O'Reilly today: he's a showman who stumbled onto a sure thing; about as authentic as a TV preacher.)

At the time, Downey was hated and judged by the "respectable" media. But give 'em a few years, and they'll come around: trash-talk-shows, "reality" shows like "Jersey Shore," Rush, Billy-O, "To Catch a Predator," etc. It's the race to the bottom, the lowest-common denominator, anything in the name of ratings. Entertainment, Infotainment, "News." Who cares if we believe it? Who cares if it's true? He who yells the loudest wins.

Mort's show was like an (un-)controlled experiment in pushing the TV talk-show format to its absolute limit, right up to the breaking point -- supposedly in the name of some Archie-Bunker, knee-jerk reactionary-conservative populism that Mort himself didn't even really believe in. Yet, people ate it up, it made him a star and a working-class "hero" almost overnight, and it set the stage for a lot what came later in TV "news" and opinion shows. That's why you should watch this movie.

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