This weekend I received yet another residual check for my participation in the major motion picture, BULWORTH. The story of a truly suicidally and disillusioned liberal politician who puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.
Jay Bulworth, a Democratic U.S. Senator from California, faces a primary challenge from a fiery young populist. Once politically liberal, Bulworth has over time conceded to more conservative politics, and accept donations from large corporations. While he and his wife have been having affairs with each other's knowledge for years, they maintain a happy facade for the sake of their public image. Tired of politics and unhappy with life, Bulworth makes plans to kill himself and negotiates a $10 million life insurance policy with his daughter as the beneficiary. Knowing that suicide would void the policy, he contracts to have himself assassinated within two days.
He arrives extremely drunk at a Los Angeles campaign event, where he freely speaks his mind in the presence of the C-SPAN film crew following his campaign. After dancing all night in an underground club and smoking marijuana, he begins rapping in public. His frank, offensive remarks make him an instant media darling and re-energize his campaign. He becomes romantically involved with Nina, a young black activist, who begins to join him on campaign stops. He is pursued by the paparazzi, his insurance company, his campaign managers, and an increasingly adoring public, all the while awaiting his impending assassination.
After a televised debate during which Bulworth derides insurance companies and the American healthcare system while drinking from a flask, he retreats to the home of Nina's family in impoverished South Central Los Angeles. He witnesses a group of children selling crack and intervenes to rescue them from an encounter with a racist police officer, and later discovers they work for L.D., a local drug kingpin to whom Nina's brother owes money. Bulworth eventually makes it to a television appearance arranged earlier by his campaign manager, during which he raps and repeats verbatim statements that Nina and L.D. have told him about the lives of poor black people and their opinions of various American institutions, such as education and employment. Eventually, he offers the solution that "everybody should fuck everybody" until everyone is "all the same color," stunning the audience and his interviewer.
Bulworth spent the film fearful of a man who had been following him under the assumption that he was the assassin trying to murder him. After the man finally pushes Bulworth to complete terror, he corners Bulworth on a set at the television studio and begins photographing Bulworth with Nina, revealing himself to be simply paparazzi. Bulworth, frustrated, flees with Nina, who reveals that she is the assassin he indirectly hired (ostensibly to make the money needed to pay off her brother's debt) and will now not carry out the job. Relieved, Bulworth falls asleep for the first time in days in Nina's arms. He sleeps for 36 hours, during which the media speculates over his sudden absence leading up to election day. Bulworth wins the primary in a landslide and L.D. allows Nina's brother to work off the debt. Bulworth accepts a new campaign for the presidency during his victory speech but is suddenly shot by Graham Crockett, an agent of the insurance company that was fearful of Bulworth's recent push for single-payer health care, who makes a quick escape.
Bulworth's fate is left ambiguous. The final scene shows an elderly vagrant, whom Bulworth met previously, standing alone outside a hospital. He exhorts Bulworth, who is presumably inside, to not be "a ghost" but "a spirit" which, as he had mentioned earlier, can only happen if you have "a song". In the final shot of the film, he asks the same of the audience.
While I was serving as Telemundo news director in Los Angeles, I received a phone call from a good friend, who was a Fox News VP. He asked me if I was interested in being an extra in a major motion picture. Since I have been a longtime member of SAG-AFTRA https://www.sagaftra.org/ from my early years as an anchorman at TV 10 in Miami, I accepted the offer, which not only paid me several thousand dollars for one days' work but has been paying off in royalties since day one. Make sure you watch it until the end to see my name in the credits.