August 12 - 18, 2005 • Vol. 26 - No. 32

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 Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
—But Tell Us, Why Weren’t the Economic Advisors
and Institutions Smarter?

by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

Adapted from the book of the same name by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind (Fortune Magazine writers), the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room traces the rise and fall of the Enron Corporation and its executives. Written for the screen and directed by Alex Gibney (Behind Those Eyes), we see the string of events that led to the collapse of one of the top Fortune 500 companies. The story reads like a conspiracy thriller, but is far more disturbing when you factor in the reality of 20,000 workers suddenly unemployed, without medical insurance and more than three billion dollars of pension and retirement benefits gone (or shall we say, stolen).
In the beginning, Enron was credited with creating a new business model. As a result, stock prices soared, even though there were no real profits to justify Wall Streets optimism. The accountants were recording expected profits rather than actual profits. Before the end, Kenneth Lay, Jeff Skilling and Andy Fastow pocketed millions after dumping their Enron stocks. However, they weren't the only greedy ones! Investment Houses such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Chase, Citibank and Deusch Bank all were financing Enron and its subsidiaries.
Most damning was the trail leading to the Bush family (oh, what a surprise!). At the height of the California energy crisis (which Enron instigated), Bush refused to intervene, adding, “The best way we can help California is to be good citizens.” What does that mean?
Enron declared bankruptcy on December 2, 2001. Be assured that everything has not come to pass yet! There will be fallout for many years to come!

The Blonde: All I can say is, “And poor Martha goes to jail?” Enron was like Fahrenheit 9/11 meets The Interpreter meets any Robert Ludlam film meets Wall Street.  I am so SICK AND TIRED of powerful people getting away with amazing scams and lies, and the poor middle class are the ones to suffer! Speaking of suffering…Maven, I forgot to tell you that the airlines lost my luggage and I was without any clothes for the first three days of my Baltic cruise. NO MAKEUP, moisturizer, toner, night creams, hair blower and hair iron, NOTHING! I WONT MENTION THE AIRLINE, BUT IT STARTS WITH THE LETTER “D”! I wont be investing in their stock any time soon either! Thank goodness I put my tiaras and jewelry in my carry-on luggage!

The Maven: Upon first hearing about this debacle, I felt so bad for Clifford Baxter when he committed suicide. I didn't really grasp the full story at the time. Then, a few weeks later, more information came out and I was even more confused. How could a company commit so much fraud right in the public eye and nobody knew? This documentary put it all together for me. Now I am really sick. This story is more horrifying than any Stephen King novel could ever be.

The Blonde: So this Lay guy makes (through lying, cheating, stealing, fraud, sham, scam, and charade) $300 million in four years and his wife stated that it was all gone! Honey please, if I made 300 mill, trust me, I'd have saved enough to have many houses, jewels, Botox, lipo, and massages for life and then some!! I shook my head so much while watching this documentary that I was dizzy when I left the theater.

The Maven: How would you know the difference?

The Blonde: I don't get it? I found it ironic that Enron's motto was, “Ask why” and NO ONE, including Greenspan (who received an Enron award), EVER did! Why were all of these lies taken at face value and never checked not even by the shareholders.

The Maven: The details of the documentary were carefully laid out. Interviews with key players and access to corporate video and audio tape tainted a devastatingly clear trail to follow. Above all, this is not a political documentary. It's a crime story! Anyone with any ethics at all would be appalled and angered by the chutzpah of all the players involved, no matter what your politics are.

Story continued on bottom


The Blonde: I don't agree. I think this movie was very political and that is why Enron was able to get away with their deceit for so long. How can this not be political when our VERY OWN VICE PRESIDENT had a part in this company!...Although the airline was a bust, the cruise ship was the finest I have ever been on. If anyone is looking for a great ship, go on the Constellation (Celebrity line)! BRAVO!

The Maven: Why must you torment me with your plush Baltic cruise, when you know that I am unable to take one! Is this payback for going to Trump’s wedding without you?

The Blonde: Hey, but you said you didn't want to go!

The Maven: WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT!                                                                              

The Blonde: Which brings me back to my Baltic cruise… Okay, moving right along, this film angered me on so many levels. It was hard to see so many people being cheated, down to the residents of California being put through an energy crisis hoax and financially being burdened with it! How do these lying people sleep at night, I wonder?

The Maven: They didn't start out to be a fraudulent company, but their greed got the better of them.


The Maven: Most horrifying to hear were the audio tapes of a (stock) trader saying “Burn baby burn,” during a fire taking place due to electrical short circuits caused by Enron's shutting off power in order to drive up energy prices.

The Blonde: I found the whole story horrifying and I only pray the players get their due punishment. Speaking of horrifying, Maven… is Angelina Jolie pregnant and is Brad the father?

The Maven: You're the one who claims she is so buddy-buddy with Brad, why are you asking me? However, I do know that this is a film that should not be missed, especially if you own stock in a corporation, have mutual funds or even work for an American company. Above all, ASK WHY! This film goes beyond any rating scale I could name. It is that important to see, so don't miss it and bring your friends, too!

The Blonde: Well, I can rate it and will. I give Enron an A-. For your movie snacks, if you can chew while being aggravated, I recommend Whoppers candy for all of the whopper lies being thrown everywhere!

P.S. Don't be surprised if, after all the Enron trails are completed, Hollywood will do an extravagant movie about this amazing tale.

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