In case you were nervous that 2009 was going to close without a big "Hollywood Values vs. Reg'ler Amrrrrc'n Values" dustup in the media, worry not. Roman Polanski has been arrested:
Short version, for the younger readers: Polanski plead guilty to a statutory rape charge in the 1970s (the girl in question was 13, drugs and alcohol were involved). So goes the story, he'd worked out a plea-agreement with the judge and prosecutors by which he'd recieve a time-served sentence for 1 charge of unlawful intercourse. Polanski claims to have discovered that the judge - who's since passed away and was the subject of ethical complaints relating to this case for decades - was apparently planning to "surprise" the media-sensation trial by reneging and hitting him with a much more serious sentence. The director's response was to skip bail and flee America for France, who's extradition treaties with the U.S. do not cover the laws he's accused of breaking. That was more than 30 years ago. Polanski has continued to work steadily, recieving an Oscar for "The Pianist" recently, and has sought return to the U.S. on several occasions either by requesting a mistrial or a dismissal. He's been joined in those requests by his then-victim, who has said she wants the ordeal to be done with. However, the Los Angeles prosecutor's office has remained steadfast in saying that if he enters the U.S. they plan to arrest him and put him on trail again, this time for fleeing the original sentence.
Yesterday, Polanski entered Switzerland - which evidently DOES have the proper extradition treaties with the U.S. - to attend a retrospective of his work at the Zurich Film Festival. Swiss police were waiting at the airport, having recieved a request for arrest from U.S. authorities to assist them, and arrested him for the outstanding charges. He is now detained, awaiting the outcome of extradition deliberations. He is allowed to appeal the arrest in Switzerland, but a likely outcome as of this moment is him being sent back to the U.S. to face whatever is waiting. The third player in this, France, is already coming to his defense and chastising the Swiss government.
Unless the French manage to "roll" the Swiss on this one, this becomes a BIG deal. People have been waiting to "have this one out" for a long time; and the image of a guilty statutory-rapist living luxuriously abroad (in France no less!!!) whilst The Industry largely campaigns for his release and rewards him with Oscars has made this case a favorite whipping-boy for the media-critic arm of the "values voters" contingent. Set aside, for a moment, your personal feelings about the case and just think about that particular firestorm-in-waiting. You think this event isn't a GODSEND to them? They get to "fight" 'liberal' Hollywood AND 'godless' Europe. Nancy Grace is salivating like a rapid bassett hound as we speak...
Should be interesting.