Oliver Stone, Eric Bogosian: two self-important, index-finger-jabbing blowhards who were fated to collaborate. Back in the 80s, both of them were fast-rising up and comers, much lauded by the leading lights of the hipoisie. Time has not been kind to either man's resume, and it's barely more than a decade later: imagine how phony TALK RADIO will look to the Stem Cell Clone Generation in another ten years. The drama on view is essentially a Grand Guignol updating of the old Rod Serling/Paddy Chayefsky PLAYHOUSE 90 model, tarted up with layers of exploitation, confrontation and narcissism. Though the events the movie is based on are true, every second of this loose re-enactment plays false. I don't know what we're supposed to make of Barry Champlaign, the anti-hero of this piece: the way Bogosian plays him, you can't believe this man would make a career in radio to begin with. Bogosian's an interesting-looking actor with a soulful, hyperintelligent quality, but I've yet to seen him in a role where he's not Eric Bogosian playing himself: it's as if he thinks himself out of an actual performance. Here, he's so ludicrously pent up with a viper's nest of cross-loathings - for his job, his listeners, his coworkers and himself - you can't feel any real empathy for him, and you don't much care when he's eventually murdered. The laboriously heavy hand of Stone is evident as well in the callers to Bogosian's talk-show. Every one of 'em come off as the standard liberal nightmare vision of that regrettable stretch of parking-lot representing America between the coasts: relentlessly unintelligent, stunted emotional cripples with four teeth in their heads and Confederate-flag decals on their pickups. The message being sent - one we've heard and HEARD by now - is that these people, boobs at best and evil incarnate at worst, have guns and must be stopped. Never mind that every degrading 'caller' is simply an actor reading a script designed to make them sound like warped, gone-astray versions of the 'little people' so obnoxiously patronized by the likes of Chayefsky and Serling a generation earlier - Eric and Oliver would never slant the material to make the boobs look worse, and the soul-searching Barry Champlaign more Christ-like in his torments as he dies for our beer-drinking, football-watching sins....would they? The new cliche about things like TALK RADIO is that they're only reflections of society, not a writer's invention, transcribed by Artists shotgun-married to the Truth, no matter how painful it may be to people who, by convenient accident, already find said Artists puerile and propagandistic. It's a convenient cop-out redolent of the kind of bet-hedging unique to the boho crowd: if you love it, I'm the genius responsible; if you hate it, don't look at me, it's YOUR world - I'm only describing what I see. And the funniest touch in the movie is Champlaign's fending off the pressure of the 'suits' to tone his act down, lest he blow his shot at going national. Tone it down, huh? We live in an culture now dominated by Howard Stern, the WWF, 'Jackass' and 'The X Show', and these guys want me to believe that excessive pandering by a media figure HURTS his career opportunities?