The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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The Coen Brothers talk dirty

February 26, 2009 | 12:38 pm

What do you do with yourself when you're between movies and you're tired of dusting that crummy old Oscar statuette in the guest bedroom? If you're the Coen Brothers, you direct a new commercial spot mocking the coal industry for selling itself as a clean-energy alternative when burning coal is actually the dirtiest way to produce electricity. Produced by The Reality Campaign, a consortium of environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the new ad plays like an outtake from one of the Coens' broadest comedies.

It features a squeaky-clean pitchman -- imagine a brunette version of Brad Pitt from "Burn After Reading" -- who's promoting a "Clean Coal Clean"-scented air freshener that actually spews puffs of black fumes all over the house. As he cheerfully puts it, how can you not embrace "the coal industry--the most trusted name in coal." It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it gets the message across. But see for yourself here: