Patt Morrison | KPCC's home for all things Patt Morrison.

The Director of ''Precious,'' and the Blue Cross Blues

Boy, you burned up the phone lines about Anthem Blue Cross' notice of big premium hikes in California -- and we didn't keep you waiting on hold nearly as long as insurance company toll-free numbers!

Even the Obama Administration, in the person of HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is concerned about the rate hike of as much as 39% to some of the 800,000 Californians who hold individual Anthem Blue Cross health care policies.

These are mostly small business owners and individuals who are not part of group plans, and such policies can cost up the wazoo. One of our guests, a Century City podiatrist named Mark Weiss, is getting squeezed both ways: insurance companies are paying him less for his patients' visit, and his Blue Cross policy premiums for him and his wife just went up by $900 a month -- I repeat, they went UP by $900 a month. His tab for health insurance will now be more than $27,000 a year. Just what it will cover is another matter.

California's insurance commissioner, Steve Poizner, is looking into whether the rate hike meets the state requirement for insurance companies to be spending at least 70% on actual health care -- but my guest, Democratic congressman George Miller, of the East Bay, says his original health care plan would have required companies to pay out 80% to 85% on actual care.

That's the plan that had its plug more or less pulled after the election of Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts meant that 59 Democratic votes isn't enough to pass a health care overhaul.

I smell Congressional hearings ...

The Oscar races are on their first lap, and today we heard from the man whose film, ''Precious,'' has six nominations -- among them one for best picture, and one for himself as best director.

Lee Daniels and I had a remarkable conversation -- if you didn't hear it, I really recommend you go to the Patt Morrison page at and give it a hearing. He's been fearless in his choices of material; he produced ''Monster's Ball,'' which revolved around a death row inmate and won an Oscar for Halle Berry, and ''The Woodsman,'' about a pedophile -- and now ''Precious, Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.''

Some critics have found it exploitive, and Daniels said he did have some dark nights of the soul. Who wants to reveal all that pain and sorrow? But for my money, ''Precious'' is about making visible those parts of our society that have been kept hidden and invisible, and about which we have agreed not to speak: the underclass, the under-educated, the under-the-rug people.

Watch for more from Lee Daniels, and more from this program about the Oscar contenders!