In the past few weeks, the book Primetime Propaganda by Ben Shapiro has caused quite a stir, not only in the Hollywood Community, but in the entire nation. It has been the subject of coverage on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood, the Sean Hannity Show and many other sites in the blogosphere. The thesis of the book is that there is an agenda amongst producers, writers and executives in the Television Industry to promote liberal ideology to the exclusion of Conservative viewpoints. The book even goes so far as to say that there is actual blacklisting in Hollywood at the expense of Conservatives. This column was one of the first to publish an article on this issue last week. Since then, we have done a follow up article entitled “Blacklisting in Hollywood,” written by one of our owners Tim Ross. In that article Tim points out some of his personal experiences and some commentary on Shapiro’s book.
As a result of the publication of the book and specifically comments made by prominent Television Producer, Vin Di Bona while Shapiro was researching the book, Lionel Chetwynd, a Hollywood Conservative and Academy Award Nominated Writer (“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”), resigned from his position on the Steering Committee of The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors. I personally know Lionel and he would have not taken this step lightly. His motivations are set forth in his open letter of resignation which is published on this web site and on many others all over the web.
Vin Di Bona has now started the typical Hollywood backpedaling. In a Hollywood Reporter article, he claims that his interview with Shapiro was obtained under false pretenses: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/liberal-activists-defend-sesame-street-194416. Honestly, I don’t know why he is backpedaling. He has got nothing to worry about at all as he will continue working in Hollywood. After all, isn’t the alleged blacklist perpetrated by Liberals against Conservatives? If that is true, not only doesn’t he have anything to fear, but he also should be optimistic. He will probably work more because of his political slant.
To say that this is one of the major stories in Hollywood right now would probably be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is getting some serious attention. Peter Bart, in his Daily Variety column this week never openly mentions Shapiro’s book, but he does make a point of stating that Hollywood makes movies from both a left and right perspective politically. More pointedly and in almost direct allusion to Shapiro’s book, he states;
“Most stars today are wary about revealing their political positions and steadfastly avoid films with political subtexts (Sean Penn is an obvious exception).”
I wonder if he forgot about Susan Sarandon,Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand, et al? Or, should has change his statement to, “Most Republicans today are wary about revealing . . . ?” Bart also makes a point of stating that Kathryn Bigelow should know that “audiences prefer pirates to politics” and that maybe she should reconsider her next film about the Middle East. Based upon these, Primetime Propaganda is on Bart’s mind, and, it is probably on everyone else’s as well.
But, does this blacklist against Conservatives really exist? Personally, thank God, I have not been a victim of it as I work and develop my projects for a fairly Conservative Company. However, I have seen it on a number of occasions. All I can say is that if I had to seek employment in the industry now as a result of my openness about my politics, I might as well move to the South and open a pizza parlor.
During the presidential election of 2008, I was an avid supporter of John McCain even though I did not agree with him 100% of the time. My simple thinking was anything is better than this liberal from Chicago right? When I was having lunch with a very close friend, who coincidentally happened to be from Chicago, that I had known since the 1980’s, we began having a discussion about the election. Conservatives, much more than Liberals, are known to have a tolerance of the other side. Liberals, on the other hand, often explode and simply cannot handle anyone thinking opposite to them. Well, this was the second time I got a full dose of this intolerance. Once my friend, a television host and stand-up comedian, realised that I was promoting McCain over Obama, he got up in the middle of the restaurant, flipped me off and said in a rather loud voice, “I am through with you.” That day, he defriended me on My Space (it was before the Facebook explosion) and I have not heard from him since even though he is rather close to one of my nephews. I must say I miss his friendship.
My prior experience of this intolerance by the other side occurred during the election of 2004. At that time, a rather well know Hollywood editor whom was working for me came into my office and asked me if I was voting for Bush. I replied in the affirmative. She then asked me if I cared about a women’s right to choose and that Bush’s potential to nominate a Supreme Court justice may take that right away. I told her that I might indeed be inclined to have that right taken away as I am pro-life. She didn’t even respond. She just screamed and ran out of the room. We worked together on the remainder of the project and got along, but I have not heard from her since. I would still hire her in a minute as she is very talented, but I doubt she would work for me.
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My only firsthand experience with actual blacklisting occurred while casting a film in 2007. We auditioned a well know Conservative TV star and he nailed the part. All of the producers, myself included, were inclined to hire him on the spot. His audition was that good. Immediately after he left the room, we began discussing our feelings. The director then looked at us straight in the eyes and said, “Isn’t he one of them right wingers?” My producing partner then said, “Yes.” The director replied, “Well, I don’t want any of them right-wingers in my movie.” That was simply the end of it. The actor was no longer considered. However, prior to our leaving the room, I looked at the director and told him/her, “Just be careful, there may be one of those right-wingers in the room talking with you right now.” Needless to say, we did not get a long for the rest of the shoot even though we spent a lot of time together over the next six months.
Since I have started this web page, I have heard dozens of similar stories; some first hand and some second hand. One of my favorites involved a meeting held on the set of a television series on the Monday before the 2008 election. During that meeting the producers and director actually told the cast and crew, “If anyone is voting for McCain tomorrow, don’t bother coming to work on Wednesday.” Can you imagine what would have happened had that been said by a Conservative Republican? It would have been all of the news media the next day and the person speaking the lines would have been looking for work the next day. Here, nothing happened and the few Conservatives working on the show just kept their mouth shut and exercised their Constitutional Right to vote the next day without anyone on the show becoming aware.
In conclusion, I would have to say that the blacklist definitely exists, and, it is more overt than covert. However, there is some hope on the horizon as there are many more Conservatives in Hollywood than the media and the Hollywood community cares to admit. I would say, it is closer to 60/40 than 75/25. How much closer, I don’t know. But, when it comes down to hiring, I will not allow their prejudice to get in the way. I will hire the best person for the job regardless of their political leanings. But, if there are two people just as qualified for a job and one is Conservative, I’ll let you figure out the answer to that.
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