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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘actors’

Minnesota Nazi Uniform Party Was Just an ‘Historical Exercise’

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The owner of a Minneapolis, Minnesota restaurant has defended a private party in which men dressed up in SS uniforms and said it was only an exercise for actors who play historical roles and was not meant to praise Hitler.

No one outside of the restaurant knew about the party, or the “event” as the actors called it, until the local City Pages website posted on line a picture of the men in Nazi uniforms in the restaurant, called Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit.

“By no means do we glorify the edicts of the Third Reich,” said Scott Steben, who characterized himself as a history buff who has landed movie parts as a German soldier. “I understand the sensitivity of the subject matter and everything but it did occur and it is history,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Steben doesn’t see any difference between actors dressing up as Star Trek characters and as Nazis. It’s all in a day’s work, but where have we heard that before?

The party was held on – are you ready for this – Martin Luther King Day, in late January. Steben said that the event was actually the group’s annual Christmas party, which was booked on a Monday because it is the only day the restaurant is closed.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting to hear the reaction of the actors if they had dressed up as KKK members, not for any reasons of racism, God forbid, but just to act out a bit of American history.

The party was photographed by one of the restaurant’s workers who showed them to his friends. The restaurant owner promptly fired the worker, and it remains to be seen if that is reasonable grounds for dismissal.

The photos showed four Nazi banners hanging in one dining room, and another picture reveals a staff member receiving a black T-shirt with a swastika – all for the sake of history, of course.

Local Jews were understandably upset. “Glorification and/or celebration of Nazi Germany and its military would appear to be incongruous with the nature of a family restaurant and its surrounding neighborhood,” wrote Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas Executive Director Steve Hunegs in a statement.

Two Jewish organizations said they are offering to help the restaurant find a way to honor Minnesota’s World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors by not associating with German military re-enactors.

The restaurant owner Mario Pierzchalsk, a native of Poland, said he has hosted the party for six years. Following the bad publicity, he will not allow the group to stage a similar party next year but said the people who attended “are very peaceful” and are “just actors.”

He was angry at the negative reaction. “We live in a free country…but from the comments I see, a lot of people they don’t see what freedom is. If I break the law, punish me. But we did this for so many years and everything was fine,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

However, he did apologize on Wednesday.” On behalf of everyone who participated in a World War II reenactment dinner last January, I apologize,” read a statement issued by Steben and published in the Star Tribune. “We understand that some of the items we displayed at the dinner have made people feel uncomfortable. That was not our intent.”

Below is the local CBS outlet’s report.

In Pursuit of CSI:Tel-Aviv?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Four leading actors from the hit shows CSI:NY and CSI:Miami are touring Israel as guests of the Tourism Ministry. Jonathan Frederick Togo and Omar Benson Miller (stars of CSI: Miami) and Carmine Giovinazzo and AJ Buckley (stars of CSI: NY), will visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Masada and the Galilee. This is the first time all four actors have visited Israel.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov commented that over the last year, the Tourism Ministry has increased its hosting of “celebrities and opinion-formers with the objective of exposing Israel’s tourism product and increasing incoming tourism.”

The minister believes that millions of people who follow the activities of these stars on social media platforms and via traditional media, would be inspired to call their travel agents and book their next vacation in the Holy Land.

“Today, the state of Israel is reaping the benefits of the intensive marketing activities carried out by the Tourism Ministry with the all-time record high in incoming tourism that is expected to bring 3.8 million tourists by year end,” Minister Misezhnikov stated.

Discovering the Holy Land, Hollywood Style

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Sitting with AnnaLynne McCord at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel on Sunday morning, the blond actress comes off as a regular person with some well thought-out opinions, and not as Hollywood ‘celebrity’ one would expect. McCord is currently known for her role as Naomi Clark in CW’s 90210.

While her manager insists that she eat her omelet, McCord is excited to share her experience and perspective of Israel on her first trip to the country with the organization, “America’s Voices in Israel.” McCord explains that she was not afraid to travel to Israel and was excited to meet the people who experience the country every day. “I’ve heard a lot against Israel back home, but I always knew there was a lot more to this country than what I’ve read and seen in the news,” McCord told Tazpit News Agency.

“The first question that I’ve always thought about in regard to the conflict here is how much of it is a holy war?” McCord explains that she knows the Biblical history of the region well, having “grown up with the Bible” and believes that there is “no room for the world to judge Israel or anyone in this conflict.”

“I believe there are always three sides to the story–your side, my side, and the truth,” said McCord. “Until you actually live in someone else’s shoes, you can never judge.”

“With all that negative coverage about Israel, I was amazed by the resilience, human spirit and optimism that people here have facing daily turmoil. You have to come see Israel for yourself to understand this–that people can still have an amazing existence, with love and patriotism, despite all the odds.”

The one characteristic that McCord says she particularly likes about Israelis is that “they don’t care what you think, what the world thinks. As an actress, I definitely relate to that because people write mean and nice things about me all the time. I do what I have to do, no matter what the critics say. Israel does the same.”

McCord and her acting colleagues, among them Omar Epps (House), Zach Roerig (Vampire Diaries) Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds), Mekhi Phifer (8 Mile, ER), Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill), Holt McCallany (Lights Out), Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin’ Out with Mr. Cooper) were particularly impressed with Israel’s state of the art facilities for special needs/disabled children.

Peete tweeted that “this country is so ahead of ours when it comes to caring for children with autism…I’m inspired.”

The itinerary for the trip included visits to Jerusalem’s Meshi, a rehabilitation center and school for 196 children with severe neurological and muscular disabilities who receive the world’s top treatments, and the Na’Alagat Center in Old Jaffa, a theater group made up of deaf and blind people who are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze.

For others, the trip reinforced the spiritual dimensions of the Holy Land. Omar Epps, on his second visit to Israel with America’s Voices in Israel, explained that it was the country’s “rich history, culture, people and energies” that drew him back. “For me personally, the spiritual significance of this place hits me to the core. The fact that the world’s three ancient religions meet in one place makes the holiness of this land so unique,” said Epps. “I’m bringing my kids here next time to experience this land together with my wife.”

Even the Dead Sea took on religious significance when Mekhi Phifer tweeted jokingly before the group’s descent to the world’s lowest elevation on land that he “might even get baptized in the Dead Sea.”

Visits and tours to Masada, the Golan Heights, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem’s Old City and Christian sites including Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Geinosar and the Church of Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, also left strong impressions on the stars.

“I would love to come back here to film a movie someday,” said Holt McCallany, Hollywood actor, writer and producer, who starred in Fox’s Lights Out.” It was amazing to be able visualize all these stories and settings.”

At the farewell dinner last night, Mekhi Phifer thanked Rabbi Irwin Katsof, director of America’s Voices in Israel for organizing the week-long trip. “It’s been a privilege to be enveloped in your culture,” Phifer emotionally told Katsof.

Rabbi Irwin Katsof has been involved in bringing missions to Israel for the past 20 years and today directs America’s Voices in Israel founded in 2001 and part of the Conference of Presidents Major American Jewish Organizations. He is a businessman, educator, author and successful entrepreneur, who has brought the likes of Howard Shultz, Starbucks founder, Lady Margaret Thatcher, and others to Israel.

Katsof explains that his missions entail a no-strings attached rule. “The groups are presented with the facts, and have the opportunity to meet with Israelis across the spectrum. They come to their own conclusions about the country.”

May’s trip was a co-operative effort between the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Ministries of Tourism and Foreign Affairs, El Al Israel Airlines, and the Jerusalem Inbal Hotel.

For Israelis who caught a glimpse of the stars, excitement ensued as requests for photos and autographs were readily answered by the actors and actresses. The more well-known of the group, AnnaLynne McCord and Zach Roerig, found themselves posing with countless starstruck teenagers at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” said Zach Roerig. ‘I never expected so many fans in this region of the world.”

Airbrush Makeup – What’s The Hype About?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

What’s so special about airbrush makeup? Is this a new technique in makeup application? These are a couple of questions I commonly get from my readers and clients.  Airbrush makeup application has been used in Hollywood on models and actors for over 30 years. For approximately ten years, makeup artists have been using this on brides, businesswomen, or anyone that wants to look great for an event.

Airbrush makeup is usually water based and is fed through a compressor that pushes the product out through the system. The makeup comes out with air, causing the application to feel like a fine mist (it feels pretty neat actually). A bit of caution: it is meant to be applied by a professional makeup artist.

This method of making someone up sounds pretty cool, but is it really necessary, and what are the benefits of using it?  There are a number of reasons why I love to use airbrush makeup and continue to recommend this method. In today’s technological world, object and people are viewed on camera and in motion pictures in high definition (HD).  HD is not just popular in movie making and on television – more and more professional photographers and videographers are now converting their equipment to HD format.  HD not only defines the image, making us appear more realistic, it unfortunately also scrutinizes us intensely. With airbrushing, you can custom blend colors, it lasts long, and it is tear-resistant.

I use Kett cosmetics for my airbrush foundation and blush. Its formula is specifically designed for HD camera equipment. It’s very lightweight, and makes the skin appear flawless with a porcelain finish. Although airbrush makeup is lightweight, it is very pigmented. Airbrush makeup application is more expensive than your regular makeup application, and there are some makeup artists who  will charge over $300 a face, but it is well worth it, since you will have a flawless complexion and will photograph beautifully.

Sharona Silva is a makeup artist, specializing in airbrush makeup, who works in the New York City area. Sharona recently launched her own skin care line for all types of skin. Please submit questions to tips@sharonasilva.com. Questions may be used in future columns; all inquiries will remain anonymous. Visit www.sharonasilva.com for more information.

Zeroing In On Blacklisted Jewish Actors

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Zero Hour

Through September 27

Written and performed by Jim Brochu, directed by Piper Laurie

Theater J, Washington D.C. JCC

1529 16th Street NW, Washington

http://theaterj.org

 

 

Though the members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities had a copy of Lucille Ball’s signed 1936 communist registration card, they accepted her excuse that she joined the party just to please her grandfather, because her name wasn’t Jaffe, Chodorov, Berman or Phillip Loeb. So says Jim Brochu in his one-man show about Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel, which argues that McCarthyism overlapped to a large extent with anti-Semitism. “She could have called her show I Love Lenin and they would have forgiven her. And they did forgive her,” he adds.

 

The McCarthy era, “the subtlest and most insidious of all exterminations,” featured committee efforts to “eradicate communists, but communist equaled liberal, and liberal equaled Jew.” Jewish writers, directors, and actors were targeted for their influence, according to Brochu. “They didn’t call in the little tailors or the kosher butchers.”

 

“That committee of lily-white Protestants marched us in front of their firing squad of fear and pulled the trigger on our lives and our work,” he continues. “It was an intellectual final solution to eliminate thought; they couldn’t kill our bodies – they had done a fine job of that already – so they decided to obliterate our minds. And they targeted Jewish minds.”

 

Mostel (1915 – 1977), famous for playing Pseudolus (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof), and Max Bialystock (The Producers), was also blacklisted by the committee, and he saw his friend Loeb, who played Jake Goldberg in The Goldbergs, commit suicide after being accused of being a Communist.

 

In Zero Hour, currently at Theater J in Washington, Brochu’s Mostel mixes humor with pain. He answers his phone “Palestinian Anti-Defamation League. This is Yassir speaking.” He tells a reporter he casts as a model, “Now turn more to your left. Oh, but you’re from the New York Times. How much further left can you turn?” He jokes that a press agent gave him the name Zero due to his school grade point average. He calls FDR one of history’s greatest Jewish minds.

 

There is something very special about Brochu’s Mostel. Not only is the script brilliantly written and hilarious – and it is both – but it is also personal. As a high school sophomore, Brochu met Mostel on the set of “A Funny Thing”. “I had no idea who Zero Mostel was when I first saw the show,” Brochu writes in an author’s note in the script, “but was knocked out by the comedic force of nature that ruled over the stage of the Alvin Theatre.”

 

A comedic force of nature that knocks people out is a description that could apply to Brochu’s acting as well. But when he says he was knocked out by Mostel, he means it literally. Brochu the sophomore had been invited to the play by his mentor David Burns, and searching for Burns backstage he ran into Mostel. Noting Brochu’s uniform (he was in military school), Mostel told him, “You must be General Nuisance. What do you want?” When Brochu said he was looking for Burns, Mostel complained that Brochu never came to visit him and stormed off.

 

 

Jim Brochu as Zero Mostel in Zero Hour at Theater J. Photo by Stan Barouh

 

 

Brochu took the hint and visited Mostel backstage on several more occasions.  Over time the two became friends. When he first asked Mostel for an autograph, Brochu was told he was unworthy – Mostel’s “behavior was as outrageous offstage as it was on,” he says – but after Mostel saw Brochu’s off-Broadway performance in “Unfair to Goliath”, he left an envelope with a signed photograph in Brochu’s dressing room.

 

Zero Hour is Brochu’s attempt to return the favor, “a tribute to the life of a man who overcame both physical and social obstacles to become one of most enduring giants in the history of the American Theatre.”

 

The show is set in Mostel’s studio, where he paints, as a reporter, who is off-stage interviews him. Mostel participates in the interview reluctantly at first, but then pours out his life story, down to the most intimate details. He is also particularly keen on ensuring the reporter knows about the evils of the McCarthy era so that it will never be repeated. “That was no committee; that was an inquisition,” he says. “That was no investigation, Mr. New York Times, that was a massacre!”

 

As if his political difficulties and run-ins with the FBI were not enough, Mostel’s leg was crushed under a bus in 1960, leaving him dangerously close to needing an amputation that would have ended his career. Mostel recovered – though his leg looked like chopped liver, in Brochu’s words – but he needed to use a cane. “And the great miracle of that whole horrible, life changing accident – it got me out of ‘The Good Soup’”, the play he had been rehearsing at the time, “How lucky I was to have been hit by that bus.”

 

Though he was able to revive his career, Mostel soon found himself having to work with Jerry Robbins, whom he blamed for naming names to the committee and for the death of Loeb. Though the other actors politely receive Robbins, Mostel attacks him. “Did you say hello to Jack Gilford over there, whose wife’s career you destroyed,” he asks. “No, don’t apologize, Mr. Robbins You saved America with your testimony. They’ll give you a state funeral when you die. But you won’t be able to be buried in hallowed ground because the Torah says that informers can’t be buried in sacred ground.”

 

One of the most powerful lines of the play comes when Mostel explains why he thought it was so important to make Fiddler about the entire community and not just Tevye the milkman, and why he argued with the creators, who wanted the actors to go beardless and to tuck in their tzitzit. “They said, keep them under your costumes and I said no – the audience has to see them,” Mostel explains. “They have to know who we are. They have to love who we are so they can hate what’s being done to us. Maybe I didn’t think the show was great but I thought the theme was important.”

 

Evidently the theme was very universal. When Fiddler toured in Japan, a critic wondered how Americans could appreciate a play that was so clearly about Japan.

 

Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, D.C.

Way to Heaven by Juan Mayorga

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Teatro Circulo

65 East 4th Street, New York, NY

Until  May 24, 2009

Thursday 8 p.m.; Sunday 3 p.m.

$18, students and seniors $16

waytoheaventheplay.com

212-868-4444

 

An unshaven man stumbles onstage, clad in a raincoat covering his pajamas.  He is barefoot and shuffles among the dried leaves that litter the stage area, a long rectangular set with the audience on either side.  It is a most intimate performance area, uncomfortably so.  He tells us he was a Red Cross representative, stationed in the Berlin suburb of Wansee, during the war, and had been sent to inspect a civilian internment camp in Nazi Germany.  Now, he is guilt ridden, confused and sleepless.  A tortured soul remembering what it was like to play-act to do his job, unaware he was but a manipulated audience himself.  As he describes the entire visit and the episode unfolds before us. He cannot sleep.


Next, boys play with a top and quarrel, a couple argues over a gift, each actor perfecting his or her lines, cueing each other to get the dialogue right.  We notice they all wear a yellow star. The young woman complains of constantly hearing trains in the night.


Then a little girl enters holding her doll.  She talks to her doll telling him not to be afraid and sings a song.  A haunting Ani ma’amin.  She sings, “I believe…”


The Nazi commandant strides on stage; confident, charming, understanding, his evil arrogance is barely masked by his civilized and rational demeanor. 

Finally, Gottfried is brought in and sits before the Commandant. He is a prisoner, powerless to resist the orders of his captor.   He must become an actor, learn his lines and collaborate, in order to give outsiders the impression of a benign internment camp.  His play-acting seeks to convince them that conditions are relatively good and, considering the war, humane.  As for the ramp from the railway station to the infirmary, well, everyone just calls it the “way to heaven.”  The play has begun.


Way to Heaven by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga currently playing a limited New York run, explores the terrible phenomenon of Jewish complicity in covering up the reality of the Holocaust.  It is based on the compulsory acting that played out in the “model camp” of Theresienstadt, located near Prague.  The play is a historical amalgam; combining aspects of the infamous show camp and the famous July 1944 Red Cross visit to inspect the camp, as well as its subsequent approval by the Red Cross.  This awesome “dress rehearsal” is played out in the shadow of the Nazi death machine, which is evoked by the trains arriving promptly at 6 a.m. every morning, and the ever-present ramp leading to the death chambers and crematorium.  As the play makes relentlessly clear, the façade of normalcy – children playing, a balloon seller, a mid-day meal and the petty drama of young lovers – all serve to mask the grim reality of what was really a transit labor camp on the way to Auschwitz.  Starvation and disease was the norm at Theresienstadt even though the Nazis lauded the camp as the safe haven for the Jewish cultural elite of Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria.  Indeed there was an amazing amount of art, music and theater produced by the inmates, before they were shipped East to their deaths.    Hence the tragic irony played out in Way to Heaven.

 

 


Red Cross Inspector played by Shawn Parr

Way to Heaven written by Juan Mayorga

 

 

The director of the American production, (it has been produced in London, Paris, Madrid and Buenos Aires), Matthew Earnest, masterfully entraps the audience, slowly drawing them into the inescapable web of compromise with the use of minimal sets and highly dramatic lighting, allowing the accomplished actors free reign to plumb the depths of each character.  Regardless of their lines, they are terrified mortals, desperately trying to act out scripted parts to save their lives.  There is seldom a moment in which a double entendre doesn’t reveal the harrowing truth beneath it.  Each of the principle characters – Mark Farr as Gottfried, Shawn Parr as the Red Cross Inspector, Francisco Reyes as the Commandant and Samantha Rahn as the little girl, all put in riveting performances.

 

 


Gottfried and Commandant played by Mark Farr and Francisco Reyes

Way to Heaven written by Juan Mayorga

 

The play effectively moves backwards in time, bringing us along for the ride, starting with the Red Cross inspector’s tortured and guilt-ridden memory monologue.  While his memory torments him, his recounting troubles us because he has been effectively fooled by the much too convincing acting of the Jews.  Indeed, in his memory, all seemed normal.  Why were these Jews so good at acting as if nothing terrible was happening in this “civilian internment camp?”  Next we are plunged into the feverish cacophony of inmate rehearsals, repeating lines over and over, trying to get it right with their mechanical readings of dialogue for the sake of the Red Cross. 

 

 


Commandant played by Francisco Reyes

Way to Heaven written by Juan Mayorga

 

The Nazi Commandant attempts to beguile us with his assurances of European civilization, the books he has in his library, how he distains war and how once it is all over, we will all speak one language and celebrate one culture.  His monologue constantly slips between past and present, chilling our confidence in the distance of the past horrors.  Suddenly all the lights go out and in the pitch-blackness the Nazi asserts that all of the killing camps are gone now, “There’s none of it left now, but they’re still here.  All of them, every single one.” The ghosts of the murdered Jews remain because, “Every train in Europe terminates here.”


Further into the past, we are plunged into the complex and tortured relationship between Gershom Gottfried, the “mayor” of the Jews, and the Commandant who is both the author and director of the little piece of theater that will convince the Red Cross that there is no mistreatment of the prisoners.  Gottfried’s role is to make sure everyone acts his or her part exactly as the script says, that they understand that their lives depend upon their performance.  Gottfried says the people want to know what to expect.  The Commandant answers, “Focus on one thought, Gottfried. ‘I’m not on that train. As long as I’m here, I’m not on that train.’”  The play-acting becomes instantly clear; their performance is a bargain with the devil himself.


Gottfried is told that one scene is too crowded, “Cut them down to a hundred.”  He is told to take them to the “infirmary,” that closed shed at the top of the long ramp, at the end of the “way to heaven.”  Gottfried balks, he can’t choose which of his fellow Jews will be condemned.  He rebels and spits out, “What if we refuse?…[what if] He arrives and there’s no one there Or we tell him the truth “  The Commandant calmly reminds Gottfried that the Red Cross man may not understand the gesture or the symbol.  Jewish rebellion would hardly make an impact, and would only result in more death.


Sitting so close to the actors, finally understanding their dilemma, understanding that Gottfried and his Jews have no choice, understanding that no one wants to assure their own death, I still ask myself, what would I do?  What would I do?


Now the Commandant is alone, musing about the loneliness of the actor, the futility of theater itself.  He rants against the little girl with the doll, recalling that in fact she did call out, send a signal of distress to the Red Cross inspector.  “I hope he doesn’t mention it in his report.”  With this we realize that the world really didn’t want to see, didn’t want to hear of the brutal murder of millions of Jews. 

 

 



Little Girl played by Samantha Rahn

Way to Heaven written by Juan Mayorga

Finally Juan Mayorga’s stunning play brings it all home.  Gottfried and his Jews resume practicing their parts, reassuring fellow actors, “we’ve all had to pretend some time, haven’t we?”  The little girl with her doll enters and is comforted by Gottfried.  “If you do it well, we’ll see Mummy again. She’ll come on one of those trains. If we do what they ask us We’ll do it as many times as we have to, until Mummy comes back.”  She softly sings her haunting song again. Ani Ma’amin.   Yes, I believe, I believe with a perfect faith.


Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com.

Hollywood’s Anti-Terror Ad

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Unless you know your way around the blogosphere or get your news from publications like the Malaysia Sun, Australia’s Sunday Morning Herald or Germany’s Die Welt, you likely missed the story last week that some 84 Hollywood celebrities – actors, directors and producers – had signed an ad condemning Hizbullah and Hamas that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

The American news media apparently failed to find it newsworthy that representatives of an industry known more for championing environmentalism than anti-terrorism – and that, notwithstanding its hugely disproportionate share of Jewish movers and shakers, has increasingly viewed the Middle East through a lens of moral equivalence – would publicly support such a refreshingly unequivocal declaration.

While Jews made up roughly half of the ad’s signatories, notably missing were many of Holly-wood’s most recognizable Jewish names – worthies like Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, David Geffen, Norman Lear, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner, Larry David, Debra Messing, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and more than enough others to easily fill this column and then some.

(Most of the above-mentioned individuals are far from shy when it comes to supporting gay rights, abortion on demand, or the impeachment of Presi-dent Bush. The ridiculous Richard Dreyfuss, for ex-ample, who actually pays someone to advise him on politics, told the National Press Club that “there are causes worth fighting for” such as “the difficult and perhaps embarrassing process of impeachment.”

(H.L. Mencken died when Dreyfuss was a child, but the Sage of Baltimore no doubt had char-acters like him in mind when he described actors as being “full of hot and rancid gases….blatant and ob-noxious posturers and wind-bags.”)

What was really interesting about the anti-Hizbullah ad, though, was that so many of the non-Jewish celebrities who signed it are political conser-vatives, who of course comprise a lonely, often em-battled minority in ultra-liberal Tinseltown.

Interesting, but hardly surprising, in light of recent polls showing that conservatives in general and Republicans in particular are far more suppor-tive of Israel than are liberals and Democrats. In this case, at least, Hollywood is merely reflecting a trend rather than starting one.

Appearing in the ad were the names of actors Bruce Willis, James Woods, Sylvester Stallone, Gary Sinise and Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Ray-mond”), all of whom have received varying degrees of media scrutiny for bucking Hollywood’s leftist trend. (In the documentary “Rated R: Republicans in Hol-lywood,” Heaton told the story of how, at a dinner party in 2004, she happened to mention her support for George Bush and the other guests reacted as though she’d just committed an unspeakably anti-social act.)

Also signing the ad was “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, whose conservatism is as out in the open as Heaton’s. (“There is a reason the Democrats have had only two presidents since 1968 and have managed to lose control of both houses of Congress in recent years,” Sajak has written. “There is a reason they keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And it’s not fraud and it’s not dirty politics and it’s not stupid voters. It’s the plain and simple fact that the majority of those who vote don’t like them.”)

The biggest surprise among the names on the ad, if one is to judge from the reaction of betrayal expressed by some lefty bloggers, was the veteran actor Dennis Hopper, whose image, based chiefly on a turbulent private life and his starring roles in clas-sic anti-establishment and edgy films like “Easy Rider” (1969) and “Blue Velvet” (1986), is one of a countercultural rebel.

Hopper, though, is anything but countercul-tural, and in fact has acknowledged voting a “straight Republican ticket” for the past 26 years.

“I’ve been a Republican since Reagan,” he re-cently told an interviewer. “I voted for Bush and his father. I don’t tell a lot of people, because I live in a city where somebody who voted for Bush is really an outcast.”

Hooray For Hollywood

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2003
This week the Monitor is intent on having a bit of fun, though the subject is a serious one - the tendency of actors to embrace left-wing causes in general and the current antiwar movement in particular, all the while spouting the sort of inanities that only a New York Times editorial writer would take even half seriously.This, of course, is hardly something new: Way back in 1917 H.L. Mencken described actors as “blatant and obnoxious posturers and windbags” who were “full of hot and rancid gases.” And to think that Mencken, dead now for close to half a century, never met such preposterous blowhards as Ed Asner and Martin Sheen!But rather than get angry at the Hollywood pinheads who never let their shrunken intellects prevent them from pontifi cating on matters of great import, the Monitor much prefers laughing the dolts right off the stage.

If you agree there’s little point in gnashing teeth or growing ulcers in response to the pronunciamentos made by what are, after all, some of the dumbest people in the universe (Cher used to think that the presidential likenesses carved into Mount Rushmore were natural phenomena, while Barbra Streisand, according to biographer Shaun Considine, was a All Posts woman in her forties before she learned that the Warsaw Ghetto had been destroyed by the Nazis), then there’s a website you’ll probably enjoy called HollywoodHalfwits.com.

Many of the idiocies collected on Hollywood Halfwits (all carefully documented, with new entries constantly added) will be familiar to anyone who follows the news with the slightest regularity, but a surprising number of them escaped media attention when they were first uttered. The following are some of the Monitor’s favorites, but there’s a lot more where these came from:

Barbra Streisand on the administration’s motivation for invading Iraq: “The War on Terrorism has not been as successful as President Bush has stated, and he is feeling pressure to do something, even if that something has nothing to do with actually fighting terrorism! The Bush administration thinks they can fool us into thinking they have the terrorism situation under control by going after Saddam, when all they are doing is exacerbating the problem by creating more outrage against the United States from potential terrorists.”

Streisand again, at a fundraiser for Jesse Jackson: “I don’t like giving speeches. First, I don’t know what to say. Then I want to say too much. But I’m here tonight for one reason: I’m a sucker for Jesse.”

Ed Asner, whose cuddly Lou Grant image belies the reality of an actor who regularly lends his name to statements and petitions by groups on the anti-Israel, anti-U.S. hard left: “I think that the idea of Iraq being a nuclear threat is poppy cock, and if they are a nuclear threat then they’d have to borrow atomic bombs from Israel.”

Actor Woody Harrelson, a living embodiment of the truism that you can indeed be as stupid as you look, gives us his take on war with Iraq: “This is a racist and imperialist war. The warmongers who stole the White House (you call them ’hawks,’ but I would never disparage such a fine bird) have hijacked a nation’s grief and turned it into a perpetual war on any non-white country they choose to describe as terrorist.”

Has-been actor Larry Hagman, never in danger of being mistaken as a cerebral sort by anyone other than himself (and possibly Barbra Streisand), offers his assessment of the president: “[Bush is a] sad figure, not too well educated, who doesn’t get out of America much. He’s leading the country towards fascism.” (Asked how he thought Bush would react to the accusation, Hagman responded, “It’s all the same to me; he wouldn’t understand the word fascism anyway.”)

Actor Richard Gere, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire: “Bush’s plans for war are a bizarre bad dream. There doesn’t appear to be any sort of basis for any of this. I have a feeling something hidden is at work here that will someday see the light of day.”

Singer Sheryl Crowe revealing herself to be the sort of hard-headed thinker and geopolitical genius in such heavy demand at Tinseltown dinner parties: “I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/hooray-for-hollywood/2003/04/02/

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