- LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Where
has the Hollywood anti-war lobby gone?
- In the weeks leading up to war in Iraq actors Martin
Sheen, Mike Farrell, Sean Penn and Janeane Garofalo joined a cast of thousands
in a fierce Hollywood resistance played out in protest marches and from
the sofas of television talk shows.
- But with the war in its waning hours, all is quiet on
the western coast -- leading conservatives to suggest that Garofalo and
her fellow travelers are in full retreat from a public backlash and feeling
chastened by a swift American victory.
- Liberals fear Hollywood's left-wing stars are being muzzled
and their careers placed in jeopardy from what actor Tim Robbins, called
in a recent speech a "climate of fear."
- But Mike Farrell, star of television's "MASH"
and organizer of "Artists United to Win Without War," told Reuters
that those who joined the loyal opposition in Hollywood had not been silenced
and certainly were not backing down.
- Instead, he said, the "huge coalition" of those
opposed to the war were gathering strength and preparing to fight another
day -- over post-war Iraq, domestic issues and future "preemptive
strikes" by the Bush administration.
- "What's the point of me saying anything right now,
while they're in the end zone doing the dance and spiking the football?"
Farrell said. "They are going to do the thing they are going to do,
but we'll be heard from when it's appropriate and in the manner that is
- GAROFALO SOLDIERS
- Garofalo, working hard on her upcoming ABC sitcom, did
not respond to interview requests for this story. But she told the Washington
Post last week that her anti-war stance had been a "positive"
experience that had helped her career.
- "Before this I was a moderately well-known character
actress," she told the paper. "Now, I'm almost famous."
- A spokeswoman for Penn, who infuriated many Americans
by visiting Iraq in December on his own fact-finding mission, said the
actor was not granting interviews. Sheen's publicist said the man who plays
president on "The West Wing" was "not talking to anybody
- Farrell lamented the backlash to celebrities who spoke
out -- notably in the case of the Dixie Chicks, who saw radio stations
yank their music off the air and fans smash their CDs after Texas-born
lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience she was "ashamed"
that Bush hailed from her state.
- Maines has since apologized and the band said during
a tearful ABC-TV interview that they feared for their lives after getting
death threats. But Farrell said the backlash came from a small number of
Americans galvanized by the Bush administration and conservative radio
talk show hosts.
- "There was a well-orchestrated campaign to do that
through hate radio and Web sites and voices that sprang from the (Bush)
administration and said 'take your choice, you're with us or with the terrorists,"'
- "But the Dixie Chicks are back on the air and their
record is number one again," he said. "Tim Robbins and Susan
Sarandon are not going to stop making movies for a long time. Janeane Garofalo
has a (TV) pilot going forward. These ugly-mouthed people like to think
they are more powerful than they are."
- STILL OPPOSED
- Farrell said that the ability of U.S. troops to topple
Saddam Hussein's regime in relatively short order has not softened his
opposition to the war.
- "An illegal war is an illegal war no matter what
the result. We'll never know now what could have been achieved through
- Prof. Howard Suber, founding director of UCLA's film
and television producer's program, said the eerie silence from Hollywood
was to be expected once American troops were on the ground in Iraq.
- "It's one thing to oppose the war and it's another
thing entirely to appear that you are supporting the enemy," Suber
said. "That's the trap Jane Fonda fell into when she went to North
Vietnam (during the Vietnam War) and was a labeled traitor. I know of no
public figure who supported Saddam, so once the troops are in the field
you've got to shut up."
- But, he added: "To suggest they've been muzzled
I think is bull. They've just got nothing to say. Once the deed is done
there's nothing to say until the next time."
- Allan Mayer, a top Hollywood crisis public relations
manager, said a few performers not used to dabbling in politics had been
given a wake-up call by the blistering public response to their remarks.
- "Clearly Natalie Maines didn't have an inkling of
the kind of reaction she was going to provoke," Mayer said, adding,
"There's a level of vitriol in the air that I haven't seen since the
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