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PBR: Conservatives and Hollywood

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One of the more interesting discussions at last week’s Heritage Foundation Resource Bank meeting in Los Angeles was the “Hollywood Conversations” session with screenwriter and novelist Andrew Klavan and Lionel Chetwynd, a writer, producer and director. Both men pleaded with the gathering of conservatives — social, political, economic — to stop beating up on Hollywood ad nauseam and to do more to support good work by conservatives.

Here’s the gist of the argument from a recent Klavan interview on Big Hollywood:

We have to just take it as given that the mainstream venues are against us, the awards won’t go to us, the reviewers will attack us — sometimes without even admitting why. We have to speak up for ourselves, we have to review each other, honestly and fairly, we have to buy the books that stand up for what’s right-assuming they’re good, assuming they do what they’re supposed to do, entertain, tell good stories. We have to understand that the media is our enemy — the enemy of the American idea, our founders’ ideas — and we have to make our own arts, and celebrate our arts and reward our arts. And then we’ll see who wins in the marketplace.

Both Klavan and Chetwynd said that there are far more conservatives in Hollywood than most people imagine. Yet the conservative think tank, cultural and political culture does little to recognize and encourage them. Compared to the cultural left, conservatives in entertainment have few award ceremonies, prizes, and regular reviewers who support good projects. As an example, they cited the recent HBO film “Taking Chance” as one work that deserved far more attention on the right than it got. The story, about a military escort officer accompanying home the body of a Marine corporal killed in Iraq, drew 2 million viewers and became the most-watched original movie to debut on the network in five years.

Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Big Hollywood, told the Resource Bank blogger session that Hollywood conservatives practice a “big tent” inclusiveness with none of the internecine feuds so common in Washington. He predicted that more conservatives would “come out of the closet” in Hollywood (he has 200 bloggers on his site) but that they could use a lot more support from the wider conservative movement.

This week’s PBR question is: “How should conservatives engage Hollywood?”

Share your answers in the comments section and look for answers from PowerBlog contributors throughout the week.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Ken

    In what appears to be the creation of two Americas, the entertainment community and its products are facing lots of struggles. The price of books and movies in theaters has escalated in recent years. Still, while HARRY POTTER sells at $25, a copy of a classic children’s story like Holling C. Hollings’ SEABIRD can be found at Amazon in hardback for $13 and $9 for paperback. A saturday matinee for a current movie release is $8.50 in some cities. A far cry from the days when you got two pictures and a cartoon.

    The key to success is a good story, well told. But the movie industry has never been an easy job for the writer — Scott Fitzgerald tried it, so did Lillian Hellman. The movie credits on old movies are not like today’s crop. Rarely do you see anyone’s name but the credit author. But no one should think that the old timers were anything different than the mix of writers trying to put together a career these days. One difference was the old immigrants that ran the studios and had a pervasive love of “the permanent things” even when their own lives were fraught with evil acts.

    The vertically integrated studio has been eclipsed by the sub-contractor and craft boutique with lots of wannabees nudging at the chance for a job in editing or sound. Big studios may muscle distribution in traditional locales but with DVD production and the availability to get financial backing from like-minded people it is possible and realistic to put a low budget film together and promote it to your audience. Knowing and reaching the audience is still a must part of succeeding.

    Such a movie was REMEMBER THE GIANTS. We rented it at Blockbuster on the recommendation of a young couple. The movie is painfully acted by amateurs but it was a start for its makers who have taken the profits and moved on with improved product.

    My advice: Engage Hollywood to learn who their sub-contractors are. Learn the names and phone numbers and then do the entrepreneurial thing — produce your product. That’s what free markets allow — go for it.

  • John Del Regno

    Most in Hollywood assume everyone believes as they do.I was almost fired from a tv show because I slipped out that I was in the US Navy.