|LIEBERMAN VS. HOLLYWOOD|
August 15, 2000
Will Joe Lieberman's battle over Hollywood's racier material cause a drop in donations for Democrats from those in the entertainment industry?
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GOV GRAY DAVIS: The highest award that Hollywood can give for extraordinary performance: An Oscar for being the best president.
TERENCE SMITH: It has been an eight-year love affair between Hollywood and Bill Clinton, but now there is a new, potentially more rocky romance developing.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: We're going to stand with parents across this country who are working so hard to raise PG kids in an X-rated society.
TERENCE SMITH: Senator Joseph Lieberman made it clear even as he joined the Democratic ticket last week that there will be no cease-fire in the ongoing war of words between Hollywood and its critics in Washington over sex and violence in popular entertainment. The Connecticut Senator has been in the forefront of this political and cultural battle for years.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Hollywood is still giving us the same violent content, is still going great guns to mass-market murder.
TERENCE SMITH: Lieberman and a bipartisan coalition have been pressing Hollywood to curtail violent and sexual content voluntarily, and threatening federal action if Hollywood does not go along - it's a campaign that has some in the entertainment industry upset. Jack Valenti is chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association.
JACK VALENTI: The Senator's criticism, his hurling of this kind of critical weaponry, is aimed at the wrong target, because there is no way that I or anybody else could wave a wand and have all these creative, independent-minded people doing our bidding. It doesn't make any sense.
TERENCE SMITH: Hollywood has backed the Clinton administration with star power and campaign funds, and it is expected to do the same for the Gore/Lieberman ticket. Actor Richard Dreyfuss.
RICHARD DREYFUSS: There was a personal love affair, historically eccentric and singular, about Bill Clinton and Hollywood. Whether that will be replicated by Al Gore, I don't know. But I don't think responsible people -- all the famous billionaires - are going to refrain from giving when they want to give or when they think they should because of Lieberman's policies.
TERENCE SMITH: But Lieberman has rattled some big contributors by aligning himself with some unlikely bedfellows, including Republican Bill Bennett. They appeared together in this televised appeal with former Senator Sam Nunn, asking viewers for support.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: If you'd like to help clean up talk TV, call 1-800-332-2000.
TERENCE SMITH: Conservative activists like L. Brent Bozell, chairman of the Parents Television Council, applaud Lieberman for his leadership in their campaign against Hollywood.
L. BRENT BOZELL: I think if Joe Lieberman becomes Vice President of the United States, he'll use that office at the very least as a bully pulpit, as a national megaphone to call for a national conversation on decency.
TERENCE SMITH: Lieberman promises that the Democratic ticket and their wives will press the issue.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: This matter is going to be something that Al and Tipper, and Hadassah and I are going to work on, because we care about the moral future of our country.
LARRY KING: Some of your biggest supporters make those movies and those records.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Yes. Well, you know, we've got to speak... Sometimes you've got to speak truth to your friends and ask them to draw a line and say, "Okay, maybe we can make a few more dollars going over this line, but it's not worth it, because it's not good for our country and for our kids."
|Where is the line?|
TERENCE SMITH: But Jack Valenti is not moved.
JACK VALENTI: I want to try to explain to Senator Lieberman that some of his premises are not well tended, not well constructed. Who makes the judgment about that line? Where is that line? It is ill-smudged and ill- illuminated, but is Senator Lieberman the one to make that judgment? Is Bill Bennett the one to make that judgment, or does the moviemaker make that judgment, or does the American public decide in their collective wisdom?
TERENCE SMITH: Lieberman has said that he first became active on this issue when he saw some of the content of the programs targeted at his youngest child and kids her age. It's these types of programs which Lieberman and others have targeted in their appeal to Hollywood, a petition endorsed by dozens of prominent Americans, including some from Hollywood, urging the entertainment industry to curb excessive media violence and sex. Lieberman and others are also targeting home video games and gangster rap music. With other senators, Lieberman introduced the Media Violence Labeling Act of 2000, which requires a uniform labeling system for all music, movies, and video games. In addition, warning labels would be required on all media products, including advertising, but not television programs. The Creative Coalition, a group of Hollywood actors, directors and producers who gathered in Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention, will meet here in Los Angeles with Democratic leaders to try to reconcile moral concerns and artistic freedom. They are seeking a compromise, but say they will not agree to anything that smacks of censorship. Richard Dreyfuss.
RICHARD DREYFUSS: I have no problem with any kind of ratings system. If anyone said anything about censoring or about legislation that would limit people's creative abilities, then I'd reach for my Smith and Wesson and say, "Hold it. Hold it a second. Hold it." But that's not what is being said here. What he's saying is that with all of the nonsense and frivolity and whatever that Hollywood puts out, a little commonsense wouldn't hurt.
TERENCE SMITH: Meanwhile, Lieberman and other senators took a new tack in Washington this summer, asking the Federal Communications Commissioner for a broad reexamination of the public interest standard and license renewal process to determine if broadcasters are serving the public interest. So this week in Los Angeles, there may be a quiet undercurrent of tension as the stars of Hollywood and Washington mix and mingle. But campaign contributions are expected to continue to flow nonetheless. In fact, Hollywood has already given at the office to both parties. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Vice President Gore has raised at least $906,000 in Hollywood so far; George W. Bush, $712,000. These figures do not include the millions that are being raised for Democrats at this week's celebrations in Los Angeles.
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