There was a recent public debate in Hollywood between Lionel Chetwynd and Burt Prelutsky on the right; and on the left, Larry Gelbart. And also Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart, whom Cathy Seipp generously credits to having politics “somewhere in the middle”, but quotes as referring to “the Taliban conservatives who’ve taken over the [Republican] party”–not exactly a middle of the road sort of phrase.
Seipp caught this exchange between the men on the panel and an audience member who attended:
Unfortunately, the Hollywood Forum was not very conducive to audience questions — a situation that will have to improve if this group hopes to last. But my friend Leah, an actress, did manage to ask one about why Hollywood is so sympathetic to Castro.Peter Bart brushed this off. “All those Hollywood types who talk with Castro, all they do is talk about f***ing movies,” he said. “They go to Cuba because it’s the only place you can get old DeSotos.”
“Name one pro-Castro movie that’s come out of Hollywood,” Gelbart demanded.
“Comandante!” Leah snapped back, referring to Oliver Stone’s recent paean to Castro.
“OK, that’s one…” Gelbart said.
“Motorcycle Diaries!” Leah immediately added. Gelbart was beginning to look exasperated at that point, so she shut up. “But there’s also Havana,” she whispered to me, “by Robert Redford, another lyrical poem to Castro.”
Well yeah, but other than those, and the upcoming Che by Steven Soderbergh, and…
Incidentally, Havana was directed by veteran director (and occasional actor) Sidney Pollack, whom earlier this year directed the pro-UN movie The Interpreter, which failed to break even at the American box office, both because of its controversial subject matter, and Pollack’s even more controversial casting of a San Francisco Chronicle Middle East correspondent in the lead role rather than a more experienced actor.