Roger L. Simon

Hollywood Gossip (Tehran Division)

I don’t spend a lot of time reading Variety anymore (not that I ever really did), but it was hard to miss their editor Peter Bart’s column today on the Hollywood political mood, which has been referenced across the Internet. In particular, Bart writes this rather spooky paragraph:

There are other emerging fissures, as well. The aggressively photogenic John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the “I” word — Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.

Now it’s not clear here whether Bart was in attendance or what exactly Edwards intended by his remark. Was the candidate castigating Israel for what would arguably be an act of self-defense or was he merely commenting on an obviously dangerous situation? Hard to tell in this kind of semi-gossip writing. Bart does himself no credit by going on with a follow-up paragraph about evangelical support of Israel as if this were something new. Hardly. Israel was filled with evangelical tourists when I first went there over twenty years ago. Has Bart ever gone? I don’t know.

I found Bart’s column depressing, creating, as it did, the vision of Hollywood as a lock-step community. Perhaps it is, but that makes artists like David Zucker, Ron Silver, even Arnold himself into non-persons.

Speaking of Arnold, Bart writes that “liberals” (whatever that means anymore) have to play catch-up with Schwarzenegger on environmental issues. I wonder if it occurs to Bart that some of us are able to separate our thinking on various subjects. I guess he wants everyone to adopt that “old time Hollywood religion.” As one famous Hollywood character (Samuel Goldwyn) once said: “Include me out.”