Controversial Tapes of Hollywood Execs Lead to Resignations (Exclusive)
An organization of politically active TV heavyweights is in turmoil over partisan remarks that some say smack of discrimination, all related to videos The Hollywood Reporter revealed on its website last week.
Two members, Lionel Chetwynd and Norman Powell, have already quit the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors, an honor society founded in 1977 by Norman Lear, James Komack, Aaron Spelling, Richard Levinson and others to promote creative freedom and quality and diversity in television.
Chetwynd and Powell quit separately over remarks made by some Caucus members during interviews with Ben Shapiro, author of the book Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.
To promote the book, Shapiro has been flooding the Internet with video snippets of several TV executives -- most of them on the political left -- saying nasty things about conservatives and even celebrating that there are so few of them in Hollywood. Some have advocated that conservatives be shunned.
Beyond the resignations, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that some of the more conservative members are pushing for the Caucus to draft a resolution denouncing some of the remarks made in the Shapiro videos and recommitting the group to political diversity and anti-discrimination. Some who spoke on the condition of anonymity, though, doubt that the liberals who dominate the group will allow such a resolution.
Today's Caucus includes the likes of Tom Hanks, Donald Bellisario, James Burrows, Patricia Heaton, Garry Marshall, Joel Surnow, Henry Winkler and Dick Wolf and is run by chairman Dennis Doty, producer of about 30 made-for-TV movies.
Powell, who once ran CBS Entertainment Productions, hasn't made his resignation letter public, but he emailed his thoughts to The Hollywood Reporter.
"Certainly the fact that our industry has a liberal bias is no surprise," he said. "What is troubling is that now it seems discrimination is an acceptable practice to stifle divergent opinions. Speaking out against this is specifically on the Caucus Mission Statement. Our First Commitment is 'promoting the artistic rights of the creative community,' not solely the rights of the liberal creative community."
Chetwynd, whose TV credits include DC 9/11: Time of Crisis and Ike: Countdown to D-Day, wrote an open letter of resignation to the Caucus, focusing on remarks made by Vin Di Bona, creator of America's Funniest Home Videos. In his recorded interview, Di Bona acknowledged the TV industry is anti-conservative, then he adds that he's happy about it.