Iraq War General Meets With the Joint Chiefs of Hollywood
The smartest party in Hollywood on Sept. 16 was probably the Foreign Policy Roundtable event held on the poolside lawn of MGM Pictures president Jon Glickman and writer wife Christy Callahan, where eminent entertainment people gathered for a talk by Gen. George Casey, the four-star commander of the multination force in Iraq from 2004 to 2007. Casey was representing the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. CNN's Miguel Marquez, who would have swum the Tigris River on fire for an interview with Casey during the conflict, moderated the talk, and before and after it, Casey chatted candidly (though off the record) with an all-star cast of Hollywood political types: Conaco president David Kissinger, New Line president Toby Emmerich, MGM chair and CEO Gary Barber, former mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, RoboCop director Jose Padilha and producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman (Randy Newman's son), former ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant (daughter of music giant Clarence Avant), and Lawrence Bender, Oscar-nominated producer for Quentin Tarantino and Al Gore.
Unusually for a Hollywood political event, people got to ask questions without being asked for money. "The founder [Donna Bojarsky] created the FPR so she'd have somebody to talk to in L.A. about foreign relations," producer David Neuman of Blackrock told THR, "so here we are. It feels like a secret society of interested and interesting people."
"The main goal is to educate and engage leaders in the entertainment industry about global affairs and the U.S. leadership role in the world," says Bojarsky, a veteran Hollywood and political organizer who started FPR in 2006. "Because they're storytellers, advocates, philanthropists, and they pull focus, it's the perfect community to enlist." Previous FPR event hosts include Ken and Ellen Ziffren, Peter and Megan Chernin, and J.J. Abrams. Guests have included Bill Gates, Fareed Zakaria, and Jordan's Queen Rania al Abdullah. When U.S. Agency for International Development head Rajiv Shah spoke at CAA last year, it was an FPR event.
"It's a great place for people in the community to connect around something other than the business," said Creative America's Ruth Vitale. "I loved the FPR event with the Google guy [director of public policy Bob Boorstin]."
Of the Casey event, THR power lawyer and FPR advisory council chair Cliff Gilbert-Lurie said, "I was impressed by the general's transformation from warrior to statesman. After 41 years of dedicated service to our country, his warning was that military power is just a temporary solution, and that only political and economic solutions endure. Gen. Casey exemplifies the best of our modern military, in the tradition of George Marshall."
Gen. Casey spoke willingly with even vociferous critics of the American military, including Eion Bailey, the creator of the progressive reality TV show Imagine This! who starred in Band of Brothers. Bailey deplores the treatment of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier placed in solitary confinement and convicted for releasing secrets to WikiLeaks.
Gen. Casey declined to speak on the record to THR about his discussion with Bailey or others at the FPR event. But it was a meeting of very different minds that left Bailey inspired. Afterwards, Bailey told THR, "Men like General George Casey Jr. embolden my spirit to be brave, and make my heart swell with pride for a human being like Bradley Manning."