Sen. Ted Cruz Appearance Has Hollywood Group on Edge

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Some members of the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors doubt whether Cruz deserves its annual American Spirit Award.

Some members of a Hollywood organization are questioning whether to honor Ted Cruz.

The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors this year chose the conservative Senator from Texas as one of its recipients of its annual "American Spirit Award." Another is to go to liberal Calif. governor Jerry Brown.

The Caucus, founded three decades ago by Norman Lear, Aaron Spelling and others, has set a meeting Monday to determine whether to stick with its plan to give a Spirit award to Cruz after some of its more liberal members objected to the selection, and some threatened to quit if the decision wasn't reversed.

Insiders say Leonard Hill, an Emmy-nominated producer of TV movies, is spearheading the effort within the Caucus to reconsider the award for Cruz, who is set to receive it at a ceremony in April.

Caucus chairman Norman Powell confirmed Monday's planned meeting but had no other comment.

Powell himself once briefly quit the organization over political bias coming from the other direction, when it was revealed that several members had inserted liberal messages into their TV shows and even objected when conservatives were hired in the entertainment industry.

The Caucus typically gives its Spirit award annually to at least one person from each of the two major political parties. Past years' awards have gone to then-Congressman Henry Waxman and Rep. Howard Berman, both Democrats, as well as Los Angeles County board supervisor Mike Antonovich and Rep. Darrell Issa, who are Republicans.

If the award for Cruz is rescinded, it could also mean the senator would no longer address the group in April.

"Censorship is very much in the news today, and there's a great debate in this country about our future. Why would anyone want to listen to only one side?" asked one insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Would someone please explain what the senator from Texas has done that merits his exclusion in Hollywood?"

Some Caucus members said they consider Cruz to be overly "polarizing" and too much a "right-winger," so he should therefore be excluded from consideration for a Spirit award.

Countered another member: "He's the kind of person Hollywood should admire. Princeton graduate. Harvard law degree. Supreme Court clerk. Legitimate candidate for president. What's this town scared of?"

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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