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In the wake of the online release of dozens of tapes where television executives seem to advocate political discrimination against conservatives, an industry honor society made up primarily of liberals has passed a resolution renouncing such behavior.
Several members of the Caucus For Producers, Writers & Directors said Friday that its steering committee addressed the issue on Wednesday, when about 20 members voted unanimously to add “political ideology” to anti discrimination language in its Aims and Objectives statement.
Additionally, some with knowledge of the situation told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday that efforts are underway to encourage that similar steps be taken by the writers’, directors’ and producers’ guilds and the TV and motion picture Academies.
“The crusade is on,” one insider said.
The Caucus, founded in 1977 by Norman Lear, Aaron Spelling and others to promote diversity and free speech in television, was under pressure after a couple of its right-leaning members quit in disgust after hearing some of the online tapes that were released by Ben Shapiro, author of the new book, Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.
Lionel Chetwynd (Ike: Countdown to D-Day, DC 9/11: Time of Crisis) and Norman Powell (24, The Big Valley), who quit a month ago, told THR they’d return in light of the resolution.
“It’s a real step forward in the relevance of the Caucus,” Powell said. “I’m happy to rejoin, assuming they want me to. And I’m assuming they do, or they wouldn’t have done this.”
The resolution was brought by Caucus member Greg Strangis, (Eight is Enough, Falcon Crest, Talk Radio), who also penned a statement the Caucus approved of that didn’t mention politics but voiced support for the notion that the TV industry be made up of a “diverse pool of talented men and women working in an open, free and supportive environment” that includes “the American tradition of free speech.”
Strangis told THR on Friday that he’d like the WGA, where he was a board member for eight years, to address mistreatment of conservatives in Hollywood, as well.
“I hope they come out on the right side of this, given the discrimination 60 years ago with the Red Scare. But, unfortunately, they’ve been silent,” Powell said “If the ACLU can defend the right of the KKK to march, then you’d think liberals at the WGA could stand against political discrimination. But that’s an enlightened position, and I submit there’s not a lot of critical thinking going on in the political left.”
Chetwynd made his resignation letter public a month ago, writing that the Shapiro tapes made it clear that many TV executives “felt quite comfortable endorsing discrimination against those whose political philosophy was not rooted in the reflexive Leftism of Hollywood.”
Chetwynd focused a portion of the letter explicitly on the recorded remarks of Vin Di Bona (MacGyver, America’s Funniest Home Videos), who is asked by Shapiro whether Hollywood is a leftist town where only the liberal perspective works its way into scripted television. He says the assessment is true and adds: “I’m happy about it.”
Chetwynd told THR he has scheduled lunch with Di Bona to discuss their political differences.
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