Lieberman a Critic of Hollywood

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Source: AP

By: Gary Gentile

(LOS ANGELES, CA) — Al Gore’s choice of Joseph Lieberman as running mate has put Hollywood in an odd position: It is annoyed at the Democrat’s moral crusade against the entertainment industry, even as it prepares to raise millions to put the two men in the White House.

The industry has come under attack in recent years for violence and vulgar language in films, television shows and songs, especially after last year’s high school killings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Much of the heat has come from Lieberman, who joined with conservative colleagues to scold Hollywood and call for self-censorship and government intervention.

But the entertainment industry also has been a big financial supporter of Gore’s presidential campaign. He raised $917,265 from the industry, including maximum $1,000 contributions from actor Kevin Costner, actress Candice Bergen, Dreamworks principals Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Viacom head Sumner Redstone.

And actress-singer Barbra Streisand is headlining a million-dollar fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee at the end of next week’s national convention.

Beyond Lieberman, a plank in the proposed Democratic platform, which will be considered at next week’s nominating convention here, takes a jab at the film industry for showing violent and sex-filled advertisements to younger audiences in theaters and on television.

That language has rankled some, including Jack Valenti, chairman and chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Valenti won’t criticize Lieberman, but he did rip into the platform.

“I can’t imagine what idiot on the Democratic National Committee put those in there,” Valenti said of the platform statements. “For 32 years, we have been in the vanguard of giving information to parents so they can make informed judgments about viewing habits.”

But Valenti said the industry can work with Lieberman.

“I count him to be one of my dear friends, a man of unquestionable integrity,” Valenti said. “We disagree passionately on this issue.”

Lieberman and William Bennett, who served in the cabinets of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, began handing out “Silver Sewer” awards three years ago to people and companies the pair felt were “cultural polluters.” The pair singled out shock jock Howard Stern, CBS’s ”60 Minutes” and, most recently, the Fox Television Network for its fall schedule, which included shows such as “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Get Real.”

“The network has not yet worked its way up to a naked live execution, but viewers will see plenty of crass displays of nudity,” Lieberman said last September during a news conference announcing the award.

In December, Lieberman joined a group of other senators in asking the entertainment industry to adopt a voluntary code of conduct for movies, television programs, records and video games.

Supporters of Lieberman’s crusade say his pick as running mate, along with Tipper Gore’s work against explicit song lyrics, is sure to advance their cause.

“Joe Lieberman on the ticket is definitely going to raise the profile of this issue,” said Mark Honig, executive director of the Parents Television Council. Lieberman is on the council’s advisory board.

“This clearly signifies the current vice president is joining the fight to clean up television and hold Hollywood responsible.”