Syria: Oh Hollywood, Wherefore Art Thou?

The silence of the sheep? As we teeter on the brink of bombing Syria, there is a huge void, a vast emptiness, a vacuum. We have no hot air, no rousing speeches nor paparazzi photo ops. Celebrities are curiously absent from the “Bomb/Don’t Bomb Syria” dialogue.

Recall, if you will the anti-war rallies of the Aughts and Nineties. Who was there rallying for peace, calling for an end to war?  George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Danny Glover, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen…And where are they now? (Sean Penn gets a pass from me–Haiti)

Granted most of the anti-war celebs campaigned hard for Obama and other Democrats (as did many readers of Firedoglake). But so what? If your elected officials, even the ones you supported morally and financially, are acting in a fool-hardy manner, freakin’ call them out on it. That’s what democracy is about, that’s what free speech is for. And the Syrian situation is complex (Did he or didn’t he gas his citizens? Is this a false flag? Are the rebels better than Assad? WTF are we doing and why?), but still how about: NO!

Earlier this year, ABC News speculated that celebrities’ anti-war stances in the past could have bearing on their future earnings:

[a]nti-war celebrities, including Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, have been labeled “unpatriotic,” or “un-American.”

The Dixie Chicks, for example, won several Grammys this year, but their criticism of President Bush still has radio listeners calling for stations to quit playing their music, and many stations have.

Columnist Richard Johnson of the New York Post headlined more than a dozen entertainers as “Saddam Lovers” and urged readers to boycott their work.

Worried about their own bottom line when the world could be plunged into war? How venal.

But in the Hollywood Reporter, Ed Asner and Mike Farrell offer up some other explanations:

Asner said the lack of an organized effort against war in Syria is a matter of timing. Bush took months to make the case for war in Iraq, giving the antiwar left plenty of time to prepare a response.

“It will be a done deal before Hollywood is mobilized,” Asner said. “This country will either bomb the hell out of Syria or not before Hollywood gets off its ass.”

Really? Um, actors have social media and assistants. Surely they can get this figured out.

Also, said Asner, unsuccessful efforts to prevent war in Iraq led to complacency among left-wing activists.

“We had a million people in the streets, for Christ’s sake, protesting Iraq, which was about as illegal as you could find. Did it matter? Is George Bush being tried in the high courts of justice?” asks Asner. “

Ennui? Hollywood, along with liberals and progressives, are bored by the idea of another war?

Asner adds another more disturbing explanation:

A lot of people don’t want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama.

Wow. Is that a real reason? That is the dumbest reason to stand silent on a war/bombing/action/strike ever. The race of the president doesn’t matter when it comes to war. Actually, and maybe I am naive here, it’s more racist to think  you can’t speak up because the president is black. Who cares what race he is? He’s doing something dangerous and bad. Call him on it.

Mike Farrell says:

This administration ought to insist that the international community charge [Assad] with a war crime and prosecute him, and in so doing Obama would be following the law instead of flaunting the law…It’s incredibly improper for the president to call for a strike. I have said it everywhere I can and I suspect a lot of others will do the same, but whether there will be an organized effort, I don’t know. We’re talking about the difference between an invasion in Iraq and a limited action in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

And we’re talking about opposing a military action called by a Democratic president. So what? Protest!

Both Republican Representative Ted Cruz and Democrat Dennis Kucinich oppose taking action against Syria. If these two dudes on opposite ends of the political spectrum can find something to agree on–staying out of Syria– maybe Obama, Pelosi, Kerry, and McCain should pay attention.

In the meantime, according to Gallup, 51% of Americans oppose the United States taking military action against the Syrian government. Support for action in Syria is lower than for any military action, including the Balkans, since 1991.  Something politicians may want to remember, since mid-term elections are coming in 2014.

THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Obama at anti-war rally

Late Night: The Devil Made Him Do It?

In 1997, metal music was pretty much over–grunge had killed it. But that year, Pat Boone released In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, his white bread covers of metal music. It was his first hit album in 35 years. It also pissed off a lot of people because metal  was supposed to be the music of SATAN and Pat Boone was an evangelical with a television program on Trinity Broadcast Network, Gospel America. After an appearance wearing black leather and studs on the American Music Awards, clad in his metal garb, he was fired from Gospel America.

But Pat met with Paul Crouch, head of TBN, and was reinstated after he explained he was simply parodying himself. Pat was back on the air.  Boone was friends and golfing buddies with Alice Cooper and the two conceived of the idea, which seems pretty funny and bizarrely hiply unhip. I mean Pat Boone sanitized some of the greatest songs of all time, like “Sha-boom” and “Tutti Frutti,” so why not give a full on white bread treatment to metal?

The result is the stuff of nightmares. But in a very good way.

R.Kelly Faces Foreclosure on Multi-Million Dollar Home

Underwater on your home? You are not alone!

The foreclosure crisis has hit 4.2 million Americans, according to LPS Applied Analytics, and two-thirds of those haven’t made mortgage payments in a year.

Joining those ranks: Grammy-award winner and multi-platinum R&B artist R. Kelly who has not paid the mortgage on his 11,140-square-foot mansion since June 2010.  Built by Kelly 11 years ago, the huge home–with six full bathrooms, seven half bathrooms and a four-car garage on 3.7 acres, located in a Chicago suburb–was valued at $5.2 million in 2009, and carried a $3.8 million mortgage, issued in 1999.

Now JP Morgan has filed a $2.9 million foreclosure suit. Kelly reportedly hasn’t lived in the home  for over a year, and he reportedly

stopped making payments on the mortgage in an attempt to force the bank to negotiate a loan modification.

Ah, strategic default!

Kelly’s current tour ends tomorrow.  His most recent album Love Letter, went gold, though 2009′s release Untitled missed that mark, selling fewer than 500,000 copies. His last platinum disc was in 2007, and the the singer/songwriter/producer has been plagued with a number of expensive legal problems–civil and criminal–for the past 15 years.

Celebs Bang a Gong for Prop 19

Thursday Prop 19 got endorsements from Danny Glover, Melissa Etheridge and Hal Sparks joined by LAPD Deputy Chief Steve Downing, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and activist Sarah Lovering at a news conference to show support for Prop 19 which would legalize marijuana possession for those over 21.

Currently marijuana use for 18 and older is decriminalized, and medical marijuana use is legal statewide.

If Prop 19 passes, the Feds have said they will crack down on pot in CA, making for an interesting series of legal challenges and states’ rights arguments.

Melissa Etheridge said that she had used pot to help nausea during her breast cancer chemo and says she favors legalization and while she uses marijuana medicinally she said

I don’t want to look like a criminal to my children anymore. I want them to know this is a choice that you make as a responsible adult.

BP to Hollywood: “No, Thanks!,” to Help. WTF?

Today–after offering up a team of deep sea experts to BP which they refused, and meeting with reps form government agencies, but not the EPA which couldn’t be bothered– Academy Award winning director James Cameron called British Petroleum

morons..They could not have been more gracious but they basically said, ‘We’ve got this,’

Meanwhile, nothing seems to be happening with Kevin Costner’s amazing centrifuges which can separate oil from water. And can they spin out the dispersants which are banned in the UK? Thanks EPA!)

But Victoria Principal donated $200,000 to Oceana (which has Ted Danson as a board member) and the National Resources Defense Council to help clean up the spill.

Miley Cyrus Looking at “Right-to-Work” States for New Movie

Let’s do it without a union!

Teen millionaire star sensation Miley Cyrus is readying to shoot a new movie called Last Song. Miley, who rocketed to fame as the ever pure and perky Hannah Montana, says:

I’ve always been lucky to play parts that relate to me, and this doesn’t at all. I have my issues, but not as bad as this chick. So I’m happy to play someone that’s just kind of out there and not someone that I’m like.

But what is interesting many people is not who Miley’s playing, but where the movie–produced by Offspring Entertainment and distributed by Walt Disney Company–will shoot. Yesterday North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue canceled a new conference at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington about Last Song coming to that state. North Carolina’s Commerce Department later said more time was needed to work out the project’s details.

Last Song could generate hundreds of jobs for the so-called “right-to-work” state from production crews to extras, plus generate revenue from catering, hotels, transportation and related expenses. In a right-to-work state, no union membership is required to work on film productions, so a greater number of certain positions can be filled from outside of unions, unlike in Hollywood. However, right-to-work does not include actors for studio productions.

Gov. Perdue says Georgia, also a right-to-work state, is eager for the production:

Nobody knows what’s going to happen. … I don’t know what figures they got from Georgia, but Georgia wants them badly, and we want them badly. And by Monday, there’ ll be four or five other states that want them badly.

Many states will offer tax credits and other incentives to lure productions. North Carolina has a 15 percent film incentive package, while Georgia’s can be as much 30 percent. Meanwhile California Gov. Schwarzenegger, himself an actor, has resisted film incentive programs for the state. This year, Hollywood has only three major films scheduled to shoot there (plus California just raised sales and income taxes).

In related news, yesterday, the two actors’ unions which cover the majority of film, television, and radio programs (SAG/AFTRA) came to terms with producers over contracts covering commercials, hopefully paving the way to resolve the looming film and television strike.