I am a Hollywood screenwriter. I have written feature films, episodic television, movies for network and cable. An Emmy Award for the screenplay for my film "The Devil's Arithmetic" sits over the fireplace in our living room. I have won numerous awards and I have, thank God, made a good living in Hollywood. For an Orthodox boy from Brooklyn raised during the 60's and 70's, when all my classmates were bred to be doctors, dentists and accountants, I was obsessed - unnaturally so - with the movies.
For a considerable period of time, I kept my level of Jewish observance a secret. I did not wear my yarmulke to Hollywood meetings. I understood, on the deepest level, that wearing your religion on your sleeve would be professional suicide. I understood that though Hollywood professed to be "open and tolerant," when it came to religion - any religion, except for something harmless and fashionable like new-age Buddhism - Hollywood was as open as, well, the KKK.
In truth, most Hollywood people have been perfectly respectful of my Orthodoxy. In fact, several have gone out of their way to accommodate the shooting schedules of the films I've been involved with. Usually, these have been the Gentiles. The Jews are another story entirely.
This brings me to my second secret life.
I'm a Republican. A heretofore secret Hollywood Republican. I know men and women who are heavy drug addicts and they have no problem finding employment in Hollywood. I know men and women who are gambling addicts and they work pretty regularly. There's even a director who was arrested for child molestation and yet was hired by Disney - yes, Disney - to helm a picture, and people defended this decision by saying even child molesters have a right to work. I would bet my bottom dollar that all these people are on the correct side of the political spectrum. They are liberal democrats.
Me, I'm a Republican. A conservative Republican. I believe passionately in free market capitalism. I believe in the Second Amendment, i.e., the right to bear arms (I even own several guns and go to the shooting range with friends from shul several times a month). I despise communism and fascism, and I believe there is a special place in hell for Islamic totalitarians and their Western apologists - probably 99.9 percent of Hollywood people.
Let's be clear about one thing. Hollywood people are glamorous. But that's about it. They are ill informed about jihad. They are ill informed about Islam. They are ill informed about Israel, the PA, Iraq, Afghanistan. They are ill informed about U.S. history, the Constitution, etc. The truth is, the movie people I've met are ignorant about most everything - save the weekend grosses of the top ten films. That they know like human computers.
Like most Brooklyn Jews, I was raised a Democrat, voted Democrat for years and years, and believed, absolutely, that Republicans were evil. That's what we were taught from birth, right? Democrats are for the poor and the oppressed, and Republicans are for rich people and big corporations. Who questioned such sophisticated political analysis?
But as I grew older and watched the Democratic party turn into an alien entity run by vulgar race hustlers and anti-Semites cloaked as "mere" anti-Zionists - an alien entity that increasingly refused to confront, much less despise, communism - I realized that this was no longer the party that reflected my national or my Jewish aspirations.
The presidency of Jimmy Carter was the last straw. The man was truly ineffectual. I switched to the Republicans and never looked back.
Hollywood, once upon a time, was one of the most patriotic colonies on the planet. During World War II, Frank Capra made a series of propaganda films titled "Why We Fight." Marlene Dietrich put herself through a most grueling schedule visiting and entertaining our troops and selling war bonds. Jimmy Stewart joined the Air Force. Numerous movie stars put their careers on hold to help the war effort. These men and women loved America and understood who the enemy was and why the enemy had to be not only defeated but obliterated from the face of the earth.
Look at Hollywood now. Sean Penn goes to Iraq and apologizes for American war crimes. Hollywood's patron saint is Michael Moore, its liturgy his package of lies, the movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." When this film had its Hollywood premiere, the red carpet was choked with stars just dying to make an anti-Bush statement. We're talking about movie stars who know basically nothing about politics. To call them fools would be generous. I have spent time with too many of these people, and believe me, if you're not talking about how beautiful or how talented they are, the conversation sort of just dies.
It is, I kid you not, a badge of honor in Hollywood to hate America. These airheads who have amassed millions through the free market economy constantly spout nonsense about the need for a Scandinavian style socialist government. They don't even know that the Scandinavian countries are economic basket cases. I'm not making this up. They actually cruise Sunset Strip in their Bentleys and accuse Republicans of being greedy.
Let's not forget that at the 2004 Democratic National Convention Michael Moore was given a seat of honor next to - who else? - Jimmy Carter. And the speaker who received the longest standing ovation was none other than the Rev. Al Sharpton, America's most visible race hustler since Jesse Jackson. It was as though the party had been taken over by the Three Stooges. And Hollywood loved it, showering the Dems with more money than ever.
The political divide in Hollywood is now being felt in the most important quarter: the war against Islamic terrorism. Basically, Hollywood denies that such a war exists.
Script #1: I was recently hired to write a movie for a cable station about the war on terrorism. I was flown to New York where I had a long meeting with the head of the network about what he wanted. He described it thus: "I want a hard-hitting multi-character story about terrorism, with one storyline that emphasizes how someone can be reached through education."
Okay, that sounded pretty good. My juices were flowing. This is the kind of material I specialize in. Humanistic but with some good action scenes.
And then the head of the network started talking about President Bush. He accused him of being anti-Semitic.
I was flabbergasted. You may disagree with President Bush's policies, you may not like his speeches or the way he butchers the English language, but gee willikers, no American president has shown such friendship to Jews and to Israel as this fine man. I tried to lay out a few facts, but the head of the network - Jewish, naturally - just brushed them aside. Don't bother me with facts, he was saying, I believe what I believe and that's the end of the conversation.
I should have interpreted this as a warning of what was to come and not taken the job. But I did.
After handing in the first draft, I was told that the character of the Islamic suicide bomber was not acceptable. I was told that my portrayal was "insensitive." After the second draft I was ordered to remove the mosque where a dissident group was vying for control from the more moderate Muslims. And now, five drafts later, here's what the screenplay has turned into: The Islamic terrorists who properly dominated the original draft are now minor players. American militia members, ala Timothy McVeigh, are now the bad guys.
When I tried to explain that American militia members are hardly a threat to anyone now that the back of the militia movement has been broken through a series of lawsuits, the executives stared right through me. When I confront these people with the truth they look at me as if I am some visitor from some foreign planet.
Which I guess I am.
This film is no longer about terrorism. It's no longer about.anything. It's a mess. A jumble of conflicting story lines that can never cohere because the network executives, all proud Democrats, refuse to admit that Islamic terror exists. I was actually told in one meeting that "Jewish
terrorists" in Israel are just as dangerous as Arab terrorists. I stared at the executives and felt my blood pressure rise. Jewish terrorists? What Jewish terrorists? What universe are these people living in? Are they just making this stuff up as they go along? Are they even aware that they are lying? Do they even care? Or do they truly believe the nonsense they spout? If they do, then I am truly frightened.
Further, I was lectured that I was anti-Islamic and my screenplay proved it because most of my Islamic characters were terrorists. I tried to calmly and rationally explain that it was Islamic terrorists who sawed off Daniel Pearl's head; Islamic terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers; Islamic terrorists who blew up the USS Cole; and Islamic terrorists who routinely butcher Israeli men, women and children.
"Israel is different," the Jewish producers self-righteously lectured me. "If not for the occupation, blah, blah, blah....Besides, we don't deal in stereotypes..."
In fact, these Hollywood executives do not deal in or care about truth. Did I mention that they are all active Democrats who consider Republicans war mongers, racists, homophobes and just plain evil idiots?
By the way, if ever you should get into a contract negotiation with any of these kind and gentle Democrats, you'll be lucky to walk away with your undershirt. Talk about brutal. You have not experienced pain until your lawyer calls to inform you that your regular deal has been somewhat modified - meaning you're about to get murdered financially by some star who just minutes ago was on TV cradling some starving African child.
I have to admit that I have given up on this script. My agent called me up and told me the producers were sensing that I was being "difficult." Understand, difficult in Hollywood-speak is a lot like getting the plague in medieval Europe. If you are known as difficult in Hollywood, You... Do...Not...Work. Exit parnassah.
My agent, a wonderful woman, told me, "Just do what they want and walk. It's only a movie."
Every day, I step into my office and write the words to the script. Every night, I go to bed and repeat to myself the mantra "It's only a movie. It's only a movie." So why is that I cannot sleep - have not, in fact, been able to sleep for weeks and weeks?
Script #2. I have been hired to write a bio-pic about a very famous Republican talk-show host. A man who has revolutionized the radio format. I decide that I'm going to be up front with the studio executives.
"I'm not going to assassinate this man," I explain. "If that's what you want, get another writer."
"No, no, we want you to do it because you have such a good feel for character. Just be honest."
I'm a moron. I believe them.
I go off and write the script. I hand it in and walk into a firestorm of a meeting. I've been too gentle with the talk-show host, they say.
"How?" I ask.
"Well, look at what he's done to this country," an executive challenges.
"What, he has 25 million daily listeners who adore him. What's he ever done except almost self-destruct on pain killers - which I portray in all its awful detail."
"But he's a hypocrite!"
"In what way?"
"Well, he talks about family values and look how many times he's been divorced!"
Have they read the script? The script goes into why the man cannot make a true love match. He's a sad man. He's a lonely man.
I ask a really stupid question: "Have any of you ever listened to him?"
They gaze at me as if I'm last week's trash.
Just as I suspected. Not one of them has ever listened to his show. They all agree he's not worth listening to.
A few weeks later I'm replaced by a writer who's a well-known Democrat. My agent tells me that this new writer is absolutely murdering this decent talk show host. Making stuff up, no doubt.
You see, Democrats in Hollywood, and pretty much everywhere, are not satisfied with debating the rights and wrongs of issues. It always comes down to personal attacks. Republicans are not just wrong, we're evil. This talk show host is not simply wrong, he's a lying hypocrite.
It's enough to make a grown man weep.
Last year the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh was murdered in Holland at the hands of Islamic extremists. It was a gruesome murder. There was not one word of protest from the Hollywood community. Because of liberal political correctness, the 2002 version of Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" transformed Palestinian terrorists into European neo-Nazis.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been leaning very heavily on Hollywood the past few years and the film industry is, frankly, terrified. According to CAIR, not a single Muslim should ever be portrayed as a terrorist on film, reality be damned.
The sad truth is that behind the dashing and courageous Hollywood characters up on the screen sit a bunch of cowards. A group of craven men and women who have little love for this country and who have no idea that Islamic terrorists are working hard to bring down the foundations of civilization.
These Hollywood liberals spend their lives negotiating. They believe that when the time comes they will sit down with Osama bin Laden and cut a deal. Imagine how surprised they'll be when the cold blade hits their necks. Imagine their shock when they realize there is no negotiating with barbarians; that Osama makes no distinctions between Democrats and Republicans, between observant Jew and Buddhist chanting Jew. I hope it never comes to that, but imagine such a story line. Actually, it would make a pretty good movie. I should try and pitch it.