NRA cheerleader Charlton Heston went on the offensive against Barbra Streisand Monday, accusing her of “profiteering on the back of a tragedy” and misrepresenting the gun rights org in the Barwood-produced vidpic “The Long Island Incident,” which aired Sunday on NBC.
Heston, who was elected first vice president of the National Rifle Assn. last year, decried Streisand as “the Hanoi Jane of the second Amendment” at a news confab in Beverly Hills. He also took out full-page ads in Daily Variety, the Los Angeles Times and other national publications to criticize the vidpic’s anti-gun stance as “made-for-TV, primetime pathos … Big Issue posturing with Hollywood tears.”
In a statement, Streisand defended the accuracy of the film about Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who became a congresswoman and gun control advocate after her husband was murdered in the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting. “The comments of gun control opponents in ‘The Long Island Incident’ accurately portray positions Carolyn McCarthy has consistently encountered,” the statement read.
Heston’s ire toward the telefilm was initially stirred up by comments made by “Incident” director Joe Sargent last month in Daily Variety senior columnist Army Archerd’s “Just for Variety” column April 7.
Sargent told Archerd that exec producer Streisand “went out of her way” to sell NBC on the idea of naming real-life lawmakers who received campaign donations from the NRA and fought efforts to tighten restrictions on assault weapons. Sargent and producers Bob Christiansen and Rick Rosenberg attended Heston’s news confab along with Dennis Henigan, general counsel for the advocacy org Handgun Control.
Heston, who is also a columnist for Guns & Ammo magazine, said in his ad that the TV movie “attacks members of the NRA and their beliefs” and challenged Streisand to a public debate on the matter. Streisand didn’t respond directly to Heston’s proposal, but she did assert in her statement that “I and others who made this film are not against people owning guns for self-defense or hunting. But you don’t need an AK-47 to kill game, and you don’t need an Uzi to defend yourself.”
For all the day-after uproar, “The Long Island Incident” didn’t seem to have much traction with viewers. According to preliminary national Nielsen ratings for Sunday, the vidpic scored a 8.7 rating and 14 share in its 9-11 p.m. timeslot, coming in fourth behind the first installment of the CBS miniseries “The Last Don II” (11.9/19) and ABC’s airing of 1995’s “Waiting to Exhale” (9.0/5). “Incident” and “Exhale” were beaten from 9-10 p.m. by Fox’s “The X-Files” (11.0/17).