Politics, showbiz make strange bedfellows

GOOD MORNING: More proof that politics — and showbiz — make strange bedfellows: Joe Lieberman is quoted on the back cover of “Vulgarians at the Gate” (Prometheus Books), by (the late) liberal Democrat Steve Allen. Lieberman says, “Steve compellingly shows us why we should all cry for the degradation of our culture and common values. But true to Steve’s thoughtful way, he does more than just complain about the problem. Through this book he challenges his fellow citizens to assert their First Amendment rights to demand a safer, saner culture for their children and generations to come.” Allen for years had been that lone tree in the Holly-woods decrying violence and vulgarity in the arts that he loved so (and in which he was such a multi-talented component). In the book, Allen reminds that back in July 21, 1999, a respected group of leaders convened at a media conference in D.C. He was one of ’em along with Sen. Lieberman, Lynne Cheney, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Sen. John McCain, Colin Powell. At that time, Allen said, “We call on industry leaders in all media to band together to develop a new voluntary code of conduct, broadly modeled on the NAB code.” The always outspoken liberal Allen noted back then that “Some observers have erroneously observed that only conservatives are troubled by today’s popular culture.” Allen completed writing this book on the day he died — Oct. 30, 2000 — said wife Jayne Meadows; she and son Bill have continued speaking on behalf of Steve’s books and thoughts. After each (of 200) radio shows, Bill Allen reports, call-ins invariably questioned the violence and vulgarity Hollywood promotes. Steve had warned, “If we (Hollywood) don’t clean up our act, the government will clean it up for us.” In the book, Allen quotes another Democrat, Bill Clinton, on June 1, 1999: “I have strongly urged people in the entertainment industry to consider the consequences of what they create and how they advertise it. One can value the First Amendment right to free speech and at the same time care for and act with restraint.” How many times does the industry have to be told: If three people tell you you’re drunk, and you say you’ve never had a drink — well, maybe you ought to go home and go to bed, anyway.

ANOTHER LIST, INCLUDING many Hollywood and L.A. names, will be published in a full-page ad in Monday’s N.Y. Times national edition. The ad: “A Time For Courage, Not Fear. Join us in making the Jerusalem Pledge. The people of Israel want nothing more than a just and lasting peace. Tragically, this is a time of crisis. A campaign of fear has been unleashed. But if we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters, the terrorists will not succeed. That is why the Wiesenthal Center, on behalf of its 400,000 constituents has urged Prime Minister Sharon to convene a world conference of solidarity with Israel, summoning thousands of Jews and friends from all over the world to come to Jerusalem. 60 years ago Europe’s Jews stood alone. Since then we pledged it would never happen again. Now is the time to renew that pledge.” Signees include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Voight, Merv Adelson, Ron Meyer, Haim Saban, Sid Sheinberg, well as governors Gray Davis and George Pataki, Sens. Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein and Charles Schumer, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, mayor-elect Jim Hahn, Samuel and Bill Belzberg, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, and leading businessmen around the country.

WATCH OUT “STUART LITTLE,” here comes the cat: The classic fairy tale “Puss in Boots” will be directed by Arthur Hiller for producers David Lonn and Bob Chartoff with an international cast to hopefully include Gerard Depardieu, Judi Dench, Peter O’Toole — and the Puss’ voice to be American. The pic is basically live with the cat to be CGI’d. Locations will be in Austrian castles with principal photography to start in April. Hiller says he is “looking forward to doing this very different (for him) film” … Dan Poulson will produce “Accidental Celebrity: The Darva Conger Story,” about the nurse whose life changed after winning Fox TV’s “Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire” then posing for the best-selling Playboy issue. Poulson shifts gears to produce “Record Wars” with Beaux Carson, about Death Row Records’ Suge Knight (who will be released from prison in August). It’s a look behind the rap scene, centering on the murders of stars Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. Paulson just wound TBS’ “Dead in a Heartbeat” with Penelope Ann Miller and Judge Reinhold.

IT’S HIS 55TH AND FINAL overseas visit to the troops: Johnny Grant who has been bringing entertainment to service personnel since WWII, winds his lifetime tour of duty July 4 in Korea’s de-militarized zone, before the Second Infantry Division. A veteran of the Army Air Corps, Grant enlisted in 1942 at age 19, left in 1945 and his first USO trek was two years later. There’s not a spot on the globe he’s missed as he brought entertainers and a touch of home. He’s been medal’d by every branch of the Armed Forces. He’s also been an active member of Hollywood’s Chamber of Commerce since 1947 and is the ceremonial Mayor of Hollywood; he says he’ll continue to head the Walk of Fame star ceremonies. For nearly 60 years, Grant has represented the Hollywood community in the foxholes and combat zones of the world. Johnny Grant, we all salute you.

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