Bizzers join push on public service

Org drafts H'wood guild toppers

WASHINGTON — A Washington think tank teamed up Thursday with USC’s Norman Lear Center in announcing a bicoastal effort by Hollywood, the media biz, politicos and educators to promote the virtues and values of public service.

The Council for Excellence in Government and the Norman Lear Center hope to develop strategies and ways to engage the average citizen.

“Since Sept. 11, people — especially young adults — are paying more attention to government,” said Patricia McGinnis, prexy of the council. “Their perceptions of government are clearly influenced not just by the news media, but also by entertainment media, from television sitcoms and dramatic series to major motion pictures.”

The project, Media, Citizens & Democracy, has drafted toppers of the leading Hollywood guilds, producer Dick Wolf, Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy-CEO Jack Valenti, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences prexy Frank Pierson and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences chair Bryce Zabel, among others.

Repping the media biz are Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales; political and TV analyst Dee Dee Myers; and Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent for PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.”

USC’s Annenberg School, home of the Norman Lear Center, believes it’s critical to harness the incredible reach of the entertainment and media worlds.

“Entertainment is an unofficial curriculum for Americans,” said center director and Annenberg associate dean Martin Kaplan.

The project will include opinion surveys, roundtables in Washington and Los Angeles and a national symposium.

The Carnegie Corp. of New York is funding the effort.

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