Politician will resume showbiz bashing

WASHINGTON — To most Hollywood insiders, it was only a matter of time.

Once again, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) plans to take up the topic of Hollywood’s corrupting influence on kids — the first time he will publicly discuss the issue since formally announcing his presidential bid in January.

The solon is skedded to give a speech at a forum sponsored by the Children’s Digital Media Center at the National Press Club Wednesday in Washington.

Lieberman has long stumped on the topic of media violence and made sure to mention the topic when announcing his bid for president in January.

In the 2000 presidential race, Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate. Once the campaign revved into gear, some industry officials believed he would back away from his cause celebre as an appeal to Hollywood’s deep pockets.

But if next week’s speech is any indication, Lieberman has no plans to abandon his anti-pop culture platform.

“I think he has his values and he sticks to his values,” said Sandra Calvert, a director of the Children’s Digital Media Center and a professor of psychology at Georgetown U. “I don’t think he’s is going to compromise on that in order to get money. I don’t see that as a strategy at all.”

Nothing to lose

One industry official argued Lieberman is returning to his anti-showbiz roots because Hollywood has already spurned him.

“Lieberman has lost Los Angeles and Hollywood, so there’s no downside of beating that same old drum,” remarked one studio executive.

The first financial reports for presidential candidates are due mid-month, and initial reports show Sen. John Edwards as the leader in the money chase. Observers believe Sen. John Kerry is not far behind, and they are waiting to see if Lieberman places at all or straggles in at the back of the pack.

Dubious timing

If Lieberman’s campaign is faltering, he could try to use a new attack on Hollywood to make headlines. But breaking through the 24-hour saturation war coverage right now is practically impossible.

“There’s a war being broadcast literally 24/7, and that doesn’t seem like the ideal environment for revisiting government inquiries into the entertainment media,” one industry lobbyist said. “But we’re anxious to hear what Mr. Lieberman has to say.”

Calvert claimed the goal of next week’s forum is simply to gain information about the media’s impact on children and insisted it will not be an anti-pop culture slugfest.

Lieberman’s office declined to comment on the matter.

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