‘Criminal Minds’ Star Gary Sinise Talks Taking Action for Veterans

Also: Marianne Williamson on Bernie Sanders and the Lessons of Running for Office

On the latest “PopPolitics,” Gary Sinise talks about his upcoming CBS series “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” and his work for military veterans that has in many ways overshadowed his entertainment career.

Sinise and Joe Mantegna co-host Sunday’s National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, which honors military service, with a lineup that includes Gloria Estefan, Laurence Fishburne, Esai Morales and Russell Watson.

Although one of his best known roles is Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump,” Sinise says that he became aware of the problems facing returning veterans in the late 1970s as he had relatives who had served in Vietnam.

“We learned some very hard lessons from what happened during the Vietnam era,” Sinise tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “For the longest time, our Vietnam veterans were very much in the shadows.”

Given the divisions over the war in Iraq, Sinise says he feared that for service members, “the same thing would start to happen to them, that they would start to to feel neglected and the country would not appreciate them.” Sinise’s foundation assists military personnel and emergency workers.

Although the all-volunteer military has in many ways made it more difficult to keep veterans’ issues in the forefront, Sinise says, “When people are made aware of the struggles and challenges returning veterans are facing, people are generous and they want to find a way to help.”

Listen below:

Marianne Williamson on Why She’s for Sanders 2016

Marianne Williamson, the spiritual author and lecturer, talks about her support for Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who recently launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders is 73, but Williamson says she finds his approach to politics very modern.

“We’ve done young and sexy — where did that get us?” she asks. “We have done the sort of Hollywood version [of a candidate]. The Hollywood version is not what people in Hollywood are into. What the creative types among us are into is authenticity, and real and edgy and raw. And to me Sen. Sanders is that.”

Listen below:

Williamson says that even though she is trying to boost the number of women in electoral politics, that doesn’t mean that she will automatically support a woman candidate. She says that there are “just too many issues” on which she does not agree with Hillary Clinton.

“I think she is an important woman in American history, but the fact that she has a vagina doesn’t mean that she represents the stances that matter mostly to me,” Williamson says. The idea of electing the first woman president is “trumped by the actual issues,” she says. Still, if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination and Clinton does, and the landscape looks like it does now, “absolutely I would be voting for Hillary Clinton,” she says.

Williamson also talks about the lessons she learned from running for Congress last year, an experience she says was both exhilarating and brutal.

Listen below:

Reenacting Vietnam — Or Hollywood’s Version of It

Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara followed a combat unit through treacherous terrain to shoot their documentary “In Country.” What they were filming, however, was a group that reenacts battles from the Vietnam War in the woods of Oregon. Just as surprising is that among those participating are Iraq War veterans and even Vietnam War veterans, including Vinh Nguyen, a native of South Vietnam.

Listen below:

Attie and O’Hara said that at times it became difficult to discern if the inspiration for reenacting Vietnam combat came from the war itself or Hollywood’s version of it.

Listen below:

Late Night After Letterman

Mary Murphy of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Hunter Schwarz of the Washington Post talk about how latenight humor may influence politics, considering that Stephen Colbert is taking over for David Letterman and Trevor Noah is succeeding Jon Stewart.

They also talk about the furor over a brutal rape scene in a recent episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS.

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