Performers speak up

Creative Coalition benefit's stars slam censorship

NEW YORK — Industryites exercised their First Amendment rights at Town Hall Monday night with comedy, poetry and not a little pointed prose against the forces of censorship, as part of the Creative Coalition’s benefit show “Seconding the First.”

Delroy Lindo, Peter Bogdanovich, Julianne Moore, Marlo Thomas, Terrence McNally, G. Gordon Liddy, Jon Stewart and Martha Plimpton were among performers. About $250,000 was raised for the Coalition. Presentations included Harvey Keitel’s recital from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” Woody Harrelson’s reading from Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” and Ariana Huffington’s rendition of Richard Berry’s “Louie, Louie.”

Coalition prexy William Baldwin said the benefit was designed to support less powerful artists. “We’re not trying to raise money to finance the movies we’re in,” Baldwin told Daily Variety. “This is clearly more for people like Andres Serrano than it is for Julia Roberts.”

Guests, including Michael Moore and Anne Meara, attended the after-party at Laura Belle, where they were joined by benefit’s other performers Serrano, Lou Reed, Blair Brown, Chuck D, Joe Morton, Rosie Perez, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, who received the 1999 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award.