Rep. Watson plugs film series

Bill would send more DVDs to libraries

Brother, can you spare a DVD?

Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to establish a philanthropic film series in honor of Hollywood legend Johnny Grant that would promote more screening of U.S. movies in State Dept. libraries around the world.

Bill, which calls for no funding of the initiative, hopes that “individuals and corporations will donate DVDs and DVD players” to those libraries.

And not just any DVDs.

“My legislation is designed to stock libraries of U.S. embassies and consulates with films that promote the American way of life,” Watson said in a statement Friday.

Think “G” rated pics, maybe “PG-13.”

“The emphasis is on promoting U.S. ideals and values abroad — public diplomacy,” added an official familiar with details of the bill. “Yes, it is selective, and the reason all U.S. public diplomacy efforts are selective — the goal is to put the United States’ best foot forward.”

Ultimately, Watson is hoping to kill two mockingbirds with one stone.

“The real point is that U.S. libraries abroad are suffering from a shortage of funds,” the official said. “Her idea is one way to augment the resources of the libraries abroad.”

Watson is working with Grant and as-yet-unidentified “representatives of the entertainment industry” to enlist the support of studios, which could help generate momentum by donating some DVDs.

According to Watson, the idea for the bill originated after she visited the State Dept.’s Rosa Parks Library in Soweto, South Africa. The library had been closed due to lack of funding.

“In meeting the new challenges of religious fundamentalism and terrorism at the beginning of the 21st Century, it is critical that we reinvigorate our nation’s public diplomacy apparatus,” Watson said. “The State Dept.’s libraries have played and must continue to play a critical role in that process.  It is important that our overseas libraries remain viable and accessible.”

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