Is There a Hollywood Blacklist?

“Am I being black-listed?”

The agent across the desk laughed. “Black-listed?? Ha ha …what… ‘Are you now or have you ever been a communist?’ Come on. I mean …I know you probably shoot your mouth off about politics a little too much, but, still…”

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But the Actor stared back. His once-commanding gaze could use some sleep -- or at least, some peaceful sleep. Being an actor in Hollywood, he’d gotten used to going long dry spells between jobs; but never this long. ‘Oh, the business is in a slump, it’s the economic downturn’, they all say. (And when have ‘they’ ever been wrong?) But the Actor had been around a long time and he’d heard the ‘business-in-a-slump, economic-downturn’ diagnosis repeated far too many times to really let it get him down; or let it keep him down, anyway.

But now…it seemed like something else. This was different.

Lately, these past few years, the Actor, after having seen his once ‘up-and-comer’ status flare briefly as the new ‘It’ guy and having starred in a string of B+ action movies and a few short-lived TV series, had seen his career languish on ‘Thousand-Meeting Island’ only to glide past ‘Audition Mambo’ and settle eventually and almost imperceptibly into the maudlin malaise of the ‘also-rans’. The river of scripts that once flowed to his door had become a creek, then a small stream, and finally a mere trickle. New lines now appeared on his face with such alarming frequency it was now well late into the afternoon that he even ventured a side-glance at a mirror.

To an actor, middle-age can seem a lot like middle-death.

Then suddenly -- raging against that good night like a half-drowned swimmer clawing to reach the distant shore, fighting to gain purchase with each desperate stroke, he had ended up in this office. He hadn’t been able to articulate to the receptionist why he was there, unannounced; but he knew it was time to have a serious sit-down with his one last bastion of hope in this town of busted dreams: his talent agent. The Actor leaned forward.

“Am I? Am I being black-listed?”

“There is no black-list.”

“There is. I’ve heard too many stories. Seen too many careers stopped dead. It’s real, you know it’s real.”

The Agent’s gaze lowered. The sigh tipped it – and the silence sold it.

“Am I on it?”

“I don’t know,” the Agent replied evenly. “I wouldn’t even know who to call. And if I did know…I doubt they’d even tell me the truth.”

The Actor steadied his breath as he digested this. Like he’d just been told that the tumor had metastasized.

“What do I do?”

The agent just shook his head…

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“Am I being black-listed?” This question, that sent waves of terror throughout the Hollywood community a generation ago, does so again…but for entirely different reasons. The notion of a Hollywood blacklist that once represented a scourge of ‘outing’ actors, writers, directors and producers who had had involvement with the Communist party, now vilifies, sequesters and persecutes a different caste of working American: the Hollywood Conservative.

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The above scene, while fictitious, has in all likelihood been played out in more offices, in more coffee shops, and over more phone calls than anyone in my purview would dare to imagine. But of course -- it’s only reasoned and rumored conjecture; no one talks about it and no one admits it exists. And yet…it is currently one of the most powerful means of intimidation and control ever used in this or any other business.

What it amounts to is this: Thought Police.

It’s Orwellian. It’s the left’s way of saying – Think like we do…or you don’t work. And you don’t work, you don’t eat. So…think like we do – and live.

There are very dire consequences to being in this town, working in this industry – and speaking out against the sort of leftist agenda that is now racing though our government at every level – from city to state to federal. It pisses them off. And unfortunately for those who speak out, they control the gates to the kingdom.

There has been a long-suspected bias in this town against conservatives by what most agree is run primarily by liberals. Progressives, if you will. Those who welcome a move towards socialism that our President is ushering into the nation’s daily playlist of What’s Happening Now? These progressive producers, directors, writers, actors and studio heads all agree on one thing, it seems – This is a brave new world, an Obama world…and those damn Conservatives are just trying to mess things up. In fact, it was Those Conservatives and George Bush who got us into this mess in the first place!

Uhh.. yeah. Nevermind the fact that Bush was never a conservative, liberals like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Nancy, Barack, Harry, Chuck, and Fanny & Freddy got the ball rolling on the Road to Perdition… nevermind all that.

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Liberals…and in particular, for our purposes here, Liberals in Hollywood are convinced that Conservatives (in Hollywood or anywhere else) are to blame for everything evil, mean or nasty in this country specifically, and the world in general. In fact, they are certain of it.

Which brings me….to me. Just another actor who’s looking to land his next gig.

Books by the score have been written about the Acting Trade. How to get into it, how to succeed, how to act in front of cameras, how to boost your career, how to get the job. I know, I wrote one of them – ACTING & Other Flying Lessons. But one book that has yet to be written…and, what is becoming more and more apparent, needs to be written…is How To Get Acting Work If You Have Let The World Know You’re a Conservative.

Apparently, you see, Conservatives are demons.

Dudes. Dial it back in. We’re just like you. We just want to hit our marks, speak our lines and play the scene. That’s it. We’re actors, not because we want to climb onto a soundstage and start spewing Rush Limbaugh… we’re there because we love to act. And that’s all we’re going to do. If we start to launch into rants about the trilateral commission and how the CFR and the Bilderbergers are setting up the New World Order give us a smack upside the head and call, “First team!”

Hey, I defy anyone that I’ve ever worked with to come forth with a story of how I disrupted a set, held up production, or in any way caused a disturbance that slowed down the process. Leave it in the comment section. The sedition I fomented, the salacious and vile attacks on the President I railed on about, disrupting the film process. In fact, I defy anyone to come forward and write in their comments if I was anything other than completely professional, polite, respectful, hard-working, and an utter delight to be around. Maybe I’m blowing my own horn a little too hard here, but – really – what exactly does a liberal producer think that a conservative actor is going to do on his set that will be trouble?? Relax, we’re house-broken, most of us. And I always bring my own drool-cup so I shouldn’t be a bother.

Conservative actors are people too. We just want to work. Buddy, can you spare a cool guest-starring role? I’m joking – and personally I don’t know if I’m on any sort of black-list or not. I tend to equate any sort of success or the lack thereof to my own efforts and past performances, not whether I make my conservative voice heard. But that’s just me.

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Which brings me to an article I read recently by Mark Harris, a former Executive Editor of one of the largest entertainment magazines in the country, Entertainment Weekly. Mr. Harris first excoriates those of us who are a bit squeamish at the notion of a political message crammed into every orifice of every Hollywood offering to hit pop culture. The Hurt Locker is about how George W. Bush tormented young soldier’s souls. The Office is about how George W. Bush didn’t want Pam to have universal health care to safely deliver her baby. The Middle is about how George W. Bush ruined the economy for the middle class. And how Parks & Recreation is…well, is just absurdly funny. (We agree on that one – and for the same reasons. We political- wonk types love to make fun of ourselves – just don’t you make fun of me.)

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But more telling is how Harris was surprised that he liked The Middle…because of Patricia Heaton’s politics. And that he was surprised that the show’s producers and Heaton could have found ‘common ground.’

Uhh…what?? What do her ‘politics’ have to do with anything? And therein lies the rub – Hollywood lefties think that if an actor -- or any craftsman in Hollywood, for that matter – is a Conservative…then they must be ‘difficult.’ They must be ‘not right in the head.’

And here is the former editor of one of the biggest entertainment publications spreading around the false notion that conservatives are somehow hard to work with -- planting the seed that this is some kind of rarity when we can get along in leftie Hollywood. "What a shock!" As though it's outside the norm. And what’s the message it perpetrates? It tells producers that if you hire a conservative that maybe there's gonna be trouble, and with the logistics of tight schedules and budgets…it just isn't worth it.

Wow. There it is in all its deliciously diabolical nakedness: the awful truth. The true bigotry of Hollywood exposed at last. The Left is bunch of bigots. Think the way we do, vote the way we tell you to vote; only express ideas sanctioned by big-government statists, and do it in a very politically ‘correct’ manner…or we won’t let you work in our town. We will revoke your means of sustaining your life and the lives of your family. We’ll drive you out of your chosen vocation. We’ll put up a roadblock everywhere you turn, because we don’t like you. We don’t like your ideas of individual liberty and personal responsibility. We don’t like the notion of American exceptionalism. We don’t like how you cling to that outdated Constitution thingie. The world has changed; it’s evolved into a higher order. We are a global community now, and don’t think any one nation should stand out, or someone will get their feelings hurt and then bring down our skyscrapers with jets and then we’ve no one to blame but ourselves.

Isn’t that what the mere presence of a ‘black-list’ in Hollywood is really saying?

Yes – we may disagree on many things. We have very different notions about what the limits and expectations of our government should be. But a film or TV set is not the venue for sorting all of this out. So can we stop the Hatfield/McCoy thing in Hollywood and just agree to disagree. Blacklists are evil, whether done by the left or the right. It’s intimidation, coercion, and extortion.

Let’s be better than that.

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