Where Are You, Norman Lear?

June 9, 2011 - 3:16 AM

This week has been a shocking one for Hollywood. Shortly after releasing my syndicated column last week, I handed The Hollywood Reporter a bevy of tapes showing tremendous liberal bias in the entertainment industry -- and a tape of one top Hollywood creator, Vin Di Bona ("America's Funniest Home Videos" and "MacGyver"), celebrating anti-conservative discrimination in Hollywood.

Matt Drudge linked the piece, sending my book, "Primetime Propaganda," to the top of the Amazon.com best-seller charts.

I began receiving emails from underground conservatives in Hollywood thanking me for revealing what everyone in town knows but few could confirm: that liberal Hollywood kills careers of those with whom it disagrees. I even got a few calls from liberals congratulating me on my attempts to open up the industry to different political viewpoints.

But traditional Hollywood remained silent. They were unruffled by the revelation that many in their industry hire and fire out of ideological bigotry. They didn't even see it as controversial.

Then Lionel Chetwynd stepped up.

For those who don't know Lionel, a multiple Emmy-award nominee for his television writing and the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz." Lionel is also a member of an elite honor society called the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. The Caucus was co-created by television icon Norman Lear in 1977 in order to promote "creative freedom" and "quality and diversity of all television."

Unfortunately, Di Bona is a high-ranking member of the Caucus. Disgusted by Di Bona's admissions, Lionel quit the Caucus. He was soon joined by mega-producer Norman Powell. "I knew most of my fellow members looked upon [conservative] political positions ... as distasteful," Chetwynd wrote in his resignation letter. "What I now understand is the disgust was not for their views, but for their very person. Such people, Mr. Shapiro's sources make clear, must be silenced, and it is therefore proper to make them suffer discrimination."

The fallout was immediate and intense. The New York Times covered it.  So did The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

But was Hollywood upset? Of course not.

Secure in their nests of bigotry, mainstream Hollywood ignored the scandal, refusing to acknowledge the admissions of discrimination. Marta Kauffman of "Friends" -- a woman who admitted to me that she stacked her writers’ room with a "bunch of liberals" -- stated that the whole hubbub about discrimination was "silly." Worse, the Caucus refused to pass an anti-discrimination resolution, explaining that they are a "non-political" organization and therefore could not stand against discrimination.

It is time for Hollywood's free speech advocates to be counted. Where is Norman Lear, the founder of the Caucus and the liberal First Amendment organization People for the American Way? On Tuesday afternoon, I left him a message; I hope to hear back. So far, nobody on the left has spoken out clearly against such discrimination or in favor of an end to it. The same industry that fought blacklisting of communists tooth and nail seems content to allow blacklisting of traditional conservatives in Hollywood.

We will not stand for it. Americans want our culture back -- and we want it shaped by people from all sides of the political aisle. Discrimination in employment based on political orientation is a deep injustice, and a deeper act of hypocrisy on the part of Hollywood. The actions of Lionel Chetwynd are only the beginning.

Beginning this week, the crusade for a free and open Hollywood starts in earnest. It will not end until Hollywood becomes a First Amendment town once again.