September 21, 2000
Not a Knock, a ‘Nudge’
These days, doing the right thing as an entertainment industry player is heavy with political overtones, as Republican and Democratic candidates have made campaign fodder out of the industry's product. Last Monday night, presidential candidate Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, appeared at a fundraiser hosted by producer-director Rob Reiner, Warner Brothers president Alan Horn, TV mogul Haim Saban and grocery magnate Ron Burkle at Burkle's home. "There's going to be fireworks," one industry insider told The Journal before the event.
There was anything but. Even as, according to reports of those who attended, Gore continued his criticisms of their industry, the attendees donated a record $4.2 million to the Democratic National Committee.
"Al and I have tremendous regard for this industry," said Lieberman to the guests, who included Dustin Hoffman, Garry Shandling, Larry David and Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg. "We're both fans of the products that come out of the industry - not all of them, but a lot of them. And the industry has entertained and inspired us over the years. And it's true we will have been, will be, critics or nudges, but I promise you this: We will never put the government in the position of telling you by law, through law, what to make."
The comments seemed to help douse whatever fireworks were smoldering. There was a sense among many that Gore and Lieberman were right on most of the issues, so one area of dispute was hardly decisive. And, as a self-avowedly cynical participant said later, the pairs' Hollywood slams helped lure away moderate Republicans.
It didn't hurt that the crowd had been treated to a warm-up barrage of Jewish jokes, capped by Lieberman himself introducing Jesse Jackson as "my rabbi."
Gore's "stance on Hollywood right now is something that needs some refining," Norman Pattiz, chairman of Westwood One radio network, stated in the Los Angeles Times, adding, "I'd rather do that from inside the tent than outside the tent."