Culture

Culture Notes

Culture

Issue: "Walk the Talk," Nov. 15, 1997

Blacklist Whitewash

Hollywood is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its alleged persecution by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Beginning in October 1947, the congressional committee, as part of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist crusade, investigated communist influence in the film industry. Ten important writers and directors refused to testify and were cited for contempt and jailed. The Hollywood Ten and other leftwing filmmakers were subsequently blacklisted by the film industry well into the 1950s, as studios refused to hire them. On this Golden Anniversary of the blacklisting, Hollywood's actors' guild, the directors' guild, and other organizations are sponsoring commemorative events. A star-studded gala featured film clips and reenactments of the hearings in a self-congratulatory smugfest. Never mind that hard-core communists really had infiltrated the film industry, as revealed by its more patriotic members, including a young actor named Ronald Reagan, whose involvement in the investigation sparked a rather significant political career. Never mind that the blacklisted filmmakers continued to work anonymously and that they turned their martyrdom into successful career moves. Never mind that it was Hollywood itself, not the government, that carried out the blacklisting. Of the two surviving members of the Hollywood Ten, only one, Ring Lardner Jr., attended the commemorative celebration. The other, writer-director Edward Dmytryk (maker of The Caine Mutiny), declined the invitation. After being in jail for six months, he testified and helped the investigation. "I think it's silly-Hollywood apologizing to itself," said Mr. Dmytryk, now 89. "These people are still being asked to be recognized as martyrs. Having been one of them, I can tell you, we're not martyrs."

Correction

In our Oct. 25 story on Frank Peretti, WORLD reported Mr. Peretti had received a $4 million advance from Word; the correct figure is $1 million.

Public service or self-service?

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Those television public service ads-the ones that show your brain on drugs, point out who can prevent forest fires, and attempt other good works-are at the center of a controversy between the networks and non-profit agencies. Networks are obliged by federal licensing requirements to provide at least some public service for the general good. In the past, this meant airing commercials for non-profit agencies such as the Ad Council and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. But now, networks are producing their own do-good ads, which happen to feature their own stars. David Schwimmer of Friends advocates teacher recruitment. Jenna Elfman of Dharma & Greg gushes about how "the really great thing about mentoring that nobody ever tells you is that it's fun! It's fun! Really!" Thus the networks can take care of their public service obligation while at the same time advertising their own shows. Other public service ads are being pushed out of prime time. As reported by Sally Goll Beatty for The Wall Street Journal, 80 percent are run in the graveyard shift between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Network self-promotions, though, take up 12 minutes an hour of prime time. The Ad Council, a Madison Avenue charity, has decided to play the networks' game. They are planning to produce public service ads that use network stars and that will plug any media that agrees to run them.

Frederico leaves his record label

"Frederico" was presented by his Christian record label as a one-name wonder, like Pavarotti, to whom his singing was compared. WORLD's music critic, Terry Yount, pointed out in the last issue (Nov. 8, 1997) that while Frederico has a fine tenor voice, his current CD is over-hyped, over-produced, and over-exploitive of a talented musician in need of more training before he could be said to join the Three Tenors as a foursome. WORLD has learned that Frederico had some, if not all, of the same concerns. Frederico Cardella-Hayler resigned from Brentwood Music-before the review was published-over, he says, disagreements about motives in the Christian music industry. The 41-year-old tenor told WORLD that he did not want the Pavarotti image, the hype, or the marketing exaggerations. Mr. Cardella-Hayler is, in fact, an evangelist. He carries on a ministry of music from his home in South Carolina. A Brentwood executive confirmed that his company and Frederico parted ways, but he said the split was mutually agreeable and that the disagreement was not philosophical.

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