Lionel Chetwynd, writer and producer of Celsius 41.11, is no newcomer to Hollywood. In 1975 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his adapted screenplay for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. This year, he received his first Emmy nomination for producing the Eisenhower television biopic Ike: Countdown to D-Day. In the intervening 30 years, Mr. Chetwynd has written, produced, and/or directed dozens of movies and television programs, including 1987's controversial Hanoi Hilton.
In addition to being a prolific talent, Mr. Chetwynd is also a well-known Republican in Hollywood-and one of the few who is outspoken about his political beliefs. Asked how he manages this in such a hostile climate, Mr. Chetwynd says, "I'm a good debater, good at arguing . . . people usually back away from arguing with me!"
Over the past few years Mr. Chetwynd has begun to describe himself as an optimist. "The thing is," he says, "we [conservatives] are winning. . . . So many young people are on our side." Mr. Chetwynd says that new blood in Hollywood is gradually changing the culture of the town and of the entertainment industry.
The shift right, he claims, is "significant under [age] 35, dramatic under 30." One piece of evidence he cites is his own call log: "I used to be the clearing house [for conservatives coming to Hollywood], but I don't get those calls anymore, because there are other places to go."
Mr. Chetwynd's experience in the business gives him a historic perspective: "People forget that [Hollywood] hated Ronald Reagan with an ardor hardly less than they do George Bush." Right now isn't "the most pleasant time, but it's not the worst . . . we had blacklisting during the '80s; now there's some whitelisting." Whitelisting, for a Republican in Hollywood, means that an actor might not be accepted in "polite company," but that he or she-and this is the key-is still employable.
Mr. Chetwynd is clearly excited about the possibility for real change. "These things have a way of increasing in tempo"-here's the optimist speaking-"somewhere in the not-too-distant future, we will hit that critical mass."