‘24’ chief scoffs at Hil­lary, lean­ing to­ward Gi­u­liani

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Robert Stacy McCain

SANTA BAR­BARA, Calif. — Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Joel Surnow dis­missed as “nuts” the no­tion that Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton can be elected pres­i­dent and said he and other con­ser­va­tives in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try are lean­ing to­ward sup­port­ing Repub­li­can Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

The ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of Fox’s Emmy-win­ning coun­tert­er­ror­ism thriller “24,” in­ter­viewed af­ter a Nov. 10 speech to a con­ser­va­tive stu­dent group, also pre­dicted that the cur­rent screen­writ­ers’ strike would be “hugely long” and set­tled to the dis­ad­van­tage of the writ­ers union.

“I’m not even sure that Hil­lary is a fait ac­com­pli [to win the Demo­cratic Party nom­i­na­tion] as this point,” Mr. Surnow told a group of re­porters and blog­gers in a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view dur­ing the Young Amer­ica’s Foun­da­tion’s (YAF) West Coast Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence. “Are we nuts think­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton could be pres­i­dent of this coun­try? Hon­est to God, just stand back and think about it.”

Say­ing that he was “prob­a­bly go­ing to get be­hind Rudy” for the White House, Mr. Surnow named co­me­dian Den­nis Miller as an­other en­ter­tainer who has “come out” as a con­ser­va­tive in the over­whelm­ingly lib­eral Hol­ly­wood en­vi­ron­ment and said that an­other pop­u­lar co­me­dian, Adam San­dler, “is go­ing to come out and sup­port Rudy Gi­u­liani.”

For­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral John Ashcroft was the key­note speaker at the con­fer­ence, which YAF spokesman Ja­son Mat­tera said was at­tended by more than 500 stu­dent ac­tivists and foun­da­tion sup­port­ers.

“Real lead­er­ship is not the friend of con­sen­sus, be­cause the real leader is al­ways out­side the con­sen­sus,” Mr. Ashcroft said in re­marks to foun­da­tion sup­port­ers at the Rea­gan Ranch Cen­ter, where he ac­cepted YAF’s Torch of Free­dom Award and paid trib­ute to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan as a leader who ex­em­pli­fied vi­sion and val­ues.

Stu­dents at­tend­ing the event also heard pre­sen­ta­tions by Di­nesh D’Souza, au­thor of the new book, “What’s So Great About Chris­tian­ity?” and Nonie Dar­wish, au­thor of “Now They Call Me In­fi­del: Why I Re­nounced Ji­had for Amer­ica, Is­rael, and the War on Ter­ror.”

The in­flu­ence of Hol­ly­wood and the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try was a topic of dis­cus­sion from the be­gin­ning of the week­end con­fer­ence, when In­ter­net new­shound Andrew Bre­it­bart gave an im­promptu talk on Nov. 8 to a se­lect group of top cam­pus con­ser­va­tive ac­tivists.

There is “an un­der­ground so­ci­ety of Hol­ly­wood con­ser­va­tives,” said Mr. Bre­it­bart, au­thor of “Hol­ly­wood, In­ter­rupted,” and founder of the Bre­it­bart.com news site. He said stu­dents in­ter­ested in en­ter­tain­ment ca­reers should not be fright­ened away by the in­dus­try’s rep­u­ta­tion as a lib­eral bas­tion. Those re­marks were echoed by Mr. Surnow, who dis­missed as “whin­ing” con­ser­va­tives’ com­plaints that they are treated un­fairly by Hol­ly­wood lib­er­als.

“Our job is not to whine. That’s their job,” Mr. Surnow told stu­dents gath­ered in the grand ball­room of the ocean­side Fess Parker Dou­bletree Re­sort. He named for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, Cal­i­for­nia Sen. Bar­bara Boxer and singer Bar­bra Streisand among the lib­er­als who have pub­licly de­clared them­selves fans of “24.”

The ac­tion-packed show also has many prom­i­nent con­ser­va­tive fans, in­clud­ing ra­dio talk­show host Rush Lim­baugh, White House ad­viser Mary Matalin and Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas, and Mr. Surnow said ex­cel­lence in en­ter­tain­ment tran­scends pol­i­tics.

Asked by a stu­dent dur­ing a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion why he’d cast out­spo­ken lib­eral ac­tress Janeane Garo­falo in the most re­cent sea­son of “24,” Mr. Surnow an­swered, “Be­cause she’s a great ac­tress.”

He de­scribed the Fox net­work se­ries’ pro­tag­o­nist, coun­tert­er­ror­ism agent Jack Bauer, as “a tragic char­ac­ter” who has been emo­tion­ally dam­aged by his ex­pe­ri­ences.

“There’s noth­ing left but to do the right thing,” Mr. Surnow said of the char­ac­ter por­trayed for seven sea­sons by Keifer Suther­land. “He’s come to sym­bol­ize this sort of pure killing ma­chine that all of us se­cretly want to un­leash on the bad guys.”

The char­ac­ter “re­ally rep­re­sents just jus­tice,” he said, de­scrib­ing Bauer ’s at­ti­tude as, “They’re bad, we’re good and we’re go­ing to get them.”

Af­ter his speech, sip­ping a vodka gim­let as he talked to a group of writ­ers, Mr. Surnow scoffed at the sug­ges­tion that Hol­ly­wood’s lib­er­al­ism pre­vents con­ser­va­tives from get­ting work in film and television.

“There’s tons of con­ser­va­tives who work,” he said. “If you write a great script, you could drop it off a free­way over­pass in rush hour, and the movie would still get made.”

Speak­ing of the on­go­ing writ­ers’ strike, which has stopped pro­duc­tion of many movies and TV pro­grams, Mr. Surnow pre­dicted a long strike that could prove dis­as­trous to the Writ­ers Guild and re­jected the sug­ges­tion that the union had the in­dus­try at a dis­ad­van­tage.

“Hol­ly­wood’s not be­ing held hostage. [. . . ] I think [the stu­dios] are go­ing to break the Guild,” he said, later re­mark­ing: “Mil­lion­aires on the picket line. [. . .] They’re not go­ing to get a lot of em­pa­thy.”

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