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Actors: Stay Out of Havana & Baghdad

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I think that actors should stick to reading the lines that are written for them and stop pretending that because they are famous, they have any clue about foreign affairs.

Hollywood goes Havana, Baghdad


Posted: December 23, 2002

1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Joseph Farah


© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com

I have a few choice words for Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte.

Congratulations. You are the moral equivalents of people who gave aid and comfort to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.

In case you missed it. Hollywood's latest three stooges' act made news last week. Sean Penn went off on a "fact-finding mission" to Iraq to determine if we really needed to overthrow Saddam Hussein. And, Belafonte and Glover went to the totalitarian prison island of Cuba to praise Fidel Castro's ministry of propaganda and blast the U.S.

First, let me deal with Penn. I wonder if anyone has pointed out to him that the man he is helping to promote with his visit has killed more Muslims than anyone else on the planet – probably more than anyone who has ever lived.

I seldom hear Saddam Hussein described this way, but it's true. Not only is he a mass murderer, not only is he a threat to his neighbors, not only is he building weapons of mass destruction, not only is he a supporter of international terrorism – he is also the biggest killer of Muslims on earth.

During the Iran-Iraq war, Iran took the brunt of casualties. Some estimates suggest 1 million Iranians died – many of them children, almost all of them Muslims. I cannot think of anyone in history who has killed more Muslims and few who have killed more people in the last 50 years.

Enough said about Penn, whose trip to Baghdad has been commented on by many. Let's talk about Larry and Curley now and their trip in support of the Cuban film school and film "industry."

These Hollywood pilgrimages to Cuba have been going on for a long time. Let me give you a little background and tell you what no one else is willing to say about them.

About a decade ago, a good friend of mine, and one of the best investigative reporters I've ever worked with, Merle Linda Wolin got a feature assignment from the entertainment magazine Premiere to visit Cuba and report on the renowned cinema school headed by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Wolin, by way of background, was one of the founders of Mother Jones magazine and her "progressive" credentials were impeccable. I had the pleasure of working as her editor; she served as Latin American bureau chief in Mexico City for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Though, indeed, Wolin was personally sympathetic to the causes of the left, as a reporter she always sought the truth – no matter what the assignment.

Shortly after the Sandinistas assumed power in Nicaragua in the 1980s, Wolin spent weeks on the scene, interviewing all the top officials of the new Marxist government and digging in all the right places. Her six-part "Portrait of the Enemy" series for our paper was, perhaps, the most devastating profile of the Sandinistas ever written.

So, from my point of view, she was just the right person to explore Cuba's cinema school and its links with Oliver Stone, Sidney Pollack, Spike Lee, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Robert Redford and other Hollywood icons.

What Wolin found did not surprise me, but it did shock her editors at Premiere:

Student work at the cinema school was subject to censorship like everything else in Cuba;

Cuban intelligence agents permeated every facet of the school and watched over all activities like hawks;

Fidel and Garcia Marquez played Hollywood like a flute – entertaining stars, persuading them that the cinema school was a bastion of freedom and creativity and that real art, not propaganda, was the result.

Wolin interviewed Antonio Valle Vallejo, Garcia Marquez's former personal assistant at the school who defected to the United States. Valle explained the school was little more than a Cuban propaganda operation whose principal objective was to use the film project to expand the Cuban political model throughout Latin America while improving the police state's image around the world.

"The school is the hook for Hollywood," said Valle. And, back in the early 1990s, Redford was the fish. He fell for the bait – hook, line and sinker.

Meanwhile, the story inside the story was even more interesting. When Wolin finished her major investigative piece for Premiere, her editors were aghast. They spiked the story.

"Our liberal readers will never believe this," Wolin was told.

Despite having invested tens of thousands of dollars in the research and travel, Premiere decided not to share the information with Hollywood. Wolin switched gears and wrote the story for the New Republic.

But it's no wonder Hollywood has never learned the painful lessons Redford learned from his exploitation by Fidel and Garcia Marquez. The entertainment industry magazine that uncovered the details never published a story for Hollywood.

So, the pilgrimages to the island police state and its famous film school continue. The names and the faces change, but the money and influence they bring with them continues to bolster the lie that Cuba is interested in art and that its film school is somehow independent of Castro's totalitarian political policies.

Castro kills people who disagree with him. He lines them up against the wall and shoots them. He locks others up in dungeons where they never see the light of day, as Armando Valladares, a survivor, documented in his seminal book on the Cuban gulag.

Worst of all, perhaps, is the way Castro uses Hollywood stooges to make him look like a hero to the rest of the world.

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i agree....the power and trust that america places in actors is laughable....these are people of the theater, but america makes pays them ridiculous sums of money....money = power.....once you get the money...then you get the power....then you get the women!!.....

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