Democrats soften criticism of Hollywood

Wednesday, September 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES – A week after threatening Hollywood with sanctions for marketing violence to kids, Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman softened their tone by telling leaders of the entertainment industry that, "we will nudge you but we will never become censors."

Mr. Lieberman delivered the assurance to applause at a star-studded Beverly Hills fund-raiser with Mr. Gore, where they collected $4.2 million Monday night for the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Gore said he was heartened by the industry's response to the criticism. "I know a lot of you will be standing with us," the vice president said.

Guests paid $10,000 to mingle with actors Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks, composer Quincy Jones, comedians Paul Reiser and Gary Shandling, singer Don Henley, novelist Judith Krantz, producers, directors and business leaders.

The fund-raiser was held at the sprawling mansion of supermarket mogul Ron Burkle, who donated $1 million to underwrite last month's Democratic National Convention.

Director Rob Reiner, an organizer of the dinner, said Hollywood is "a big community with a very big heart" and is motivated by more than movies.

"We care about the same things that all Americans care about," he said, mentioning education, health care, Social Security, Medicare, preserving abortion rights, protecting the environment and restricting guns.

Republicans have accused Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman of hypocrisy for criticizing the entertainment industry's conduct and then accepting campaign cash from Hollywood.

Last week, Mr. Gore raised $6.5 million at a celebrity fund-raiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Dick Cheney, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said Tuesday that at that event, Mr. Gore "raised millions of dollars from the same media moguls who are corrupting our children."

Mr. Cheney added, "He enjoys himself so much that he went to another entertainment industry fund-raiser just last night and pocketed millions more."

A report last week by the Federal Trade Commission accused the industry of aggressively marketing violent films, music and video games to young children.

Mr. Gore seized on the findings to urge sanctions on the entertainment industry unless it stops marketing violence to kids within six months.

Praising the industry for its response, Mr. Gore said: "I was not surprised when so many stepped forward and said: 'Yes, of course, that's right. It is wrong to market inappropriate materials to children."

"Joe and I believe in this very deeply," he said, "and if I am entrusted with the presidency we are going to fight to change that."

Mr. Lieberman, who has been a leading critic of Hollywood, said that "from time to time we will have been – and will be – critics or nudges.

"But I promise you this, that we will never, never put the government in the position of telling you by law, through law, what to make."