April 06, 2004


Veteran Australian showbiz correspondent John-Michael Howson has some advice for the Hollywood Left:

After 16 years working in Los Angeles, I would suggest that the Democrats tell Hollywood stars, celebrities, writers and others in the fame game who profess to "care" to cool it during the presidential election campaign. From my experience these superficial, self-absorbed, self-interested, egomaniacal nitwits who threw their weight and money behind Bill Clinton and now are in a lather of enthusiasm for John Kerry, raise the level of hypocrisy to the stratosphere.

While supposedly supporting Democratic Party ideals, many treat underlings no better than serfs, they wangle obscenely huge payments for their work that so deplete budgets that supporting actors find their rates cut, and they have an unofficial "black list" that works against anyone in the industry who dares voice an alternative opinion. So much for them writing and complaining about "attacks on freedom of expression".

And while they may preach to the choir, millions of Americans are aware of libertine Hollywood's role in the lowering of standards, the dumbing down of entertainment and the shameless worship of the almighty dollar over values and responsibility.

Well said.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 6, 2004 03:05 AM

"While supposedly supporting Democratic Party ideals, many treat underlings no better than serfs"

Here's my favourite example, for those who may not have already seen it:

"Then, on his second-to-last night, [Michael Moore] raged against everyone connected with the Roundhouse and complained that he was being paid a measly $750 a night. 'He completely lost the plot,' a member of the stage crew told the London Evening Standard. 'He stormed around all day screaming at everyone, even the 5 pound-an-hour bar staff, telling them how we were all con men and useless. Then he went on stage and did it in public.' At his last appearance, staffers refused to work or even open the theater's doors." NY Post, Jan. 8, 2003."

[lifted from http://www.mooreexposed.com/]

Posted by: Scott Burgess at April 6, 2004 at 03:17 AM

Oh, dahling! I just loved John-Michael (never caught his last name). I used to watch him on Good Morning, Australia when he'd turn up to do the celebrity gossip segment. He's such a cheeky boy.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at April 6, 2004 at 03:18 AM

I too love John Hewson.
(Yeah, I'm a bloke, get over it)

Posted by: jafa at April 6, 2004 at 04:34 AM

could anyone post a direct link? i cannot find it on smh site. thaks!

Posted by: niels at April 6, 2004 at 04:51 AM


It's about 2/3 the page down. Do a search (Internet Explorer, hit Ctrl-F) for "Celebrity hypocrisy"

Posted by: david at April 6, 2004 at 05:14 AM


Posted by: Brittany at April 6, 2004 at 05:33 AM

Well said. And for the most part, they're turning out dreck to boot.

Posted by: Rebecca at April 6, 2004 at 05:34 AM

This is a pretty good description of what I think is going on at Air America Radio. Overpaid stars upfront, underpaid people behind the scenes and the stars refusing to learn the basics of radio. They say they're prepared to go for 3 years. I predict they'll trudge on to the election and be gone by Christmas

Posted by: Larry at April 6, 2004 at 07:17 AM

Howson has always been the charming gentleman.

Posted by: d at April 6, 2004 at 10:02 AM

nice to see a celebrity "piece" that wasn't about clothes, hair, cosmetic surgery etc

Posted by: contrapunctus at April 6, 2004 at 10:12 AM

Frequently, these elites use their media exposure to denounce Bush’s "tax breaks for rich” which “hurt the poor.” But these filthy rich Hollywood types never have press conferences announcing they paid extra taxes at the old “good” tax rates.

Posted by: perfectsense at April 6, 2004 at 10:53 AM

J-MH is a voice of sanity in LaLa Land.I've loved him ever since he was Clown in Adventure Island, (which was the last time the ABC made a decent program).

Posted by: ilibcc at April 6, 2004 at 11:28 AM

Howson had a stint in the 60s as cub reporter at the greatest titled newspaper in creation -- The Sunraysia Daily. He has paid his dues.

Posted by: slatts at April 6, 2004 at 12:07 PM

Ah sweet deja vu. Remember the infamous "It's Time" campaign for the Labor Party? Remember all those wonderful media bods who spoke and sang(?) on behalf of Chairman Gough?

I wonder how many greatly regret their actions; quite a few I would think.

This type of behaviour is grandstanding at its worst.

Take note of which high-profile personalities promote Mark The Mouth during the pre-election months this time around, then note who doesn't seem to have a lot of work post-election.

Me cry for them? Not a drop baby, not a bloody drop.

Posted by: Jim Riley at April 6, 2004 at 12:25 PM

Well, I must say I am impressed.

I thought John Michael Howson was only good for puff pieces on Hollywood gossip.

A dark horse?

His piece will not endear him to the Hollywood (or Aussie) luvvies and sycophants, however.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at April 6, 2004 at 12:38 PM

To be fair to Mark Latham I don't see him as a pollie who will be making much use of the luvvies in his coming campaign. We'll see...

Posted by: James Hamilton at April 6, 2004 at 12:58 PM

“Pollie”? “luvvies”? What does these slang words mean? Sometimes this blog sounds so—Australian...oh NOW I get it, never mind.

Posted by: ForNow at April 6, 2004 at 02:03 PM


Yeah, I get you. I still like to know what the heck "poofter" means.

Posted by: JeffS at April 6, 2004 at 02:20 PM

Poofter= Lilac chappy, shirt lifter, poo pusher, pillow biter ... you get the picture.

Posted by: Toryhere at April 6, 2004 at 02:28 PM

ForNow, "pollie" is Australian slang for Politician. It follows the Australian habit of shortening words and adding an "ie" or "o" ending. For example- journo, garbo, muso, Warney, Gillie.

A "luvvie" is someone from the arts fraternity. Derivation is British, based on the habit of arty types to (supposedly) call each other "luv" or "luvvie" while air-kissing each cheek.

A lecturer at Uni had a theory that words with the "o" ending were undesirable, and those with the "ie" ending were desirable. Given Australians' general loathing of politicians and culture vultures, pollie and luvvie could disprove this rule.

Posted by: The Mongrel at April 6, 2004 at 02:33 PM

I also remember John Michael from Adventure Island. *sigh* those were the days, primary school. Scared to death by Dr Who and watching Bellbird while Mum watched it...

Somehow I just don't know how Dr Who scared me so much then, I must have been gullible - the acting was awful and the sets... the Daleks... oh dear...

Posted by: kae at April 6, 2004 at 02:43 PM


Yes, I understand. Gotcha. Right. Ahhhh-hmmmmmm. Thanks for the enlightenment. Really!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.....

Posted by: JeffS at April 6, 2004 at 03:02 PM

"they wangle obscenely huge payments for their work" "millions of Americans are aware of libertine Hollywood's role in the lowering of standards" "the dumbing down of entertainment" "the shameless worship of the almighty dollar over values and responsibility."

This is well-said, but it's simply what the Aussie left has been saying all along about the American entertainment industry, given a right-wing spin.
Anyone would get annoyed by the moral self-righteousness of the likes of Judy Davis, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn, but how much money they earn, and what they choose to do in their spare time is nobodies business but their own.

Posted by: TimT at April 6, 2004 at 04:42 PM

TimT, I disagree. Since everything else about them is available for public titivation, why shouldn't the obscene fees these stars earn also be a subject of common interest? The world is full of millionaire socialists claiming to represent the poor and downtrodden. We'd have more respect for the likes of Philip Adams if they gave away their money to the needy and lived simply among the people they champion.

Posted by: narkynark at April 6, 2004 at 05:00 PM

TimT wrote: ' ... what they choose to do in their spare time is nobody's business but their own.'

Nothing to do with their spare time, dude.

Read j-Ho again:

Jim Rutenberg ("Not going to script", Herald, April 5) is on the ball when he writes of the shameless pro-Democrat, anti-Republican propaganda flooding Hollywood-produced films and TV programs.

They're being paid to spout their political biases agendas, in the American case by Joe Public at the box office and in the Australian case, by the taxpayer at large.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 6, 2004 at 06:55 PM

But really what does it matter. Who wants Martin Sheen on their side? -his support is enough reason to vote for the opposition.

Posted by: Emily at April 6, 2004 at 10:13 PM

Toryhere, you'd know what a poofter is if you'd acquire the classical education I have. One of the rules of the philosophy department at the University of Woolamoola in the Monty Python sketch is, "No poofters."

Posted by: Alex Bensky at April 7, 2004 at 12:12 AM


".....what they choose to do in their spare time is nobody's business but their own."

Not really. If they use their celebrity status to push a cause, they are suspect. A celebrity has that status because they are usually entertainers in some fashion. An entertainer is an artist. If they feel they must have a political life, run for office, and stop being an entertainer. Otherwise, they are a celebrity -- not a leader.

My rule of thumb is, if they offer moral or financial support for that cause without a lot of fanfare (there's always some), then that is within the bounds of what I think of as good taste. An example would be public service announcements, or speaking at a rally.

On the other hand, if they engage in publicity generating stunts (e.g., visiting Baghdad just before the war, or making political statements at non-political events), they are out of bounds, and are shamelessly using their celebrity status to manipulate political events.

Not everyone is going to agree with this, obviously. But it is the way I look at it.

Posted by: JeffS at April 7, 2004 at 12:58 AM