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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [December 7, 2004]





[]  The 2004 national election destroyed many longtime Hollywood friendships, as Tinseltown's glamorous denizens were torn by heated arguments over Bush and Kerry.

That's the shocking revelation of Hollywood scribe and proud Republican Burt Prelutsky, who recently authored Conservatives Are from Mars, Liberals Are from San Francisco.

"I know of friendships that have been torn asunder and of business relationships between writers and producers that have ended badly," said Prelutsky to the Hollywood Investigator.

Asked whether the arguments stem from an especially contentious election or from the GOP's growing presence in Hollywood, Prelutsky said, "I think the strain is based on the fact that no president in my lifetime has been hated as much as Bush. Personally, I attribute it far less to his policies than to his being so forthright about his religion. Much of the hostility to him comes, I know only too well, from my fellow Jews. Oddly enough, they dislike and fear devout Christians more than they do Islamo-fascists."

Declining to name names, Prelutsky added, "I myself have had friendships and even family relationships strained to the breaking point and maybe beyond. Only time will tell."

He added that in his case, none of the strained relations were business related. "These days, all my writing is done for various websites [e.g. World Net Daily and Men's News Daily], and, on occasion, for the Washington Times, where my right-wing point of view is treasured."

Even so, are Hollywood Republicans different from red state Republicans? Is Arnold Schwarzenegger a typical example: fiscally conservative (in word if not in deed), a strong supporter of Israel and the War on Terror, but also pro-choice on abortion, pro-gun control, and tolerant of gay rights?

"I suppose some Republican positions are more acceptable to some [Hollywood] people than other positions," said Prelutsky. "But there are people who hate Israel and champion higher taxes. It just depends on who the people are.  I honestly can't say what most Hollywood Republicans do.

"I think it's a safe guess that most Hollywood Republicans are more liberal when it comes to certain social/sexual issues than those who live in the South and Midwest. I know my website garners much favorable comment from the red states and very little from the blue.



* Guilty of Growing Old

For some twenty years, the sixtysomething Prelutksy was a top TV scribe, writing for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn, and Diagnosis Murder. But the writing jobs dried up when Prelutsky committed the crime of nearing his 50th birthday. With bills mounting, he took desperate measures. Against the advice of friends and business associates, he took a full-page ad in Daily Variety, listing his many credits but also confessing his age and admitting that he'd been told he was "too old" to be hired.

The ad created much buzz. Magazines and newspapers followed up with articles about the dreaded "graylist." Prelutsky became something of a poster boy for the issue of Hollywood ageism, an image he retains to this day. He never regained his previous high-level success, but some new work did come his way, much of it from producer Stephen J. Cannell, whom Prelutsky credits with being a lifesaver.

Over a decade later, Prelutsky still writes about Hollywood ageism. But being forcibly semi-retired from TV has had one liberating effect: because he's already been graylisted for his age, Prelutsky no longer worries about being blacklisted for his politics.

"For most of my life I was a Democrat," Prelutsky told the Investigator. "Coming out of the [GOP] closet, as it were, hasn't harmed my TV writing career, because I haven't got a career these days. It's true I converted [to the GOP] before getting my first staff job (as Executive Story Consultant with Diagnosis Murder), and that I argued at length with my colleagues on the show, but we all got along in spite of our political differences. I know they hated my politics, but fortunately it's very difficult, if not impossible, to dislike me!

"Hollywood's hypocrites are quick to label those who disagree with them racists, sexists, fascists, and bad dressers. However, I don't think they cut conservative blacks, Jews, and gays any slack. Instead, they merely add to their list of insults 'oreos' and 'sellouts.' Of course, a white Christian fundamentalist, a WASP, cannot be proven innocent. He is the enemy. He is, after all, the living embodiment of European culture, representing those very Judeo-Christian values and traditions the elitists despise."

Prelutsky is now part of a class action lawsuit against the networks, as well as several production companies and talent agencies. [See below for more info.]



Oddly, while Hollywood claims to be sensitive to racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and homophobia, its ageism is open and unabashed. Calls for diversity ignore diversity of age. Yet Prelutsky believes that Hollywood liberals are not even consciously aware of their inconsistency to their own ideals.

"If they weren't blind to their shortcomings," said Prelutsky, "they would have to acknowledge that they are all hypocrites. For instance, they claim they want the government to look out for the little guy, but they pay their gofers and assistants as little as the law allows, and they don't think twice about filming out of the country in order to keep expenses down by not having to hire union people on their movies. But you never hear about any of them taking $19 million in salary instead of $20 million so that the IATSE members in America can feed their families."

Appealing to Hollywood liberals about their own ageism won't change their hiring practices, said Prelutsky. "These self-righteous bozos would merely point to the few exceptions -- the token seniors, as it were -- and flee to their trailers to call their PR flacks and find out why they haven't been on Entertainment Tonight in a week and a half. Whatever else they might lack, they do have a sense of priorities, after all."

Many Hollywood liberals are not only open, but even proud, of practicing ageism (though that's not the term they would use). They brag about the youth-appeal of their shows and films, and about the youth-orientedness of their companies and of themselves. Yet Prelutsky doesn't think Hollywood is all that different from the rest of America, as least not when it comes to aging.

"Most people in the country are youth-crazy," says Prelutsky. "I don't know that the Hollywood crowd is all that different, except they have the wherewithal to hire personal trainers, plastic surgeons, botox specialists, etc., and to write them all off as business expenses.

"Producers and executives like to surround themselves with young people for a variety of reasons. One, it makes them feel younger. Two, nubile young women are readily available to them. Three, younger people are more impressionable; they actually believe their bosses are as magnificent as the bosses think they are (at least for a while). Four, older guys like to control fiefdoms, to have their flunkies at their beck and call, and younger people are less likely to have husbands and wives to rush home to at five o'clock.

"Actually, because the networks and Madison Avenue are invested in the young consumer, it makes sense that executives are young. And young executives would rather deal with writers and producers with whom they play Nintendo games on the weekend rather than with folks who are as old as their parents or, God forbid, even older. That also makes sense in the movie business because most tickets are sold to young people. Oddly enough, it makes far more sense in the movies than in TV, if only because older people watch a lot of TV. And though the older crowd has far more money to spend, young people spend a greater percentage of their discretionary income.

"However, studies show that older people are just as likely to try new products as young people. It's true if you turn a 20-year-old into a customer, you may have him for 60 years, whereas a new 60-year-old customer you may only have for 20 years -- but you may also only have either one for a week or two, until your competitor comes out with a new, improved product or cuter commercial.

"The reason things aren't likely to change is because the networks, the cable stations, and Madison Avenue have bought into the younger demographic for so long, they wouldn't know where to begin if they had to change their point of view.

"It is far easier, after all, to think young than to actually have to think."

Burt Prelutsky is the author of Conservatives Are from Mars, Liberals Are from San Francisco.
For more details about Prelutsky's class action, age discrimination lawsuit, see our exclusive Hollywood Investigator interview with attorney Steve Sprenger.
Also see our Investigator reports on Hollywood Republicans, Republican actor Ben Stein, Republican student filmmaker Jason A. Apuzzo, and Apuzzo's allegations of political blacklisting

Copyright 2004 by


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