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Tuesday, June 07, 2005
NY TIMES CALLING...
[This is a somewhat paraphrased and somewhat literal transcription of an interview I did Sunday night with a NY Times reporter named James. This was the follow-up interview to one he did with me a few weeks ago. That first interview started with the following exchange (after intro comments):

James: So, in the last six months, there have been 37 pairings in the Times of the word "Christian" with words like "scary", "frightening", "theocratic" and "intimidating". My question is, what is it about Christians that makes you so scary?

Barb: (loud, snorting and sneering laughter) Are you kidding me?

James: What?

Barb: I finally get interviewed by the New York Times, and you ask me a question like that?! (more snorting and laughing)

James: (sniffs) Are you laughing because you think it's funny that people find Christians frightening?

Barb: No. I'm laughing because you want me to tell you why you and your friends are scared of Christians -- and I think you should ask your therapist!

Anyway, the interview went on from there. Basically, James was working on a story about how the same conservative Christian think-tanks that were behind the ascendancy of the Religious Right are now trying to take over Hollywood.

Barb: Are they?

James: Aren't they?

Barb: My experience is that the Christian initiatives in Hollywood are all organic - arising out of the industry itself.

James: Yeah, but where is the funding coming from?

Barb: They are all shoe-string underfundeds! Act One's funding comes from all over. Little drops of water from many sources --

James: Are you a Bush voter?

Barb: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

In the end, I gave him some soundbites about post-Passion Hollywood, but it was clear that James had pretty much decided what he was going to write about (ie. Vast Rightwing Political Conspiracy spreading into Hollywood), and was searching for proof.

So, during this follow-up interview, Sunday, we had the following exchange.

James: I'm having a hell of a time chasing down the money connections between the DC conservative think-tanks and Hollywood Christians.

Barb: That's because they don't exist.

James: ("I'm no fool" snort) Yeah. How about you tell me 'off the record'?

Barb: Off the record, on the record, we don't get any money from rightwing covert opps!

James: Would you take money from them if they offered?

Barb: From whom?...Heck, I'd take money from Hugh Hefner! I'm just trying to meet payroll for the summer.

James: You're funny.

Barb: And poor....but with a few exceptions, Evangelical Christians outside of Hollywood don't financially support Hollywood Christians. They don't trust us.

James: Yeah, yeah...(trying another tack) So, is it your sense that some Evangelical Republicans from DC are trying to build a network in Hollywood?

Barb: I think that is accurate.

James: (Gotcha! exclamation) And why is that?!

Barb: Because being generally derided and despised by cultural leaders is a concern to them? You should ask them...

James: I'm trying, but everyone is being very paranoid in talking to me.

Barb: Does that surprise you?

James: Why is that, anyway?

Barb: You mean, besides the fact that the NY Times hates Christians?!

More laughter from James.

Barb: Honestly, the other reason you aren't getting the scoop is people don't have anything to say about this. There is no funneling of money from political Evangelicals to cultural ones. Is it being cagey and paranoid to not having anything to say about a plot that doesn't exist?

James makes an exasperated laughing sound.

A bit later, James asked me about a meeting that Act One co-sponsored last December between our writers and some Christians from DC.

James: Isn't it true that, as a result of the meeting, a feature film project was financed with money coming from DC?

Barb: Are you smoking crack?! No! There was no money! We bought a couple dozen sandwiches -- and lost money on that, as a matter of fact!

James: So, what was the purpose of the meeting?

Barb: The folks from Washington wanted to start a dialogue on some policy issues in the hopes that they could assist folks on this side of the country with government studies about some issues of joint concern.

James: (Ha!) What issue?

Barb: Well, we talked about global AIDS. Such a terrible plague. Hollywood doesn't talk about it enough.

James: Yeah, yeah. What else?

Barb: Oh yeah. There was information about the persecution of Christiansin the Sudan. There's another one you never see on primetime.

James: (depressed sigh) Anything else?

Barb: Yes. Sex.

James: Yeah! Tell me!

Barb: We talked about the problem of pornography and STD's. All about the societal wages of the Sexual Revolution.

James: (humph...)

--------

It will be very interesting to see what the article ends up looking like. I actually liked James and I found myself sympathizing with his plight. He has such a great idea for a story! Too bad there's no there there. He should become a screenwriter...