Date: 14th September 2000
The motion picture industry was caught in a pincers movement Wednesday as leading Democratic and Republican politicians hammered its product and its practices.
The onslaught came during hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee, where witnesses appeared to vie with one another over who would be tougher with Hollywood if their party wins the November elections. Referring to a study released Monday by the FTC charging that studios secretly market R-rated movies to underage kids, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, remarked, "This practice is outrageous. It is deceptive, and it has to stop."
Committee chairman John McCain charged that Hollywood's ratings system was nothing more than "a smoke screen to provide cover for immoral and unconscionable business practices."
Not to be outdone, Lynn Cheney, wife of the Republican vice-presidential candidate maintained that the issue was not how films are marketed. "There is a problem with the product they market, no matter how they market it," she said. She also pointedly remarked that Lieberman and Al Gore are planning to attend a fund-raising party this week thrown by Harvey Weinstein, head of Miramax, the Disney company that has produced films that many conservatives regard as the scourge of the industry.
She urged them to ask Weinstein "to pledge in the future he will not fund works that debase our culture and corrode our children's souls." MPAA chief Jack Valenti later fired back, "I know that when you trash the entertainment business, your polling numbers go up." He said that the legislators should instead "feel an immense pride in this unique American creative asset and the daily contributions of the movie and television industry to this nation's art and commerce and the endurance of its responsibility to American parents."
Source: Studio Briefing