Hollywood a No-Show at Gulf Oil Spill
June 18, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to Newsmax.com
Stars love causes.
Whether it’s saving animals from becoming a fur coat or seeking a cure for insomnia, some celebrity is attaching themselves as a spokesperson.
In a scene from the movie, “Bruno,” which is remarkably similar to one in my book, “Tales From the Left Coast,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s character is told if he wants to be a Hollywood star he must find a cause, any cause.
But one cause is pretty much missing from the Hollywood radar — the current disastrous oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.
One celeb is speaking out about Hollywood’s no-show in the Gulf. Ian Somerhalder is a poster-boy actor with throngs of young fans from his roles in “The Vampire Diaries” and “Lost.”
The young actor is deeply upset at his colleagues in Hollywood because of their silence and lack of support for the people and the environment in the wake of the catastrophe erupting in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Coming from the entertainment world, I'm really shaken by how quiet Hollywood is,” Somerhalder told E! Online.
Ian says he’s “really bummed that no one is really coming up to help the situation. This is ground zero right now. This place is going to need money; that is the bottom line.”
Somerhalder even pitched a telethon “to really paint a picture of exactly how much devastation is here.”
I vaguely remember a telethon being held for another disaster that took place in the Louisiana area. More on that later.
Somerhalder is from Covington, La., and he has returned to his hometown to help a local animal shelter clean up and save the lives of pelicans impacted by the oil slick. The actor also filmed a public service announcement to help rally people in the region.
“There's so many people here working around the clock to try and tame this beast," he said. “If you look at all these beaches right here. It's a June afternoon — this beach would be littered with families, kids playing, dads on the pier with their buddies fishing. None of that's here . . . The things you remember, the times you spent with your parents or your grandparents, brothers, sisters, fishing and learning about the ecology here is . . . it's your base, it's your root, and you'll do anything, you will fight tooth and nail to protect it.”
Somerhalder is different than a lot of the loudmouth celebs we are used to. He told the L.A. Times, “I never talk about politics, but right now is a time to be angry and sad.”
Let’s contrast the way the Left Coast bunch reacted to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Sean Penn was in a leaky boat posing for pictures. John Travolta filled his personal jet with supplies and flew into the Big Easy. Brad Pitt was designing and building houses for Katrina victims. George Clooney made a million dollar donation and Jamie Foxx raised another million for victims.
The post Katrina MTV Movie Awards were dominated by shout-outs to New Orleans and jabs to then-President Bush. The 2010 version of the MTV awards was almost devoid of any mention of the Gulf gusher.
After Katrina, a one-hour telethon was aired by six television networks to raise funds and performers included U2, Neil Young, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks, Alicia Keys, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart.
Ellen DeGeneres and Chris Rock did some Katrina comedy, and Jack Nicholson sang "Maria," from West Side Story, because a woman calling in to donate money had requested it.
That was then, this is now. The big names are not talking the talk or walking the walk when it comes to the Gulf catastrophe. Not even Bono.
It’s probably not just the fact that it’s not Oscar season. Back then we had a different president in the White House, one that Hollywood disliked.
To their credit, some other stars did organize a Gulf Aid concert raising a somewhat modest $350,000. Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, and Mos Def performed for the Gulf fishing families and wetlands restoration. But the same A-list personalities that seemed to be obsessed with Katrina are mum and missing.