House Speaker Newt Gingrich came to Hollywood Thursday, but managed to avoid talking about Hollywood.
Speaking at a Beverly Hills breakfast attended by several hundred people from the entertainment industry, the Georgia Republican called for ridding society of drugs, reforming education and rethinking Social Security.
But Gingrich, in a move that puzzled some in attendance, chose not to address key issues that have roiled Hollywood in recent years, from TV ratings that were adopted by the industry after intense pressure from the White House and Congress to the growing concentration of media power.
Gingrich's speech was billed as the first time he would be addressing the entertainment industry on its own turf since becoming House speaker. He chose as his forum the Wednesday Morning Club, a nonpartisan group with many GOP members.
Actor Kurt Russell--saying "I'm not a Republican, I'm a Libertarian"--introduced Gingrich by saying that while they don't always agree on the issues, he found Gingrich a "man of compassion." In the audience were actors Charlton Heston and Tony Danza and TV game-show host Pat Sajak.
The speaker's silence on entertainment issues created a buzz throughout the room as he left, avoiding reporters' questions.
David Horowitz, who heads the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and is co-founder of the Wednesday Morning Club, said he met with Gingrich shortly before the speech and the speaker asked him about what the audience was concerned about.
"I said, this is a town that feels it's under attack from politicians," Horowitz said. But Horowitz said politicians often get timid when they come to Hollywood. "They're so used to getting hit, they're afraid to touch the issues."