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The Republican Convention

Actor Silver Applauds President's War Stance

August 31, 2004|Elaine Dutka | Times Staff Writer

Actor Ron Silver had the Madison Square Garden audience whooping and on its feet Monday night as he delivered a speech that marked the latest chapter in his unlikely political evolution -- and the distance he has traveled from the Hollywood mainstream.

"Even though I'm a well-recognized liberal on many issues confronting our society today," Silver told delegates to the Republican National Convention, "I find it ironic that many human rights activists and outspoken members of my own entertainment community are often on the front lines to protest repression, for which I applaud them, but they're usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalog repeatedly."

Silver's speech was a brief but ringing defense of President Bush's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. "The president is doing exactly the right thing," thundered Silver, a Tony winner for "Speed-the-Plow" and star of films such as "Reversal of Fortune" and "Enemies: A Love Story."

It was an unusual role for Silver, 58, the founder and former president of the left-of-center Creative Coalition, a New York-based group of entertainment industry activists. Although he doesn't support Bush's social agenda, the former social worker and Spanish teacher has said, he's voting for the incumbent because of his foreign policy positions.

Republicans have been recruiting celebrities since November, but it hasn't been easy in heavily Democratic Hollywood, where some are said to keep a lid on Republican leanings for fear of professional fallout.

Still, personalities such as Dennis Miller, Gerald McRaney, Johnny Mathis, Bo Derek, Kelsey Grammer, Pat Sajak, Shannen Doherty, and Drew Carey support Bush.

"Republicans have always been a little less star-struck -- in part because there are fewer stars to strike them; in part, because they've never taken entertainment and popular culture seriously enough," Republican writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd ("Ike: Countdown to D-Day") said Monday.

At the Democratic convention, actress Glenn Close introduced a tribute to Sept. 11 victims. The convention drew entertainment industry activists Rob Reiner, John Mellencamp, Peter Paul & Mary, Wyclef Jean, Patti LaBelle, Willie Nelson, Carole King, the Black Eyed Peas, Ben Affleck, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The glitz factor appeared lower in New York, although actresses Angie Harmon and Derek were among the contingent. The biggest Left Coast draw was waiting in the wings: "Terminator"-turned-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to speak tonight.

Staff writer Nick Anderson contributed to this report from New York.

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