The Legacy Of The Wednesday Morning Club

He  was  very  lonely  and  extremely  depressed  about  his  struggling  career.

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JONATHAN    BRANDIS    :    1976    –    2003      

Making  it  a  bit  easier  for  Hollywood  Republicans  to  come  out  of  the  political  closet  has  been  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB.

( “Rebels  With  A  Cause :  Are  Hollywood  Republicans  On  The  Verge  Of  A  Big  Break?”            by  Bridget  Johnson,  www.opinionjournal.com :  July  21,  2004 )

Author  and  activist  David  Horowitz  founded  The  Center  For  The  Study  Of            Popular  Culture  and  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB.

The  club  is  one  of  the  few  places  in  Hollywood  where  conservative  ideas  can  actually  be  uttered  out  loud.  The  club’s  purpose  is  to  support  diversity  of  thought  and  expression  within  the  entertainment  community.

( “Tales  From  The  Left  Coast :  True  Stories  Of  Hollywood  Stars  And  Their  Outrageous              Politics”  by  James  Hirsen,  Crown  Forum :  2003,  p.  160 )

In  the  meantime,  Hollywood  conservatives  are  taking  things  into  their  own  hands.         There’s  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB,  a  cozy  nest  of  Bel  Air  true  believers      who  pay  $ 500  for  monthly  receptions  at  the  Beverly  Hills  hotel.

Those  who  actually  employ  personal  assistants  gravitate  to  THE  SUNDAY  NIGHT  CLUB,  an  informal  conservative  political  salon  run  by  veteran  character  actor  Robert  Davi.

“Actors  are  frightened,”  Davi  told  me.  “They  need  a  safe  place  to  talk  about  politics.”  

(  “Young  And  Republican  In  Hollywood”  by  Ruth  Shalit,  DETAILS  magazine :                             September  2004,  p.  216 )

Given  the  scads  of  shoot’em-up  movies  that  Hollywood  produces  every  year,                         you  might  think  the  issue  of  gun  rights  could  get  a  fair  hearing  here.  Or  maybe              lowering  taxes,  especially  those  on  the  rich.  ( Spielberg,  are  you  tracking? )

You  would  be  wrong.

Put  it  this  way :  IT’S  LONELY  TO  BE  A  CONSERVATIVE  PERSON  OR  IDEA                      IN  HOLLYWOOD.

Conservative  author  and  frequent  cable  talk  show  guest  David  Horowitz  has  been  about  changing  that  for  15  years  now,  providing  a  public  forum  for  right-wing  thinkers          and  views  in  Tinseltown.

The  day  after  Bill  Clinton  was  elected  president  in  November  1992,  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB  was  born,  the  brainchild  of  a  group  of  like-minded              Southland  conservatives  who  gathered  over  breakfast  to  discuss                                how  to  advance  Republican  ideas  amid  a  Democratic  electoral  wave.

Today,  the  name  isn’t  strictly  correct.  “It’s  rarely  in  the  mornings  and                             it’s  rarely  on  Wednesdays,”  Horowitz  said.  But  its  mission  remains  the  same :              to  give  conservatives  an  opportunity  to  share  ideas,  push  their  agendas,                swap  political  tales  and  lament  their  endangered  species  status  in  Hollywood.  

An  off-shoot  of  the  West  Los  Angeles  based  David  Horowitz  Freedom  Center,                   the  group  attracts  entertainment  industry  figures,  high-powered  lawyers  and  others  to  its  dozen  or  so  events  a  year.  Speakers  include  prominent  elected  officials,  authors,  pundits  and  the  occasional  conservative-leaning  entertainer.  Confabs  are  usually  held  at  the  Beverly  Hills  Hotel.  

Horowitz  said  he  founded  the  club  to  foster  ideas  and  intellectual  discussion            about  political  issues  that  often  get  short  shrift  in  Hollywood,  such  as  gun  rights        and  tax  breaks.

HOLLYWOOD  IS  SO  DOMINATED  BY  LIBERALISM  THAT  CONSERVATIVE  AND         EVEN  MODERATE  VOICES  ARE  FREQUENTLY  STIFLED.  

“The  idea  was  just  to  have  a  civilized  conversation,”  Horowitz  said.                   “That’s  very  difficult  in  Hollywood.”  

He  was  once  part  of  that  left-wing  movement  himself.  A  self-described  communist            in  his  younger  days,  he  edited  the  far-left  Ramparts  magazine.  But  he  gradually            grew  disillusioned  with  liberalism  and  tacked  sharply  rightward  during  the  1980s.

In  the  early  1990s,  he  set  up  breakfast  and  lunch  forums  around  Los  Angeles               to  foster  political  debate,  precursors  of  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB.             Invitees  included  producer  Danny  Goldberg,  a  prominent  liberal,  and  actor  Ed  Begley  Jr.,       an  environmental  activist.

After  the  1992  election,  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB‘s  first  meeting  was                    held  at  the  home  of  producer  and  screenwriter  Lionel  Chetwynd,  one  of  Hollywood’s          few  conservative  producers.  Noting  the  hypocrisy  of  studio  bosses  who  aren’t                so  progressive  when  it  comes  to  their  own  workers’  rights,  Catherine  Seipp  wrote  that  HOLLYWOOD  IS  A  PLACE  WHERE  THE  LIBERALISM  STOPS  AT  THE  STUDIO  GATES”,  as  conservative  screenwriter  Lionel  Chetwynd  has  long  maintained.

Following  that  initial  gathering,  the  club’s  audience  began  to  grow.  Former  Education  Secretary  Bill  Bennett  spoke  to  15  to  20  people.  Former  congressman  and  Housing          and  Urban  Development  Secretary  Jack  Kemp  was  next  up,  drawing  double  that.                  The  group  then  met  for  a  while  at  the  Roosevelt  Hotel  in  Hollywood  –  site  of  the  early  Academy  Awards  ceremonies  –  with  crowds  numbering  as  many  as  150  people.

Horowitz  privately  heard  from  many  Hollywood  conservatives  who  declined  to  show  up  because  they  feared  a  career  backlash.  Entertainment  industry  figures  who  know          what’s  good  for  them,  he  said,  keep  their  conservative  creeds  to  themselves.

“PEOPLE  WERE  JUST  AFRAID  OF  APPEARING  IN  PUBLIC  WITH  ANYTHING  CONNECTED  TO  A  REPUBLICAN,”  he  said.

The  club  reached  its  zenith  of  influence  in  the  late  1990s  when  House  members,  senators  and  other  political  bigwigs  regularly  spoke  before  the  group                    while  in  Southern  California  to  scoop  up  campaign  cash.

Speakers  included  then  Senate  Majority  Leader  Trent  Lott  ( R-Miss. );  Newt  Gingrich          who  was  House  Speaker  at  the  time;  Weekly  Standard  editor  William  Kristol;  and          former  Supreme  Court  nominee  and  federal  appeals  court  Judge  Robert  Bork.

In  1999,  then  Texas  Gov.  George  W.  Bush  made  his  first  speech  in  California  as               a  declared  presidential  candidate  at  THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB.

In  recent  years,  attendance  has  dropped  due  to  the  busy  schedules  of             entertainment  types  and  politicos  who  were  once  more  active.  Still,  the  group          has  extended  speaking  invitations  to  all  of  the  2008  Republican  presidential  candidates.

THE  WEDNESDAY  MORNING  CLUB’s  greatest  legacy,  Horowitz  said,  are  the  other  conservative-related  groups  it  spawned  among  entertainment  professionals 

That  includes  THE  LIBERTY  FILM  FESTIVAL  founded  in  July  2004  “to  celebrate                free  speech,  patriotism,  religious  freedom  and  democracy  by  providing  a  forum          in  the  heart  of  Hollywood  for  conservative  and  libertarian  filmmakers”  according  to  the  group’s  website.

Another  off-shoot  of  the  group  –  THE  SUNDAY  EVENING  CLUB  –  meets  from  time  to  time  at  Havana  on  Sunset,  a  popular  Cuban  restaurant  and  bar  in  Los  Angeles.

Look  for  the  menu  to  include  lots  of  conservative  political  talk.

( “Breakfast  Club :  A  Sanctum  For  Lonely  L. A.  Conservatives”  by  David  Mark,                          POLITICO :  May  1,  2007 )

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