In Hollywood, where sex, drugs, and Democrats are as bountiful and commonplace as eco-chic Nalgene water bottles and True Religion blue jeans, can any movie be produced capable of sending shrill shockwaves deep into the core of Los Angeles’ conscience? It seems such a feat is indeed possible. Movie directors David Zucker and Myrna Sokoloff discovered they struck a raw nerve with the L.A. crowd by making a film with a (gasp!) conservative political message.
Their film, An American Carol, is a comedy that Sokoloff says goes “straight at the left” by emphasizing four messages: America is a force for good in the world; the U.S. military should be honored and respected; appeasement is wrong and ineffective and America was founded by people of faith.
Naturally this message is being perceived as a direct affront upon Hollywood’s value system and political philosophy as a whole.
“Hollywood’s a business. However, they also have an agenda,” Sokoloff told bloggers at the Heritage Foundation earlier this month.
She notes that An American Carol does not fit the usual Hollywood mold and is therefore anticipating a negative reaction to the movie among her LA peers.
“One, they’ll either say this is just another stupid David Zucker tasteless comedy, who cares? Or the mainstream media is going to come after us because it’s so dangerous. [They’ll say] that it’s a Republican movie, it’s a conservative movie, it’s not really a comedy so that the general audience wouldn’t want to see it.”
Sokoloff’s instinct is proving to be sharp as the movie is already generating searing backlash from the local press. A Los Angeles Times blog reviewed the movie and the headline was “The Republicans are invading!” to which Sokoloff replied that liberals “think they own this town and we are somehow aliens… was a telling comment.”
But both Zucker and Sokoloff are unafraid of an allergic reaction to their project from the press and will not succumb to peer pressure induced by a deliriously pro-Obama landscape. “We are really forceful about what believe, and we are finally saying it,” declares Sokoloff.
To even get this project off the ground was a monumental struggle in itself due to the lack of producers daring enough to fund such a project. But the two filmmakers found a financial haven in MPower Pictures, a production company run by two conservative actors (John Shepard and Todd Burns) and Stephen McEveety, who produced The Passion of the Christ.
With Mpower on board, the film was able to become a reality, and An American Carol is now slated to hit about 2,000 theatres nationwide on October 3rd.
Sokoloff believes although the movie conveys a conservative motif, it will have mass appeal to a general audience because America is split virtually 50-50 ideologically.
She stresses that it’s a comedy, not a documentary, riddled with political jokes that will make the whole audience laugh even while it pokes fun at a myriad of leftist personalities and organizations, like Michael Moore and MoveOn.org.
The star of the show is Kevin Farley, brother of the late comedian Chris Farley, who plays an overweight, disheveled filmmaker named Michael Malone who is crusading to abolish the Fourth of July. However, in a Charles Dickens fashion, Malone sees the error of his ways when he is visited by three great American spirits: George Washington, George S. Patton and John F. Kennedy.
The story line is obviously risqué in liberal Hollywood, but Sokoloff’s chief motive in making such a movie is to change Hollywood so there is room for conservative movies and maybe even conservatives themselves.
Her own experience as a Republican in liberal land has been characterized by keeping quiet about her beliefs and biting her tongue when movie-types run off at the mouth bashing George W. Bush and the like, something she calls “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”
“You can’t imagine how vicious it is,” Sokoloff says.
Sokoloff and Zucker were especially anxious when it came to asking actors (whom they assumed to be Democrats) to play the part of Michael Malone. When first approaching Kevin Farley, Sokoloff says she danced around the issue that An American Carol was a conservative movie in order to reel in Kevin Farley.
“We had to get to the point where we’re actually asking him to play the role of Michael Moore as a comedy. How he would react to it, we weren’t sure. So we sort of didn’t tell him that part for a while,” she recalls.
The guise was up as soon after Farley read the script (which he received strict instructions not to show his agent). Farley asked if they were Republicans and then laughingly told the directors he was conservative too.
“We were doing the Hollywood dance,” Sokoloff says. “Not knowing what the other one felt, assuming they were Democrats and not wanting to tip our hand. He thought, literally, that if we found out he was a conservative, we wouldn’t give him the job.”
The funny thing is Sokoloff was a Democrat long before she became a Republican, and only switched parties after September 11. Zucker (director of Airplane! and The Naked Gun) is also a former Democrat, and having an experience similar to Sokoloff’s, it wasn’t long before the two began collaborating in creative endeavors to support their new political party. In 2004, the duo became famous for producing the ads that painted John Kerry as a flip-flopper on the issues.
But as a recent convert to the party on the right, Sokoloff wants her voice to be heard in Hollywood as much as a liberal’s voice. For decades now, screaming and hollering liberals have dominated the movie-making scene by advocating a liberal party agenda, muting the conservative message and values.
But enough is enough, Sokoloff says.
“We want to be able to be openly conservative and not feel like we’re going to get hit,” Sokoloff says. “We have a right to our opinions and we would like to say it, just like the left has a right to say it.”
Emily Miller is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.