UPDATE 1-Hollywood quiet so far on gun control after Connecticut

Jill Serjeant
Reuters Middle East

* Major action heroes stay mum after Connecticut killings

* "Jack Reacher" movie events canceled, TV makes changes

* Hollywood irked when blamed for gun violence

LOS ANGELES, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Pick a social cause and

you'll often find a Hollywood celebrity speaking out. Gay

marriage (Brad Pitt), Darfur (George Clooney), the environment

(Robert Redford or Leonardo DiCaprio).

Gun control? Not so much.

Most of Hollywood's biggest action movie stars have remained

silent, so far, on the divisive issue following last week's

slaying of 20 young children and six adults at a Connecticut

school. And pop culture experts say it's not hard to see why.

"If you are known for being a star who carries around

weaponry and fires it, when something like this happens, the

last thing in the world you want to do is insert yourself ...

unless you say you are never going to star in another

action-adventure movie," Robert Thompson, professor of popular

culture at Syracuse University, said on Monday.

Longtime gun control advocates like actress Susan Sarandon

and "Bowling for Columbine" documentary director Michael Moore

were quick to take to Twitter after Friday's Connecticut

massacre, and tens of thousands of Americans have since signed

online petitions urging approval of stricter gun control laws.

Yet major action heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis,

Denzel Washington, as well as Pitt and Clooney, have had little

or nothing public to say.

That may change, according to a veteran public relations

executive who handles many Hollywood clients.

"I think there will be a very public display of outrage

from prominent people in the entertainment world and people

wanting to do something about guns," said the public relations

chief who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to

speak for his clients.

"I think the stereotypical Hollywood action star not wanting

to touch an issue like this may be dated. There is a lot of talk

about people wanting to express very public outrage. Let's see

who joins, and how that manifests itself," he told Reuters.


With Hollywood studios again under scrutiny for making

violent movies, Paramount Pictures canceled Saturday's premiere

in Pittsburgh of Tom Cruise's new film "Jack Reacher," in which

Cruise plays a cold-blooded former military sniper.

In New York, the Lincoln Center Film Society postponed a

Monday screening and conversation with Cruise "out of respect

for the families who lost loved ones in Newtown, Connecticut,"

according to a statement.

"Jack Reacher," which opens with a sniper picking off and

killing five apparently random targets on a riverfront

promenade, is due to open in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

Cruise has said nothing publicly about the shootings in

Connecticut, and maintained his silence on the subject during a

Monday appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman" to promote

the film.

But "Jack Reacher" director Christopher McQuarrie told

entertainment industry website TheWrap.com that the actor played

a key role in the decision to cancel the red carpet premiere in

Pittsburgh - where much of the movie was shot.

"Tom and I insisted on it. Nobody should be celebrating

anything 24 hours after a tragic event like that," McQuarrie

told TheWrap on Monday.

Letterman, however, spoke at length about the killings

before Cruise joined him on the set, saying "it's a sad, sad

holiday season."

The talk show host also said that gun laws were not the

answer to a "multi-faceted" social ill.

"I'm not dumb enough to think that this is a problem of

guns, because before there were guns people were killing each

other," Letterman said.

He added that he was mystified by the "need" for

semi-automatic weapons like one reportedly used in the

Connecticut massacre. In a lighter vein, he remarked: "I've

never seen a deer worth 30 rounds of ammo and an automatic


On television, the Fox broadcast network pulled graphic

trailers for its upcoming serial killer drama "The Following,"

and replaced Sunday episodes of animated shows "Family Guy" and

"American Dad" to avoid what a network source called the airing

of "any potentially sensitive content."

The finale of Emmy-winning drama "Homeland" - which included

a massive car bomb scene - was preceded with a disclaimer

warning that some scenes may be disturbing.


Hollywood is often irked when movies and videogames are held

to blame for the actions of Americans, some of them with mental

health issues, who have run amok with guns in recent years.

"I think it's always unfair to single out the entertainment

business for scrutiny. There is something deep in the American

psyche that is much deeper than videogames or movie or records,"

the public relations executive said.

Despite the 12 people killed and 59 wounded by a gunman at a

Colorado movie screening in July of "The Dark Knight Rises," the

Batman movie went on to make more than $1 billion at the global

box office and is the second most-successful movie in the United

States and Canada for 2012.

Thompson at Syracuse University questioned how much

influence celebrities wield when expressing their personal

opinions - whatever the cause - and especially on an issue like

gun control that raises such passion in the United States on

both sides of the argument.

"It is much more likely that that kind of speaking out gets

people to change their opinion about a celebrity, not an issue,"

Thompson said

Besides, he said, who really cares what random stars think

about events as emotive as the Connecticut killings?

"Celebrities weighing in after something like this is

perceived by a lot of people as tacky. The idea of expecting

(their) opinion to somehow make anything better or different is,

I think, perceived by a lot of people as self-centered hubris,"

Thompson said.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes