* 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.
CRUISE IN SPOTLIGHT FOR "JACK REACHER"
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
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
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.
AMERICAN PYSCHE AT FAULT?
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,"
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,"