It is a truth universally acknowledged that Hollywood and the entire U.S. entertainment industry teems with people who are described in the U.S. political vernacular as "liberals."
But, see, it's not a truth. It's simply a lazy assumption. Many people in the entertainment industry are rich, coddled and, frankly, some are none too bright. They've had wealth thrust upon them through looks or small talent and a lucky break. They live in an isolated world that means little contact with reality. Some end up conservative nutbars. It's bound to happen.
The next time you're watching Everybody Loves Raymond, which airs about 50 times a week in syndication, and you're enjoying the predictable drollery, take note of the actress playing the put-upon wife, mother and in-law Debra Barone. That's Patricia Heaton.
Last week Heaton took a step into the public spotlight, a spotlight a side-step away from her acting roles. She came to the defence of Rush Limbaugh and his vicious attacks on Sandra Fluke, the law student and contraception advocate after she testified that Washington's Georgetown University, where she is a student, ought to help pay for contraception. Limbaugh famously sank to the depths of the gutter to call Fluke "a slut" and "a prostitute."
Heaton took to Twitter to join Limbaugh's attacks on Fluke. Some samples – "Hey G-Town Gal: If your parents have to pay for your birth control, maybe they should get a say in who you sleep with! Instant birth control!" and "G-Gal: you've given yer folks great gift for Mother's/Father's Day! Got up in front of whole world & said I'm having tons of sex – pay 4 it!"
Late last week around the time advertisers were fleeing Limbaugh's show and he issued a weaselly apology, Heaton also apologized, less weaselly, and deleted her tweets.
Heaton is deeply conservative. She's the honorary chairwoman of the group Feminists for Life which opposes abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Also, it appears, Heaton has a problem with contraception.
A recent Los Angles Times piece about Heaton's nasty tweets described her as "a Hollywood rarity" for her outspoken conservatism. But that's not true. It's not that the TV industry in L.A. has seething masses of conservatives who think contraception has blighted civilization, but there are more well-off stars who espouse right-wing views than most people think.
After Everybody Loves Raymond ended its run, Heaton's next gig was on the Fox sitcom Back to You, in which she played a bickering local news anchor, with Kelsey Grammer playing her on-air sidekick. Heaton the person had a soulmate in Grammer, the star of Cheers and Frasier. Grammer was among the backers and a public voice for a thing called RightNetwork, which launched in 2010. The thing, proposed as an online and specialty cable outlet (it seems to have stalled last year) billed itself as entertainment with "pro-America," "pro-business, pro-military sensibilities." The online version featured Sarah Palin favourite "Joe the Plumber" dissing Democrats.
Around the time Heaton was frantically backing away from her outrageous attacks on a law student, former teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron, made rich and famous by the sitcom Growing Pains, went on CNN to condemn homosexuality. He called homosexuality "unnatural," "detrimental," and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." He received support for his views from actor Stephen Baldwin, who starred in the movies The Usual Suspects and The Young Riders.
In truth, the number of Hollywood types known to you from TV who are, reportedly, registered Republicans or donate to Republican candidates and causes, is staggering. Drew Carey, Adam Sandler, Heather Locklear, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Scott Baio, to just name a few.
The thing to remember is not just the names or Patricia Heaton's loathsome attacks on a university student. It's that most network television supports the status quo. It is inherently conservative. Think about that when you watch the alleged wackiness of the family sitcom The Middle (Wednesday, ABC, CITY-TV), which stars Patricia Heaton.