When Tom Selleck walked onto the set of the "Rosie O'Donnell Show" on May 19, 1999, he thought that he was going to talk about his current movie "The Love Letter." In short order, Rosie launched an attack on Selleck's views on guns. Selleck quickly ended the interview and retreated.
Rosie has a right to express her views. Etiquette is another matter.
Even Howard Stern jumped on O'Donnell for her behavior, calling her a hypocrite because she is a spokesperson for K-Mart, which sells guns and ammunition. K-Mart was flooded with protests about her behavior. O'Donnell later apologized, defending herself by saying that K-Mart does not sell handguns.
K-Mart has since dropped O'Donnell as a spokesperson, but recently stopped selling handgun ammunition. Who won?
Two years later, Rosie's name is still vilified in many shooting sports discussion sessions on the Internet and elsewhere. It's time to set aside the matter of Rosie as a target. What happened to Tom Selleck? Like Kurt Russell, who a few years earlier was lambasted in the Hollywood Press by animal rights advocates for organizing a celebrity elk hunt, he slipped quietly into the bushes to avoid losing work.
Hollywood is, unfortunately, a place that's very concerned with image, and it has been heavily infiltrated by animal rights and anti-gun people. Tom and Kurt need to pay their bills, too. I am not criticizing Tom or Kurt. Rather, I think it is the hunting and shooting sports community who should be ashamed for not doing more to support celebrities who stick their necks out and say that they shoot and hunt.
Charleton Heston has done a tremendous job of raising public awareness as President of the NRA, and he does get credit. But Charleton already has his pension plan paid for.
Ted Nugent unabashedly stands up for hunting and shooting whenever and wherever he can. Ted, however, is a well-known musician with a strong following that will keep him getting booked until he can't walk or crawl onto the stage. Same for Tracy Byrd and Aaron Tippin.
It's a lot easier for a musician, because they can self-promote and produce their own acts more easily. We pay to hear name musicians. They are irreplaceable.
Actors have a different reality. For every available acting role there are hundreds, maybe thousands, waiting in line to take it if the front runner stumbles.They are seldom their own bosses and more vulnerable to political attack and public opinion.
People hire actors, often investing millions on them for just one picture or show. Only 5 percent of the members of Screen Actors' Guild make more than $70,000 a year. Only 15 percent of the 135,000 members of SAG make at least $7,500 a year to qualify for health insurance benefits.
My point is that when actors and others from Hollywood are willing to stand up and say that they enjoy shooting sports or hunting, I think they deserve more support from hunters and shooters. Celebrities are role models and opinion leaders. Their behavior influences attitudes, even laws. When any celebrity says that they hunt or enjoy guns, if you agree, find ways to let them know about it. They are risking their careers. Would you do the same thing in their shoes?
One way to support celebrity shooters is coming up August 4, 2001. The Fifth Annual Hollywood Celebrity Shoot (http://hollywoodcelebrityshoot.com) will be held in South El Monte, California, at the Triple B Shooting Sports Park. Some 70 to 80 well-known actors, writers, producers, directors and musicians will turn out for a day of shooting sports events to benefit two charities: Disability Resources and Sugarbugs, Inc. (kids with diabetes).
In past years Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, Leslie Easterbrook, Robert Stack, Lou "The Amazing Hulk" Ferrigno, Frank Stallone, Anne Lockhart, Jameson Parker, Ruth Buzzi, Michael Gregory, Marshall Teague, and many more have turned out for this event. It's open to the public. You can shoot in teams with the stars for prizes, or just hang out and eat lunch with them.
If you can't make this event, try to make one of the other celebrity shooting sports events that are cropping up all around the US. If you want celebrities to stand for shooting sports and speak out, maybe even argue with Rosie and others, then find some ways to express your appreciation for the good guys.
Irlene Mandrell Celebrity Shoot, (www.irlenemandrellshoot.com) Markham Park, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Beneficiary: Wish Upon A Star, Inc.
Missouri Invitational Celebrity Turkey Hunt, Warsaw, MO. Beneficiary: Children's Mercy Hospital and local charities. MICTH, P.O. Box 613, Warsaw, MO 65355. 660-438-5258.($1 gets you a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to Warsaw as an "instant celebrity.")
Sugar Bugs Celebrity Shoot (formerly Senator Fred Thompson Celebrity Shoot), Nashville, TN. Beneficiary: Sugarbugs, Inc. (children with diabetes). P.O. Box 23162, Nashville, TN 37202, 615-327-4074 (Diane Rottigner, director)
Hollywood Celebrity Shoot at Triple B Shotgun Sports Park in S. El Monte, California. Beneficiary: Disability Resources, and Sugarbugs. Inc.
1st Quail Unlimited Celebrity Dove Hunt, Edgefield, SC and Albany, GA. Beneficiary: Quail Unlimited. 31 Quail Run, Edgefield, SC 29824, 803-637-5731.
Louise Mandrell Celebrity Shoot, Nashville, TN. Beneficiary: Boy Scouts of America, Nashville Gun Club 615-742-5297.
October 26, 27, 28
5th Annual Ducks Unlimited Celebrity Shoot, Hawaii. (previous hosts have included Tom Selleck, Arnold Schwarznegger, Bob Stack and Irlene Mandrell) Contact information: 808-280-2267 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Celebrity Pheasant Hunt, Yankton, SD, 605-665-7811
12th Annual Waterfowl USA Celebrity Hunt, N. Little Rock, Arkansas, 501-758-1424 www.waterfowlusa.org
Ted Nugent YO Ranch Safari. Benefits Ted's "Kamp for Kids" program. Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, 4133 West Michigan Avenue, Jackson, MI, 1-800-343-hunt.
James Swan is the author of the book "In Defense of Hunting."
To purchase a copy visit his website.