UPDATED, Monday 6:58 PM: Forty-nine celebrities participated in the Ryan Murphy-produced tribute video, honoring the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting massacre. The 18-minute tribute (watch it above), directed by Murphy and Ned Martel, was released today by the Human Rights Campaign. This video comes the same day that Modern Family‘s exec producer Steve Levitan invited friends and the media to the Fox lot to listen to a talk about gun violence, politics and the NRA from an Everytown for Gun Safety executive.
First the video: it features a photo of each victim, accompanied by a celebrity recounting that person’s individual story. It was filmed over three days, at Fox Studios in Los Angeles.
“The hate that stole these 49 individuals from all those who loved them has been allowed to flourish in our country for too long,” said Murphy in a statement. “No person is born hating another, and we have an obligation as Americans to stand up against prejudice and bigotry that would incite violence against someone simply for who they are. I am proud to have joined with Ned Martel, my talented colleagues, and the Human Rights Campaign to honor these 49 heroes and stop the hate.”
Meanwhile, Levitan hosted an event on the Fox lot in the Zanuck theater where about 60 TV writers and producers joined together to listen to Everytown’s John Feinblatt talk about the NRA, Hollywood’s creative coalition and the support from Hollywood as well as why Democrats have embraced the gun issue now. Levitan told Deadline that he had two friends die of gun violence about two decades ago, one from a suicide and another who was murdered, but feels that “this lobbying group, the NRA, has so much power and the only way to compete with it is for people to standing up against it.”
Feinblatt noted that they thought things would change “after 20 children” were taken in Sandy Hook, but their legislative attempts for universal background checks failed. However, we cannot forget that there were also six educators taken, including the Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung whose daughter Erica Smegielski has been helping Everytown relentlessly in putting forth their message.
Feinblatt also talked about the strength of the NRA and spoke about how early on they were looking to build a grassroots effort so ended up merging efforts with Shannon Watts who founded Moms Demand Action days after Sandy Hook. Since they merged, they’ve been working on legislation state by state. He said progress was being made.
“So when you look around the states and Washington D.C., you are seeing a lot of very significant action. You’re seeing the NRA losing. You’re seeing gun safety win. You’re seeing the Democratic party coming back to this issue and then … look at what the courts are doing,” said Feinblatt. “There are some very encouraging signs.”
Why did the Democratic politicians come back to the gun issue after both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama avoided it previously and after the Democratic party abandon the gun issue back in 1994? “Some significant things have happened that made the Democratic party rethink their position on this,” said Feinblatt. “If you were to look back at 2008 when Hillary Clinton ran against Barack Obama you will find that even though that happened very shortly after Virginia Tech, neither of those candidates wanted to talk about guns and gun safety. They actually wanted to avoid it. Many of you will remember that Hillary Clinton at the time said that her father had taught her how to be a duck hunter, and that was actually her cred on the issue with the gun lobby.” Now, he said, every politican is talking about the issue.
“Suddenly the Democratic party has, once again, embraced the issue of gun safety … I think that happened for a number of reasons … I’ll give you two … they actually watched what was happening in the states and they watched the polling in the states and they saw ballot initiatives being successful and legislative efforts being successful and there’s something else that happened: The Democratic party finally realized that the NRA would not support Democrats and that really happened in the last (election) cycle,” said Feinblatt.
He also gave a shout out to Julianne Moore who created the creative council with 125 members. He said that her efforts on social media has helped greatly. “We came up with this … we didn’t actually come up with this … we became the sponsor of something called Wear Orange” for gun safety which was started by a friend of victim Haidya Pendleton who was shot in the back and killed in a park in Chicago after taking her final exams. “Everybody thinks that the NRA represents America. This is a very simple way (wearing orange) to show everyone that they don’t … the creative council was one of the most important agents in getting that message out.”
He urged those listening inside the theater to get involved and to donate to them and to donate to politicians who have gun sense. “Money speaks really, really loudly.” He also urged writers, when appropriate, to write basic gun safety sense into movies and television shows. “When you are working on a show and there are story line capabilities … potential for story lines that talk about gun safety … you all send very important cultural messages, and movies and TV are obviously one of ways that we send cultural messages and it’s extraordinarily important. If there’s a fit in a story line or it can be naturally be put into a story line, an issue about gun safety or an issue about background checks or how you save lives in this country that’s always extraordinarily helpful.”
Asked if he thinks that Hollywood contributes to the culture of violence in this country? He said quickly, “No, I do not. The reason why I say that is because Canada and the UK have the same video games, same movies, same television shows and the gun violence rate looks nothing like ours. I think they are getting actually the same cultural message.”
There are more than twice as many gun shops in America as there are McDonalds. In fact, there are more gun shops in the U.S. than McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway Sandwich shops combined. There are more gun shops in American than grocery stores.
The celebrities who participated in the Ryan Murphy-produced video are: Lady Gaga, Chris Pine, Cuba Gooding Jr., Connie Britton, Matt Bomer, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Lea Michele, Colton Haynes, Sophia Bush, Jane Fonda, Harry Shum Jr., Denis O’Hare, Rob Reiner, Melissa Benoist, Caitlyn Jenner, Edgar Ramirez, Max Greenfield, Chaz Bono, Cheyenne Jackson, Emma Roberts, Kerry Washington, George Lopez, Evan Rachel Wood, Sofía Vergara, Diego Boneta, Nina Jacobson, Demi Lovato, Tyler Oakley, Yeardley Smith, Kid Cudi, Kaitlin Olson, Kevin McHale, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lee Daniels, Chace Crawford, Evan Peters, Gerard Butler, Katey Sagal, John Stamos, Laverne Cox, Jordana Brewster, Wes Bentley, Finn Wittrock, Darren Criss, Kathy Bates, Anna Paquin, Guillermo Díaz and Joe Mantello.