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Celebrities shoot for place on NRA's anti-gun list
By Simon Houpt, Toronto Globe and Mail

NEW YORK -- The hottest "must have" among celebrities this season isn't a high-end cellphone, rare handbag or unusual breed of dog: It is membership on a blacklist of entertainers considered by the National Rifle Association to be "antigun."

Dustin Hoffman's is the latest name to be added to the list compiled by the NRA to urge its members to boycott entertainers and organizations the association considers unfriendly. The list is now threatening to encompass most of Hollywood, many high-profile journalists, and dozens of organizations with membership in the millions, such as the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Organization for Women.

Hoffman drew the organization's ire when he learned he had been left off the list despite his long-standing backing of gun control. "As a supporter of comprehensive antigun safety measures, I was deeply disappointed when I discovered my name was not on the list," he wrote in a letter to the NRA. "I was particularly surprised by the omission given my opposition to the loophole that makes it legal for 18- to 20-year-olds to buy handguns at gun shows."

The NRA list, on the organization's website, now spans 19 pages and reads like a Who's Who of America. It includes more than 140 organizations, from A&M Records to the St. Louis Rams; 23 media companies; and almost 250 entertainers. Celebrities on the list run from A to Z: Suzy Amis to Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Julia Roberts, Britney Spears, Matt Damon, Richard Gere and George Clooney in between. Also included are actors Howie Mandel and Mike Myers, and singers Amanda Marshall, k.d. lang and Shania Twain.

An organization called Stop the NRA this week ran a full-page ad in Daily Variety inviting other Hollywood stars to volunteer for the list. Stop the NRA, a division of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says more than 25,000 people have now volunteered for membership.

An NRA spokesman denied the list was to be used for a boycott, but the association's CEO Wayne Lapierre recently told a Fox News interviewer that placing a celebrity on the list, "kind of puts a permanent stain on the way our members feel about them. They don't want to buy their movies. They don't want to buy their songs. They don't want to support their careers."

The comprehensiveness of the list suggests an odd future for American culture if the NRA is successful in shutting down the companies and individuals it considers antigun. The television networks ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS would cease broadcasting, along with Time Warner's CNN, TNT and HBO (proprietor of the less-than-Gandhi-esque mob drama The Sopranos). Magazines from Time to Rolling Stone to Motorcycle Cruiser could disappear.

McCall's magazine, which was rechristened Rosie, is also on the list, despite closing up shop a year ago.

It is unclear if members would be encouraged to watch reruns of the 1980s private-eye caper "Magnum P.I.," since its star Tom Selleck is a well-known NRA supporter, but the series aired on CBS.

The list includes some unlikely candidates, such as news personality Geraldo Rivera, who famously stated that he was carrying a gun when he went to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and would gladly shoot Osama bin Laden if he found him. It also includes companies that have released some of the most violent films in recent history, including Time Warner's "The Matrix." Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of Miramax, which released "Kill Bill," is also on the list.

Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik says Weinstein does not know the reason for his membership, although it may stem from his support for politicians who back some limited gun control. "He certainly seems to have plenty of good company, whether it's the Catholic groups or the Jewish groups or the many other talented people on there," Hiltzik said.

Hallmark Cards, which likely benefits from gun violence by offering get-well cards that adorn the hospital bedsides of many shooting victims across the nation, is on the list for its opposition to a Missouri proposition in 1999 that would have permitted concealed weapons in the workplace.

"Company policy is that employees are not allowed to bring weapons into the building," explained Hallmark spokeswoman Linda Odell.

( Scripps Howard News Service)

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