TEA Party Invades Hollywood

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Conservatives, patriots, and Christians more often than not are portrayed by Hollywood as uneducated, stupid, knuckle-dragging bigots and racists.

Now, some conservatives are fighting back.

A couple of TEA Partiers have formed their own production company, Colony Bay, with a television drama set in Colonial America as its first project.

“Courage, New Hampshire,” is the drama’s first episode, which after its premiere this Sunday in a movie theater, will go straight to DVD because Colony Bay couldn’t find a distribution partner.

Paul Bond writes for the Hollywood Reporter, June 23, 2011:

Those who belong to the conservative movement known as the Tea Party are acutely aware of the power of popular culture, so they have been cautiously delving into the creation of entertainment that promotes their values. […] Coming Sunday…is perhaps the most ambitious effort yet: A “TV show” created by a couple of Tea Partiers who have formed their own production company.

The one-hour drama is called Courage, New Hampshire, and it premiers Sunday at a movie theater in Monrovia, Calif. […] Courage has the pacing and feel of a soap opera, though it’s set in Colonial America. While its creators are making it as a TV show, there’s no distribution partner, so it’s going straight to DVD after the premiere. The company, Colony Bay, is also trying to strike deals with conservative online TV outlets, like Glenn Beck’s GBTV and Kelsey Grammar’s Right Network, and are seeking a television VOD partner.

Colony Bay was founded by James Patrick Riley and Jonathan Wilson, who started in Hollywood as an assistant in ICM’s motion picture literary department and became director of development for Peter Hyams, working on films like End of Days with Arnold Schwarzenegger. They met when Wilson was forming the Pasadena chapter of Tea Partiers and he recruited Riley, an experienced Patrick Henry impersonator, to perform at an event.

[…] References to the country’s founding are a staple at Tea Party rallies that are attended by an estimated 9 million people, so a show about Colonial America ought to appeal to them. Leaning primarily on Tea Partiers for your audience, though, is a risky business, as the makers of Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 learned when they tapped the political movement to market their film, which opened strong but petered out quickly.

Wilson and Riley, though, are hoping they have a show that will attract history buffs of all political persuasions, much like HBO did with its Emmy-winning John Adams miniseries and Mel Gibson did with The Patriot, a feature film that earned $113 million domestically 11 years ago.

The most seasoned cast member in Courage is Basil Hoffman, who had a recurring role on Hill Street Blues and other TV shows as well as film roles in Old Dogs, Night Shift, My Favorite Year and Ordinary People. Hoffman said at a Los Angeles Tea Party rally last year: “I’m here in defense of America, of free speech, low taxes, liberty. I was surprised to learn how many Tea Partiers there are in Hollywood. Most won’t talk about it, though.”

[…] The first episode of Courage is subtitled “The Travail of Sarah Pine” and stars Alexandra Oliver as a colonial woman who accuses a British soldier of the crime of “bastardy.” (A trailer is below). Riley said that realism was paramount because “Hollywood tends to make over the past in its own image – 18th century women become raging feminists; statesmen become agnostics or rakes. […] I’d like to concentrate on some of the regular folk who made the Revolution possible, mix the narrative tension of The Sopranos and the redemptive, heroic American exceptionalism of Frank Capra.”

And he figures Hollywood is probably against him, given its antagonism to Tea Partiers. He even debated the topic with Mitchell Hurwitz when the creator of Arrested Development visited his farm once. “The Tea Party came up and he was a little dismissive and I told him I was a part of it,” Riley said. “He thought it was all about guarding our pocket books at all costs.”

In fact, Riley said he didn’t even bother pitching the show to traditional TV outlets. “They wouldn’t get it, or trust us. We know we’re new, and we’d like to prove ourselves on our own, without focus groups or leftist-orthodoxies telling us which stories to tell,” Riley said. “Most TV sitcoms and dramas tend to depict conservatives and traditionalists and people of faith as halfwits. That tactic lost its edge about four decades ago and we think it’s time to turn the tables,” he said.

Hmm, few as they are, there are conservatives in Hollywood.

Doesn’t Mel Gibson have his own movie-making and distribution company, Icon Productions? And isn’t he supposed to be a conservative?

But then, he’s probably too busy recovering from his disastrous (and reportedly abusive) adulterous affair with Oksana Grigorieva, with whom he fathered an illegitimate child.

Check out Colony Bay Productions’ website, where you can watch the trailer for “Courage” and order the DVD. Click here!

~Eowyn

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