WASHINGTON, June 5, 2014 — Actors and directors make money by making films, and convening a meeting to explore making a film is something that happens in Hollywood every day. However, do those involved have a duty to make sure the money they are taking in and the film they are producing both pass the smell test?
Susan Sarandon is an outspoken opponent of fracking and recently appeared along with Yoko Ono in a video opposing fracking in New York state. The video is financed and produced by the group Artists Against Fracking, established by Yoko and Sean Lennon.
A formal complaint by the Independent Oil & Gas Association to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics has been filed with New York’s lobbying board asking the board to investigate whether Artists Against Fracking is violating the state’s lobbying law. Lennon’s defense is that they are not lobbyists, but long-time activists.
Like Ed Begley, Jr. before her, Hollywood actress Sarandon and her manager have been captured on video agreeing to make an anti-fracking film, even as the investor informs Sarandon’s personal assistant and activism manager, Chris Talbott, that foreign oil money will be paying for it.
The question is whether Hollywood influencers should accept foreign money to effectively advocate America’s dependence on foreign oil. Talbott demonstrates his absolute complicity in creating the film, and is ready to take in more than $4.2 million in order to do just that.
Sarandon is chief among the many Hollywood liberals who have spoken out against fracking, a technique employed to release natural gas and reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil. The debate here, though, is not about fracking as much as it is about the appearance that Sarandon, or at least Talbott, is happy to take a bag of silver coins from Middle East interests to help keep America foreign-oil dependent.
The video, created by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, comes in both a short documentary film version highlighting clips of the conversations as well as a full two-hour, un-edited version. The 19-minute short version appears below.
In May 2014, hidden camera footage released by O’Keefe exposed Academy Awards Governor Ed Begley Jr., actress Mariel Hemingway, and Sundance Award-winning director Josh Tickell agreeing to accept OPEC funding to produce a film aimed at ending U.S. moves toward energy independence.
In this video Sarandon is seen conversing with an undercover video journalist posing as an advertising executive explaining that his client (Muhammad) has interests in funding an anti-American energy production / fracking documentary, despite having different motives for opposing this industry than the environmentalists.
“Muhammad” is clearly heard stating his motivation is the future dependence of America on foreign oils.
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Sarandon then connects him to Chris Talbott for further discussions.
Talbott speaks for Sarandon, expressing her concerns about the source of the money for the film, saying, “I know that Susan’s (Sarandon) going to feel that if it’s anonymous backing – and if anyone should find out, despite our best efforts to keep it a secret – that there would be blowback that would impact her.”
Talbott goes on to suggest that he has the influence to get other non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved to help spread the word about the proposed film. This is one of the issues that the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works has been investigating: the alleged attempts by such groups to cover up the role of foreign money in projects like the one proposed to Talbott and Sarandon.
“This goes to show how Ed Begley, Mariel Hemingway, and Josh Tickell are not the only Hollywood environmentalists looking to make a fast buck in the name of ‘green energy’ while attacking U.S. energy and quite possibly national security,” O’Keefe says. “This second report shows that Sarandon and Talbott are willing to keep a ‘secret’ as well.”
O’Keefe, who has been criticized for allegedly deceptive editing or “doctoring” recordings, says that “All journalists and their editors edit their stories for readability, to highlight facts and the most newsworthy soundbites; we do the same, and we go a step further by always releasing the complete un-edited raw footage in addition to our final package for all to see. We call on all journalists to do the same. Project Veritas is about exposing the truth through video – Cinéma vérité.”
O’Keefe is best known for his investigative reports that brought down ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) and the CEO of NPR (National Public Radio) with similar undercover video reports. He recently released his latest film as a short documentary film at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2014.