You’ve probably heard it all: How Ron Silver, founder of the Manhattan-based liberal group The Creative Coalition (TCC) offended his West Coast colleagues by suggesting they are driven more by passion than brains when it comes to matters political. This brought an angry response from Margery Tabankin, executive director of the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, which includes Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda, who complained of ”the arrogance and unfounded nature of Silver’s comments.”
All this happened on the eve of the announcement that TCC, a three-year- old, 450-member group that includes Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Blythe Danner, Christopher Reeve, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg, would be opening a West Coast office this year to pursue liberal causes ranging from campaign advertising reform to health-care system changes. ”We have over 100 members in Los Angeles, and we want to service them properly,” says TCC executive director Cristine Cronin.
Although Silver can’t be reached for comment (a spokeswoman says he’s in rehearsal for the play And in New York), Tabankin claims her group and Silver’s have settled their differences. But other West Coast liberals admit some unease at Silver’s caustic comments. ”We weren’t offended, but Ron Silver has caused a stir, and that’s an understatement,” says Jennifer Perry, executive director of the Children’s Action Network. Adds producer Carole Isenberg, cofounder of Education First, ”He’s basically saying, ‘You’re a bunch of airheads.”’ Fearing injury after the insult, some worry that the new West Coast TCC could drain dwindling resources for liberal groups.
But Cronin says TCC, which is primarily supported by members’ dues, will raise its money on the East Coast. And at the moment, TCC, Tabankin’s WPC, and a third group, People for the American Way, are working together on a massive pro-choice march scheduled for April 5 in Washington. Says Michael Hudson, vice president of People for the American Way (which was founded by Norman Lear), ”There’s an old expression — when liberals begin a political battle, the first thing they do is form a firing squad. Obviously, we’re hoping to avoid that situation with Ron Silver and TCC.”