A Time Warner shareholder has accused the Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman of using a press tour for the film Dolphin Tale to forward his own political agenda rather than promote the movie.
When Freeman appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight show in September 2011 while promoting the family drama, he made a statement in which he labelled the US rightwing Tea Party movement racist over its opposition to president Barack Obama.
Citing statistics suggesting that US filmgoers of all persuasions are less likely to view films featuring stars who express political opinions differing from their own, a spokesperson for shareholder David Ridenour said Warner Bros, a Time Warner subsidiary, should take steps to ensure Morgan buttoned his lip while promoting his next movie with the studio, comic book tale The Dark Knight Rises.
The statement was made at the annual shareholders’ meeting at the Warner Bros studio in Burbank, California. Ridenour asked: “What specific steps will Time Warner take to ensure that Mr Freeman avoids such divisive and insulting words while promoting his next Warner Bros film, The Dark Knight Rises?”
The shareholder, who runs a conservative thinktank, said Freeman’s views may have caused filmgoers to avoid Dolphin Tale, which performed more weakly than had been expected at the US box office last year. However, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said there was not much the company could do even if that were the case.
“What can we do about it? Is that the question? Not much,” he said, to a smattering of applause. “It doesn’t usually have a significant commercial effect on the success of the film.”
Freeman told Morgan last year that the Tea Party’s determination to avoid a second term under Obama was fuelled by prejudice towards the colour of the president’s skin.
“Stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term,” he said. “What … underlines that? The country. We’re going to do whatever we do to get this black man … outta here.”
The star of Driving Miss Daisy and The Shawshank Redemption added: “It just shows the weak, dark, underside of America. We’re supposed to be better than that. We really are. That’s why all those people were in tears when Obama was elected president. ‘Ah, look at what we are … this is America.’ You know? And then it just sort of started turning because these people surfaced like stirring up muddy water.”
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