Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Gregory Peck, like many of his colleagues, worked hard for six decades to hone his craft and entertain millions of moviegoers worldwide. He was an American icon, and a legend in his time. So, at risk of shining a light too long on those who deserve none, I write this to the thief (or thieves) who took his star from Hollywood's Walk of Fame last Sunday: Mr. Peck earned that star, and the respect that placed it there in the first place. You have earned nothing, and your actions help nobody. Congratulations! You are now officially part of the problem in America.

In 1998 I attended the premiere screening of USA Network’s mini-series remake of “Moby Dick,” starring Patrick Stewart as ‘Captain Ahab’ and Gregory Peck in the cameo role of ‘Father Mapple’. Peck, who played ‘Ahab’ in John Huston’s silver screen version of Herman Melville’s story, had starred in over 50 movies by that time, and this was his last role. He died in 2003.

When Mr. Stewart entered the theatre on the Paramount Studios back lot, the room was sizzling with the excitement that comes with seeing a wonderful actor and familiar icon of a long-running science fiction television series in person. But when Mr. Peck walked into the theatre, it was as though Hollywood royalty had arrived. He smiled big and waved calmly to the crowd, which had burst into applause immediately.

Being in the entertainment industry for almost twenty years now, I’ve seen a lot of people do a lot of crazy things, perhaps too numerous to ever recount. And I have also been fortunate to meet and work with many of those whose talents I have admired throughout my life. However, only four times in history has someone stolen a star from the Walk of Fame, the most recent being Gregory Peck's.

I don’t know who stole it, but I know one thing about him/her/them and those who probably watched him/her/them do it: These people disrespect the property of others. And on the list of things that concern me in life, I might place disrespect squarely at the top.

Having a little or no respect is one thing, often rooted in opinion or belief. Yet "disrespect" is quite another. It is an active lack of regard, not something we quietly hide. While we all have a right to express those opinions and beliefs, we equally have no right to take the same away from someone else. This extends to property that belongs to someone else, whether legally or figuratively. For example: Our government is run by us, by the ‘People’, but we have no right to take a police car out for a joy ride. A child may love a toy on a shelf at Target, but it's not okay to let her take it home without buying it first. And, ultimately, Gregory Peck’s fans may have paid to see his movies for half a century, yet they have no right to take his star. It’s not only illegal, it’s disrespectful, and sometimes that’s worse.

This particular theft is representative of a society we’re continuing to cultivate, one based on the idea of “me.” It is a simple premise, really: Regardless of concern for anyone around them, some people care primarily only about what they think they need in order to feel satisfied. You know what I mean -- the angry horn honking behind us the moment the light turns green because that person apparently needs to get to work faster than we do? Or the people who talk on cell phones in theatres while a movie is showing, offering only the ridiculous reasoning that, "We paid good money to be here, too!"

Well, that’s not the way I was raised, and this behvaior is indicative of a great cancer that lurks in our culture. The good news is this cancer is curable with a healthy dose of respect.

Give back the star and you’ll be part of the solution.

[The LA TIMES article]


Blogger Lori said...

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3:35 PM  

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