Over the course of this Sunday's three-hour plus broadcast of the Academy Awards, we're almost certainly going to hear some stars use that podium to express their political views, or call attention to their pet causes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Hollywood activism lately, because I’m just wrapping a FOX News special called “Reel Politics: If Hollywood Ran America.” (It airs Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. ET and Sunday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight ET.) After spending the last few weeks on the special, there is one thing that strikes me as ironic:
Hollywood is filled with people who pride themselves on using their influence and celebrity to really change the world. But you seldom hear praise for the one actor who left the movies and changed the world more than all other stars put together.
The man, of course, is Ronald Reagan.
Back in 1989, famed Chicago Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet reported that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences considered giving President Reagan an honorary Oscar as the first actor to make it to the White House. And the Academy rejected the idea.
If you ask me, this was a mistake, but I have just the way to make up for it. My proposal is a variation on an idea floated by former White House speechwriter David Frum a couple of years back:
The Academy should establish a new award: the Ronald Reagan Lifetime Service Award.
It should be given to the members of the Hollywood community who have worked to advance the cause of freedom, justice or the human condition through charitable work, government service, military service our any other sort of activism.
I know, the chances of Hollywood naming an Academy Award after a conservative president is slim.
McCuddy to Hollywood: whatever you think of tax cuts and Justice Antonin Scalia, the Gipper ended the Cold War, liberating millions from Soviet domination, and lessening the likelihood of nuclear annihilation.
And if that doesn’t count for enough, think of it this way:
Because of Reagan, a lot more people around the world are able to go see your movies.
And don't forget, in all his years in politics, Reagan was one Republican who rarely wagged his finger at you. Yes, there was one time in 1989, right after he left the White House, when Reagan confided to an interviewer in Japan that he was “not too proud of Hollywood these days, with the immorality that is shown in pictures, and the vulgarity.”
But then he went back to Hollywood and apologized.
“I’m sorry I was a little tardy getting here today,” he began his speech to 1,000 Hollywood bigwigs. “You see, my dentist was running late. He had a little difficulty in removing from my mouth the last piece of shoe leather I acquired in Japan.”
Reagan never lost his love of Hollywood.
How about a little love back?
Who might be nominees for the first Ronald Reagan Public Service Oscar?
Obvious choices would be U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie or actor-turned-Senator-turned-actor Fred Thompson.
But you want a surprise pick? How about a woman who, next to Ronnie himself, has arguably given more to America than any other actor?
Her Hollywood career ended in 1962, but she soon became a huge force in domestic politics. She represented America abroad with class and grace. She's campaigned against the scourge of drug abuse among children. She’s brought much needed attention to the plight of Alzheimer victims and their families. And she has been among the most influential voices in the national debate over stem cell research.
So my nomination for the first Ronald Reagan Oscar goes to... envelope please... former first lady Nancy Reagan.
That would be an acceptance speech I’d really want to tune in for.
Bill McCuddy has served as an entertainment correspondent with the FOX News Channel since joining FNC in 1996.
Tune in to FNC for Bill's special “Reel Politics: If Hollywood Ran America,” airing Saturday, Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. ET and Sunday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. ET.