For those who remember the controversy surrounding the financing of the anti-fracking Matt Damon film Promised Land, this new undercover video from James O’Keefe and Project Veritas will simply confirm suspicions. O’Keefe set himself up as an ersatz Middle Eastern oil baron in order to test the Hollywood environmental waters to see how welcome his supposed money would be in attacking American energy independence. The big names in this effort, Ed Begley Jr and Mariel Hemingway, will get the most notice but are in essence collateral damage. The real targets for this probe are Josh and Rebecca Tickell, award-winning producers who are all too keen to take Middle Eastern money to attack American natural-gas exploration:
“This latest investigation shows the dark side of Hollywood’s environmental movement. Hollywood is willing to take and conceal money from Middle Eastern oil interests in order to advance their cause of destroying American energy independence,” O’ Keefe said. He will be independently premiering “Expose: Hollywood’s War on US Energy” in Cannes, France Wednesday.
Within the video, actor Ed Begley Jr., an outspoken environmental activist and current Governor on the board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated actress Mariel Hemingway, and liberal producer and director Josh Tickell are approached by an undercover reporter posing as a member of a Middle Eastern oil dynasty named “Muhammad” and his “ad executive” Steven Sanchton in the Beverly Hills Hotel located in Los Angeles, California. The pair offer $9 million in funding to American filmmakers to fund an anti-fracking movie.
“If Washington D.C. continues fracking, America will be energy independent and then they won’t need our oil anymore,” Muhammad states within the video. The “ad executive” accompanying him to the meeting later follows up, “Knowing where the money comes from..” At this point, he is interrupted by Hemmingway, who assures him none of the information regarding where the money is coming from to produce the movie will leave the table.
The Cannes launch got the attention of The Hollywood Reporter:
Muhammad, accompanied by a man pretending to be an ad executive, seemingly has the two actors agreeing to participate in the scheme, even after he acknowledges that his goal is to keep America from becoming energy independent. The meeting, which appears to have been secretly recorded, took place a few months ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
But the real target of the sting operation appears to be Josh and Rebecca Tickell, a husband and wife team known for their environmental movies, such as 2008’s Fuel, which won an award at Sundance and was later screened at the White House for members of President Obama‘s administration.
Begley tells THR that if it looks like he’s agreeing with faux Muhammad about anything, it’s because the Tickells asked him to be polite so that they’d get their funding for a movie they’re making called Fracked, a film that will argue a technique for extracting natural gas called fracking is bad for the environment. Also, Begley says that he is hard of hearing and couldn’t understand everything Muhammad was saying.
The video also includes some audio from phone conversations between the fake Muhammad’s representatives and the Tickells. “We’re confident that we can keep this zip-locked. You know, tight. Tight. Air-tight forever,” Josh Tickell is heard saying. “If we don’t protect who is kind of funding this thing … if we have to disclose that or that becomes a necessary part of it, the whole enterprise will not work.”
Rebecca Tickell adds: “Because if people think the film is funded by Middle Eastern oil it will, it will not have that credibility,” and Josh Tickell says, “It’s money, so in that sense we have no moral issue.”
Yeah, I suspect that last statement won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who’s worked in Hollywood, either.
The Tickells, Begley, and Hemingway are crying foul now. In comments to THR, they claim that O’Keefe’s editing made things look worse than they are, and are demanding the release of all the video. That didn’t do much to help ACORN, or for that matter, Planned Parenthood when dealing with Live Action’s exposés. The Tickells say that no deal was actually consummated, and that they would have done “due diligence” at that point, but O’Keefe wouldn’t have had $9 million anyway. The point of O’Keefe’s sting is to expose Hollywood enviro eagerness to accept oil-baron money from the Middle East to attack American energy production, and this video certainly does that much. Not that people couldn’t figure that much out from Promised Land‘s Abu Dhabi funding, if they wanted.
The Tickells have decided to keep trying to fund Fracked anyway:
Update: Late Tuesday, the Tickells created a video response that also serves as a pitch to raise $72,000 via an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to make Fracked. “I’m about to tell you a story of the lengths that some people will go to discourage the transition to green energy,” Josh Tickell says in the video. “If it wasn’t so serious it might even be kind of funny. Recently, my wife and I were royally punked.”
Actually, the story is about how some Hollywood enviros will sell out to the worst offenders in order to build their soapboxes. And hey, why do they need to go on IndieGoGo anyway? Doesn’t Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson have $72 grand between them?