Hollywood activists caught on film selling out American energy security
This article originally appeared on heartland.org.
Three prominent Hollywood environmental activists were caught on video agreeing to sell out their nation’s energy independence to Middle Eastern oil producers. The activists were willing to do so in exchange for $9 million to make an anti-fracking film.
Video from investigative journalist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas shows a man posing as “Muhammad,” a member of a wealthy Middle Eastern oil family, having lunch at a Beverly Hills restaurant with Hollywood environmental activists Ed Begley Jr., Mariel Hemingway, and Josh Tickell. Muhammad and a man posing as an ad executive for him offer the Hollywood environmental activists money to help crush U.S. energy production and boost the Middle Eastern share of the energy market.
Fears ‘America Will Be Energy-Efficient’
“If Washington, DC continues fracking, America will be energy-efficient, and they won’t need our oil anymore,” Muhammad tells Begley, Hemingway, and Tickell.
Muhammad’s agent tells the three activists, “My motive is … I’m trying to help his bottom line.”
“That’s fine, we get that,” Tickell reassures the ad executive.
“You’re in with us on this, Ed, right?” Muhammad asks Begley.
“Oh yeah!” Begley replies.
Imperative to Hide the Funding
“Knowing where this money comes from…,” the ad executive begins to say, “is only at this table,” Hemingway insists.
“This table, that doesn’t go farther than this table,” the ad executive continues.
“No, absolutely. I would never say that,” Begley agrees.
Glitter Trumps Truth
“Washington and Hollywood are a lot alike; illustrations, special effects, smoke and mirrors,” says Begley, describing his films and his anticipated anti-fracking advocacy.
“As long as it looks good to the eye, it doesn’t matter!” says Muhammad.
“Exactly! Washington and Hollywood are very similar that way,” replies Begley.
‘End American Energy Independence’
The video then shows Muhammad’s ad executive on the phone with Tickell.
“My client’s interest is to end American energy independence. Your interest is to end fracking. And you guys understand that?” asks Muhammad’s ad executive.
“Correct! Yes, super clear!” replies Tickell.
Using Nonprofits as Shills
“We’re confident that we can keep this zip-locked. You know, tight, tight, airtight forever,” Tickell adds.
“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,” Tickell warns.
In the video, Tickell explains the role prominent environmental activist groups would play to keep the funding and nefarious motives a secret from the American public.
“So essentially, whatever—however—we did this, it would be essentially housed inside of a group of nonprofits and fairly high-profile people who are already in the movement and who are already working along the movement,” says Tickell. “So for all intents and purposes, anybody looking from the outside at this will see all people involved cast working for, working with the movie, and will be like, ‘Oh, well, we can see—we do see where the funding is coming from. It came from all of these.’ They will make the assumption.”
Tickell, a producer who won an award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, brags, “There is no other production company in America that has that kind of deep reach into the environmental movement, and I’m not buttering our own toast.”
No Doubt About Motivation
“We have some clients in the Middle East who are very anti-fracking, very anti-American oil interests, but it’s because it cuts into their bottom line. They don’t want the Keystone pipeline to be built. But guess who else? Environmentalists. So it’s one of those things where the enemy of my enemy is my friend and we hang out,” says the ad executive.
Throughout the ad executive’s explanation of his desire to curtail American energy independence, Tickell is repeatedly heard saying, “mm-hmm,” “yeah,” and “that’s awesome.”
“We also work with a lot of people that are leading [the] anti-fracking movement in the United States professionally. They headed up a lot of the anti-fracking movement in upstate New York,” brags Tickell’s wife and co-activist Rebecca Tickell.
Art Imitates Life
O’Keefe, as studio narrator, explains there is precedent for Hollywood accepting Middle Eastern money to curtail American energy production.
“Movies like Promised Land were funded by the government of the United Arab Emirates,” O’Keefe observes.
“Promised Land,” says Tickell, “was trying so hard not to be a message film because imagine Abu Dhabi stamped on the front of the film and everyone is like, ‘OK, we know why you paid for it.’”
“So, rather than putting that [Middle Eastern funding] up front, don’t mention that,” warns Tickell.
“Yeah, oh yeah, don’t broadcast it,” says the ad executive. “It’s just between us.”
Tickell laughs loudly and then says, “And then you can make a gutsy, ballsy, powerful film that Hollywood will respect for actually saying something. Then they get behind it.”
Naming the Sellouts
O’Keefe observes, “When asked if environmental partners would be willing to be paid off….”
“Environment California and Code Blue,” says Rebecca Tindell.
“And the NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council],” Josh Tickell quickly adds.
“They would work with us on this film,” says Rebecca Tindell.
‘We Would Never Tell’
In a follow-up telephone conversation, the Tindells emphasizes how important it is for everybody to keep the Middle Eastern funding a secret.
“We would never tell about where the funding is coming from,” says Rebecca Tindell. “That would be really awkward for us.”
“We would never include that in any communication between Rebecca, myself, you,” promises Josh Tindell.
Alyssa Carducci (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Tampa, Florida.