That's Entertainment!: Bringing Home the Bacon (Brothers) and Others for Six Degrees of Separation

Article excerpt

When I left the rehearsal for our recent movie "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Separation of Church and State ... But Were Afraid to Ask," I was consumed by the thought that this was the most interesting collection of people in one place that I have been with in my entire life--and this was even before we factored in the musicians and Hollywood celebrities!

Perhaps even more importantly, the "champions" of religious freedom whose stories were being told had never met each other. They had not recognized that the fight against an evangelistic teacher in New Jersey had much of the same feel as the battle against a Ten Lynn Commandments-wielding judge in Alabama or that proselytization efforts at the Air Force Academy in Colorado had the same sickening effect as did religious discrimination in Nevada. Listening to these courageous people talking to each other was mesmerizing.

And, then, of course, there were musicians, actors, and comedians who joined the First Freedom First affair. I had watched Jack Klugman long before "The Odd Couple" in the great courtroom drama "Twelve Angry Men" (which was last year remastered on DVD for its 50th anniversary). I'm a big fan of Kevin Bacon both as an actor and a musician, having seen him at Washington's best music room, the Birchmere, and at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Our program host, Peter Coyote, acts in terrific films and has the greatest voice for narration since Orson Welles (thus, his extensive work on Ken Burns documentaries). Dan Lauria of "The Wonder Years" and Wendie Malick of "Just Shoot Me!" are wonderful television stars with a deep commitment to our issues and a serious concern about how their business is treating serions problems.

I had met Catie Curtis, the fine singer-songwriter, when we did a program together for a national convention in Utah of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays a few years back. And comedian Marc Maron had me sit in with him for his three-hour stint one morning when he worked for Air America. So, new friends or old, I hope you'll forgive me being a little "star struck."

The easy interaction with our "champions" was a testament to the respect each had for the others' courage and commitment. During our Monday rehearsal, Coyote and I talked about many things from our favorite novels to his years at a Buddhist retreat. At one point, he noted that he was reading this great book about the "dumbing down of America" but couldn't put his finger on the title.

"It wouldn't be The Age of American Unreason, would it?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, lie was surprised that Susan Jacoby, its author, was the very person he'd be interviewing an hour later in our segment on "Worship . …