Magazine article Variety

Biz Reacts as Shootings Cast Pall over Nation

Magazine article Variety

Biz Reacts as Shootings Cast Pall over Nation

Article excerpt

THE TONY AWARDS ON SUNDAY NIGHT were a muted affair, held just hours after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history left 50 dead in a gay club in Orlando, Fla.

"It's quite important that in these situations, we in the arts keep going," composer Andrew Lloyd Webber told Variety at a Tony after-party at New York's Baccarat Hotel, adding that he'd just attended a late-night celebration for his musical "School of Rock" with the cast's young actors. "I came away with one thought," he said. "No child is bom to hate."

The entertainment industry is still grappling with the implications of the Orlando massacre. On Twitter and elsewhere, celebrities expressed an outpouring of grief. J.K. Rowling posted a photo of victim Luis Vielma, 22, wearing his Hogwarts uniform as an employee at Universal Studios working at the "Harry Potter" ride. "I can't stop crying," she wrote. Writer-director Michael Showalter said he was angry at Hollywood for glorifying violence: "Just stop it. The videogames. The movies. All of it." Ellen Page talked about how the gay community "must stand together more than ever."

Kelly Bush Novak, founder and CEO of ID PR, and a gay rights advocate, told Variety she hopes the tragedy will have a galvanizing effect. "The victims in Orlando paid for their freedom with their lives," Novak said. "Ours is the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. As agents of cultural change we must honor the lives of all LGBTQ people by telling stories that turn fear into pride for our youth, and that allow us to be seen in all of our diverse and powerful glory"

From Aurora to Newtown, after each mass shooting, Hollywood faces difficult conversations about its role in an increasingly dangerous world - one in which killers, warped by religious fundamentalism or mental illness, rely on access to assault weapons to end dozens of lives in a blink of an eye. This year alone, there has been a mass shooting on 133 of 164 days.

Each cycle of violence raises questions about people's willingness to leave their homes to see movies, concerts, or plays. The murders in Orlando by a lone gunman, Omar Mateen, who was killed by police, may have lasting repercussions.

"At some point there's a tipping point," said Howard Levinson, a security consultant for schools, movie theaters, and businesses. He noted that assault-rifle-wielding police officers are now a common sight in France and other parts of Europe following last fall's terrorist attacks in Paris. In the days leading up to the Cannes Film Festival, officials staged an elaborate standoff with gunmen to look for lapses in their emergency responsiveness. It's a tactic that is already being embraced by sports stadiums. Officials and police at Boston's Fenway Park, for instance, engaged in a mock counterterrorism exercise June 12, complete with fake gunshots and explosions. Levinson predicts such preparations could soon be the standard at major public venues.

"It's a different world," he said. "The term 'active shooter' barely existed 20 or 30 years ago. Now it's on the tip of nearly everybody's tongue."

Theaters have not yet been required to install metal detectors and armed guards, but the movie business has made some moves to deal with the frightening new reality. Following the 2012 shooting at a late-night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and 70 injured, studios began moving preview screenings to as early as 8 p. …

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