Catholics in Hollywood – Who Knew?

And who knew they’d be all excited about making Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged into a film? Box Office Mojo has the story, in the form of an interview with Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns. Here’s a fun snippet:

Box Office Mojo: Is it true that you approached the producers about the rights to Atlas Shrugged in a Catholic church?

Michael Burns: I knew [producers] Howard and Karen Baldwin—I’d see them in church, though I knew them outside of church, too—and I knew they had the rights. We were leaving mass [one Sunday], and I said “I heard you have the rights to Atlas Shrugged and I’d like to talk to you about that because that is truly one of my favorite books,” so we set up a lunch. Ayn Rand’s probably rolling over in her grave to think that happened in a Catholic church. But, look, if you believe in a philosophy—and Ayn Rand was more of a philosopher than anything—that doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything Socrates or Aristotle or Plato stood for; you can embrace many aspects of a philosophy without wrapping yourself up in it. I’m Catholic and [producer] Karen [Baldwin]’s Catholic. But I was married once in a Catholic church—St. Patrick’s Cathedral [in New York City] of all places—and I ended up getting divorced and I don’t believe in [the Catholic marital annulment rule]—

Box Office Mojo: —So you’re not going to be attending mass at Mel Gibson’s [fundamentalist Catholic] church in Malibu?

Michael Burns: [Laughs] No, I’m not going to Mel Gibson’s church. But—talk about irony—the institution [the Catholic church] is probably involved in the biggest cover-up in the history of religious organizations, with all these priests and bishops [molesting children]. But I go to mass just about every Sunday. I do believe in God.

Box Office Mojo: What do you think of Ayn Rand’s thesis in Atlas Shrugged that altruism is at the root of all evil?

Michael Burns: I don’t believe that a person should live his or her life for somebody else. I do believe in “do unto others [as you would have others do unto you]” and I don’t consider that altruistic.

Box Office Mojo: But the Catholic Church teaches altruism. Are you concerned about being ex-communicated over making Atlas Shrugged?

Michael Burns: Atlas Shrugged is like The Sound of Music, compared to [Lionsgate’s priest sex scandal documentary] Deliver Us from Evil, which is a great condemnation of [Los Angeles Catholic] Cardinal [Roger] Mahoney—it is staggering and it is shocking to see how [nothing was done by L.A.’s Catholic hierarchy while] hundreds of kids were molested. You know it happens, but I didn’t want to believe—I chose not to believe—that [church officials] would know about these situations and then just move these priests from parish to parish, as if that was going to stop the pattern of abuse. All they wanted to do was shuffle it off.


I won’t offer much comment, except to say that I think it’s sweetly hilarious for Box Office Mojo to even suggest that someone could get excommunicated these days for making a piece of art which contained philosophical underpinnings which ran contrary to the teachings of the Church.

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