Glenn Beck and Tim Robbins

I’m making my first exception to my “at least one new article a day” history of this blog by holding this over through the weekend. The discussion below the main article is sufficiently interesting to me to keep it at the top of the queue. I’ll refresh and republish Saturday and Sunday on Facebook’s Networked Blogs — JNS

Ever since I answered Glenn Beck’s June 2nd praise for my novel Alongside Night — to his three million radio listeners — with an offer for Glenn Beck to play the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland in the Alongside Night movie I’m now making, I have received a whole lot of feedback from fans of the novel who want to see the character of Dr. Martin Vreeland hit the big screen at their local multiplex.

There are fans of Alongside Night who are also fans of Glenn Beck. Lots of them. And that’s not surprising. Alongside Night is, in fact, right up the alley of many of the topics Glenn Beck regularly talks about on his syndicated/satellite radio and Fox News Network TV shows. Alongside Night portrays the United States in economic meltdown due to bankers, politicians, and “security” officials uniting in a coalition to put the once-free American people (OK, I know, not all of them) under their thumbs.

There are also fans of Alongside Night who hate Glenn Beck. Lots of them. And that’s not surprising. Glen Beck rants against anarchists on his show — as recently as yesterday’s Glenn Beck show on the Fox News Network. Alongside Night is a novel where the good guys are divided into two camps. There are libertarian minarchists like Dr. Martin Vreeland who want to again limit the United States to its original 1787 Constitution and 1791 Bill of Rights. Then there are libertarian anarchists like Merce Rampart of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre who have concluded the Constitution was a noble experiment which tried and failed to restrain omnipresent government and instead invoke Thomas Jefferson’s “new guards” language in the Declaration of Independence to try marginalizing government by bringing anarchist-style law-and-order to the black market.

Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, was promoting the Martin Vreeland approach.

J. Neil Schulman, in his novel Alongside Night is sympathetic to the Martin Vreeland/Ayn Rand approach — but even more sympathetic to the Merce Rampart approach.

Many of the critics of my approaching Glenn Beck to portray Dr. Martin Vreeland on screen argue to me that I shouldn’t cast Glenn Beck because in real life he’s not as consistently libertarian as Dr. Martin Vreeland.

To which I — as author of the novel, as writer of the screenplay, as the guy who’s going to direct the movie, and as the guy who’ll be authoring the movie in an editing bay — say, “And your point is …?”

I approached Glenn Beck to take the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland not because I believe that Glenn Beck is identical to the character I made up but because (a) Glenn Beck has an enormous fan base who would buy tickets to see the movie if he were in it and self-promoted his appearance in it on radio and TV; but also (b) because as the director and editor of one independent feature film already I have confidence that with some work to guide his talents as a broadcaster, stand-up comic, and public speaker to the specific needs of screen acting, I can get a screen performance out of Glenn Beck that will do credit to both my movie and his career, and help Alongside Night reach a huge movie-watching audience.

But a lot of Alongside Night‘s fans in the anti-Beck camp are more concerned with the guilt-by-association Alongside Night would have if I cast Glenn Beck and encourage him to promote it. They argue to me that Beck’s polarizing politics, self-described “rodeo clown” antics, and sometimes mawkish persona would make Alongside Night about nothing but Glenn Beck.

Now, it has to have crossed your mind by this point that the title of this article is “Glenn Beck v. Tim Robbins” and at the top of this page are side-by-side photos of these two men showing how much they look like each other.

Oscar-winner Tim Robbins portrayed a character Glenn Beck’s critics would argue is eerily similar to Glenn Beck in Bob Roberts — and more paranoid Beck critics would argue to the characters Tim Robbins portrayed in Arlington Road and War of the Worlds (based on a novel by a lifelong socialist).

Tim Robbins physically resembles Glenn Beck so much that if I were casting The Glenn Beck Story my first call would be to Tim Robbins’ representatives at the United Talent Agency.

Like 95% of Hollywood A-listers Tim Robbins is politically on the left. He advocates big government, uses the word “collectivism” as a praiseworthy term, believes the United States projection of military force into countries like Iraq and Afghanistan to be evil, and referred to President George W. Bush as a stupid drunk.

Tim Robbins’ advocacy of big-government solutions and identifying with socialists less-than-scrupulous in their dedication to individual human rights makes him as suspicious a target to libertarians as Glenn Beck.

But I’ll bet you anything that if I offered Tim Robbins the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland in Alongside Night every single libertarian and anarchist who has thrown caltrops under the chariot of my trying to get this movie financed and into production by slamming my offer to Glenn Beck would not care a whit about the socialist-friendly politics of Mr. Tim Robbins.

The hypocrisy, double standard, prejudice, and moral cowardice of that annoys the hell out of me.

One of the reasons I’m working to produce Alongside Night as an independent film on what by studio standards is considered a low budget is so I can make sure the vision of the original novel is faithfully brought to the screen. So long as I am in good enough health to helm this movie I would not give up the director’s chair for any studio or production company offer — not even if overnight it took me from being a debt-ridden Type-II diabetic who can’t even afford health insurance to being a debt-free millionaire who has all the money I need to buy Stairmasters, NutraSystem foods, and the regular care of top-ranked endocrinologists.

I would not replace myself as director even if one of my favorite living A-list directors — Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, Andrew Davis, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, Phil Alden Robinson, Paul Greengrass, or Robert Zemeckis — was offered to me.

I started out my career as a writer whose first novel, Alongside Night, received unbelievable praise from “A-Listers” — the literary endorsements from Anthony Burgess and Milton Friedman on the dust jacket of Alongside Night‘s first hardcover edition making that point emphatically. The praise from other “A-listers” — Charlton Heston, Robert A. Heinlein, Piers Anthony, David Brin, Colin Wilson, Walter Williams, Dennis Prager — have continued unabated through other novels and books.

My debut as a film director was the first-time Nichelle Nichols had ever agreed to star in an independent feature film. Look up her filmography before Lady Magdalene’s and you’ll see Star Trek films from Paramount and movies like Snow Dogs and Are We There Yet?

The IMDb rating for the Twilight Zone episode I wrote, “Profile in Silver,” is 8.4.

Yet — and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m way too well-known as a libertarian from my published books and articles — I have never sold a screenplay to a Hollywood studio, been asked to join the writing staff of a TV show, nor ever been offered a job to direct a movie.

If you think it’s because I don’t have enough talent, Va te faire enculer.

I don’t give a damn what the politics are of Mr. Glenn Beck or Mr. Tim Robbins when it comes to whether I’ll make an offer to act in my movie.

I would just as readily make an offer to Sean Penn — whose politics I simply despise — if I thought I could get past his agents at CAA who won’t look at a script for him unless the film is fully-financed, has a start date, and there’s a pay-or-play offer in six-figures.

I’ve been blacklisted. I would never do that to another performer.

So the only question for me is not what I think of the politics of a Glenn Beck or a Tim Robbins, but whether my politics makes my vision unacceptable to them.

All I can promise is that any movie you see with the legend “A J. Neil Schulman Film” will — whoever is cast in it — in fact be a J. Neil Schulman film.

And Steve Reed — my good friend and favorite critic — you are more than welcome to respond to this article.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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