The self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” joined forces this weekend with action movie star Steven Seagal to train volunteer armed posse members to defend Phoenix-area schools against gunmen. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced the controversial plan in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting that left 27 people dead, including the gunman and 20 first-graders.
The exercise took place Saturday at a closed school site in suburban Fountain Hills, outside Phoenix, where sheriff’s SWAT members acted as shooters and teenagers played the part of students during mock scenarios involving up to three gunmen.
Seagal, best known for his roles in movies such as “Above the Law” and “Under Siege,” planned to lead training in hand-to-hand defense tactics, among other techniques, drawing from his expertise in martial arts, according to a sheriff’s office news release. Arpaio’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment Friday and Saturday.
Arizona Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell called the plan to use Seagal as an instructor “ludicrous.”
“Steve Seagal is an actor. That’s it. Why don’t we also have Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis come out and train them too while we’re at it,” Campbell said.
Campbell has been a vocal critic of Arpaio’s school posse protection plan, complaining that using untrained, armed civilians to protect students is a bad idea and likely will only make the facilities more dangerous.
“He’s making a mockery out of it. You’re having a movie actor train people how to protect schools?” Campbell said.
Singing in public not Hathaway’s thing
Anne Hathaway says she’d like to do more musicals after the Oscar-nominated “Les Miserables” – but don’t expect her to launch into a singing career.
Director Tom Hooper on Saturday presented his movie, an adaptation of a Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel, at the Berlin film festival. Hathaway’s role as an outcast mother reduced to prostitution has won her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.
She told reporters she hopes to do more musicals and would like more to be made – “I’m a big fan of them, so that would make me very happy both as an actress and as an audience member.”
But Hathaway said the experience hasn’t made her more comfortable singing in public. “I have no plans for recording an album,” she said.
The birthday bunch
Opera singer Leontyne Price is 86. Actor Robert Wagner is 83. Singer Roberta Flack is 76. ABC News correspondent George Stephanopoulos is 52. Political commentator Glenn Beck is 49. Actress Laura Dern is 46. Actress Elizabeth Banks is 39. Actress Emma Roberts is 22.