Nation/World

Civil strike part of Mr. Dreyfuss’ opus

Politically, Richard Dreyfuss describes himself as “intensely pre-partisan, and even more intensely anti-schmuck.”

The 66-year-old Oscar winner almost immediately injected politics into an hourlong conversation with actress Ileana Douglas about his life and career Friday as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. Dreyfuss was even more outspoken in a later interview with the Associated Press, calling for a “civil strike” in support of the U.S. Constitution to encourage civic participation.

“I’m going to send you a copy of the preamble to the Constitution,” he said. “If there’s anything in it that you don’t agree with, don’t sign it; just send me back an explanation. You will agree with everything, because it’s beautifully crafted and it’s meant for all. And if I get 500,000 signatures, I’m going to call for a civil strike.”

Dreyfuss is even more passionate about politics than he is about acting these days.

“I had this urgency to act,” he said of his early career. “And then after 50 years, I realized that it had mellowed into a friendship and I didn’t have to do it. … I love it. I just don’t have to do it.”

What Dreyfuss does have to do, as a descendent of generations of activists, is express his frustration with the elected and the electorate and try to do something about it. The actor took a hiatus from Hollywood to study at Oxford and establish his nonprofit Dreyfuss Initiative in 2003 to promote civics education in American schools.

“We’re absolutely hypnotized into a state of denial or into the state of, ‘I have no power to do anything. I’m powerless.’ And that, in fact, is incorrect,” he said. “The power lies in the people. No kidding, it really does.”

He also talked about the magic of movies.

“No art form has ever swept the world like this one,” he said. “Movies have captured your dream state… They are reaching into your dream state and pulling you out and showing you that you’re alive.”

“It’s an extraordinary thing I got to do my entire life,” he continued, “which means I was blessed.”

Lewis puts prints in concrete

Jerry Lewis says women are funny, but not as crude stand-up comics.

The 88-year-old entertainer was criticized for expressing his distaste for female comedians a few years ago, but in clarifying his comments, he called Lucille Ball “brilliant” and said Carol Burnett is “the greatest female entrepreneur of comedy.”

But women who “project aggression” onstage rub him the wrong way because women bear children, “which is a miracle,” he said.

Lewis was accompanied by his wife and daughter Saturday as he left his hand- and footprints in concrete outside Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre. Quentin Tarantino introduced Lewis, who planned to attend a 50th-anniversary screening of “The Nutty Professor” later that evening as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Birthday bunch

Actor Lyle Waggoner is 79. Actor Paul Sorvino is 75. Singer Al Green is 68. Actress-comedian Caroline Rhea is 50. Actor Ricky Schroder is 44. Actress Courtney Peldon is 33.



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