"Two Takes On Terror At Trebeca Fest"
Daily News (New York)
May 12, 2002
by Rush & Malloy, with Lauren Rubin


It was celebrity wrestling at its finest Friday when Jon Stewart and Susan Sarandon grappled over politics and world affairs at Pace University.

The activist actress urged Americans to try to learn what is behind the hate that leads to terrorist acts.

"When you have a guy who thinks the best act is to blow himself up, along with others, you have to ask, 'What leads to that?'" she asked. "And is the response more violence? A cowboy shoot-'em-up?"

Stewart immediately retorted: "Getting us to understand that is like asking black people to understand why the Klan puts on pointy white hats." He then called Sarandon a "pinko."

Affectionately. We think.

Sarandon, however, pressed on: "America is the greatest country, with a tradition of dissent." Still, Gore Vidal had trouble publishing leftist views in the current superpatriotic climate, she observed.

"He's out walking around," said Stewart. "He's not in jail."

The two joined playwright Wendy Wasserstein, performer Spalding Gray and painter Karin Batten, whose studio was on the 91st floor of Tower One, in a Tribeca Film Festival panel on life after 9/11.

When a Sarandon fan in the audience said that the U.S.-led embargo of Iraq has led to the death of 5,000 children a month, Stewart, the host of "The Daily Show" on the Comedy Channel, said: "Hey, Saddam is building himself golden palaces. Why doesn't he buy sandwiches?"

Gray, who is recovering from a car accident in Ireland, said "I have survivor's guilt."

Wasserstein said she has been able to deal with any topic in her work except the attacks.

Sarandon added, "I have little kids, so I went out," performing in a play, "The Guys," about a 9/11 firefighter. She also said she supports Filmaid, which has sent a truck with a movie screen on its side to show films to children around Afghanistan.

"They showed 'The Wizard of Oz,' and the kids had never seen a child sing before. When they saw Judy Garland singing 'Over the Rainbow,' they were dumbfounded."

"May I just suggest," offered Stewart, "that they not send 'Police Academy.' "


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