Charlton Heston was a great American who always stood up for what he thought was right, no matter what the personal cost to himself. Back in the 60's he stood next to and marched with Martin Luther King Jr. when it was not the popular thing to do. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk; he was a man of character.
HESTON TAKING ON TIME WARNER'S PROMOTION OF "COP KILLER" ALBUM
(Conversation between host Tony Snow and Charlton Heston)
SNOW: "You have one of the great voices in the entertainment world. A few years ago, you showed up at a Time Warner stockholders meeting and started reading the lyrics from a rap album and just froze everybody in their tracks."
HESTON: "That was that terrible album by Ice T called 'Cop Killer.' And I'm very proud of this, I really am. I owned some Time Warner stock and I went in and confronted their full board meeting and read the lyrics. I can't repeat them on television."
SNOW: "No, you can't."
HESTON: "And I shamed Time Warner, the largest entertainment conglomerate in the world, into firing Ice T and dropping the album. Now, he threatened to kill me. He hasn't done that yet."
SNOW: "I believe your quote was something like 'Let him try.'"
HESTON: "Well, maybe I scared him. And I haven't gotten a job from Warner Brothers since or a good notice in Time, but I'm as proud of that as anything I've ever done."
A few years ago, I heard about a -- a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer," celebrating the ambushing and of murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the country -- in the world. Police across the country were outraged. And rightfully so. At least one of them had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the -- the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills, and I owned some shares of Time/Warner at the time, so I decided to attend the meeting.
What I did was against the advice of my family and my colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer" -- every vicious, vulgar, instructional word: I got my 12-Gauge sawed-off. I got my headlights turned off. I'm about to bust some shots off. I'm about to dust some cops off.
It got worse, a lot worse. Now, I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyrics brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing the two 12-year-old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore: She pushed her butt against my --
No. No, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in stunned silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps outside, one of them said, "We can't print that, you know." "I know," I said, "but Time/Warner is still selling it."
Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner Brothers, or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you have to be willing to act, not just talk.