One of Hollywood’s largest talent agencies has decided to cancel its famous Oscars party, and instead will host a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s travel and refugee bans.
The United Talent Agency – whose client list is a who-who of major Hollywood stardom like Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Giamatti – told Variety that not only would it host a rally outside of its Beverly Hills headquarters Feb. 24, it also would donate $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee to help fight the “anti-immigrant sentiment” that is growing in the United States.
Trump’s travel ban hit close to UTA, according to a statement, because the firm represents Academy Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhardi. Through nominated for another Oscar this year in the best foreign-language film category for The Salesman, Farhardi is skipping the awards ceremony on Feb. 26 to protect the “unjust” Trump ban.
The agency has held the annual party each year at the home of Jim Berkus, the chairman and co-founder of UTA. It typically was attended by everyone who is anyone in Hollywood, from actors to directors to writers and more.
Jeremy Zimmer, the chief executive of UTA, said in a statement that cancelling the party and instead staging a demonstration was the right thing to do , because “this is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness and restlessness.”
“Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas and creative expression. If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.”
Trump signed an executive order soon after taking over the presidency that halted the influx of refugees into the United States for 120 days, and severely restrict immigrants from seven countries that are predominantly Muslim – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen – from entering the United States.
The president declared the action a way to keep Americans safe from terrorist threats while the country improves its vetting process, but opponents say it’s nothing more than Trump fulfilling a campaign promise to target members of a specific religion from entering the United States.
Federal judges have temporarily halted the ban, but as of Wednesday, and appeals court was considering the fate of several legal challenges to the executive order.
Zimmer added UTA will try to raise more money during its demonstration in order to help both the ACLU and the International Rescue Committee help immigrants and refugees trying to enter the United States.
“When fear and division get the better of our society, artists are among the first to feel the impact – and to denounce the ill winds. With our words and our actions, the UTA family is speaking up for so many, including all artists, and the vital global conversations they help lead.”
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