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June 29, 2017

If show business is any indication, July 4, 1776 never happened

President Trump is intent on saving American jobs; perhaps he ought to start in Hollywood

I am compelled to begin this week’s column with a disclaimer:

I am, in no way, shape or form, a hater of all things United Kingdom. While I do believe The Royals are the most useless family in the world, and I am sickened when Americans fawn and drool over them (didn’t we once fight a war so we wouldn’t have to do that?), I mostly lean toward the Anglophile side of things, especially when it comes to the sonic realm:

As a musician, virtually all my influences are from the British Isles; as a fan, with the exception of The Byrds, a list of my all-time favorite acts is as British as bad food and poor dental hygiene (ok…sorry…).

Having said that, with our city’s annual Independence Day festivities underway, this seems a perfect time to address an issue that has long been stuck in my craw: the tidal wave of performers from the U.K. that is drowning American show business.

Do I even have to say that there have always been British artists—from Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant to Laurence Olivier and Julie Andrews to Peter O’Toole and Monty Python—whose fame and fortune on this side of the Atlantic were well-deserved? After all, each had talents that were unique, and which moved show business forward in crucial ways.

However, things have gotten ridiculous. It seems that whatever TV show I watch, there is a Brit (or more to the point, a U.K. native) on screen. This would be bad enough in and of itself, but even more infuriating is the now-wholesale practice of casting said actors as Americans. Given his success in both “House” and “Veep,” let’s call this the “Hugh Laurie Syndrome.”

Laurie is a brilliant actor who has earned every ounce of the acclaim that has come his way. And, of course, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else as Dr. Gregory House. But it’s equally hard to swallow the idea that there was not even one American actor who could have killed in the role (Steve Buschemi comes readily to mind).

The same, I believe, can be said for the likes of Idris Elba, Andrew LincolnDamian Lewis, Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Rebecca Hall and a personal favorite of mine, Alfred Molina.

Another glaring example is James Corden, who has rocketed to stardom as host of “The Late Late Show.” Again, no one can argue that Corden doesn’t do a fine job. But I simply can’t swallow the idea that CBS probably could have found a Yankee Doodle Dandy who would have done as well, and possibly even better. And it’s not like getting him was such a major coup for the Big Eye network. Until he took over the show from Craig Ferguson (a Scotsman by birth!), he was “James Who?” here.

One of President Trump’s most emphatic issues has been keeping jobs Americans do in America from foreigners. So what do you say, Don? Isn’t it time to make American show biz American again?


Chuck Darrow is a veteran entertainment columnist and critic. Listen to “That’s Show Biz with Chuck Darrow” 3 p.m. Tuesdays on WWDB-AM (860), WWDBAM.com, iTunes, iHeartRadio, and TuneInRadio.

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