Thursday, August 10, 2006

Akbar Ganji goes to Hollywood

Interesting stuff here:

TIME-Iranian dissident writer Akbar Ganji was speaking to an audience of about 80 people Wednesday night, when a good-looking, older fellow in a white windbreaker started to ask something from the back of the room. The question, delivered thoughtfully and without pause, concerned the fierce, saber-rattling rhetoric of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Suddenly, Ganji's interpreter went ashen-faced. "My god!" she said aloud. "Is that Warren Beatty?"

Yes, it was. Beatty, along with wife Annette Bening — as well as Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and others — had gathered at the palatial home of legendary producer Mike Medavoy to hear the investigative journalist speak about the current state of the Middle East and, specifically, Iran. Only recently released from an Iranian prison after serving a six-year sentence for "harming national security" and "spreading propaganda," Ganji, 47, is barnstorming the U.S. this summer to gain support for his reformist movement. He declined an invitation to the White House last month, claiming he doesn't represent a specific opposition party or faction. But this week, he seemed right at home in Hollywood.