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On Why Marilu Henner Has Disappointed Me

I don’t watch much regular television, but my husband did record The Celebrity Apprentice, as vegan Marilu Henner is on it playing for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (i.e., PCRM is the charity that will get any money she wins). Raw foodist, Carol Alt, who eats raw milk, cheeses and meat is on the show as well. Then there’s Stephen Baldwin, who is a minister and is the brother of outspoken Animal Person Alec Baldwin. Another brother, Billy Baldwin, who will become important to this story, is a vegan. Don’t forget that choice morsel of information.

This is all relevant because last week’s task was to see which team could make more money from carriage horse rides around Central Park. Donald Trump gave some ridiculous plug for the carriage horse business and how romantic it is and how everyone wants a carriage horse ride, and sent them on their way. Meanwhile, a bill to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry (Intro 658), supported by  Councilpeople: Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Tony Avella, Charles Barron, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Miguel Martinez, Rosie Mendez, Annabel Palma and David Yassky, just might be passed this year, but of course there was no mention of it.

I urge non-New Yorkers to register their support of the ban. Here’s what the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages has to say:

You can help by calling Mayor Bloomberg at 212-639-9675. This connects you with our 311 service, which is NYC’s number for government information and non-emergency services. You will speak with a customer service representative who will take down a complaint. This a script for you to use as a guide:

Although I do not live in New York City, as a tourist I come to see many of the wonderful sites and attractions that no other city has to offer. But one of the things that I do not wish to see is the terrible plight of the Carriage Horses. These horses deserve better treatment than to be forced to work in dangerous traffic conditions on a daily basis often in bad weather where their lives are threatened and the safety of pedestrians and drivers are put at risk. I’m asking the Mayor to support Council Member Avella’s Int. 658 and to follow the lead of the animal protection groups like the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, the New York State Humane Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Friends of Animals, Coalition to Ban Horse Carriages, the League of Humane Voters of New York City and In Defense of Animals in demanding for an end to this inhumane industry. Several major cities around the world such as Paris, London, Toronto, Beiijing and Oxford have banned horse-drawn carriages. NYC should do the same.

There was not a word against the industry during Celebrity Apprentice, nor a word of concern for the well-being of the horses, and that was part of the deal. The show would not have aired if anyone objected to the way the horses were treated or the condition they’re in, according to the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, which also noted:

The worst moment of the show came when country singer Trace Adkins who was team captain for this horrible project said to the camera "My horse is slow, near a heart attack, when he comes back around I’ll shove a bottle-rocket up his ass!"

I fast forwarded through any part of the show I saw a horse in, so I didn’t see that particular moment.

What was surreal was watching vegan Marilu Henner workingto promote the rides, and Stephen Baldwin recruiting his vegan brother Billy to help promote them. Note that the PCRM website says nothing about the horse-related task. There must be some air-tight contracts regarding what the contestants can say and how the show can be portrayed.

The Coalition says:

PLEASE MAKE PHONE CALLS TO THE PRODUCER OF THE APPRENTICE AND THE DONALD TRUMP ORGANIZATION AND VOICE A LOUD OBJECTION OR EVEN BOYCOTT THE SHOW AS YOU SEE FIT! see below for phone number: Mark Burnett Production Co. – 640 N. Sepulveda Blvd. L.A., CA 90049 – PHONE #: 310-903-5400. The Trump Organization – 725 Fifth Avenue – New York, NY 10022 (212)-832-2000. You can also comment on the Celebrity Apprentice blog.

The blogs seems like a waste of time, where people rant and rave and curse. It’s not moderated, and I doubt anyone at the Trump Organization takes it seriously. Because Trump is all about money and attention, the boycott seems like a great idea. I’m going to call, register my disgust, and say I won’t be watching anymore.

I’ve never expected Donald Trump to have an ethical bone in his body, but when a vegan who is giving money to PCRM goes on his show and doesn’t do something to not look like a hypocrite, that’s immensely disappointing. We don’t know what they’re contracts say, and I’m sure Henner was prevented from saying anything. But she could have resigned and then made a statement through PCRM. She could have done something. Billy Baldwin’s something was easy—refuse to show up to support animal use.

What are these people thinking? Probably that this is a short-term obstacle and causing a problem now might hurt their chances of winning the big prize at the end (for PCRM, in Henner’s case). But in my mind, that’s no excuse for betraying your own ethics–not to mention the horses and their cause. We are closer than ever to banning the carriages, and if Trump’s show presented them in a positive light and in any way swayed a Council person to change their vote, or if the show in any way contributes to the failure of the ban, I wouldn’t want  to be Marilu Henner. It’s such a shame to see someone who is so passionate about a cause appear to betray it (I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but I do know how it all appeared in the end).

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Of course, the people in question might simply be herbivores. To me, vegan is a term that, very distinctly, represents the principled rejection of all non-human use. Meaning that diet is simply one (albeit major) aspect of veganism. Perhaps Marilu Henner and Billy Baldwin don't quite see it this way. The individual who runs VEGAN.COM seems to disagree with my view, so anything is possible.

    February 17, 2008
  2. Tracy #

    I don't watch that show because it's too cheesy, even for me. But I know that the competition in the first episode was to sell hot dogs. I didn't see it, but I wondered how Marilu dealt with that.

    February 18, 2008
  3. No way, Tracy.

    I'm not even sure why I'm dumb enough to expect anything remotely resembling an ethic toward animals to ever come out of a show produced by Donald Trump, regardless of who's on it. After all, he controls the message and the editing anyway.

    February 18, 2008

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