Matheson: ‘Give ‘em hell, Barry!’

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Emmy-nominated actor Tim Matheson is a noted performer, director and producer. He is best known for his portrayal of the smooth-talking Eric “Otter” Stratton in “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and the bitter Vice President John Hoynes in the NBC drama “The West Wing.” Other notable roles include starring in the CW television series “Hart of Dixie” and providing the voice of the lead character in the cartoon series “Jonny Quest.” In addition to acting, Matheson is a sought-after television director and has directed episodes in hit series including “Drop Dead Diva,” “Criminal Minds,” “Burn Notice” and “White Collar.” Matheson also is both a vegan and an avid deer hunter ... go figure.


ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?

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TIM MATHESON: I would urge him to strongly get involved in supporting a tax incentive for American movie production, to keep American film production in the United States. Almost every other country in the world offers from 20 to 40 percent rebates to come to their country to make our American movies. And, more and more, Hollywood movies are finding it impossible to ignore those huge cost savings, and end up leaving Hollywood to shoot in Canada, Australia, the Czech Republic, England, New Zealand. The list goes on and on. Hollywood is the Detroit of the movie-making industry. We basically invented the movie industry. The finest movie technicians in the world work in Hollywood. We almost lost our auto industry; let’s not let the same thing happen to the film industry in Hollywood, Calif.


RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

TM: I am so amazed at his incredible strength and amazing calmness: How do you keep your perspective under such pressure? What is your source of moral strength? 


RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama as he’s campaigning for the upcoming election? 

TM: Fight on! Bring it to ‘em! Give ‘em hell, Barry! 


RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

TM: The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I have rafted down the Colorado on three occasions and been exposed to its 6 to 10 million-year-old walls, to the pristine and pure beauty of its canyons and valleys, to its wildlife — which all deeply influenced me. It makes one immediately understand why we must protect and preserve our natural resources and the national parks throughout our incredible country. 


RB: What piece of music would you recommend that President Obama add to his collection? Why? 

TM: American rhythm and blues. Its roots are distinctly American, and it came from a people who had suffered. The people sing to share their pain and celebrate their deliverance from that pain. 


RB: Would you ever consider a political career? 

TM: No. I admire the brave few politicians who dedicate their lives to help build our great country into a greater country that we all share with other Americans. But I fear that playing a politician is about as close as I’ll ever come to being a real politician or civil servant.


Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.