Ronald Reagan apologized to Hollywood on Tuesday for saying recently that the American entertainment industry should look to Japan to bring back “decency and good taste” to American films--but not for accepting a $2-million fee from Fujisankei Communications Corp. for making a trip to Japan.
At the best-attended luncheon in the 42-year history of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, the former President told an audience of Hollywood’s most prominent entertainment executives that “what a person says in one country is often misinterpreted in another” and spurred applause by saying: “I apologize to anyone who may have taken offense.”
During his visit to Japan late last month, Reagan drew criticism from American government officials for defending Sony Corp.'s recent purchase of Columbia Pictures, saying in a taped interview that he was “not too proud of Hollywood these days” because of immorality and vulgarity in its movies, adding that Hollywood “needs some outsiders” to correct the problem.
In his opening remarks Tuesday at the Beverly Wilshire, a sheepish Reagan joked that he was late because he was delayed at the dentist having “the last piece of shoe leather that I acquired in Japan” removed from his teeth. He added that the day’s lunch menu for him consisted of “crow souffle followed by humble pie.”
Reagan went on to offer lavish praise for Hollywood’s new crop of “family” films, as well as its efforts to avoid glorifying drug use on the screen. He cited the flow of information into Communist countries as “the best and perhaps the only hope” for spurring social reform. “You are truly great communicators,” he said.
In a question-and-answer session, Reagan denied that his praise of Sony’s Columbia takeover was spurred by his ongoing negotiations with the corporation for a $1-million donation for video equipment for his presidential library.
Reagan also denied that his remarks praising Sony and the Japanese film industry represented a “paid endorsement” for Japan because of the $2 million he accepted from Fujisankei and the money his library may receive from Sony.
“Sony had nothing to do with my invitation to Japan,” Reagan said, adding that the Japanese government and “another industry” were responsible for the invitation. Reagan also denied that the $2 million from Fujisankei influenced his remarks.
Reagan chose to make light of the Fujisankei situation. “It is true, that (figure) was offered, and I didn’t protest,” he said, adding jokingly: “And I knew there was an actor in Hollywood who got $3 million dollars for doing a Toyota commercial.