"I DON'T want to know anything about anybody's sex life when I'm voting for them. I want to know they can balance the budget and that they're going to stay out of my life and ensure more freedom. Do they understand good versus evil. ... I don't give a flying rip what people do personally. It's none of my business."
That is -- brace yourself -- Fox TV's emperor number two, Sean Hannity. (We all know who number one is -- that other Irish guy who writes all the best sellers.)
The writer came to believe "what you see is what you get" with Hannity. That is, his TV image is not a publicity-seeking persona, a controversy drone created to shock. (Hello, Ann Coulter!)
Still, Hannity might come off, to some, more palatable in print than he does barking out his opinions every night. Of course, he still says things like "Obama is brilliant at fear mongering and demagoguery. He's always on the attack." And this would make the president different from his many conservative -- and liberal -- foes and the perceived attitudes of Fox News, how? (Many of President Obama's disenchanted supporters think he hasn't been on the attack enough!)
Still, it was interesting to read Hannity's remarks, removed from what many see as his conservative battle station at Fox News. I wouldn't say he's a barrel of laughs, but we did get some insight. He was hard to discipline as a child, once liked disco (Donna Summer), has gay friends -- or at least friendly acquaintances -- and has "evolved" on the matter of people's personal lives, though he still doesn't cotton to same-sex marriage.
Of course, he "owns a lot of firearms," believes Sarah Palin has a "lot to add to the national debate" and thinks Donald Trump is "fun." (Maybe Sean just said that to keep himself in Trump ties. All Hannity's neckwear comes from the Trump brand.) He also thinks Rush Limbaugh is "The Babe Ruth of our industry. There's nobody funnier, more unique or talented." He hates Bill Maher. He finds Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson "very attractive ... but what do I know? I'm just a 51-year-old fat guy."
When Playboy inquired how Hannity would feel if one of his children turned out to be gay, he replied: "I love my children. Period. End of sentence, unconditionally."
The magazine asks, "And if one of them turned out to be a Democrat?"
Hannity: "Well, that might be a different story."
SPEAKING OF conservative family values, it's funny that the right always complains about popular culture -- TV, movies, reality programming -- there's nothing for kids to see or families to enjoy together. And yet that is consistently proved incorrect. Take this weekend. For the 14th straight time, a Pixar animated film topped the box office in spectacular fashion. "Monster University." took in a monster $80-plus million bucks. It beat out Brad Pitt's zombie epic "World War Z." So, clearly, there is always an audience for good clean fun -- even if it's a tad more sophisticated than in times of yore.
And as I never tire of repeating, television is chock full of terrific programming. You don't have to watch the latest installment of "The Real Housewives," or other titles that degrade women.
Speaking of "World War Z," it is doing very well indeed. Better than the studio expected, even. I don't generally care for zombie movies (I do like apocalypse films -- crashing meteors, drastic climate change, etc.) but this one does have the charismatic Brad Pitt as the hero, so I kinda had to see it. And surprise, it wasn't horrible, by my standards of hating zombie movies. (In other words, from me this is a rave.) I thought it was fast, scary without an overload of gore, very tense. I was almost a little breathless as it ended. I've read that "real" zombie fans are up in arms because there is so little gore, but maybe that's what made this palatable for me. I was on the edge of my seat, not covering my eyes in disgust. I did find motivation and characterization rather slim, and it is said this was the source of tension between producer Pitt and director Marc Foster. But maybe if there's a sequel, Brad will have his way?
As for Mr. Pitt, he is everything one wants in a stalwart, attractive leading man who saves the world.
Brad is 49. Tom Cruise is 50. Both these men, who dominated so much of the '80s, '90s and the early years of this decade, don't appear to have lost much in the way of looks, zeal and ambition.
It's nice to still have a few real stars on our Cineplex screens. And if some of them have to work with zombies, well -- it's just another long lunch at The Ivy, really.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)