Richard France, who Wellesnet readers will know as the author of two excellent books on Welles, The Theater of Orson Welles and Orson Welles on Shakespeare (that contains the text for Welles's playscripts of Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Five Kings), has sent along this letter he recently wrote in response to the Time Magazine cover story about Glenn Beck.
Here is the relevant paragraph from the Time Magazine article:
Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?
By David Von Drehle
…Beck describes his performances as "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment" — and the entertainment comes first. "Like Limbaugh, Glenn Beck is a former Top 40 DJ," radio historian Marc Fisher explains, "first and foremost an entertainer, who happens to have stumbled into a position of political prominence." Unlike Limbaugh, however, Beck is a "radio nostalgic," in love with the storytelling power of a man with a microphone. He started in radio at age 13, inspired by a recording of golden-age broadcasts given to him by his mother — who later committed suicide, leaving the young Beck deeply traumatized. "He loves radio," says his longtime producer and on-air sidekick Stu Burguiere. "The way the mind becomes its own theater and the listener engages in the medium with you, drawing their own pictures in their heads." Beck once lovingly re-created the 1938 Orson Welles classic War of the Worlds for XM Satellite Radio, and he named his production company Mercury Radio Arts in homage to Welles' Mercury Theatre on the Air.
Now, since it appears that Mr. Beck is a great fan of Orson Welles radio work, I presume he might have visited Wellesnet or The Museum of Orson Welles, which probably has the best audio and video collection of Orson Welles shows on the Internet. If that is the case, Mr. Beck is heartily encouraged to sent us any reply he may care to make to Mr. France's comments, below:
Orson Welles would be turning over in his grave – his ashes are in a well in Ronda, Spain – to learn that a demagogue like Glenn Beck has co-opted the name of his cherished Mercury Theatre on the Air from which to spew his daily dose of rabble-rousing bigotry and venom (“Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?”, Time cover story, Sept. 17). Beck represents EVERYTHING that Welles despised – the same sort of sanctimonious intolerance that forced him, in November 1947, to board the plane that sent him into a nearly decade-long exile in Europe.