Celebrity Pundits: Is Anyone Listening?

Celebrity peace iraq anti war sarandon penn sheen
From the streets to the stage, Hollywood is waging war against a possible war with Iraq.

This week, on almost 1,000 stages worldwide, actors staged the anti-war comedy Lysistrata, an ancient Greek play about women withholding sex until men stop making war.

As CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, it's highbrow Hollywood activism to some, serious anti-war statements to the actors.

"I wouldn't listen to a celebrity unless they were making sense, but that's not part of our culture," says actress Alfre Woodard. "We listen to celebrities whatever they're saying.

"I think we take our access very sincerely."

Sincere or not, celebrity opinion in the debate over possible war has spawned a second debate on the streets - whether star-power has any power to shape public opinion.

A recent poll says no. More than 90 percent of those surveyed say celebrity activism does not affect their political opinions.

A Web site created by a North Carolina mom is called "Citizen's Against Celebrity Pundits." It's received 40,000 cyber signatures from people who want celebrities to shut up.

Talk show host Dennis Prager says stars are under the misguided impression they speak for everyday Americans.

"The idea that someone who has acted now has a claim on my respect for his or her opinion on the great moral issues of the day is absurd!" says Prager.

Still, the barrage goes on.

Actor Sean Penn's trip to Baghdad may have started what is now being called a backlash. He says he expected critics.

"That's par for course, therefore I'm dismissed by them," says Penn. "They have the opportunity to change the channel and I'm all for that."

What actress Janeane Garofalo sees as an act of conscience turned into a confrontation on Fox TV recently. And some have called for an impeachment of Martin Sheen and his TV show where he plays the president.

"I don't mind if an actor goes out there and says what he wants to say, we all have the right to free speech," says Jonah Goldberg, of the National Review. "But they do not get a free pass when they say stupid things."

This latest Hollywood production is like so many others. While celebrities may have the stage and the star power, it's still the audience that will write the final review.