Recently I had the opportunity to speak with award-winning writer, director, producer and actor Tony Lo Bianco. Mr. Lo Bianco has an extensive background in film, television and broadway. He is most known for his performances in The French Connection and A View From the Bridge. He received a Tony Award Nomination for A View From the Bridge, and won Best Actor for Outer Critics Circle Award.
BB: Supporters of “The Death of Klinghoffer” say the opera is a great way to understand and learn from a horrific event. What are your thoughts on this?
Tony Lo Bianco: I think in this troubling time America is currently in, with terrorists threatening to annihilate this country in one way or another, it does not seem like the time to put on a play, opera or movie that promotes the enemy or justifies the enemy in any way. This event actually happened. In 1985, Leon Klinghoffer was vacationing on the Achille Laurel. Terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked the ship. Mr. Klinghoffer was a Jewish man in a wheelchair. They shot him in the head and threw him overboard. It was so anti-Semitic and awful. Why would we try to understand the enemy’s point of view? We have to understand that we’re at a war with this enemy who’s out to kill Jews and Americans. We don’t seem to get it. Palestinians, Iranians, Hamas, Al Qaeda, and now ISIS all with different names, but the same intentions. They want to drive Israel off the face of the Earth. Then they will come for America. Remember their words: “Little Satan and Big Satan.” For some ungodly reason, we don’t want to believe them. They need to be wiped off the face of the earth. They only understand force. To put on an opera to find any kind of understanding of the enemy, you would have to be on the side of the enemy.
BB: In your mind, what makes “The Death of Klinghoffer” anti-Semitic?
TLB: It’s done on purpose. It’s done because he is a Jew. The idea of killing this man because he’s Jewish is the same as killing for being Catholic or any other religion or ideas that are different from the killers. It’s baffling that we stand by and don’t do or say anything. We have to think like the enemy in order to win the fight. Israel is our greatest ally and the only democracy in the Middle East. They must be supported with everything we have, militarily, financially, and spiritually. At a time like this, it is extremely baffling to me that many American Jews do not support Israel with their vote and are blind to the lack of support of this administration.
BB: If you had a message for Americans who are unfamiliar with the controversies surrounding this particular production, what would it be?
TLB: My message is the same as it has always been. It would be to wake up and understand what is going on in our country. People have to get involved and understand what’s happening in our country now, domestically and politically. The people have been put in a situation of need, distracting them from what is happening. You’d be amazed and shocked about how many people have no idea what is going on the in the world, let alone about “The Death of Klinghoffer.” This production is a symbol of people not caring about their neighbors and what their neighbors are going through even though they’re going through the same things. We’re too distracted by television shows. We think we’re smarter by putting a computer in front of people rather than looking up and seeing what’s going on in the world. They’re tweeting and messaging each other about nonsense and not paying attention to what’s going on right in front of them and what will affect their future. They do not understand the enemy. It’s almost too late. The enemy is here. We left the borders open and now they’re here.
BB: I was actually involved in the Murrieta Immigration protests. I understand what you’re saying about people being too caught up in their phones and computers. I’m 22 and feel like very few people my age care about what’s going on in the world.
TLB: This is my personal crusade for your future, for my grandkids, for America’s ideals. If you want to change this country, as the administration that occupies the White House has stated in his campaign, he has succeeded and we are not better off for it. With an almost $18 trillion dollar deficit that each and every child that is born today is already in debt, the numerous amount of scandals, lack of employment, open borders, and non-existing foreign policy, the American people have been his accomplices. Unfortunately, he showed people what he was before he was elected. During the 4 years he was in office, he showed them even more who he really was and they re-elected him again. It’s a suicide mission. The administration that understands you put people in the position of need, give them food stamps, financial support, cell phones, and long-term unemployment insurance without the incentive of working for what they get reminds me of the quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935: “A continued dependence on relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief, welfare in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” They know how to win an election, but it is not best for America. This condition we find our country in wasn’t by accident. It was on purpose. `
Tony’s most recent project, The Little Flower, the life and times of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, three-term mayor of New York City, was written, acted and directed by Mr. Lo Bianco. Click HERE for the nationwide schedule. His performance will take place in Los Angeles for a special 2-night-only (November 2 & 3) to celebrate his 60th year in show business. And click HERE for the nationwide schedule, beginning October 14 thru November 23.