Phil Donahue speaks out against the war

Phil Donahue is on a mission to show Americans a view of what’s going on in Iraq that they’re not seeing.

“This is a sanitized war,” says the iconic TV talk show host, in San Francisco this week promoting “Body of War,” a documentary he co-directed with Ellen Spiro.

The film, Donahue’s first foray into directing, tells the story of Tomas Young, who was paralyzed at age 22 from a bullet wound he sustained to his spinal cord after serving less than a week in Iraq.

Getting up close and personal, the movie focuses on Young’s return home to Kansas City, where he faces daily difficulties living with extreme disabilities and becomes an anti-war activist.

Interspersed is footage from CSPAN showing members of what Donahue calls a “spineless” Congress as they rubber-stamp President Bush’s plans for war.

“It’s unbelievable how this president scared the hell out of everybody,” says Donahue, “only 23 senators said no.”

Donahue was equally struck upon first meetingYoung. He was introduced to the soldier through Ralph Nader; the three met when Young was being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center near Washington, D.C.

“He had sunken cheekbones, he was loopy from drugs. His mother explained the gravity of the injuries; he was paralyzed from the nipples down. I saw the debilitation. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” says Donahue.

The film is unlike anything he did working in television for decades. He says, “I never spent three years on one show. This is a long and winding road, and a contact sport. We’re jumping out of cakes all across America.”

He’s pleased to bring his message to San Francisco, a place that hosted his program for a week on more than one occasion.

It’s no secret that he’ll vote for a Democrat this year, but he won’t say who. And, setting politics aside, in his spare time he enjoys his boat, grandchildren and a wife who’s never boring.

As for fellow talk-show pioneer Oprah Winfrey, he says, “She’s in the stratosphere. More power to her for the success she’s enjoying.”

lkatz@examiner.com

 CREDITS

Body of War

Starring Tomas Young

Directed by Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro

Running time 1 hour, 27 minutes

Not rated

Note: Donahue and Spiro will be at the Clay Theatre in San Francisco after the 4:45 p.m. April 19 screening and at the Shattuck in Berkeley after the 4:50 p.m. April 20 showing of the film.

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

More than a thousand people gathered in front of the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order and demand that the state re-open on May 1, 2020. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)
Newsom blames ‘right-wing pundits’ for COVID surge

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday placed the blame… Continue reading

Strong California revenues will allow the state to commit to offering no-cost food to every student. (Amanda Mills/Pixnio)
How California plans to offer free daily meals to 6 million public school students

By Ali Tadayon EdSource With one in every six children facing hunger… Continue reading

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), pictured here in 2012, was assaulted robbed and assaulted near Oakland’s Jack London Square on Monday, July 26th, 2021.(Brendan Hoffman/The New York Times)
Former U.S. Sen. Boxer robbed, assaulted in Oakland

By Lauren Hard New York Times Barbara Boxer, 80, a former U.S.… Continue reading

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

Most Read