Sean Penn: 'Embarrassed, Even For The Chronicle'

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The Chronicle's pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub has raised the ire of actor and sometime-Chronicle scribe Sean Penn over last Thursday's Swiftian (in name at least) screed "A modest proposal for celebs on the skids," in which falling American stars were matched with potential publicity-courting world dictators.

Spurred by supermodel Naomi Campbell's recent dalliance (read: interview) with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for GQ, Hartlaub plays matchmaker, pairing Britney Spears with Iranian Prez Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Lee Majors with Libya's Moammar Khadafy. That's just a taste. The famously prickly Penn (name-dropped over his recent trip to meet Chavez) responded with a gem-studded letter to the editor slamming the Chronicle for playing too fast and loose with the term 'dictator,' since Chavez was indeed democratically elected to office. Highlights as follows:

"Yet, in the paper's attack on Oliver Stone, who, agree with him or not, has at least the balls, passion and intellectual curiosity to pursue information away from a porcelain dumping bowl and a desperate newspaper, we see another attempt to marginalize the outspoken."
"Believe it or not, I have a reasonably good sense of humor (if that's what Hartlaub attempted), but I felt so embarrassed, even for The Chronicle."
"Its "hard news" section for the banner line, and now its Datebook editorials have become Mad Magazine for small-minded cowards and former writers of substance. Who could that be, Phil?"

There's really only one thing left to say at this point: Zing!

-- Brian Bernbaum

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