OXON HILL, Md. - Hey, Hollywood: "Closet conservatives" are lurking in the shadows of Tinseltown.
Take it from an industry insider: Cardiologist-turned-actor Dr. James Higgins, who addressed a major gathering of conservatives today at CPAC.
During a discussion called "Conservatives Alive In Hollywood!," panelists - including former U.S. Senator (and "Law and Order" actor) Fred Thompson - lamented the GOP's neglect of the film industry.
Many L.A. film execs believe in conservative causes but they self-censor, refusing to support movies touting conservative values for fear of professional retaliation, the panelists agreed.
And that's "a crying' shame because it shuts down debate," said Academy Award-winning producer of "Schindler's List" Gerald Molen.
But self-censorship isn't the only reason conservatives don't get much traction on the silver screen. The rest of the blame lies with the GOP, which has failed to harness the persuasive power of film, panelists argued.
"Republicans see entertainment as superfluous," said John Sullivan, producer of the soon-to-be released political thriller "America."
Good movies can inspire young activists by "converting ideology into stories that people can relate to," Sullivan said.
In the end, it all comes down to the power of the almighty dollar. The best way to create compelling content is by hiring top-notch industry professionals.
"It's all about the money," said "Persecuted" producer Daniel Lusko. "We have to start there."
Rick Santorum, who spoke at the conference Friday afternoon, is now the CEO of his own Christian movie company, which promotes "faith-and-family" films.