LOS ANGELES, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Hollywood stars are lending their fame to a new campaign to dissuade President George W. Bush from war with Iraq.
Actresses Anjelica Huston and Janeane Garofalo headlined a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday to announce a "virtual march" on Washington, and to unveil a new anti-war ad starring Martin Sheen -- the Emmy-winning actor who plays President Josiah Bartlet on "The West Wing."
In the ad, Sheen advises viewers to take part in a "virtual march" on Washington on Feb. 26, by contacting the White House and Congress by telephone, fax or e-mail, and urging the government to allow more time for U.N. arms inspectors to operate in Iraq.
"Our message to Washington will be clear," says Sheen in the ad. "Don't invade Iraq. We can contain Saddam Hussein without killing innocent people, diverting us from the war on terrorism and putting us all at risk."
Garofalo said political leaders in Washington are out of step with millions of Americans.
"This is clearly a time when we must join together and lead Washington back to its senses," she said. "The virtual march on Washington is an opportunity to do just that."
Garofalo, Huston and Sheen belong to a Hollywood organization called Artists United to Win Without War. Other members of the group attending the news conference included James Cromwell and Mike Farrell.
The coalition consists of more than 30 organizations, including the National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women and the Sierra Club. MoveOn.org -- a Web site that was established during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton -- is also a member of Win Without War.
MoveOn.org Executive Director Peter Schurman told United Press International his organization is hosting the Web-based component of the new campaign.
"People can come to MoveOn.org and schedule a time to call their senators and the White House so we can ensure a call every minute of the day," said Schurman. "The idea is to avoid bottlenecks on the phone lines and to ensure continuous ringing phones in those offices all day."
Plans call for the Sheen ad to air on CNN beginning Thursday, and to be expanded to other cable networks after that.
Bush said Tuesday that he would resist allowing his policy to be influenced by protests. Schurman said last weekend's anti-war demonstrations and the upcoming campaign will have an impact on the president's thinking.
"Bush is responding to the protests and to our messages," he said. "The sheer scale of public outpouring of support for giving the inspections more time is forcing him to respond, and that's a sign that we're having an impact."