“… what you need is an event, an event that gets everyone’s heads turned around the right way. What you need is a new Pearl Harbor. That’s what they said they needed… and that is sure as shit what they got.” —Daniel Sunjata as Franco Rivera in a scene from Rescue Me, created by Denis Leary
“War is show business. That’s why we’re here.” — Robert DeNiro as Conrad Brean in Wag the Dog, which features Leary
“I’m an asshole.” —Leary in his satirical song Asshole
October 26, 2019
By Craig McKee
It was a short interview.
Okay, technically it was more of a refusal to give an interview. But why split hairs? I got a quote.
“Nah, I’m not gettin’ involved in that… 9/11 conspiracy theories… nah,” 62-year-old actor Denis Leary said as he walked briskly to his car outside a Montreal ball hockey rink last Saturday afternoon. He was responding to my request to do an interview with him about the efforts of firefighters in the New York area to get a new investigation into 9/11.
Leary may have been trying to pull away from me, but I do have deceptive speed when pursuing famous people holding hockey sticks. Especially when 9/11 is involved.
I know. You have questions. Like what is a mid-level Hollywood actor and former stand-up comedian doing at a ball hockey rink in Montreal? And why was I even there to chase him?
In September, my good buddy Fred Serre got in touch to tell me that I wouldn’t believe who was going to be playing in his weekly ball hockey game for the next several Saturdays. He explained that Leary, in between seasons of his hit show Animal Kingdom, is in town making a TV miniseries for Fox called A Moody Christmas with Jay Baruchel. And being an avid hockey player (and certainly a fan of the hated Boston Bruins), Leary had to find a regular game while he was here. Baruchel, a fanatical Montreal Canadiens fan, was supposed to play at some point also, but he hasn’t as of the publication of this article.
Fred has been a friend and fellow journalist for more than 30 years. We worked together at The Chronicle newspaper in Montreal for five years, and I am now a regular contributor to a magazine that he edits. In recent years, Fred has come to agree with me that 9/11 was indeed an inside job, which makes him the second most enlightened journalist in town, next to me.
When I got the intriguing news about Leary, I started thinking about how I could arrange to talk to him and what that might lead to, particularly with regard to 9/11 and firefighters, which he and I both have an interest in, although for very different reasons.
Leary is well known for his support of firefighters, including those who lost their lives or got sick at Ground Zero on or after Sept. 11, 2001. That part we have in common. He created and starred in a show about firefighters called Rescue Me (which ran from 2004 to 2011). The show featured a scene in its fifth season in which character Franco Rivera, played by real-life 9/11 truther Daniel Sunjata (who is a member of the 9/11 Consensus Panel), explains why he thinks 9/11 was an inside job (see the first quote at the top of this article).
Leary’s affinity for firefighters goes back at least to 1999 when a cousin and a childhood friend were killed fighting a fire in Worcester, Massachusetts. This tragedy led him to create The Leary Firefighters Foundation in 2000, its mission “to provide funding and resources for Fire Departments to obtain the best available equipment, technology and training.” The events of 9/11 led the foundation to create The Fund for New York’s Bravest, which raised money for the families of the 343 firefighters who died that day.
At one time, I would have thought only of the acting/celebrity angle for approaching Leary since I used to be the entertainment editor of the largest English weekly newspaper in my native province of Quebec, Canada. I’ve interviewed (name dropping alert!) some pretty big talents over the years, like Janet Leigh of Psycho fame, Leslie Nielsen, James Cromwell, David Cronenberg, Norman Jewison, Stephen Colbert, Carl Reiner, Kevin Pollak, Russell Peters, Michael York, Eric Idle, and the one and only Dame Edna Everage. I’ve also talked to a whack of musicians, including members of Rush, Styx, Supertramp, Coldplay, The Barenaked Ladies, and solo acts like Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Paul Anka, and the guy who played Bjorn in the Abba tribute show Bjorn Again (his fake Swedish accent was surprisingly convincing).
But this time, Fred’s news did not make me think about show business possibilities; I thought about firefighters and 9/11. Because of what I perceived to be potential open-mindedness from Leary on the subject, I imagined trying to get some kind of statement of support for the efforts of firefighters from the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department — located near Queens, New York — to expose the truth of what really happened at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The fire district passed a ground-breaking resolution in July calling for a new investigation of 9/11 and stating that it is “beyond any doubt” that the three World Trade Center towers were brought down with explosives. In my capacity as a writer for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, I interviewed fire commissioner Christopher Gioia, the driving force behind this resolution, and wrote articles about his initiative for Common Ground magazine in Vancouver, Canada, and the Manhattan monthly paper The WestView News.
With all this attention to firefighters very fresh in my mind, I excitedly imagined a variety of scenarios for Leary. Would he do an interview? Could I get it on video? Would he pose for a picture in support of the Franklin Square and Munson firefighters? Make a statement of support? Hang out for beers after the game with me and Fred?
When I learned that last week he might be playing his last game before leaving town, I decided to get my ass over there (I had gone to a game about a month earlier but Leary left immediately after the game). Turns out it wasn’t his last week, but it’s just as well that I went so I could make a move once and for all or give up. As you can tell from “the quote,” I ended up with nothing. Leary’s respect for firefighters and their willingness to risk their lives every day apparently didn’t help one bit when it came to these firefighters.
By the way, three firefighters who worked in Franklin Square and Munson died at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, and two of the district’s commissioners are now ill from breathing the toxic air that day and in the weeks that followed. But Leary never found out about these people because he didn’t want to “get involved in that.”
Nah. Conspiracy theories. Nah.
The funny thing is that Leary actually had a role in the 1997 film Wag the Dog, which satirized massive government deceptions and the use of propaganda to sell fake wars. It seems, however, that he didn’t realize that this kind of thing can actually happen in real life — and that it did on 9/11 (in this case, real wars started using fake “terror” attacks). Or maybe he did realize it but decided he could not say so and still continue doing those great Christmas movies for Fox.
Is Denis Leary an asshole (as he asserted proudly but with tongue in cheek in the song quoted above) because he brushed me off? No, I don’t think so. Fred says he’s great— just one of the guys. I bet if I’d been chasing him into the corner after the ball instead of chasing him for an interview about 9/11, I’d have thought he was great, too. So, no, not an asshole.
Just a hypocrite.