WASHINGTON (Variety) - Wielding his presidential-like appeal, actor Martin Sheen headlines a TV ad debuting in Los Angeles
and the nation's capital on Thursday urging Americans to join a Feb. 26 "virtual march" on Washington to oppose a war with
Sheen -- who plays fictional U.S. President Jed Bartlet on NBC's "The West Wing" -- was one of several celebrities joining
a long list of church leaders and other activists in announcing the campaign at a Wednesday press conference in Los Angeles.
The umbrella coalition Artists United to Win Without War wants citizens to deluge the nation's capital with e-mails, faxes
and phone calls.
Groups emerging in recent weeks to advocate a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis have had a difficult time buying national
air time for anti-war spots. CNN and other networks say they are reluctant to air any advocacy ads, regardless of the issue.
To get around the skittish networks, groups are buying up time from local cable companies. Sheen's ad will appear on both
CNN and Fox News Channel in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The spot will continue running throughout the next week.
"This virtual march on Washington will allow every American opposed to the war to stand up and be counted, by calling,
faxing and e-mailing the U.S. Senate and the White House," Sheen says in the ad.
Other celebrities flanking Sheen at Wednesday's press briefing included Janeane Garofalo and Mike Farrell. Organizations
on hand included the National Council of Churches, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Greenpeace, NAACP and Physicians
for Social Responsibility.
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