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Dean Cain in his morning element: near a cup of coffee. In this case, outside Starbucks at Malibu Colony Plaza. Scott Steepleton/Malibu Surfside News
Scott Steepleton, Editor
11:06 am PDT July 12, 2020

He’s owned a casino, even saved Earth a time or two.

Now Dean Cain can add to his resume a role that isn’t a piece of fiction — that of Emmy nominee for “Hate Among Us,” a Popstar TV documentary he produced with talk-show host and longtime friend Montel Williams that explores the rise of anti-Semitism.

Over coffee at Starbucks in Malibu Colony Plaza, Cain, who turns 54 on July 31, talked with Malibu Surfside News about among other things atrocities against Jews and Armenians, his support of President Trump and the danger of “cancel culture.”

For many, the longtime Malibuite became a household name for playing the Man of Steel opposite Teri Hatcher on ABC’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” in the early 1990s. Others may know him from his 2005-07 turn as Casey Manning, the millionaire who buys the Montecito Resort and Casino on NBC’s “Las Vegas.” Since 2014, he’s hosted the magic show “Masters of Illusion” on The CW. And in one of several darker roles, the never-married father of one portrays Scott Peterson, the young husband who is on death row for murdering his wife and unborn child, in Sony Pictures Television’s “The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story.”

While these credits and numerous others have gained Cain lots of attention — including perennial feuds over who is “the best” Superman — the 92-minute “Hate Among Us” is his first to earn such high notice from the Television Academy. In the 47th Daytime Emmys, it was nominated for two awards: Outstanding Special Class Special and Outstanding Directing Special Class (David McKenzie).

“I was actually kind of flabbergasted,” Cain told Malibu Surfside News about being nominated. “The subject matter is tough, especially during these times. I was extremely happy, and really full of hope that, by being nominated, a lot more eyeballs would fall onto the project. That serves our ultimate purpose of educating.”

While other projects took the honors in the recent awards presentation, Cain admitted to being “pretty giddy” at the nod, adding with his signature wide, brilliant smile, “I immediately changed my resume to Emmy-nominated producer.”

“Hate Among Us” — the follow-up to Cain and Williams’ documentary “Architects of Denial: Genocide Denied Is Genocide Continued” on the Armenian genocide — connects stories of survivors of recent violent anti-Semitism to those of the Holocaust. It includes interviews with descendants of those murdered by the Nazis as well as those who survived but still met their fate because of their faith.

“We tell a lot of personal stories,” said Cain. 

Among them, the family of a woman “who survived the Holocaust, and all of its atrocities, who ends up beaten and stabbed to death by a Muslim neighbor over hatred of Jews.

“It’s the Holocaust repeating itself.”

The genesis of “Hate” began with 2017’s “Architects of Denial,” which looks at the systematic killing of 1 million Armenians by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, a quarter century before Hitler’s state-sponsored murder of 6 million Jews.

“What we kept finding during the discussions of that genocide was that the denial of that genocide allowed other genocides to continue and to be perpetrated,” said Cain. “The largest one, of course, being the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler, during one of his early speeches — you know, trying to get his base rallied — when he’s talking about his Final Solution, said, after all, who remembers the Armenians? That’s just paraphrasing. But that’s what it was. Because nobody remembered the Armenians. They were able to get away with this atrocity by just denying it.”

Whether it’s a Muslim extremist killing someone over a drawing of Muhammd, a Turk killing an Armenian or Hitler’s extermination of nearly two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population, it all comes from one place and one word, said Cain.

Hate.

“Having the kind of hate in your heart toward a person or a group of people that you want to kill them, if you tried to explain it to a rational person, they’d say that just couldn’t happen,” he said. “But then we have example, after example, after example of exactly that taking place. The Armenian genocide. The Holocaust. And it goes on and on and on.”

He cited several places in the world where those same situations are occurring, including Sudan and a disputed part of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh.

“That is a powder keg,” Cain said. “The people who live there have been so dehumanized by those who don’t want them there. That’s always the tact: If you can dehumanize them, you’re not killing humans.”

Cain and Williams are not of one mind when it comes to politics. The man who played Superman is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, for example.

Williams, with whom Cain plans to do more projects, is not.

“I think Barack Obama was probably a sweetheart of a guy, fun to talk to, hang out with and play basketball,” said Cain. “I didn’t like his policies.”

Cain’s relationship with President Trump, on the other hand, is such that he gets the occasional invite to the Oval Office. That’s where he was on Feb. 27 — with Kristy Swanson (the original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), with whom he starred in 2019’s “FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers,” a verbatim reading of adulterous FBI agents Peter Strozk and Lisa Page’s anti-Trump texts and closed-door congressional testimony — the day Trump reportedly got a written briefing on alleged Russian bounties on U.S. and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan.

“Montel is certainly not a supporter of the president,” said Cain. “I sit on the advisory board for the re-election. I also sit on the board of directors for the NRA. I’m also a reserve police officer (in Pocatello, Idaho).” 

“But Montel and I agree on human rights issues, 100 percent. That’s why we did the Armenian genocide documentary, that’s why we did ‘Hate Among Us’ about the rise of anti-Semitism. Because we stand together for human rights, even though we might have different views on how we might get there.”

“Human rights are human rights,” Cain continued, “and when they’re violated and trampled on and just destroyed, then I feel obligated to speak up.”

If you listen to mainstream media of late, America is a land of genocide — a way of thinking that incenses Dean Cain.

“That’s absolutely an insane comment. First of all, they should look at what genocide means. It is the eradication, the getting rid of, a race, a religion, a group of people, and in no way, shape or form is the United States engaging in that.”

“Certainly our past of Imperialism and our long reach throughout the world has certainly gone on,” he said. “But in no way, shape or form are we ever engaged in murdering an entire group of people.”

The premise is one fostered by the media, which, Cain said, has lost its journalistic way in the last 15 years or so.

“It’s not ‘just the facts’ now. It’s full of opinion and nuance and leaving things out, and there’s a narrative that so many people push that’s frightening.”

He also called out journalism’s role in the “cancel culture” that heretofore free-thinking, free-speech loving societies — including America — find themselves in now. It’s the place where you say something that detractors don’t like; they whip up support, often through social media; the mainstream media then deems it a “story”; and the mob is now calling for your firing, or for advertisers to stop doing business with you.

A recent example: the boycott of Goya Foods, after CEO Robert Unanue, appearing in the White House Rose Garden as part of Trump’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order aimed at improving Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities, praised the president.

“We are all truly blessed ... to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said during the speech. “We have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president.”

Unrattled in the face of criticism, Unanue later told Fox News the boycott was “suppression of speech” and that he was “not apologizing.”

Said Dean Cain of cancel culture:

“That’s McCarthyism. It’s frightening. It’s like, ‘Not only do you have to agree with what I’m saying,’ but if you have an alternate opinion, then you are vilified and they want to cancel you. They want to take away your livelihood.”

“That is the opposite of tolerance. That is the opposite of freedom of speech,” Cain said. “We’re going a little haywire, but I think we’ll come back around and be in the right camp.”