Common Ground Event Promo

New Documentary Stars & Strife Spotlights Rise of Polarization and Hatred


Leon Panetta, David Smick join panel on the film and how Americans can come together amidst growing incivility and polarization

Wilton, CT, October X, 2020 – On October 19 at 7 pm ET, Common Ground Committee, Inc (CGC), in partnership with Bridge Alliance, will host a panel discussion on the new documentary, Stars and Strife, which examines the rise of anger and hate swelling in American culture through interviews with activists, elected officials and business leaders. 

The panel is made up of former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, director David Smick, Katherine Gehl, and Hawk Newsome moderated by noted political commentator David Brooks. They will talk about the documentary, and explore its wider themes, as Americans start to vote amidst unprecedented national challenges and sometimes vitriolic partisan conflict. They will also answer audience questions about the documentary and finding common ground more broadly.

“We cannot hope to address the myriad issues our nation faces when we stand divided,” said Erik Olsen, co-founder, and CEO of Common Ground Committee. “Our hope is that viewers will be inspired by Stars and Strife and this panel to seek common ground in their own lives and require it from their lawmakers.”

Stars and Strife explores systemic hatred, division, and the need for change through direct experiences of and diverse perspectives of an all-star cast. The documentary explores how to overcome divisions to meet the challenges we currently face and live up to our nation’s ideals.

“This has been an extraordinary year where the level of political and social hate and division knows no bounds,” said writer and director David Smick. “The winners: the growing hate industry that continues to become rich and powerful by creating division and fear. The losers: the American people who see serious problems go unaddressed. America has a common-sense middle of 65-70 percent of the country that needs to step forward to demand their leaders stop the extremist hate and for once put country before party.”

Register now to join the panel on October 19 and receive a link to watch the film in advance. There is no cost for this event, but entry is limited.

David Smick and Erik Olsen are available for interviews before and after the event on October 19. Please contact Emily Cooper at or 212-671-2086.


About Common Ground Committee
Common Ground Committee (CGC) ( is a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization that inspires action on polarizing issues by bringing prominent leaders with opposing views together in public forums to find common ground. Since its founding in 2009, CGC has held 11 forums featuring panelists who have reached over 200 points of consensus. Panelist pairs have included such notables as David Petraeus and Susan Rice, John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steele and Donna Brazile, and Larry Kudlow and Barney Frank, exploring issues ranging from race and income inequality to foreign policy. Free of political agenda and financial influence, CGC has a singular focus on bringing light, not heat, to public discourse.