Skip to comments.Some stars have GOP stripes (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Ted Nugent, Steve Tyler)
Posted on 08/12/2004 2:29:19 AM PDT by Liz
The Dems may have the Boss and Babs, but Bush has his celebrity backers, too. Expect to see some in the spotlights at the Republican convention.
Just because Republicans deride Hollywood as an out-of-touch bastion of liberalism and perverted values doesn't mean they don't like rubbing elbows with celebrities.
So, yes, there will be stars when the GOP convenes in New York starting Aug. 30. They may not have the wattage of Ben Affleck, Natalie Portman or Michael Moore, to name a few who roamed the convention floor with the Democrats in Boston last month. But, as the GOP showed when it invited wrestler-turned-actor The Rock to address its 2000 convention, Republican entertainment no longer means safe and boring.
Caustic comedian Dennis Miller and actress Angie Harmon are expected to wing in from Los Angeles to mingle with delegates at Madison Square Garden. Headliners, according to CNN, will include country stars Sara Evans and Lee Ann Womack, with blues-rocker Jonny Lang and Texas alt-rock band Dexter Freebish joining more established acts the Gatlin Brothers and Blind Boys of Alabama.
The Republicans will even showcase an action star in prime time, as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger takes the podium on Night Two.
Why does this matter? "Celebrities are interesting, and voters care about them," said Alan Schroeder, author of Celebrity-in-Chief: How Show Business Took Over the White House.
Last year a CBS News poll found that a majority of Americans believe celebrities "can offer a new perspective on political issues."
Politicians like them because "they've already been certified as popular by audiences, and candidates can tap into that," said Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and former TV producer. "For someone like John Kerry, who doesn't have a lot of star presence himself, hanging around with them is a way to pick up some stardust."
Likewise, it wouldn't hurt President Bush if actor Tony Sirico, who plays mobster Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos, stops by the Garden during the GOP convention. "I am a far-to-the-right Republican," Sirico declared last month at a fund-raising party on Long Island.
Other actors who've been in Bush's corner include Freddie Prinze Jr., Jason Priestley, Bo Derek, Shannen Doherty, Kelsey Grammer and bohemian right-winger Vincent Gallo, who once called left-wing author and radio talker Al Franken a "commie crawfish."
True, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and the Dixie Chicks are raising money for Kerry with a series of highly publicized concerts. No such venture has been planned for Bush.
But Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Ted Nugent, and Steve Tyler of Aerosmith are fans of the President. So is punk-rock guitarist Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, who urges musician pals to donate to Bush's campaign. "I try to make a dent in people when I can," he said in a March interview with the Washington Times. "I figure people drift toward liberalism at a young age, and I always hope that they change when they see how the world really is."
The merger of politics and entertainment is nothing new, said Schroeder. John F. Kennedy kept company with the Rat Pack, and Franklin D. Roosevelt cozied up to the top actors of his day. "They not only campaigned for him but raised money for his charity, the March of Dimes," Schroeder said. (Roosevelt's White House guests included Rosalind Russell, Veronica Lake, Gene Kelly and Dorothy Lamour.)
"It's nice for a candidate to get publicity and face time, but it's really about the money the entertainment community can raise," Schroeder said. "In a year like this, when the election is so close, that could make the difference."
Hollywood gives $7 to Democrats for every $3 to Republicans, reports the Hill, a Washington newspaper for political insiders. The Federal Election Commission's July 5 report shows the TV, movie and music industries donated $17.5 million to federal candidates and political parties in the current election cycle. Sixty-six percent of contributions went to Democrats and 34 percent to Republicans, according to a nonprofit research group, the Center for Responsive Politics (www. opensecrets.org).
"The entertainment industry is led and driven by liberal Democrats, but the majority of us are mainstream people with traditional values," said comedian Dale Davidson, who heads the Las Vegas chapter of Entertainers for Bush.
In Hollywood, conservatives suggest, Republicanism is the sin that dares not speak its name.
"There's a lot of pressure in the film and recording industries for people to fall in line," Davidson said. "If you're not a liberal, you keep your mouth shut if you want to work."
A few celebrities, including Wayne Newton and Bruce Willis, are outspoken conservatives, said Davidson, but most with similar views are in the closet.
"Coming out in this industry has been very difficult to do," said actor Mark Basil Vafiades, president of the Hollywood Congress of Republicans. "Nobody says anything for fear of being ridiculed."
John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, said recently, "You introduce a Republican to another in Hollywood, it's like a meeting between two Christians in Caligula's Rome."
President Bush found out just how uncool it was to be a Republican while planning for his 2001 swearing-in festivities, as reams of A-list performers declined invitations to perform.
"Booking entertainment for a Republican inaugural is like trying to push a wet mattress up a spiral staircase," a Hollywood publicist noted at the time.
Ricky Martin swiveled in at the last minute to save the day. Soon after, a White House task force was formed to ferret out GOP celebrities and dragoon them into performing at state dinners.
Among the finds was ditzy conservative Jessica Simpson, who's become a frequent White House visitor. Upon being introduced in March to Gale Norton, secretary of the interior, Simpson gushed, "I love what you've done to the place."
Since the Inaugural celebrity-shortage scare, Bush has been publicly endorsed by actors Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle and Ron Silver, and has apparently caused a Baldwin brother to defect.
Candidate Kerry has two Baldwins, Alec and William, in his camp. Both were at the Democratic convention, where Alec railed that the GOP had been "hijacked by fundamentalistic wackos."
Meanwhile, Stephen, the youngest Baldwin, who became a born-again Christian after 9/11, is touring the country promoting his movie about God and skateboarding, while urging young evangelicals to register and hinting they should vote for Bush.
MTV has its Rock the Vote campaign; the Christian right has Redeem the Vote, promoted by the thriving Christian music industry at festivals with names like Lamb Jam, Jamming for Jesus, and Godstock.
In Hollywood, 9/11 and the antiwar protests that followed influenced conservatives to speak out, said actor Vafiades, and Schwarzenegger's election further emboldened them.
For years conservatives had sought others of their kind at the Wednesday Morning Club, a policy discussion group that has met since 1992 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Actor Robert Duvall is on the steering committee, and speakers have included Newt Gingrich and then-Texas-Gov. Bush.
Now other groups are springing up as well.
Actor Robert Davi belongs to one that has grown from eight to a hundred members in a year. Another group promises anonymity and invites people to gather via last-minute e-mail invitations, Vafiades said.
Entertainers for Bush, a grass-roots group that started last month in Maryland, has members from 18 states.
And high-powered executives from Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, Univision and Universal formed a group they call Entertaining Republicans, Variety reports, whose purpose is to boost GOP influence in Tinseltown.
"There are a lot of conservative entertainers out there," said Vafiades. "We just haven't been organized before."
Contact staff writer Beth Gillin at 215-854-2917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I expected to see pics of Britney and Jessica. ;-)
Animal Mother from Full Metal Jacket! Most definitely NOT one of the Baldwin brothers, btw.
And speaking of FMJ, there's always been conjecture about Stanley Kubrick himself being a conservative (as if anyone could know what was behind the mask). There's plenty of evidence for both sides.
Adam Baldwin was also in one of the very best episodes of "Homicide", playing a subway victim who's pushed between the sub and the platform.
I have seen public statements from BOTH, supporting Presidnet Bush!
Johnny Lang is a REALLY good singer. He looks like this 16 year old white kid but sounds like a salty old blues singer.
Never thought he was... although it's good to have that stated categorically for the record, obviously. (I like him even more, now... ) :)
OMG-----Be still my heart!!!!!!! :)
Several of these folks are "9/11 Republicans", meaning they changed their politics on that fateful day. Now consider that if 9/11 had that type of impact on folks who were mired in the far left world of the entertainment industry, imagine the impact it had on the average joe who historically voted Democrat. I personally believe that the voting demographic in this country underwent a dramatic change on 9/11, a change that is not being captured by the pollsters when they weight their samples. Accordingly, the media will wake up the morning after the election to find W has stormed his way to a 40+ state landslide victory and they'll all be scratching their heads about how they missed it.
The guy from Family Ties? I find that one hard to believe. Are you sure?
An understandable mistake. The guy who played the subway victim in "Homicide" was Vincent D'onofrio, who played Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.
One of the weird things about FMJ was how much Baldwin and D'onofrio resembled each other. Lots of people were confused by this, being that D'onofrio blows his brains out to end the first half of the movie, then Baldwin pops up as one of the Vietnam soldiers.. and many thought it was Pyle reincarnated, or something.
MICHAEL J. NELSON
That's the best so far!!
Not a very surprising statement considering who was the former executive tenant.
Well - in this case, I can separate politics from the entertainment community. At least Frank isn't an in-your-face lefty.
Come back Britney, all is forgiven!
Olde North Church just told me the same thing in a FReepmail. I stand corrected. But I never made the connection between Pyle and Animal in FMJ. I guess it was because Pyle's head was shaved, and he was kind of tubby, compared to Animal.
Oh boy, here come the pics!
He sure makes my toes curl.
My daughter and I love this show. Too bad SciFi Channel doesn't show it anymore. Bummer.
Who you want?