April 24, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

The Right Side of Hollywood

While most in the show business community have lined up behind either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama during this presidential primary season, a few souls dared to be rather unrepresentative of the local political terrain and put their money and their influential mouths behind Republican candidates.

John McCain was endorsed fairly early by Sylvester Stallone even as the theme song from “Rocky†eventually went on to become the music often played during post-Pennsylvania primary appearances of Hillary Clinton. The “Rocky†theme, as her managers determined, symbolizes her rise and fall and rise again (after the West Virginia primary).

This past winter, MGM chief Harry Sloan hosted a fundraiser for Arizona senator John McCain. Sloan told Variety: “I do think that once the Democratic race is decided some Democrats will give John a good look.†He thinks that McCain could well have crossover appeal both in the entertainment field and in California in general, especially given the somewhat polarizing competition between Clinton and Obama.

Sloan first sought McCain out in the summer of 2006 after a meeting at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He hosted a fundraiser for him in 2007, telling attendees that the former prisoner-of-war and would-be president was “the most principled political leader of our generation.â€

McCain wasn’t the favorite Republican candidate this time around, in the world of show business, until some other candidates dropped out. Rudolph Giuliani, before the Florida primary results forced his withdrawal from the race, had attracted the support of actors Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Miller, Adam Sandler and Robert Duvall as well as writer Lionel Chetwynd. John Voight was another early supporter of the former mayor of New York. And who doesn’t know of how effusively supportive Chuck Norris was of the candidacy of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee?

Hollywood Republicans no longer have quite the star power they once boasted. Though always seemingly few in number, they could certainly boast marquee power as the likes of John Wayne, Charlton Heston and Frank Sinatra made no secret of their conservative stances. Of course, Ronald Reagan’s success can’t be forgotten. More recently though, it’s been a TV star – Patricia Heaton – who hasn’t been shy about her Republican leanings. In the documentary film Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood, the star of the former hit series Everybody Loves Raymond (now in reruns) spoke about having a dinner conversation a few years ago with some Hollywood friends during which she mentioned that she was going to vote for the reelection of George W. Bush. The conversation apparently stopped for a moment. “You’d think I’d crapped in the middle of the table,†said Heaton.

The documentary film also includes the views of comedian Drew Carey. “I honestly think that it automatically hurts me if I said that I supported the war in Iraq and I support the troops,†Carey said on camera. A self-described Libertarian, Carey went on to say: “That automatically kills me for getting a bunch of movies, a bunch of TV shows. People don’t want to hear from me.†That feeling seems to be shared by some fellow, known-to-be Republican performers. A disclaimer in the Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood film notes that Mel Gibson, Dwayne “The Rock†Johnson, Bruce Willis and Heather Locklear refused to be interviewed. Other thought-to-be Hollywood Republicans include Shannon Doherty and Tom Selleck, though little has been heard from them concerning who they favor to become the next President of the United States.

Michael Medved, the film reviewer and radio talk show host, did announce support of McCain during the early stages of his campaign. Actors Rip Torn and Dick Van Patten are celebrity boosters of the Arizona senator but they can’t exactly be relied upon to turn out voters. McCain’s deep pocket supporters in the Hollywood community do include Brad Grey and Barry Diller whose money will likely churn up more votes than anything Stallone might say in the senator’s behalf.

According to the LA Times, in its February 8, 2008 edition, McCain had once been a frequent visitor to Beverly Hills. During his 2000 run for the nomination, he was much, much more popular with Hollywood Democrats than he is now. The Times noted that Alan Horn, Brad Grey, David Geffen, Haim Saban, Peter Chernin, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Sumner Redstone and Norman Lear wrote him checks during that competition with George W. Bush. It was reported that Harrison Ford made contributions to both McCain and Al Gore, as did Michael Douglas. Quincy Jones and Berry Gordy contributed to the Arizona senator’s primary run in 2000.

Given McCain’s continued support for the war in Iraq in 2008, not to mention the draw of both Obama and Clinton, there’s been no such reportage about Hollywood’s financial largess coming into McCain coffers this time around. Of course, McCain does have the backing of an A-list star turned state governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed John McCain but few are counting on California’s chief executive to have much influence on either Hollywood or elsewhere in the state when it comes to turning out the vote (and turning in the contributions) for the presumptive Republican nominee.

Not surprisingly, if the Presidential campaign was determined only by dollars as well as votes, Mr. McCain knows he won’t be dealt a winning hand in Hollywood. As of the second week of May, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama and Clinton are nearly tied as regards contributions from the show business community – with Obama having garnered $3.2 million though the end of March and Clinton right behind him at $3.1 million. Senator McCain, however, was running a distant third with just $588,725 forked over by Tinseltown titans. Barring some implosion by the Democrats (the kind Hillary may well be hoping happens to Obama so much sooner than later), Senator McCain will be looking anywhere but here for money and votes.

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