Stars in the shadows: Hollywood actors mum on donations to GOP
Republican presidential candidates have been drawing support — and cash — from Hollywood celebrities, but few of the stars in super-liberal Tinseltown want to be publicly linked with the Grand Old Party.
One high-profile celebrity, when asked about her political views, even had her lawyers declare “our client’s rights of privacy and other legally protectable intangible rights” and warn that she should not be labeled a Republican.
So far, just a handful of actors have come forward to support Republican hopefuls. Adam Sandler, who cast former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in a cameo role in his 2003 movie “Anger Management,” has contributed $2,100 to Mr. Giuliani’s campaign. The two met recently on Mr. Sandler’s movie set in New York.
Former “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammar and his wife also have tossed in $6,900 for the mayor.
But neither would comment about their support. In fact, not a single one of the dozen actors contacted for this story who have been identified as conservative leaning would comment publicly.
“Bo isn’t available [. . .] sorry,” said Bo Derek’s handler. “Mr. Costner is not available to be interviewed,” said Kevin Costner’s publicists. “I’m sorry, but unfortunately Mel is unavailable to contribute,” said Mel Gibson’s people.
While Democrats enjoy very public support from Hollywood’s top actors and musicians, who often hold lavish events for their favorite candidates, Republican supporters in Hollywood try hard to keep their political views quiet.
“They learn very quickly, if they know what’s good for them, to donate to the Democratic Party,” said Andrew Breitbart, co-author of “Hollywood, Interrupted.” “If they were to donate to the Republican Party, they would be exposed to career-ending ridicule, period.”
Teri Hatcher, an actress on the television show “Desperate Housewives,” even forwarded an interview request to her attorneys. Ms. Hatcher, who had lunch in February in Beverly Hills with former President George H.W. Bush, has repeatedly turned down invitations to be on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” MSNBC reported that “a source” said “she’s not in-sync” with the aggressively liberal host, prompting some to wonder if she is secretly conservative.
“Please be advised that Ms. Hatcher is not a Republican, but more impor tantly does not choose to have her political affiliation or viewpoints on any particular candidate or issue in the current presidential campaign included in your proposed article,” lawyer Barry W. Tyerman said in an e-mail.
Michael Medved, a nationally syndicated conservative talk-show host and movie critic, said actors are skittish for good reason.
“People who might be a little bit insecure about their status in Hollywood anyway wouldn’t want to amplify that insecurity by taking outspoken conservative positions,” he said.
Hollywood producer Joel Surnow, of the television show “24,” recently said he and other conservatives in the entertainment industry are leaning toward supporting the mayor, adding that Mr. Sandler “is going to come out and support Rudy Giuliani.”
Of the few actors who have declared support for Republicans, only a couple have publicly made statements. Robert Duvall, star of such movies as “The God- father” and “Apocalypse Now,” endorsed Mr. Giuliani, who dined with the Duvalls last month at their Virginia estate.
“I don’t normally get involved in politics, but I think the stakes are too high this election,” the actor said, but only in a statement released by the campaign.
Actor Chuck Norris also has been outspoken in his support for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. But most stay in the closet, Mr. Breitbart said, and become members of what amounts to a secret society.
“They seek each other out on sets, they talk to each other secretly, they exchange e-mails,” he said.
Still, Republicans have streamed into Hollywood for cash — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney courted contributors in the state on Nov. 15 and held a town meeting just outside Hollywood.
In the first nine months of this year, Sen. John McCain of Arizona pulled in $390,000 from Hollywood, with Mr. Giuliani close behind at $360,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group based in Washington.
Those numbers pale in compar ison to Democrats. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York drew $2.2 million from the movie, music and TV industries over the same period. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois pulled in $2.1 million from some A-list actors, including Tom Hanks, Tobey Maguire, Eddie Murphy, Edward Norton Jr., Morgan Freeman and Ben Stiller.
Mr. Breitbart noted that seven anti-war films recently have bombed at the box office, and said optimistically that Hollywood conservatives may speak up more this election cycle.
“A lot of these people really believe that we’re at crossroads, whether or not we’re going to be aggressively taking on ascendant radical Islam,” he said. “At that point, you’ll see a lot of people come out of the closet.”
The political persuasion that dare not speak its name. “24” producer Joel Surnow is one of the few vocal conservatives in Hollywood.