Hollywood's Secretive Conservative Group Cheers Trump's Big Night
The right-wing Friends of Abe organization of actors, directors, producers and backstage crew celebrate a strong Trump showing held at a viewing party in Los Angeles. The location, as always, remains undisclosed.
Hollywood's secretive group of conservatives known as Friends of Abe erupted in boisterous cheers at an election viewing party when Florida was projected for Donald Trump, fueling optimism that the anti-establishment candidacy has a clear shot at victory.
The actors, producers, directors and backstage that make up the entertainment industry's right-leaning wing hugged one another in anticipation that an upset might be in the making. The party was held at a secret location only known to FOA's members, who keep the group at invite-only considering Hollywood is known as a notoriously liberal town.
"Trump understands how crooked the world is, including how corrupt government and the media is," said Mell Flynn, an actress, casting director and Republican delegate. "His legacy will live on. I'm a Republican activist who knows a lot of Democrats who are now in the Trump camp."
"Even if he's not conservative, he has demonstrated that he'll jump in the ring and kick liberals and the media in the nuts. Trump fights like a Democrat," says Sabo, the notorious conservative street artist who has been in FOA for three years.
Some of Sabo's artwork, in fact, was displayed throughout the secret location of the viewing party; included were for-sale signs of homes of celebrities who promised to leave the country should Trump win the election.
Trump was an early visitor to FOA, speaking to the group in July 2015, when many members were on the fence about their support for him and most of the media presumed his presidential hopes would end halfway through the primaries.
Speaking at the tony Luxe Hotel in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles that night, Trump joked about the biased news media and reminisced about his early days as host of The Apprentice. When he was through, several FOA members said he convinced them that he was a serious presidential candidate, and they pledged their support.
On Tuesday, several rooms were packed with those very supporters, as well as others who were less passionate about Trump but enthusiastically voted for him because they deemed Clinton completely untenable.
One, for example, was Sabo, who was initially a Ted Cruz supporter but was 100 percent in Trump's corner at the FOA party Tuesday.
"I've never walked out of a Cruz rally and not felt like a better person. His supporters are good people. But, even God needs his dirty fighters, and that's Trump," he told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday.
FOA was founded more than a decade ago by actor Gary Sinise, along with early members Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, producer-writer Lionel Chetwynd and the late Andrew Breitbart. The group is less formal than it had been, and Sinise rarely attends the more partisan events, preferring to spend his free time supporting the men and women of the U.S. military through his Gary Sinise Foundation.
Not attending the FOA viewing party was, ironically, Jeremy Boreing, the group's leader now that Sinise has stepped back. Boreing was a few miles away participating in a Daily Wire live stream of the election results, where he called Trump a "bombastic, pugilistic personality" and gave him a weak endorsement. "My values are likely better served" by Trump than by challenger Hillary Clinton, he said while Fox News, which was blasted across more than a dozen screens at the viewing party, showed Trump ahead by a score of 139 electoral votes to 97.
Ben Shapiro, the radio talk-show host who runs Daily Wire and is a prominent never-Trumper, said during the live stream that if the billionaire former TV personality wins, it would be "the most significant political miracle in the history of politics."
Several people at the FOA viewing party turned away from Fox News and tuned in to their mobile devices to hear Shapiro and Boreing when never-Trumper Glenn Beck called into the live stream when it looked like Trump was winning the presidency.
"If this is who the Republican party is, I want nothing to do with it," Beck said. He also called Trump "the most grotesque version of a capitalist ... we could see socialism sweep in four years."
Beyond the FOA viewing party, Hollywood conservatives huddled at various other locations to witness the election results. Twenty, for example, met at the home of Judd Dunning, host of the online show Conservatively Unplugged With Judd Dunning.
"Our party tonight is much like the majority of the U.S. electoral map that we are seeing turn so red this evening," said Dunning. "We are simply people from every walk of life who are proud Americans very connected to God, to country."
There was even a virtual party, of sorts, from conservative outlet PJ Media, run by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Roger Simon, who presided Tuesday over "PJ Media's first-ever all-day drunkblog."
"Like so many these days we are an online company so we were not physically together," Simon told THR. "We were sitting in front of our TV sets, live blogging, beverage of choice in hand — mine was Oban scotch — reveling in a new American revolution. Next stop: changing Hollywood!"
As for Sabo, who was once hassled by the U.S. Secret Service because he tweeted a reference to Lee Harvey Oswald in connection with a President Obama fundraiser, he explained the private nature of FOA like so:
"We're like groundhogs. But after the Secret Service knocked on my door, I figured, 'What's the point of being anonymous?' They'll find me," he said. "Then again, I don't need social-justice warriors kicking down my door. They're vengeful f—ing people. So I can appreciate why Hollywood conservatives are cautious."
See Sabo's encounter with the Secret Service below.