LBJ Helped Launch AFI, But Trump Won't Return Its Calls

Courtesy of AFI
From left: Jean Picker Firstenberg with Ronald and Nancy Reagan at AFI's Preservation Ball in 1988.

The presidential legacy of supporting the institute has been upheld by Bill Clinton, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Obama, but Trump is not such a "bigly" fan.

Ever since LBJ launched AFI in the Rose Garden, the institute has had a special place in the hearts of U.S. presidents — until now, that is.

Barack Obama hosted AFI's White House Student Film Festitval for the last three years of his administration. Bill Clinton spoke at Warren Beatty's Life Achievement Award event in 2008, while both Bush presidents turned up at AFI events and Ronald and Nancy Reagan came to AFI's Preservation Ball in 1988. Even Richard Nixon, despite the mounting Watergate scandal, managed to attend John Ford's Life Achievement Award ceremony in 1973.

Donald Trump, however, apparently is not such a bigly fan. Sources say the White House has not returned AFI's phone calls. That puts AFI in good company — Trump also has said he'll skip December's Kennedy Center Honors and proposed eliminating funding for the NEA and PBS — so AFI CEO Bob Gazzale is not feeling too hurt. While the student fest isn't returning to the White House this year, says Gazzale, "We're going to build something bigger now."

This story first appeared in the Oct. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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