Hollywood GOP at a Loss: 'Not Falling in Love with Candidates'
There might be doubts about whether pizza executive-turned-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is ready for primetime, but his guerrilla video campaign already has developed a cult following among the few Republicans in Hollywood. Enthusiasm for the crudely shot, slightly mysterious Internet ads -- the latest of which, "He Carried Yellow Flowers," features actor Nick Searcy -- is about all industry conservatives have found to rally around so far. When it comes to actually selecting the party's next presidential nominee, they are largely withholding concrete support. "People are being really careful this time around," says Republican stalwart and former MGM chairman Harry Sloan. "People aren't falling in love with candidates." Actor Robert Davi has been "lying low" for now. "I want a uniter, not a divider," he says. Republicans once were well represented in show business -- Ronald Reagan didn't come from nowhere -- but in recent years, their numbers have dwindled. Even so, Hollywood may be one of the few places in America where you still can find representatives of what used to comprise the "liberal wing" of the GOP -- activists who take a conservative approach to fiscal issues and a liberal view of social issues.
At the moment, most of the tentative industry support is going to Mitt Romney (Sloan and media mogul Terry Semel have contributed to his campaign). Committed Republican actors, writers and directors such as Searcy and Dennis Miller align with the GOP's more libertarian side and find Cain appealing. Some may be attracted by his radical 9-9-9 tax proposal, but many are taken with the slightly goofy video campaign. What you won't find is any significant support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Their overt religiosity just doesn't play well. "If the Republicans continue to showcase fringe candidates like Bachmann or Ron Paul, that's going to turn off Hollywood," says Sloan, who is trying to organize a meet-and-greet with Romney. "I'd like to invite some Democrats too," he adds. "It's hard to fill a big room with just Republicans."
GIVING TO THE REPUBLICANS: Candidates and GOP organizations getting Hollywood support
- Mary Hart and husband Burt Sugarman gave $5,000 to Herman Cain
- Dennis Miller gave $250 to Herman Cain
- Harry Sloan gave $2,500 to Mitt Romney
- Terry Semel gave $2,500 to Mitt Romney
- Pat Boone gave $500 to Republican National Committee
- Jerry Perenchio gave $2 million to American Crossroads SuperPAC