Two and a half years after it ended its seven-season run, cast members of the ABC show Scandal are reuniting for a novel political event: an Oct. 15 virtual texting party over Zoom to register voters in Pennsylvania. The event is organized by Field Team 6, a year-and-a-half-old organization that focuses on registering Democratic voters in 12 swing states.
What exactly is a virtual texting party? As actress Zoe Perry, who played Samantha Ruland on the show, explains it, “There will be a how-to of how you help register people via texting, and then you will be texting prospective voters and you will also be able to simultaneously watch the Scandal cast chit-chat and just gab about their lives.” Adds Field Team 6 founder of the effort to register voters before Pennsylvania’s Oct. 19 deadline, “You text while hanging out with brilliant celebrities and get to listen to them be hilarious. If we get ridiculous text responses from Republicans, we make fun of them together.” The event costs $20 to join.
Berlin, a former regional field organizer for the California Democratic Party, states that his organization is overtly and “proudly” partisan. “We’re the only national organization I know of that is actively trying to register new Democrats in swing states, all digitally in these COVID times,” says Berlin, adding that Field Team 6 is a 527 political-action organization, which sets it apart from most other voter-registration groups, which are 501c3 nonprofits. The latter, he notes, “are legally bound to be non-partisan.” By contrast, Field Team 6 is “respectfully, cheerfully, proudly partisan. So when we reach out to people we can start with, ‘Hey, I’m Jason, a volunteer with Field Team 6, just reaching out to see if you can help us save the world from Trump or reaching out to see if you can help beat COVID with science by voting for Democrats up and down the tickets.”
Adds actor Jeff Perry, who played White House chief of staff Cyrus Beene on the show (and is Zoe’s father), “I love that they are unashamedly and proudly partisan so that I can bring up things like the Muslim ban and separating families at the border and imprisoning children and denying that there is systemic racism in our society and denying that climate change exists and economic policies that protect the top 1 percent and [President Trump] treating the Department of Justice like his personal lawsuit firm and I could go on and on.” Perry says that he’s staying active in these last few days where voters can still register because, “The polls are potentially really misleading. You just gotta leave the effort on the floor as the basketball players say, you’ve got to play to the last minute and do our best to create change.”
Additional Scandal cast members set to join in include star Kerry Washington, Tony Goldwyn, Dan Bucatinsky, Kate Burton, Guillermo Diaz, Scott Foley, Katie Lowes, Joe Morton, Joe Newburn, Cornelius Smith Jr., and Bellamy Young. Jeff Perry says that he’s looking forward to seeing everyone on the Zoom: “It was just one of the nicest chemistries of a cast. People got such a kick out of each other and were really supportive and had really similar happy work ethics of just wanting the show to be better and better. It was really actor heaven for this group, and it led to tremendous carry through of a text chain and email chain and phone calls. It’s just really, really sweet showbiz family that has continued. We love getting together and people love teasing each other and so hopefully there will be some of that [at the event] and there’s always something we haven’t heard in the way of dirt and gossip and hopefully that will come out. It’s always fun to be together.” (On Oct. 13, Field Team 6 did a similar voter-texting party with the cast of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle.)
Zoe and Jeff Perry got involved with Field Team 6 through writer-producer Don Foster (known for his work on Roseanne, Dharma & Greg, and Two and a Half Men), who serves as the chair of the board of the organization. Zoe’s mother, actress Laurie Metcalf, also serves on its advisory board, along with fellow actors Jane Lynch and Sandra Oh.
Berlin states that Field Team 6 has sent over 4.5 million text messages since August, focusing on registering people of color, public-college students, purged voters, and college-educated women. “I am praying for a landslide and we are working every day to make that happen down this home stretch,” says Berlin, whose group has recently added Montana and Alabama to its list of target states. “We’ve targeted specifically the states that matter most and will expand the House majority, more importantly flip the Senate and take back the White House. We’ve registered over 27,000 progressive voters in swing states, recognizing that Michigan fell to Trump by just over 10,000 votes.”
He adds of the group’s approach, “If you just say ‘register to vote’ to someone, that only appeals to people who already think voting is a positive thing and the people we are talking to are people who have not thought that yet or they would be registered. When we connect voting with a value like protect the environment or save healthcare, you get people’s attention so much more than if you are just saying something generic like register to vote.”