Hollywood's Take on Donald Trump's Two Apprentices
Two men have the inside track as Trump gets set to name his running mate. One is well known in Hollywood, the other — not so much.
Donald Trump is ready to say, “You’re hired.”
The presumptive GOP candidate for president says his pick for running mate will be announced on Friday in what undoubtedly will be a splashy press conference at Trump Plaza. He’s been teasing the pick all week with the kind of flare reminiscent of his hit show The Apprentice. "I'm narrowing it down. I mean, I'm at three, potentially four. But in my own mind, I probably am thinking about two,” Trump said during a recent interview.
The two many political pundits are buzzing about couldn’t be any farther apart in mirroring the on-camera panache the former reality show host is known for — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Gingrich is a Hollywood insider of sorts who loves the spotlight nearly as much as his potential boss. Pence doesn’t seem to crave the limelight and has far less obvious ties to Hollywood. But, in Apprentice-like drama, Trump may still go for two others vetted for the job: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. There might also be a TV twist of a wildcard.
The importance to left-leaning Hollywood has always been fundraising, with media moguls like Jeffrey Katzenberg and powerful celebrities like Barbara Streisand throwing their fundraising support behind Democratic candidates. The big question is if Trump's vice president pick will motivate them even more. Here's what the entertainment industry ought to know about both Gingrich and Pence:
Gingrich, the architect of the Contract With America, which produced a historic 54-seat swing from Democrat to Republican in the House of Representatives in 1994, runs Gingrich Productions, which this year completed The First American, a documentary about George Washington.
Even prior to the creation of his own production company, Gingrich was executive producing and starring in patriotic documentaries at a regular clip, beginning with Rediscovering God in America in 2008, which also starred his wife, Callista. Next came Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny and a few more. While none would be considered successes that would rival films from Michael Moore or Dinesh D’Souza (the gold standard on the left and right, respectively, when it comes to political documentaries), Rediscovering God in America was popular enough to warrant a sequel.
Gingrich, 73, has even acted occasionally in sitcoms: Murphy Brown in 1996 and Parks and Recreation in 2013 (see a clip of the latter below).
Despite his association with Hollywood, it's safe to say the former speaker is not popular among the liberal elite in Hollywood, perhaps reflected by his uncredited appearance as an alien in 1997’s Men in Black — and of the 10 celebrities shown as aliens in the movie, Gingrich is reportedly the only one that filmmaker’s didn’t bother approaching for permission. (See that clip below.)
Among the documentaries Gingrich has appeared in is An Inconsistent Truth, which, much to the chagrin of Hollywood environmentalists, seeks to destroy arguments made by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth. (A trailer that includes Gingrich is below.)
Gingrich also is a fan of film, some of his favorites being Casablanca and Star Wars. In fact, he appears in Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed, which aired on the History channel in 2007. Jedis, he says in the documentary, are “the priesthood of freedom who give their lives in order to stop evil.” (See that short clip below.)
Gingrich also likes to weigh in now and then on Hollywood-related controversies, like when he retweeted an open letter from Patti Davis that criticized Will Ferrell for briefly considering a comedy film about her dad, President Ronald Reagan, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Gingrich also blasted Sony when it decided not to release The Interview because of the infamous computer hack that the FBI says was the work of North Korea. “No one should kid themselves,” he tweeted. “With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precendent.” President Barack Obama also criticized Sony, and shortly thereafter the studio reversed its decision.
Gingrich, of course, has too many appearances on news shows to accurately count them all, and was a contributor on the Fox News Channel until Tuesday, when the network suspended him "due to intense media speculation" that he might be Trump's choice for vice president.
As for Pence, he hosted Trump on Wednesday morning at his Indianapolis residence, and he wasn't alone. According to local reports, Pence also met with Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, all of whom have had an active role in Trump's run for the White House, appearing alongside him at major rallies and appearances. The meeting follows a dinner and a golf outing (at Trump's National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.) for Pence and the presumptive Republican presidential candidate over the recent July 4 holiday.
While he maintains a decent profile in the Midwest, the 57-year-old politician — born Michael Richard Pence in Columbus, Ind., on June 7, 1959 — isn't well known in Hollywood, though he isn't without an entertainment profile entirely. Before being elected to office, Pence, who also holds a law degree from Indiana University, hosted The Mike Pence Show, a radio show that aired weekdays on 18 stations in Indiana in the early 1990s courtesy of Network Indiana. He then hosted a Sunday morning political TV show in Indiana from 1995-1999, and he has since appeared on Hannity, Fox and Friends, Fox News Sunday and Cavuto on Business.
After failing bids in 1988 and 1990, Pence served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2013, serving as chair of the House Republican Conference from 2009-2011. He was elected Indiana's governor in 2013 and is up for re-election.
In 2004, Pence delivered the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Arlington, Va. The speech gave a national audience an insight into his social and political identity. "All I can say is that I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," he said that day.
In the same speech, Pence also referenced the 2002 Fox animated film Ice Age, calling himself "the frozen man” in reference to how much government had changed over the course of his then-brief career.
"You remember the frozen man, born in a simpler time, slips into the snow and thaws out years later in a more sophisticated age," he said. "When I was finally elected to Congress in 2000, I was like the frozen man — frozen before the revolution, thawed after it was over … a Minuteman who showed up 10 years late!"
Now, with a decision expected by Friday, Bloomberg News reporter Michael Bender said that Pence could be arriving at just the right time for Trump.
"Pence could reassure a lot of the base. He's a longtime politician and he's very skilled at handling the media and staying on message," said Bender. "If Trump wants to keep the spotlight on him — if he wants this campaign to be only about him — Mike Pence will help him do that, as opposed to a Chris Christie or a Newt Gingrich, whose own gregarious personalities demand headlines, as well."