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With the election in limbo, the sitting president orders that every vote must be recounted in a battleground state. When the tally starts to swing the unfavorable way, however, the president orders staffers and campaign supporters to push to stop the recount. In the end, that incumbent president loses the recount and, subsequently, reelection.
The eerie similarity between that 2016 plotline of HBO’s Veep and the 2020 presidential election will now be getting the Hollywood fundraiser reunion treatment, The Hollywood Reporter can exclusively announce.
On Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. ET, the cast of the Emmy-winning political comedy, led by star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and showrunner David Mandel, will get back together one more time for a live, virtual table read of the episode “Mother” to benefit America Votes ahead of the upcoming and crucial Georgia Senate runoffs.
“We’ve had some significant success with prior events, so Dave [Mandel] and I thought: Let’s do it again to get out the vote for Georgia. And, what better way to do that then with this particular episode?” Louis-Dreyfus tells THR. “‘Mother’ has the complete, bipolar political point-of-view of ‘stop the count’ and ‘count every vote’ happening, which is what everyone was pointing to during this most recent election.”
“Mother” was one of two Veep episodes that was trending after Election Day when the race was still unresolved between President Donald Trump and now President-elect Joe Biden. The Emmy-winning season five episode, which aired in May 2016 and was written by Alex Gregory and Pete Huyck, explored how the future of Selina Meyer’s (Louis-Dreyfus) presidential legacy hinged on the electoral votes from Nevada (pronounced Nev-AD-da, as Gary Cole’s character, Kent, points out). Meyer and her incompetent staff flip-flopped on seeking a recount in the key state, only to ultimately lose both the recount and the popular vote.
After Nov. 3, as the country’s presidential race was narrowing in several battleground states that had yet to be called, President Trump’s campaign filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia — to stop the vote count in the former two — and said it would seek a recount in Wisconsin. With many news pundits looking toward Nevada as possibly determining the results, Veep‘s writers and stars were being tagged on Twitter over comparisons between their fictional show and the country’s up-in-the-air election.
“This episode gave us no choice — it jumped to the front of all the other episodes, screaming to be table read virtually,” Mandel tells THR, while crediting the Veep consultants for the prescient storyline, no matter how far-fetched it seemed at the time. “The only rule back then was, ‘Could it maybe happen?’ We would talk with our consultants and they said, ‘Something like this could happen.’ But they were very quick to say, ‘But don’t worry, it’s never going to happen.’ And now, here we are.”
He adds, “The goal wasn’t to make it happen, but I continue to be very proud of the research that we put into the show.”
The Veep event will see the entire ensemble reading an uncut version of the script, with surprise star fans filling in the guest spots when Louis-Dreyfus steps back into the Oval as President Selina Meyer. The star and executive producer will be reuniting with co-stars Anna Chlumsky (Amy Brookheimer), Reid Scott (Dan Egan), Sam Richardson (Richard Splett), Tony Hale (Gary Walsh), Timothy Simons (Jonah Ryan), Clea DuVall (Marjorie Palmiotti), Matt Walsh (Mike McLintock), Gary Cole (Kent Davison), Kevin Dunn (Ben Cafferty) and Sarah Sutherland (Catherine Meyer).
Other Veep cast members include Kathy Najimy, Sufe Bradshaw, Dan Bakkedahl, Nelson Franklin, Lennon Parham, Lauren Bowles, David Pasquesi, Usman Ally, Sarayu Blue and Matt Oberg.
Bryan Cranston, Stephen Colbert, Mark Hamill, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Beanie Feldstein, Don Cheadle and Paul Scheer were later announced to be among the guest cast.
One of the scenes that was resurfaced heavily after Election Day involved Selina and her inner staff, where she orders them to “cancel the recount like Anne Frank’s bat mitzvah.” (See the scene in the video, below.) Tapping into Selina’s rage was easy, recalls Louis-Dreyfus; rather, it was a moment of physicality that proved to be the biggest challenge.
“I just remember that I had to hit Tony [Hale] in the middle of that scene, and hit him in just the right way without hitting him too hard,” says the star with a laugh. Mandel adds, “I was really laughing in that scene when she hits him, when she’s yelling at them; and Selina’s very set plans about Billy Joel playing at the inauguration. I’m very excited to see it back on its feet again.”
The “Mother” virtual table read will be the third Veep reunion to take place for an election-related cause. Amid Hollywood’s 2020 movement of virtual reunions for beloved films and TV series, the Veep cast first reassembled for a special event that raised more than $500,000 for Wisconsin Democrats, and later held a mini-reunion to raise awareness around North Carolina’s Democratic Senate candidates. Louis-Dreyfus and Mandel also organized the Seinfeld mini-reunion that benefitted Texas Democrats.
The funds raised from the Dec. 6 event will go to America Votes, a nonpartisan organization that is on focusing get-out-the-vote efforts on the ground in Georgia. Its goal is to help educate, register and reenroll voters, especially in Black and brown communities, ahead of the state’s two runoff elections Jan. 5, which will determine who controls the U.S. Senate.
“We need to get the vote out. And I’m hopeful,” says Louis-Dreyfus of the potential impact of their event. “The idea of any voter being disenfranchised or held back from voting is an unconscionable, undemocratic, un-American thing, and that’s why the work that America Votes does is so critical and urgent in this time.”
Mandel adds, “Voter registration, voter education and information, and voter mobilization, those are nonpartisan issues. That should be every election. And if we can do our part to help that, that’s a great thing.”
In a joint statement on Tuesday, America Votes thanked the cast for their efforts. “America Votes is so grateful that the Veep cast is reuniting to support our Georgia coalition’s incredible organizers working to make history again in these critical runoff elections. This cast reunion event will help ensure that Georgia groups have the resources they need to engage and mobilize voters by phone, by text, in the mail and by having conversations through safe, contactless door-to-door canvassing,” said the group’s president, Greg Speed, and Georgia deputy state director, Ashley Robinson.
For her own announcement about the event, Louis-Dreyfus took inspiration from another recent political moment that had many on social media, once again, invoking Veep. Her video includes the aforementioned scenes from “Mother” and sees Louis-Dreyfus in voiceover, with some sort of dye running down her face.
Of the nod to Rudy Giuliani’s recent presser, Mandel quips, “It was a very hot room that she was in and there were some mishaps between her sweat and what may or may not be hair dye, we’re not quite sure.”
Any donation grants access to the Veep event, which will be live-streamed once on Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. ET. RSVP at Showupforgeorgia.com. Watch Louis-Dreyfus’ announcement video, below.
Dec. 4, 7:45 a.m. Updated with the full cast and guest stars.
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