Producer Jamie Patricof’s Zoom Talk Series Promotes Democratic Senate Candidates

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Jamie Patricof; Mike Espy; MJ Hegar

Patricof, who started a weekly Zoom lecture series called Lunch with Jamie at the start of the pandemic, is now doing a daily Zoom event with appearances by such candidates as Jon Ossoff, MJ Hegar, Doug Jones and Mike Espy: "I'm personally at a place where I want to do something every day."

Last March, Jamie Patricof, the producer of such films and television programs as I Know This Much Is True, Holler and Captain Fantastic, started a weekly Zoom lecture series called Lunch with Jamie in which names from the worlds of politics, science and other areas spoke and took questions from participants. Attended by 200 to 300 people a week, including such guests as Gwyneth Paltrow, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri and Film Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, the series has drawn Kamala Harris, Bill Clinton, Cory Booker, Eric Holder and Mark Cuban as speakers.

Now in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election, Patricof has pivoted the series to a more expressly purposeful aim: electing Democrats, especially candidates who are working to flip the Senate from right to left. The producer is doing two Zoom events every week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in which he invites Senate candidates to attend. So far, Alabama senator Doug Jones, seeking re-election; Jon Ossoff, running in Georgia to unseat David Perdue; and Al Gross, running in Alaska against incumbent Dan Sullivan, have attended. On Thursday this week, Mike Espy, running against incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi, and MJ Hegar, looking to oust John Cornyn in Texas, are slated to attend. “And then we’re scheduling Barbara Bollier from Kansas and Gary Peters from Michigan with the idea that they are getting in front of a new network of people who will potentially be helpful to put them over the edge in these critical races,” says Patricof.

Each Zoom session lasts two hours, with the first hour devoted to a conversation with the Senate candidates. In the second hour, guests then do phone banking on their behalf. “You’ll stay on the Zoom and organizers from the campaigns do 20-minute training sessions and make calls to voters. Everyone mutes the Zoom. If you have a question you can ask a question or type a question in the chat. You can say, ‘Oh I just spoke to a Republican couple who had never voted for a Democrat who have already voted for Biden.’ You also get a lot of hang-ups and you get a lot of expletives.” In addition to the Zoom sessions with Senate candidates, Patricof is doing his own phone banking every day for an array of candidates across the country — including Chris Bubser who is running for election to the U.S. House in California’s 8th Congressional district — and inviting his network of friends to join in. Patricof notes the rise this year of phone-banking and text-banking parties over Zoom. “Beto O'Rourke did that big one in Texas the other day where Oprah came,” says Patricof, adding, "There are so many races to shed light on — Chris Bubser came to my attention by my daughter Riley, who alongside the group she is part of, Los Angeles Teen Get Out the Vote, is phone banking every day up and down the ballot."

Patricof says he plans to do something election related every day through Nov. 3. “I’m personally at a place where I want to do something every day. This weekend, he plans to travel with a group to Arizona. “I’m trying to mobilize people on Saturday to go get out the vote, driving to Arizona and spending the day there. I think everybody is feeling that. Let’s leave it all out on the field and do everything that we can do, whether that’s volunteer or donate money or amplify your voice through social media channels.”