New Govern-ator turns focus from pics to politics
Forget “Terminator 4.” On his first day as California’s governor-elect, Arnold Schwarzenegger said he wasn’t thinking about the movies.
“The people of California want me to be their governor, and I will do that and nothing else,” Schwarzenegger said at a Century Plaza Hotel press conference. “There will be no time for movies or anything else. I will pay full attention to this job. I take this job very seriously,” he said.
Schwarzenegger offered few details on who would be in his administration, but his supporters in the entertainment industry say this much is known: They’re not in it.
Schwarzenegger did say that Republican political ally Rep. David Dreier would chair his transition committee. Dreier will announce other members of the committee today.
Asked whom Schwarzenegger has been turning to for advice, one movie producer and Schwarzenegger friend said, “If I had to pick one person, I would say Dick Riordan,” the former Republican mayor of Los Angeles who is co-chair of the Schwarzenegger campaign.
Others who played a prominent role in the campaign are seasoned pols like former Gov. Pete Wilson and political consultant Mike Murphy, who ran John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2000.
Wilson and Riordan both appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Tuesday night and said they would be thrilled to serve in Schwarzenegger’s administration.
“Absolutely — particularly on education issues,” said Riordan.
“If he asks, I’d be delighted,” Wilson said.
Throughout the recall race, the lack of prominent industry support for Schwarzenegger was widely noted.
Partly this was a conscious strategy on the part of the Schwarzenegger campaign, which had to prove that its candidate could tackle the job of governor as well as he repeated movie catchphrases.
To that end, some of Schwarzenegger’s closest friends report that they were quietly discouraged from openly supporting the campaign.
Some early celebrity supporters, such as actor Rob Lowe who was announced as a “celebrity coordinator” just days after Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy, were never heard from again.
It was only in the last few days of the race, in fact, that Hollywood figures played a public role in refuting allegations that Schwarzenegger had groped women while filming movies.
After two women accused Schwarzenegger of behaving inappropriately on the set of “Twins,” the pic’s director Ivan Reitman, who had hosted a private fundraiser for Schwarzenegger at his home in Santa Barbara, released a statement saying, “I was on the set all the time. I did not witness anything even approximating what was reported.” He repeated the defense in several media interviews.
Schwarzenegger’s campaign was a far cry from the support the industry gave to Ronald Reagan in 1966. A few days before the election for governor that year, Reagan’s campaign took out a full-page ad in Daily Variety listing more than 200 stars, producers and execs who had endorsed his bid.
In contrast, an ad in last Friday’s Daily Variety saw 46 people, including top execs at Universal, Paramount, DreamWorks and Columbia, urge the industry to vote no on the recall.
Bang for the bucks?
Asked why Hollywood primarily sat on the sidelines in the recall race, many point to the fact that the California governor has little influence over the entertainment industry.
“There’s not much the governor of California can do for Hollywood,” said a producer. “Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer can do a lot more for the industry in the Senate.”
Schwarzenegger briefly touched on the issue of runaway production while on the campaign trail. Speaking Sept. 25 at L.A. Center Studios, he said, “I want to bring these productions back. This used to be our No. 1 export, show business. Now the Canadians have stolen it from us.”
But there is little that Gov. Schwarzenegger can do besides offering tax credits for in-state productions. Most other issues facing the industry, such as copyright protection and media consolidation, are federal matters.
In the two months since Schwarzenegger focused on his political ambitions, he has been paid little attention to his entertainment career.
Thesp hasn’t spoken to his agent Bryan Lourd at CAA since just a few days after he announced his run on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on Aug. 6. But Lourd had been planning for Schwarzenegger to take a hiatus from entertainment if he won the race.
Plan B for projects
Those involved with projects with Schwarzenegger attached were also making contingency plans. New Line has made an offer to Will Smith to play the lead in “Big Sir,” a comedy to which Schwarzenegger had been attached earlier this summer.
And, with “Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines” grossing $424 million worldwide so far, there has been speculation about a “Terminator 4.” But “T3” producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar have said they are contemplating an installment that doesn’t include Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger’s one other announced project, a remake of “Westworld” at Warners, is still in development and will likely slide onto the back burner.
The Terminator may have said hasta la vista to his movie career for now, but his wife, Maria Shriver, apparently has every intention of returning to NBC News’ “Dateline.”
Schwarzenegger said Wednesday, “I’m encouraging her to go back to her journalism career.”
NBC News said Wednesday that Shriver, who has been on a leave of absence since her husband entered the campaign, has not yet set a return date. She has indicated that she probably wouldn’t return until after Schwarzenegger is sworn in.
Neither “Dateline” nor NBC News prexy Neal Shapiro have any concerns about possible conflicts of interest and say Shriver won’t cover issues involving the new governor.
“Maria Shriver has been a journalist for her entire career and has always been determined to avoid any conflict between her personal and professional life,” news org said in a statement. “We’ll work with her to determine the best way to do that, and what assignments are appropriate, when she is ready to rejoin NBC News.”
Shriver’s situation is being compared to that of NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who covers Washington and is married to Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan.
(Pamela McClintock in New York contributed to this report.)