Arnold Schwarzenegger may be a creature of Hollywood, but so far in his brief political career he has been more closely aligned with political wonks than with his old movie buddies.
No clear portrait of the governor-elect’s inner circle was revealed during the brief recall campaign, but his supporters in the entertainment industry say this much is known: They’re not in it.
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 playing a prominent role in the Schwarzenegger 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 his 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, in an ad in last Friday’s Daily Variety, 46 people, including top execs at Universal, Paramount, DreamWorks and Columbia, urged the industry to vote no on the recall.
Bang for 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. “Diane 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 on Sept. 25 at L.A. Center Studios, Schwarzenegger 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 paying little attention to his entertainment career.
The 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 has 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 have also been making contingency plans. New Line has made an offer to Will Smith to play the lead in “Big Sir,” a comedy Schwarzenegger had been attached to 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.