Screenwriter Rob Long: Why Hollywood Should Already Know How to Handle Trump (Guest Column)

rob long inauguration issue
Courtesy of Rob Long

Let’s all take a deep breath, because this is really happening, and moaning about it isn’t going to make it better.

On the one hand, yes, it’s going to be a difficult and slightly sickening four years, but on the other hand, if we’re really being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that a big part of Hollywood’s reaction to President Donald J. Trump — still can’t write that without stopping for a moment to double-check; yeah, it happened, moving on — has its origin in nothing other than snobbery. I’m referring not only to his taste in home decor (which a fancy Bel-Air acquaintance of mine described, with a haughty sniff, as “Persian Fantasia”), but also to the fact that the next president doesn’t come from features, premium cable, ad-supported cable, streaming, or even scripted broadcast television. He’s from the unscripted side, the lowest of low-rent television.

JAKE CHESSUM for Variety

I’m a Republican (sort of), so maybe I’m predisposed to look on the bright side of any Republican administration, even one that’s run by a Democrat. But it seems to me that if there’s any community that knows how to deal with irrational, misinformed narcissists with way too much power, it’s us.

President Donald J. Trump is the insane director you hired so you could get the actor you wanted, and you’re just waiting and hoping that the footage you’re seeing from the location can somehow, in editing, get stitched together into something usable. President Trump is the movie star you need to get the money for the project, but the movie star has decided to rewrite the script over the weekend, and the reports you’re getting back about the new pages are alarming. President Trump is the actor starring in your series who is going to make your life miserable for the next four years. President Trump is what you get when you put the talent in charge.

I mean, he’s probably going to be worse than that, but it’s not like he’s utterly outside of the Hollywood context. Petty, emotionally unstable behavior isn’t exactly unknown in the 818, 310, and 323 area codes. Score-settlers, braggarts, and braying egomaniacs are almost certainly within arm’s reach of you right at this minute. Look around you. If you’re a working professional in the entertainment industry and you don’t think you have a Donald J. Trump in your life, I’ve got bad news: You do, and you’re it.

So of all the communities and industrial sectors around, it’s those of us in entertainment who are uniquely qualified to deal with President Trump. We know exactly how to sit through an insane diatribe delivered by a genuinely unhinged piece of talent, hoping that by hour six or seven the conversation will have exhausted itself and we can get back to work. We know how to smile and flatter. We know that in order to get the scene shot, the project moved forward, the script written, the financing in place — whatever it is — we’re going to have to pick up the tab for dinner and loudly praise every idea that tumbles out of the lunatic’s mouth, especially the ones that were ours to begin with.

“President Trump is what you get when you put the talent in charge.”
Rob Long

Look deeply into the eyes of many of the people surrounding the Trump administration and tell me they don’t remind you of the hollow and exhausted looks you see on talent managers and agents and executives all over town. Tell me that when you see Vice President Mike Pence on the Sunday talk shows, he isn’t the twin of every entertainment lawyer, with a “my client is an unpredictable mess” expression on his face.

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Hollywood! We should help these people! They’re not prepared for this kind of work, and we are. We should be leading seminars and workshops and sending out group emails to train Team Trump on what we know best: How to Keep a Lid on the Really Insane Stuff.

And yes, I get it: They’re Republicans and conservatives, and most people in the entertainment industry are neither. Most of you are thinking: Why should we help them?

Look, we’re all Americans, and we all want the best — or, at least, to mitigate the worst — for our country. America just booked Donald J. Trump for a four-year pay-or-play gig, and he has accepted the role and is in hair and makeup. We’re probably not going to get the best movie out of this — and it’s safe to say that we won’t be getting any awards — but we can at least pitch in to keep the project from sinking the entire industry.

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  1. Eric Mack says:

    Rob, love you on Ricochet, great column, but maybe this time when Jonah shows up, they don’t repent, they are struck down by the Lord.

  2. Milissa says:

    Sort of? You come off as a petty little man who is trying to equivocate the unthinkable. You’re the same kind of Republican we refer to as a Rino. In short, you’re sort of a jackass. Well, not sort of.

  3. moron says:

    Tax Hollywood out of business. Well deserved.

  4. docweasel says:

    You know why all you lefties insults about how crass and vulgar Trump is fall on deaf ears? Because we sent you guys 2 courtly and gentlemanly candidates in McCain and Romney. They would _never_ have resorted to the attacks Trump did against hillary. And you guys tore them apart with unfair, below the belt crap like dog-roof-gate and Romney cutting some kid’s hair and McCain being unable to work email etc.

    They never laid a glove on obama and that’s the way you lefties liked it. Now Trump won’t play by those rules and you don’t like it. But we don’t care. Truly, the left’s trolling created Trump, and fire with fire worked and we destroyed your more conventional candidate. obama, despite all your claptrap about how dignified and graceful the guy is, is a world-class troll. He does nearly everything calculated on enraging the right, down to pardoning Bradley Manning this week, to saying the cops acted stupidly, to opening Cuba and kissing Iran’s ass to removing Churchill’s bust and closing off the Arctic to oil exploration and ridiculous 1m acre “national monument” to “I won” and “elections have consequences”- well now the shoe is on the other foot.

    We have our own troll, and unlike the right, who largely suffers in silence or civilly, like the Tea Party, which used to clean up the Mall after protests while being smeared as racists, the left doesn’t handle getting trolled well. They riot, try to upend elections, speak uncivilly and destroy common decency (like attending inaugurations) which is the point of trolling: to force your enemy to do stupid and destructive things. The country sees the left contesting elections, needlessly recounting, harassing electors, badgering citizens with celebs, burning looting and pillaging cities, and don’t you think this is playing right into re-elect Trump 2020?

    And kicking some GOP ass is another good thing. Ryan and McConnell need a good kick in the pants, and Trump’s just the guy to give it to them.

    Now you know how you got Trump.

  5. Troy Riser says:

    Although memories are short, many in the entertainment industry portrayed unassuming Methodist George W. Bush as either a dunce or a monster, depending on the needs of the narrative; rather, The Narrative. What Trump is getting from Hollywood and the mainstream media is little different from the scorn and vitriol any Republican president gets from those quarters.

    There’s more than a little irony here, too: Trump’s policy positions are extremely moderate for a Republican. He’s what we used to call a Rockefeller Republican, an East Coast moderate, making him nearly indistinguishable from a Democrat in most respects.

    Have any of you bothered to actually, you know, listen to the guy? Trump is probably the most ideologically moderate Republican president since Eisenhower.

    While Trump is no conservative, conservatives voted for him in droves and they did it to send you a message. Too bad you on the Left refuse to listen.

  6. Beth CP says:

    LOL! Thanks for making me giggle. And yes, a whole lot of “snobbery” from both east and west coasts (whether conscious or not), contributed to the results of this past November 8th.

  7. Dr. Deplorable says:

    It can’t possibly be worse than the talent we booked for the last eight years. Obama was like the actor who rock’s it in the audition, then he craters on set. Turns out, he’s got no heart and you have to buy out his contract and you get nothing. Thank god he’s gone!

  8. Marsha Berger says:

    Love Rob Long!! The analogy to the entertainment business is genius. Yes, not the end of the world, with Trump. Get on with our lives, this 4 years will pass quickly.
    It’s the first piece I’ve seen in Variety that has been not so hysterically Conservaphobic.

  9. eddie willers says:

    Is this satire?

  10. mls says:

    It’s going to be even more amusing to watch the head explosions and mental breakdowns from the insane, inane, alt-left wingnuts when 4 years turns into 8. Keep it up and it will be 25 years before another Dem sets foot in 1600 Penn…

  11. Christopher Donovan says:

    What I hear is a lot of people using phrases like maybe he will, what he meant was, he will probably, etc. People also say things like we don’t know what he’s really going to do until he does it, eventually he’ll get it, etc.
    Deep down, we all know what he’s going to be like, we know what sort of a person he is and there’s nowhere to go to avoid it, outside of moving to another country (totally Canada, if they’ll take us). People will do anything to make themselves feel better, if only for a moment. That’s why people voted for him and that’s why there are articles like this, and comments like this.
    Good luck to the best of us. To the rest, get your excuses ready. And remember to try to sound surprised.

    • “Totally Canada, if they’ll take us”? What, did Mexico refuse to take you in? Or would you just rather be around white people of European stock and not, you know, those people? I have heard many people chanting “Make America Mexico again,” but I have yet to hear an American say they’re moving to Mexico. It’s always Canada they want to move to.

  12. Dave F says:

    I am somewhat amused at the comments about President Trump. He isn’t a politician and there is all this moaning and bellyaching that he will ruin our country. Well excuse me for throwing the cold water on your fantasy dream, but the last 4 or 5 presidents haven’t really been that good at management or leadership. Bush W actually showed the most leadership after he left office and didn’t engage in the name calling and armchair QBing that Cater did.

    Our country is in a serious mess. The past eight years saw our national debt doubled by almost 10 trillion dollars. You could have given almost every man, woman, and child in this country a new Lexus and not spent that much.

    So now we have someone who got elected because his campaign platform was to Make America Great Again. It is quite surprising that people are against this concept.

    Remember when our country was the envy of the world. We had the best military, best middle class, best education system, and in general a country where people were willing to swim 90 miles through shark infested water to reach in hoped of participating in the American dream.

    For the past eight years, the American dream has become to illegally cross the border and open up your wallet for free welfare handouts, free medical care, and free foodstamps for all your kids. America has become a welfare dream.

    Remember when all those elected officials swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and faithfully follow the laws? I sure remember. Now they ignore the law about as regularly as they take their morning dump. We need to have a country where laws mean something. We need to stop spending trillions on things that will never produce a return. Handing out Obama phones or food stamps will not produce anything.

    Trump isn’t the knight in shining armor we all have been waiting for, but he is the savior that the American dream has sent us. He has assembled a super cabinet of successful men and women who aren’t Ivy league aristocrats whose only claim to leadership is writing a term paper on some economic condition that will never happen in real life.

    We, and by we I mean the American people who are tired of your everyday political leech who promises the moon but quickly forgets the promises once his lobbyist supporters show up with a list of demands and tickets to the Super Bowl and vacation plans fit for a king and queen.

    We want change. And Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama weren’t change. They were spit warm socialist who have/had zero leadership or management abilities and have run our country through the mud.

    So when I hear people bad mouthing Trump, please know he hasn’t wasted 10 trillion dollars. He didn’t leave Americans in Libya to be killed by terrorists. He didn’t make a pathetic deal with Iran that gave the billions to be used to turn around and kill our soldiers in other countries.

    In short, he hasn’t even been sworn in yet and already he has created jobs and lowered the cost on major defense spending. Let’s give the man some time. You might be surprised at how well he can manage the business of government. And judging by your love and adoration of liberals, you have set the bar pretty low!

  13. clarencewhorley says:

    The left screaming he is meeting with actors and sports stars not experts after 8 years or Hollywood in the White House and the Lena Dunham, Katie Perry, Beyonce campaign is hilarious.

  14. Caleb Sawis says:

    According to the media, GOP presidents are failures before they’re sworn in, and Democrats are successes after eight years of failure.

  15. Donna Avvocato says:

    Perfect! Absolutely spot-on accurate.

  16. Mark my words. It hasn’t been lost on anyone in Middle America that most of the Trump hate coming from Hollywood stars is just pure jealousy.
    Narcissistic to their cores, they dream of being “King of the World” every morning when they take a dump.
    So for Trump to actually have gotten the Crown, is a bit too much for these egotistical babies to take.

    • PG says:

      It’s not lost on the MAJORITY of Americans that didn’t vote for Trump- you know…the sane, intelligent and informed ones- that Trump is a fraud and that most of his voters don’t care. Because they don’t know. A fair share of them don’t even know that the ACA is Obamacare.

      All they knew was that the people they decided they didn’t like…didn’t like him. Apparently that’s enough when you don’t know anything. Ruining Social Security, Medicare, our schools, our environment…their own lives. Russian influence, complete corruption by having no blind trust. Who cares? Some liberals in Hollywood are upset.

      Way to go….you just proved that we Hollywood liberals are right again. And how wrong you are.

      • Caleb Sawis says:

        THe MAJORITY didn’t vote for any candidate, Doofus. Bill Clinton never get a majority in either of his wins either.

        But the majority of ELECTORS were earned and voted for Trump. Stoopid people like you have feeling and no facts.

        According to the media, GOP presidents are failures before they’re sworn in, and Democrats are successes after eight years of failure.

  17. Ace Edwards says:

    Well said, sir. You didn’t have any insults, name calling or claiming every aspect of human life will be a disaster worse than anything that has come before. Therefore, nobody in Hollywood will pay any attention to you.

    I wonder if any of the complainers ever heard of the military draft. How about gasoline rationing, or wage and price controls? The US had all of those in the 1970s. How would you have survived that?

    People complaining about cabinet nominations; where were you when the IRS was targeting people for political beliefs? Do you know the name of the IRS commissioner who let that happen? Why do you care about cabinet positions now?

    Don’t you have another Ben Hur, Nine Lives or Ricki and the Flash to green light?

    • PG says:

      Ace = Trump Troll with no facts and a profound need to prove how ignorant he is.

      The IRS did NOT target people for their political beliefs. They were using a short cut to flag political groups that had a specific tax code. And not only was that IRS commissioner a Bush appointee who did nothing wrong, but the only group to lose their tax filing status was a progressive one. So we know you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      And if you want insults and name calling, you’ll have to go to The Donald for that. Way to lose, Ace.

      • TCB221 says:

        Actually, ONLY conservative groups were targeted. The IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, was sworn in Dec 23 2013, let me check, no that was Obama.
        Bush appointed Douglas Shulman in 2008 who was not mentioned in the Inspectors report at all because it was Lois Lerner that was pulling the strings. A Democratic party supported.
        And scores of conservative groups were denied and given no reason at all.

        I get it, you are from the lie until everyone believes it party, but your kind can’t get away with it anymore.
        Your snobs and we in fly over country just don’t care about you anymore.
        And that might be just why all you leftist are wetting yourselves over this.

  18. Angeleno says:

    OMG!! This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. And even better that it’s written by a “sort of” Republican!

  19. Publius says:

    Move over “Flight 93” analysis!

  20. rodittis says:

    Thanks for the laughs.

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