Hollywood Democrats are traditionally known for writing checks and, for the more famous of them, perhaps taping TV ads, a la P. Diddy, or appearing at photo ops, a la Bruce Springsteen.
But with the presidential race tightened and passions on both sides running as high as ever, Hollywood execs have flooded the battleground, along with other Democrats, to knock doors, call from phone banks and, if need be, hand out apple cider.
Marc Abraham, producer of pics including “Dawn of the Dead” and “Air Force One,” was one of many who went to volunteer in Nevada. “We’re basically just canvassing and figuring out if they’ve already voted, if they haven’t,” he said on Monday, from a tent in a Las Vegas shopping mall, where organizers were briefing 1,000 volunteers. There, he ran into friend Karen Tenkhoff, a producer with Robert Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises.
By Monday night, the two were driving in a van around Henderson, southeast of Las Vegas, dodging dogs and leaving literature on door knobs. Most people had already been hit by canvassers two or three times, he said. Others said they were felons ineligible to vote, not U.S. citizens or both.
“Only one out of 20 (visits) is doing any good,” he said, though still optimistic he may help win Nevada’s five electoral votes for John Kerry.
California, which is solidly in Kerry’s column, is sometimes called an “ATM state.” In the parlance of Democratic campaign organizers, this year it’s become an “export state,” and the campaign and outside groups like Americans Coming Together have made a concerted effort to get committed supporters into battleground states, which they call “import states,” by organizing buses and connecting potential volunteers with workers elsewhere in the country.
The Bush campaign, of course, has its own ground game plans, and political analysts say whichever side is more effective could determine the election.
‘Fish’ producer in Ohio
Bruce Cohen, producer on “The Forgotten” and “Big Fish,” has been to Ohio twice in the last month, most recently this weekend on a tour organized by Chad Lowe and Fisher Stevens’ Bring Ohio Back. Along with Hilary Swank and Steve Buscemi, among other thesps and execs, they spoke to college groups, canvassed and, in one case, handed out apple cider outside one of northeast Ohio’s biggest high school football games.
“For the door-to-door and phoning, it has gotten to the point where everyone has been approached again and again,” he said. “But we still kept running into people who hadn’t made up their mind and wanted to listen to us.”
Lisa Weinstein, a producer who has taken time off from the biz to raise her family, said she had made her trips to Arizona because she felt “a civic duty to get away from here, where all you can do is write a check and follow the polls every day.”
She has not been alone. At the airport this past Saturday to catch a 7 a.m. flight, columnist Arianna Huffington said, “We must have met a dozen friends.”