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Elephant in the Room

Here’s the full version of my weekly Variety story on Hollywood conservatives looking for a resurgence with GOP fortunes looking very good on Nov. 2:

Hollywood conservatives have been making a lot of hay lately. A recent Tea Party event in Beverly Hills, led by Pat Boone, drew several hundred people. A cable venture, the RightNetwork, recently launched with backing from Kelsey Grammer. Regular meetings of the semi-secret org Friends of Abe have been able to draw many younger conservatives. And while a smattering of celebrities are trying to bolster Democrats in what may, in the end, be a death march to Election Day, it’s entertainment figures from the right who’ve commandeered media attention.

“On this part of the spectrum, it is stronger than it has ever been,” says writer-director Lionel Chetwynd, a longtime industry conservative whose involvement stretches back three decades.

What is uncertain is whether that enthusiasm and renewed energy on the right will translate into parity among industry partisans, even if it leads to an electoral rout on Nov. 2.

Democrats still enjoy a lopsided advantage when it comes trolling for Hollywood money, with the most recent figures showing that the rate of giving to Republicans is even lower than it was in the last midterm in 2006. And, warranted or not, Hollywood conservatives still express fears of speaking out, whether to avoid shouting matches at dinner parties or for fear of losing out on work.

Dreams of a level playing field anytime soon are probably just that — dreams.

Talk of parity is nothing new, says writer-producer Rob Long, a conservative voice in the business. Hollywood Republicans have been touting seismic shifts in the biz since the GOP’s Clinton-era takeover of Congress.

But, reminds Long, “It is a Democratic town. I think it becomes more Democratic when there is something to oppose.

He adds, “The rule in American politics is nobody wants to defend the party in power.”

Hollywood’s political stripes have leaned left for decades, enough to inspire an oft-repeated quip that “Hollywood Republican” an oxymoron.

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