Hollywood Plunges Into California’s Ballot Measure Campaigns

Here’s my story, appearing in Sunday’s weekly Variety, on the industry’s interest in California’s host of propositions on the ballot, led by Prop 23, which will rollback the state’s landmark environmental law.

Hollywood is once again stepping forward to influence a host of initiatives that will appear on California’s ballot, mindful of the old adage that as the Golden State goes, so goes the nation.

Amy Smart - SM Beach presser This past week week, a Robert Redford robocall went out to voters urging opposition to Proposition 23, a measure backed by oil companies to roll back the state’s landmark climate-change laws. Next week, a group of filmmakers will be releasing documentary “Gerrymandering,” just as backers of two competing propositions are engaged in a battle over redistricting reform. And there is some anticipation that at least some showbiz figures will come out in favor of Proposition 19, the initiative that would legalize — and tax — marijuana.

What has been more difficult, however, has been raising money from industry donors, especially compared to 2008, when a flood of last-minute entertainment money lifted the No on 8 campaign to beat back the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, or in 2006, when producer Steve Bing spent almost $50 million on the unsuccessful campaign for Proposition 87, which would have taxed producers of oil in California to pay for alternative energy.

“The economy has had an effect on all fund-raising, but this also being a very key election, there are a lot of competing interests,” says producer Dayna Bochco, who is helping to organize industry efforts against Prop 23. She also worked on the lobbying effort to pass the 2006 law that the initiative is designed to roll back: AB 32, which includes a host of measures to reduce carbon emissions in the state.

Prop 23, backed predominantly by oil companies including Texas-based Valero and Tesoro Corp., would suspend the implementation of the law until unemployment drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. They have pitched it as a “California Jobs Initiative,” noting that the regulation it imposes threatens growth.

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