PopPolitics: Health, Heart and Amazing Grace (Listen)

Also: Eric Ortner on Showbiz and Obamacare; Gretchen Carlson on the 'Bimbo Trifecta'; Robert Davi on Sinatra for the Fourth

How Hollywood Helped Boost Obamacare (Listen)
Pete Souza

Many commentators are citing the past seven days as one of the most momentous and memorable weeks in recent years.

There was the scene on the plaza of the Supreme Court as Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff in the victorious same-sex marriage case, clutched a photo of his late husband and spoke, by cell phone, to President Obama, who told him, “Your leadership has changed the country.”

There was Obama singing “Amazing Grace” at the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, among the victims of last week’s shooting rampage in Charleston, S.C. Earlier in the week, the state’s governor, Nikki Haley, called for the Confederate flag to be removed from statehouse grounds (which a protester did on Saturday). That escalated calls, from Democrats and Republicans, to remove symbols that once were defended as expressions of Southern heritage but are viewed more widely as markers of racism.

Given the news, it makes you wonder how this story still got so much traction.

The Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare also may very well be a turning point for a law that has been the source of so much partisan divide, yet has managed to still survive.

While many high profile entertainment industry activists shied away from getting involved in the fray as it was being debated in Congress in 2009 and 2010, the White House did mobilize support as it sought to boost enrollment in 2013. Obama’s appearance in the offbeat “Between Two Ferns” was credited with helping reach younger enrollees in their 20s, a communications strategy that the administration has carried to other issues.

Following this week’s high court decision upholding Affordable Care Act subsidies, Eric Ortner, chair of the administration’s Entertainment Advisory Council, chatted with Variety’s “PopPolitics” on Sirius XM Thursday about the strategy and what the future holds for public support of the healthcare law.

Listen below:

The Confederate Flag in Pop Culture

Variety‘s David Cohen and Brent Roske, host of “Roske on Politics” for the Des Moines Register, talk about why it’s time for the entertainment industry to recognize the meaning of the Confederate flag. This week, Warner Bros. discontinued licensing of “Dukes of Hazzard” model cars featuring the flag image.

Listen below:

Gretchen Carlson Gets Candid

Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s memoir “Getting Real” is a revealing account of her plunge into broadcasting after reigning as Miss America in 1989. Although a graduate of Stanford and a trained violinist, she encountered snarky comments but, more seriously, sexual harassment and a stalker. She says that she laughs at spoofs of her on late-night television.

Listen below:

Robert Davi’s ‘Fourth’

Jazz singer and actor Robert Davi talks about singing before his largest crowd yet — hundreds of thousands expected for “A Capitol Fourth,” to be broadcast on PBS. He also talks about his friendship with Frank Sinatra, and why the Chairman of the Board’s songbook is still so relevant to today.

Listen below:


A reminder that Variety will publish a special issue on Monday on the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage.

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS.