Producer-writer Rob Long, one of the co-founders of the conservative site Ricochet, says that there are a number of reasons why the entertainment industry has for some time leaned left politically — maybe even more so today than a decade ago.
There have been a lot of theories as to why the industry — which, during the studio era, was actually quite conservative — is now lopsided in favor of Democrats.
“I think that in Hollywood, part of the problem is that everyone gets paid a lot of money — the ones who are setting the culture, the tone of the culture,” Long tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “They don’t always see what they get. I always say the best piece of direct mail persuasion for the Republican Party is the pay stub. Everybody has that experience when you look at your check. You look at your pay stub, and you see what you are supposed to get paid, and you see what the government takes out of it before you even get it. And that deflation.”
“Everybody’s first job is the Republican Party’s opportunity to sew you up and get you in their party,” he said. “People in Hollywood never see their pay stub because it goes to their agent and their lawyer and their manager. They have people controlling that for them.”
Long, whose most recent credits include the series “Sullivan & Son,” also says that the industry’s drift leftward also reflects a more partisan electorate. And he cites the tendency of industry professionals to engage in the “team mentality,” where “it sort of evolved that your membership in the Democratic Party was sort of your bonafides as a good person.”
“There is something about the Republican message over time, certainly in the past 20, 25, 30 years, that has gotten a little bit harsh, and has a little bit of a scolding temperament to it,” he says. “And I think people in Hollywood just don’t like that.”
Long says that the GOP, rather than shun the advice of Clint Eastwood, should embrace it. Although the media derided Eastwood’s “empty chair” speech at the 2012 Republican Convention, Eastwood went on to direct “American Sniper,” one of the most successful projects of his career.
“The Republicans in D.C. who sort of plan and orchestrate these things should be thinking hard about those things, harder about the message you are trying to send to Americans, harder about how you connect with real people and harder about how you connect your message to real people,” he says. “That is something someone like Clint Eastwood has managed to do.”
Long talks about the prospects that any of the current GOP contenders will garner much support in Hollywood.
Back in 1999, George W. Bush reached out to the entertainment industry, having held a meet-and-greet at the home of Terry Semel, with such figures as Quincy Jones and Warren Beatty in attendance.
While moderates may be willing to consider Jeb Bush, Long says, it probably would not be a good strategy for the former Florida governor to be seen hobnobbing with the Hollywood elite. The pressure on Bush in the primary season will be to show his conservative credentials.
Long believes that Hollywood conservatives will continue to represent “a small blip for Republicans” when it comes to fundraising.
Director-writer Paul Fischer, author of the book “A Kim Jong-il Production,” tells of the incredible story of the North Korean leader’s plot to kidnap a top director and star from South Korea in order to gain respect for North Korea’s film industry.
His son, Kim Jong-un, may have worried that North Korean citizens would have gotten access to “The Interview,” but Fischer says that the comedy probably wouldn’t have translated to the country’s audiences, anyway.
U.S. News’ Nikki Schwab and Variety‘s David Cohen talk about Ted Cruz’s interview on CBS, in which he said that he switched music tastes after 9/11 to country because “these were my people.” Schwab and Cohen also talk about the renegade pro-gun rights campaign targeting Liam Neeson.
PopPolitics, hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS 124.