×

Screenwriter Rob Long: Why Hollywood Should Already Know How to Handle Trump (Guest Column)

Let’s all take a deep breath, because this is really happening, and moaning about it isn’t going to make it better.

On the one hand, yes, it’s going to be a difficult and slightly sickening four years, but on the other hand, if we’re really being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that a big part of Hollywood’s reaction to President Donald J. Trump — still can’t write that without stopping for a moment to double-check; yeah, it happened, moving on — has its origin in nothing other than snobbery. I’m referring not only to his taste in home decor (which a fancy Bel-Air acquaintance of mine described, with a haughty sniff, as “Persian Fantasia”), but also to the fact that the next president doesn’t come from features, premium cable, ad-supported cable, streaming, or even scripted broadcast television. He’s from the unscripted side, the lowest of low-rent television.

JAKE CHESSUM for Variety

I’m a Republican (sort of), so maybe I’m predisposed to look on the bright side of any Republican administration, even one that’s run by a Democrat. But it seems to me that if there’s any community that knows how to deal with irrational, misinformed narcissists with way too much power, it’s us.

President Donald J. Trump is the insane director you hired so you could get the actor you wanted, and you’re just waiting and hoping that the footage you’re seeing from the location can somehow, in editing, get stitched together into something usable. President Trump is the movie star you need to get the money for the project, but the movie star has decided to rewrite the script over the weekend, and the reports you’re getting back about the new pages are alarming. President Trump is the actor starring in your series who is going to make your life miserable for the next four years. President Trump is what you get when you put the talent in charge.

I mean, he’s probably going to be worse than that, but it’s not like he’s utterly outside of the Hollywood context. Petty, emotionally unstable behavior isn’t exactly unknown in the 818, 310, and 323 area codes. Score-settlers, braggarts, and braying egomaniacs are almost certainly within arm’s reach of you right at this minute. Look around you. If you’re a working professional in the entertainment industry and you don’t think you have a Donald J. Trump in your life, I’ve got bad news: You do, and you’re it.

So of all the communities and industrial sectors around, it’s those of us in entertainment who are uniquely qualified to deal with President Trump. We know exactly how to sit through an insane diatribe delivered by a genuinely unhinged piece of talent, hoping that by hour six or seven the conversation will have exhausted itself and we can get back to work. We know how to smile and flatter. We know that in order to get the scene shot, the project moved forward, the script written, the financing in place — whatever it is — we’re going to have to pick up the tab for dinner and loudly praise every idea that tumbles out of the lunatic’s mouth, especially the ones that were ours to begin with.

“President Trump is what you get when you put the talent in charge.”
Rob Long

Look deeply into the eyes of many of the people surrounding the Trump administration and tell me they don’t remind you of the hollow and exhausted looks you see on talent managers and agents and executives all over town. Tell me that when you see Vice President Mike Pence on the Sunday talk shows, he isn’t the twin of every entertainment lawyer, with a “my client is an unpredictable mess” expression on his face.

Hollywood! We should help these people! They’re not prepared for this kind of work, and we are. We should be leading seminars and workshops and sending out group emails to train Team Trump on what we know best: How to Keep a Lid on the Really Insane Stuff.

And yes, I get it: They’re Republicans and conservatives, and most people in the entertainment industry are neither. Most of you are thinking: Why should we help them?

Look, we’re all Americans, and we all want the best — or, at least, to mitigate the worst — for our country. America just booked Donald J. Trump for a four-year pay-or-play gig, and he has accepted the role and is in hair and makeup. We’re probably not going to get the best movie out of this — and it’s safe to say that we won’t be getting any awards — but we can at least pitch in to keep the project from sinking the entire industry.

More Biz

  • Dodgers Stadium Empty

    Movie Theaters and Concerts Could See Major Attendance Drop Post-Pandemic (Study)

    After a month of increasing anxiety and self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, audiences in the U.S. are largely not eager to return to public events once the crisis subsides, according to a new study. In a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S., 44% of respondents said they would attend fewer large public events, [...]

  • Carl Cox attends at press conference

    Beatport’s 34-Hour DJ Livestream, With Carl Cox, Pete Tong, More, Raises $180,000

    Beatport today announced that its 34-hour live stream “ReConnect,” held in partnership with Twitch, raised more than $180,000 for the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and the Association for Electronic Music members’ COVID-19 Hardship Fund. Set up specifically to administer donations from this event to help struggling AFEM member companies retain lower earning workers who [...]

  • U.K. Distributors Take Concrete Steps to

    U.K. Distributors Take Steps to Support Independent Cinemas Amid Coronavirus

    U.K. cinemas remain shuttered due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and while some of the large chains with deep pockets have the wherewithal to ride out the crisis, independent cinemas are suffering. Some U.K. distributors have come up with solutions to remedy this. Modern Films was due to release Haifaa Al-Mansour’s festival favorite “The Perfect [...]

  • HOOQ Demise Damages The Business Case

    Hooq May Have Fallen But a Business Case for Southeast Asian Streamers Endures

    With coronavirus lockdowns across the region causing a spike in stay-at-home viewing, Friday’s news that Southeast Asian video streamer Hooq is to close within a matter of days came as a shock to its friends and competitors alike. Compared with its regional rivals, Hooq had the most blue-chip backers in Singaporean telecoms giant Singtel, WarnerMedia [...]

  • Helen Hunt World on Fire

    What's in a Name? How U.S. Talent Buoys International Sales on European Drama

    While European actors have long been mainstays on American television, recent years have seen American stars gaining traction as the leads in international productions. Sandra Oh’s award-winning turn in “Killing Eve,” Carrie Anne Moss in “Wisting,” Anna Paquin in “Flack” and Rob Lowe in “Wild Bill” are just a few examples of familiar Hollywood faces [...]

  • U.K. Freelancers

    U.K. Government Faces Pressure From Industry on Economic Measures for Freelancers

    The U.K. government is facing increasing pressure from the creative industries after it emerged that economic measures set out for the self-employed last week by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak have yawning gaps in them. The measures may have come as a welcome move for many creative industries workers, but not all are eligible [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content