Hollywood Stars Give
Bush A Bashing
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
The Telegraph - UK
Hollywood's already fervent support for Senator John Kerry cranked up a gear last night with the unveiling of 10 new anti-Bush advertisements by award-winning directors featuring A-list stars.
Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon are among the actors appearing in the latest campaign by, the online political action group behind such celebrity-rich electioneering as the forthcoming Vote for Change tour featuring the rock singer Bruce Springsteen.
The advertisements were unveiled in New York last night at an event entitled "10 Weeks: Don't Get Mad, Get Even" referring to the number of weeks left before the Nov 2 presidential election.
West Coast celebrity support for the Democrats has soared to record levels this year with the Kerry campaign so far raising nearly £28 million from Hollywood. Al Gore managed only £2.8 million in 2000.
The film director John Sayles has teamed up with the actor Martin Sheen for one of the advertisements. Doug Liman, who directed The Bourne Supremacy and Swingers, reunites with Matt Damon, star of the Bourne films, for another.
Rob Reiner, the veteran director of films such as When Harry Met Sally and The American President, uses a rambling answer from President George W Bush in April - during which he appears at his tongue-tied worst - as the core of his 30-second advertisement. Mr Bush lost his way when asked about his biggest mistake since the September 11 attacks.
Ten advertisements each bear the "unique handprint of the directors and artists who created them". One a week will be released until the election, though not all are guaranteed a national television broadcast because of the cost.
Last night's launch was one of several celebrity-laden events planned for Mr Kerry this week. Tomorrow, he flies to California for a fundraiser due to feature the Friends star Courteney Cox, with Tony Bennett singing.
The stars are donating not only money, but time and talent. Among those joining Springsteen on the tour of 28 cities with 34 shows in nine swing states, are Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor.
"It makes a real difference when performers and visual artists can use their talent as an attraction," said Marty Kaplan, who researches politics and pop culture at the University of Southern California. "MoveOn's campaign is a clever way of leveraging star power to get people to pay attention to the message."
The big names of rap are also mobilising and held a Hip-Hop Summit in April vowing to register 20 million new voters to oppose Mr Bush. Last month P Diddy launched his get-out-the-vote campaign to encourage a hip-hop generation he dubbed "the forgotten ones" to vote.
The president does have his share of celebrity supporters, though they are not as vocal or active as their Democratic counterparts. Bush supporters include the actors Kelsey Grammer, star of Frasier, Lara Flynn Boyle, Bruce Willis, Charlton Heston and Mel Gibson. Younger supporters include the Friends star Matt Le Blanc and the singers Jessica Simpson, Ricky Martin and Britney Spears.
But there is also concern in Hollywood that coming out as a conservative can cost a performer his livelihood.
"I think there are more conservatives in Hollywood than you would think, but I don't think they're going to come out because you never know why you don't get your next job," the pro-Bush comedian Dennis Miller said last year.
Accordingly, celebrity endorsement at the Republican Convention in New York next week will feature few red carpet regulars.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.



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