Friday, May 30, 2014

Do Famous People Sway Voters?


The big endorsement news in L.A. yesterday was when Mayor Eric Garcetti-- or as many people around here refer to him, future POTUS Eric Garcetti-- backed Ted Lieu for Congress in the CA-33 seat Henry Waxman is giving up. "Tuesday's election is extremely important for the future of our region," said Mayor Garcetti. That's why I am endorsing Ted Lieu for Congress. Ted is not only the most qualified candidate, but the type of person we need in Washington-- intelligent, ethical and relentless as a representative for our community. He has shown tremendous leadership on important issues of our time including climate change, healthcare and protecting victims of domestic violence. I am confident that Ted Lieu is the best candidate to strengthen the middle class, create more jobs and help workers save for retirement."

They day before, LL Cool J endorsed one of the vanity candidates in the race. Up top, you see the final version of the Blue America ad we did for Marianne Williamson-- we did a duel endorsement for her and Ted.

The ad has been quite an experience. It brought back the wonderful days I had working with creative geniuses like Joni Mitchell, Madonna, Chaka Khan, Lou Reed, Fleetwood Mac, Cher, Rickie Lee Jones, all artists acknowledged as "brilliant but." The "but" was that they were supposedly "difficult." I learned early on that tyne only artists worth anything were the difficult ones-- the perfectionists who aren't fooling around but what to get it right and expect everyone around them to get it right too. That's what making this ad was like on ever single level. I spent a lot of time on the phone today with Frances Fisher learning how a soft black fade is very different from a hard black fade and why that's important. She was very patient with me. I'm grateful.

Frances is probably best known for her role in Titantic and on ABC’s Resurrectiontook my breath away with her consummate professionalism and dedication. She worked with Marcia Cross-- probably best known for her role on Desperate Housewives-- and a tight group of local actresses and activists to create a Public Service Announcement titled I WOKE UP in support of Marianne Williamson’s campaign for Congress, although independent of her campaign and sponsored by the Blue America PAC I.E. Committee. This, in part, is the message we sent to the media about the ad:
Other noteworthy actresses involved in the PSA include Francesca Eastwood (Oh! You Pretty Things, Jersey Boys), Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand And Fog), Catherine Roberts, Debbon Ayer, Molly Weber, Nancy Moonves, Amanda Perez, Jody Carter, and Bonnie Bower. Also appearing in the ad is the Publisher of the L.A. Progressive, Sharon Kyle, along with Digital Marketing Consultant and Speaker, Nori Wolfson. Moby, a multiple-Grammy Award nominated musician and BMI Film & TV Award winner, donated the music that plays throughout the piece. The PSA will be airing online starting today via numerous web sites including the L.A, Times, and it will air on cable TV starting Friday morning on networks that include MSNBC, CNN, TBS, TNT, Comedy Central, USA, The Food Channel, and Bravo.

“We collectively felt compelled to stand up and do something to support Marianne,” says Roger Wolfson, who wrote and directed the PSA. Wolfson, a TV writer (The Closer, Saving Grace) who has been staff to Senators Kerry, Wellstone, and Kennedy, added “I’ve never seen any project come together as easily and quickly as this one.”

By all accounts, this was a collaborative effort. Marcia Cross, who has won two SAG Awards, one Satellite Award, and who has also been nominated a combined 13 times for the Primetime Emmys, Golden Globes, Prism Awards, and the Satellite and Television Critics Association Awards, came up with the slogan “I Woke Up.” She additionally contributed much of the dialogue. Explains Cross: “Marianne represents the quality of leadership we need in America, and we hope this piece can help create awareness for her and inspire action to vote for Marianne. She has changed so many lives, including mine. We felt this ad was the least we could to do support this incredible candidacy.”

The ad was conceived Friday night and shot on Monday-- Memorial Day. Frances Fisher, who has starred in Academy Award winning films like Unforgiven, was willing to serve as Assistant Director, Craft Services, and Final Touches for this particular set. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do to raise awareness of this incredibly vital campaign. Finally, we don’t have to go to the polls to choose between different flavors of vanilla. Marianne provides a choice that every woman should consider.”

The film crew included Director of Photography Steven Miles, Sound Work by Rick Brush, and it was edited by Writer/Director Stephen Lentini. The set for this film took place at the West Hollywood showroom of activist Jamie Adler, who appears in the ad next to her daughter, Ruby. Director John Wynn also contributed guidance and support. Even Mark Wolf, who served as a Filmmaker and Editor at The White House for President Obama, showed up as crew to take stills and work the teleprompter.

“The entire process was inspirational,” said Wolf. “Everything we needed seemed to appear, right on schedule,” added Adler. “We were fighting to give each other lines,” said Aghdashloo, an Academy Award-Nominated Actress who has won the Primetime Emmy, Independent Spirit Award, and the LA and NY Film Critics Awards.

On a personal note, Adler pointed out: “I have never been so proud of my daughter, who was as committed to the quality of this ad as anyone in the room.” Ruby Adler (9) added: “When I grow up, I’m voting for Marianne.”

Another mother-daughter combination the PSA captures is that of Fisher and Francesca Eastwood, whose passion for Williamson is well captured onscreen, when she explains: “I’m showing up at the polls, because I woke up.”

The issues the PSA touches on includes the misplaced priorities of spending more on candidates versus pre-natal care, Veterans, the need to reduce recidivism, and providing more teachers in schools to support and better educate our children.
Straight across the country in Maine, there was also a spectacular pop-culture endorsement today. One of America's greatest living authors, Stephen King did an OpEd in the Bangor Daily News explaining why he's supporting Shenna Bellows for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Susan Collins: For This Lifetime Mainer, Bellows Is The Clear Choice.
It’s been almost 20 years since Maine had a Democratic representative in the U.S. Senate (George Mitchell, if you’re keeping track). The smart money says we won’t elect a Democrat this year, either, but this is a case where I hope the smart money is wrong.

No disrespect to Sen. Susan Collins, and no mudslinging, either; there’s precious little mud to sling. She’s been a purple senator in an increasingly purple state, where we have a conservative governor in Paul LePage and an independent (but centrist) senator in Angus King. But when I get those emails from the Collins campaign calling her “our Senator,” I have to disagree.

Sen. Susan Collins is considered a moderate who compromises a lot. Sounds good, but when it comes down to casting votes that serve Mainers, she always seems to end up with her Republican colleagues, led by Mitch McConnell-- the hardline block that shut down the government last year and has since neglected many urgent issues (including better care for our veterans) in a near maniacal effort to repeal an Affordable Care Act that is already working.

Moderation is fine, but only up to a point. It’s not helpful to Mainers when Collins continues to vote on the wrong side of policies that matter most.

Collins supports the Patriot Act, and has repeatedly voted for its renewal. She has repeatedly voted to authorize (and legalize) NSA spying. Shenna Bellows advocates repeal of the Patriot Act, and so do I. Obviously we need to keep an eye out for terrorists on American soil, but in the age of drones and mega-surveillance, it’s way past time to restructure this thing. And although Collins claims the NSA spying program is fair, it looks to me too much like a doorway to that world George Orwell wrote about in 1984.

Bellows supports raising the minimum wage. Collins opposes it, which makes me roll my eyes in exasperation. A $10.10 per hour wage in an America where gasoline costs $3.65 a gallon-- and where a great many Maine workers have to travel long distances to their place of employment-- seems fair to me. The idea that 10 bucks an hour will flatten the economy is basically an idea promulgated by rich greedheads who don’t want to pony up what’s fair to hard workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

Collins supports the Keystone Pipeline. This just makes me sigh, but not because of the pipeline per se. It’s where it comes from. This is tar sands oil, and according to the National Wildlife Federation, it’s “one of the dirtiest, costliest, and most destructive fuels in the world.” It lays waste to fragile ecosystems, emits more of the pollutants associated with global warming when burned, and creates lake-sized reservoirs of toxic waste. It’s a lethally short-sighted quick fix, and the supporters of the Keystone are its enablers.

Bellows believes that genetically modified foods (known as GMOs, and called “Frankenfoods” in my house, but that’s just us) should be labeled. In 2013, Collins voted against a law that would have mandated labeling these modified products, more or less turning her back on all the organic farmers here in Maine who were in favor.

I could go on. Collins voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, mandating that women get equal pay for equal work (and you thought Lincoln freed the slaves). She voted for the Iraq war, and OMG, what a horrible idea that was. Her personal views on same-sex marriage are unclear to me, while Bellows is frank and up-front on the subject, stating her belief that gay folks should have the same rights under the law as straight folks (and the same responsibilities, of course).

Collins has shown leadership, at least within her own party, which hasn’t always been easy. She shows up, she does the job, she interacts with her constituents. All good. For this lifetime Mainer, however, she’s on the wrong side of too many issues to deserve re-election. I’m voting for Bellows. No smart money there, just smart ideas, idealism and youthful energy.

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At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It’s not helpful to Mainers when Collins continues to vote on the wrong side of policies that matter most."

It will help even less when "centrist" Angus king caucuses with the Republicans in the fall.


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