- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2000


The self-assured young professional is ready to come out of the closet.

Only five years into her career, she knows the risks. But she's willing to go public, she says, to bring the issue into the open.

Ellen Treanor is a Republican. And an actress. In famously liberal Hollywood, that combination is usually an oxymoron.

"It is pretty scary to be in a public situation or a party … and have someone talking about the conservatives," she said. "It's a joke for anyone to be supporting conservatives. If you speak up, you're limiting your chances" of finding work.

The politics of Hollywood's liberal elite are well known. Barbra Streisand has stayed at the White House. Warren Beatty considered a run for president as the liberal alternative to Vice President Al Gore, and Steven Spielberg hosts President Clinton during fund-raising pilgrimages.

Some liberal actors have brought higher profiles to their causes: Ted Danson has sought to stem ocean pollution and Woody Harrelson has pushed for the legalization of marijuana.

Their money flows freely, too. In the 1996 election, President Clinton received $442,000 from TV and movie executives and their families, compared with $166,000 for Republican Bob Dole.

Then, there's Miss Treanor. She listens to conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, jokes about getting her Republican reading materials delivered in a "brown paper sack" and generally keeps her political opinions to herself.

Miss Treanor and other Republican actors tell tales of being ostracized by casting directors who prefer to surround themselves with like-minded people. While a 1950s-style blacklist is probably more the stuff of paranoia, they still say they fear being cut out of the business due to their politics, not ability.

Miss Treanor, who has appeared in "NYPD Blue" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," said she once was rejected not for what she said, but for what she didn't say. While waiting to do a reading of a play, she and other actors saw former President George Bush appear on television. When she didn't join in their criticism, one woman mocked her by saying, "Oh, he was your guy."

"I'm really not friends with any of those people now," Miss Treanor said. "I would say 'shunned' is exactly the term. They didn't invite me to put up the play when they produced it."

At a recent luncheon of the Wednesday Morning Club, a right-leaning policy-discussion group considered a safe haven by many Hollywood Republicans, Miss Treanor and other Republican women openly criticized Mr. Clinton, and shared war stories about the challenge of being conservative in Hollywood.

Leah Lipschultz applauded when Rep. James E. Rogan, California Republican, railed at the country for having failed its children morally. She craned her neck to see actor Charlton Heston sitting across the room, and derided Democrats as unreasoned and closed-minded.

But asked to go on record using her stage name, however, Miss Lipschultz declined.

"The thing that has made it so tough through the Clinton administration is that so much of the daily conversation was about the impeachment hearings," said Miss Lipschultz, a recently registered Republican. In part, debates on the subject "outed me to an extent to some people," she said.

Prominent actors such as Tom Selleck, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. Heston have succeeded regardless of their politics. But to lesser-known actors, such outspokenness doesn't seem an option. Even Mr. Heston and Mr. Selleck, they say, have come under fire by their colleagues for their support of the National Rifle Association.

Several Hollywood publicists discounted the danger of talking politics, but agreed it's prudent to avoid alienating fans and industry people in connection-crazy Los Angeles.

"It's easier to be loved by people for your talent than to risk diminishing a portion of that regard, because suddenly they're in touch with your partisanship," said David Brokaw, a spokesman for Bill Cosby and other celebrities.

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