- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2003

Once upon a time, it was just the war in Iraq and the Bush administration that riled Hollywood’s glittering left. Now they have a new enemy, and it’s one of their own.

Arnold needs to check his back: Babs, Tom, Cybill, Susan, Al — they may soon gang up on Mr. Schwarzenegger as his campaign for California governor takes on muscle and showtime grows nigh. He’s got just 45 days to make his case before voters decide Oct. 7.

“I think it’s entirely possible we’ll see some celebrity political activity in the next few weeks,” said Allan Mayer of Los Angeles-based Sitrick and Co., a public relations and crisis-management group that counts stars like Kim Basinger, David Duchovny and Halle Berry among its clients.

“But we’ll need to distinguish between the anti-Arnold campaigns and the anti-recall campaigns,” Mr. Mayer said. “There’s a big difference.”

The hubbub is not mere celebrity fluff, he said yesterday.

“This is not a Hollywood production. This is real politics, with legitimate issues,” Mr. Mayer said. “It’s easy to caricature this as just another Hollywood carnival. But this state has a long history of progressive politics which was embedded in Hollywood long before the recall.”

Still, CNN has billed it the “Three Ring Recall.”

Barbra Streisand and James Garner are among those who have donated money to the Sacramento-based grass-roots group Taxpayers Against the Governor’s Recall, according to current records at the California Secretary of State’s office. The anti-recall group has accrued $1.5 million in assorted donations.

Yesterday, Miss Streisand also posted Gov. Gray Davis’ latest campaign speech at her Web site, though she has yet to post a personal statement.

Coincidentally, Miss Streisand’s husband, James Brolin, was recently cast to appear as former President Ronald Reagan in a CBS miniseries due to air in November.

Meanwhile, comedians Al Franken, Bill Maher and Harry Shearer have signed on to produce a comedy fund-raiser for gubernatorial hopeful Arianna Huffington on Sept. 9.

Things are getting caustic in Hollywood, however. When the Los Angeles Times implied that the powerful Creative Artists Agency would help Mr. Schwarzenegger with fund-raising and voter outreach earlier this week, the agency came out swinging in a formal statement, calling the report “false and misleading.”

That was enough to jump-start the rumor mill, summoning a familiar cast of Tinsel Town activists.

The New York Post reported yesterday that actors Tom Hanks, Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen, Miss Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Warren Beatty, Susan Sarandon, Mr. Franken, Ed Asner, Mike Farrell and Rob Reiner would “rally against the Terminator.”

Some have vented their feelings on their own, however.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s election to office “would be the worst tragedy in the history of California,” actress Cybill Shepherd told “Access Hollywood” this week, calling him a “hypocrite.”

She also told the San Francisco Chronicle that Mr. Davis is a “great kisser.”

There has been some serious Arnold bashing in the news media as well. When Mr. Schwarzenegger displayed his first TV campaign spot and held a press conference, some journalists in print and broadcast analyzed both as a dramatic performance, rather than for political content.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the candidate “Conan the Deceiver” yesterday, noting that Mr. Schwarzenegger was “asserting that his celebrity gives him the right to fake his way through the election.”

Still, the recall campaign makes great, and sometimes bizarre, theater.

Radio host Howard Stern canceled his one-on-one interview with Mr. Schwarzenegger on Wednesday, fearing FCC rules that could require him to grant equal air time to the actor’s 134 campaign rivals — which include other actors, a pornographer and a pornography film star who is offering a “dinner date” to anybody who donates $5,000 to her campaign.

“Watch. Oprah will get the exemption,” Mr. Stern told his listerners. “They’ll give it to ‘Access Hollywood,’ too. What a joke.”

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