Thursday, November 4, 2004

Sherry Lansing, the soon-to-be-retired Paramount studio honcho and friend of Sen. John Kerry, is said to be “depressed.”

Actress Sharon Stone, who stumped for Mr. Kerry in Wisconsin, reportedly was “traveling” yesterday. It wasn’t clear whether the “Basic Instinct” star had fled the country, as she had hinted that she might do if the Democratic nominee lost.

There were tears and tribulations. Long sighs and short tempers. Shock and bawl.

For a rich and powerful demographic used to getting its way, Hollywood was downbeat yesterday as President Bush — more heinous than a mid-February release date to so many celebrities and other bold-faced names — made his gracious victory speech.

Not only entertainers were said to be dispirited. The literary crowd in New York was crying into its Evian.

“Sure, I feel terrible,” said New Yorker editor David Remnick, whose published endorsement of Mr. Kerry was a first for the magazine. “There are a lot of long faces today.”

And “Fahrenheit 9/11” propagandist Michael Moore’s Web site actually went silent.

That’s the same Mr. Moore who only a couple of weeks ago had paused in his anti-Bush road trip to opine: “I have a feeling that slackers are going to rise up in this election. The slacker motto is: Sleep till noon, drink beer, vote Kerry.”

George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire who went on his own 12-city speaking tour and spent an estimated $17 million on ads and get-out-the-vote drives to defeat the president, posted a message on his Web site describing himself as “distressed.”

“I’ll be back,” he wrote.

Buoyed by early exit polls that put their candidate ahead, many in Beverly Hills dined together and waited out the night. Slowly, their leading man faded from the political screen.

“There’s a lot of disappointment out here. A lot of apprehension,” said Robert Dowling, editor in chief of the Hollywood Reporter. “People are comatose.”

It was the right coast versus the left coast, and the morning-after mood was described by Mr. Dowling as “somber.” It left many Kerry supporters reaching for their Prozac vials.

“Mine is already empty,” joked a high-level publicist who counts A-list celebrities as his clients. “Everyone’s so down. All the studio execs are bummed. I have to tell you, when gay marriage becomes a bigger issue than the Iraq war, we’re missing something.”

Long decried as out of touch with “the real America,” Hollywood woke up to its worst nightmare on Main Street.

“This is definitely Kerry country,” said Gabriel Snyder, senior writer for Variety, the industry bible.

One can only imagine the despair of the Hollywood stars over the specter of glittery state dinners and policy lunches that could have been: Barbra and Moby,, Uma Thurman and Viggo Mortensen, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, Bette Midler and George Clooney. Directed, perhaps, by Rob Reiner and Steven Spielberg.

Who knew “moral values” voters could triumph over production values?

Asked whether outspoken stars might regret their more vitriolic sentiments about the president, Mr. Snyder said he doesn’t think there is a risk of backlash.

“My prediction is the political tenor will come down for a little while,” the Variety scribe said. “I don’t think anyone will say anything wild. Next week, of course, might be different.”

Among the most shrill in past months: Jennifer Aniston, the “Friends” actress who called Mr. Bush “a [expletive] idiot.” Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who stumped for Mr. Kerry in Oregon and Florida and appeared in an ad for the Democrat on the Internet. Singer John Mellencamp, who described Mr. Bush as “a cheap thug.”

Cher also threw her wig in the ring, calling Mr. Bush “stupid and lazy” during a sparsely attended rally at a Miami Beach disco in Florida.

Al Franken is also a loser today; Dennis Miller a winner.

Sean Penn, Whoopi Goldberg and Meg Ryan: losers. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Silver and Angie Harmon: winners.

Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi lost their full-throated bids to play at an inaugural ball. Larry Gatlin and Brooks & Dunn, call your agents.

Rap impresario Sean “P. Diddy” Combs made his preferences known, without using the names “Bush” or “Kerry,” in urging the hip-hop nation to “Vote or Die.” Fellow rapper Eminem put in a belated appearance with the animated video for his venomous anti-Bush single “Mosh,” in which his “army” appears to veer from violence in the streets to voting at the polls.

What proved to be a tonic: Building 429 and other Christian rockers who urged prayerful consideration of the stakes on their “Redeem the Vote” tour.

“It was a very gradual thing,” the Hollywood Reporter’s Mr. Dowling recalled. “First it was Puff Diddy, then Bruce Springsteen came along, then Ben Affleck came out and the bandwagon rolled. It was slow to engage, and I’m not sure if Kerry wasn’t just a surrogate for anti-Bush feelings.”

“Celebrity testimonials may help [sell] erectile-dysfunction products,” Marty Kaplan, communications professor at the University of South Carolina, told Agence France-Presse, “but in politics, they’re mainly eye candy for the media.”

Mr. Dowling agreed.

“It didn’t work,” he said of the Democrats’ star-studded support.

Asked whether Mr. Affleck, who wasn’t available for comment, would suffer any repercussions, Mr. Dowling laughed and alluded to the actor’s latest box-office flop “Surviving Christmas.”

“Ben Affleck,” the Hollywood journalist said, “has more career problems at the moment than his political beliefs.”

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