- - Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Hollywood is all about pretense and posturing — beautiful plastic people pretending to be someone else, declaiming against a backdrop of facades that look like buildings. So why wouldn’t Hollywood open its checkbooks to contribute to Alison Lundergan Grimes? She’s trying to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the leader of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Mrs. Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, has smiled and chirped her way across the state trying to avoid debate like a terrified Dracula dodging sunlight. Nevertheless, Mrs. Grimes, 35, is neck and neck with Mr. McConnell in the early public-opinion polls.

She is short on experience, having served only two years as “secretary of state,” which sounds considerably grander than it actually is. Her duties include registering trademarks, supervising the printing of ballots, keeping the archive of land grants, keeping up with the honorary “Kentucky colonels” appointed by the governor. She’s the Official Keeper of the Great Seal of Kentucky.

These are important jobs all, of course, but none to prepare her for considering the issues she would face in the U.S. Senate. She’s probably wise to stick to mouthing harmless platitudes. She’s an actress who wants to play senator, and that’s why Hollywood can’t get enough of her.

Twinkletown’s big studios, including DreamWorks, Time Warner, William Morris, Lions Gate and Walt Disney, have all chipped in five-figure donations. Apatow Productions, the company behind Judd Apatow’s R-rated comedies “Bridesmaids,” “Superbad,” “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” contributed $10,400.

Celebrities have reached into their own pockets to advance the cause. The Hill, the Capitol Hill political daily, reports that nearly 70 Hollywood A-listers who have given a total of $250,000 to Mrs. Grimes include Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Woody Allen, Ted Danson, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Spielberg, Jon Hamm and Nicolas Cage.

Her treasury continues to swell, with recent cash from Hollywood swells like Jay Roth, the executive director of the Directors Guild of America; Sidney Ganis, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and director of “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.” David Frankel, who directed “The Devil Wears Prada,” contributed the maximum $5,200, and so did Chris Weitz, the producer of “New Moon” and “American Pie.” Songwriter Tom Lehrer did his little bit.

Mr. McConnell has few famous contributors, but nearly all of his contributors actually live in Kentucky. Mrs. Grimes has raised more money from Californians than Kentuckians, and residents of Los Angeles and New York have given the Grimes campaign more money than all the Kentucky residents on her disclosure forms.

The handful of Kentuckians on the Grimes supporter list are a who’s who of scandal. Don Blandford, the former speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, chipped in $1,000 to Mrs. Grimes. He spent more than five years in federal prison for extorting bribes from a lobbyist, racketeering and lying to the FBI.

John Arnold, a Kentucky state legislator who resigned in disgrace last year amid allegations that he harassed and sexually assaulted three state employees, contributed to Mrs. Grimes. So did the widow of another state legislator, Bill McBee, who served 15 months in prison for accepting bribes.

Mrs. Grimes is no doubt a nice lady, but Hollywood values, such as they are, do not connect with Kentucky values. Any idea that she could come to Washington to accurately represent Kentucky would only be an act.



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