My friend Stuart Stevens has the rare combined vantage point of being both a top Republican campaign professional and also someone who has built a successful career in Hollywood. He’s mentioned more than once the unique challenges of entertainment programming at the GOP’s quadrennial nominating conventions. But something unique or heretofore unprecedented is happening with the Trump inauguration. It’s no surprise there’d be a 85% or even 95% freeze out from Hollywood and the music industry. But it appears to be closer to 99% or 100%.
On the one hand, this is the most frivolous and inconsequential of stories. And yet, it captures quite a bit about the coming Trump Era. From one perspective, it’s the ultimate confirmation of the Trumpian narrative. The cultural elite – the top musicians and movie stars – look down on Trump and refuse to associate with him. What’s notable though is that it’s not just Katy Perry and Bruce or other mega stars who we either know or assume we know have predictably liberal politics. Trump appears to be getting shut out even in the Country music world where the cultural politics run considerably more conservative and where Republican politicians usually find their entertainers.
Some of it is simply that Trump isn’t normal. He’s not just another Republican. But it also must be about the extreme age spread in the current political moment. The business of entertainment and especially the business of stardom is overwhelmingly with the young, certainly if we define youth as people under 40 or 45. So there’s likely some mix of rejection and self-protection behind the shut out. But again, even I’m surprised he apparently can’t get anyone to perform.
If Ted Cruz had been elected President you’d likely see something close to as total a shut out. But Cruz would strap on his Lee Greenwood and love the smell of Hollywood’s contempt in the morning. Not Trump. All reporting suggests that Trump is extremely unhappy about the situation. Which of course makes perfect sense. Depending on how you choose to inflect it – with sympathy or derision – Trump’s movement is based on a rejection of the condescension and arrogance of the cultural elite. And yet no one yearns more achingly for celebrity approval than Trump.
According to The Wrap, with Andrea Bocelli now dropping out, Trump’s partner and reality tv mogul Mark Burnett has shaken up the transition staff to try to find some entertainers willing to participate. Burnett has pulled in Suzanne Bender, a former booker for “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol.”