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Politics 2012: The magic that is Hollywood

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   Dec. 18, 2011 at 5:00 AM
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Lights, camera, action. Politics usually is good film fodder. Now Hollywood returns the favor…


More than a penny for his thoughts

A conservative radio host has offered Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich $1 million to abandon his bid to be the party's presidential nominee.

The offer was good for 72 hours beginning Monday. The deadline passed. Gingrich is still in the race.

"Newt Gingrich is unelectable. Mitt Romney is the only candidate with a chance of defeating Barack Obama, and there is nothing more important than that for the future health, safety, and security of the United States of America," a statement posted on Michael Savage's Web site read. "Therefore I am offering Newt Gingrich $1 million dollars to drop out of the presidential race for the sake of the nation."

Savage allows that former Massachusetts Gov. Romney isn't the strong conservative many in the party would like, but Romney doesn't carry the type of baggage Gingrich does, either.

Top of the list: Gingrich didn't deliver on the "Contract with America" manifesto he proffered when Republicans devastated Democrats in the midterm elections during the Bill Clinton administration. Then there's an ad about global warming that the Georgia Republican made with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. -- an idea even Gingrich called a "dumb" move career-wise. And then there's Gingrich's idea to offer illegal aliens who are established in the United States a path to citizenship, which Savage said amounts to "amnesty."

The list doesn't stop there. Savage also noted Gingrich's ties to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, his failed marriages and infidelity, and his calling the budget plan laid out by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., "right-wing social engineering."

While some have argued Gingrich will do well in debating President Obama, Savage said it doesn't matter. Regardless of how well he does, Gingrich will "come off badly compared to Obama and look like nothing more than what he is: a fat, old, white man."

If Gingrich "really loves this country as much as he says he does … he will set his ego aside, call me, and accept my offer," Savage's statement said.


Cantor candor in Hollywood

Hollywood's political image as bleeding blue has taken on a more reddish hue around the edges.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has pitched for financial and policy support in Tinseltown, tapping into a network of conservatives and finding success.

"Eric has been really incredibly attentive and has a deep personal interest in better understanding this industry," Craig Haffner, an Emmy-winning television writer and producer, told Roll Call.

As far back as 2009, Cantor said he knew the Republican Party had friends in Hollywood and wasn't afraid to court them.

Republicans note Cantor has what's needed to make him an effective fundraiser everywhere -- the ability to connect quickly, a phenomenal memory for names and meticulous prep work on issues important to each audience he faces.

"He was the first guy who ever came out here and knew what our problems were," said Lionel Chetwynd, a Cantor friend who has been called the "dean of Hollywood conservatives" by entertainment trade publication Variety magazine. Chetwynd is a writer, producer and director known for documentaries and historical adaptations.

"There's always been Republicans in Hollywood, and now they have a voice in Eric," said Ray Allen, a Cantor senior strategist.

Still, fundraising numbers indicate only modest progress for Republicans, Roll Call said.

In the 2010 cycle, the glitzy Beverly Hills ZIP code -- 90210 -- was the fourth most lucrative for Cantor, following three Richmond, Va., ZIP codes, data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics indicates.


Don't touch that remote

In the battle of the airwaves, Democrats prefer comedies such as the popular NBC series "Parks and Recreation," while Republicans tune into the ABC drama "Castle" and favor reality shows.

The annual research survey by Experian-Simmons measures the consumer preferences of various political ideologies. In a report prepared exclusively for Entertainment Weekly, Experian-Simmons calculated some of the favorite -- and least favorite -- destinations for channel-surfing political partisans.

Democrats tend to be drawn to "sarcastic" comedies and conflicted anti-heroes, the survey found, while work-centered shows -- both reality shows and procedurals -- and reality competitions drew conservatives.

Favorites for liberal Democrat viewers include "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central; "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation" on NBC; "The View" on ABC; Fox's "Glee," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on FX and "Cougar Town" on ABC.

"Swamp Loggers" on Discovery and "Top Shot" on History are among the favorites for conservative Republicans, as are ABC's "The Bachelor" and "Castle, and Discovery's "Mythbuster." Crime dramas such as "Hawaii Five-O," "NCIS" and "The Mentalist," all on CBS, also proved popular.

The comedy "The Middle" did well in both groups.

Not surprisingly, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" were among conservative Republicans' least favorite shows. "Swamp Loggers" and "Dog the Bounty Hunter" on A&E didn't cut it for liberal Democrats.


Sarah Palin stumps for new reality TV show

Sarah Palin, the governor-turned-vice-presidential-nominee-turned-Fox-News-contributor, has been making the circuit in Hollywood, pitching another reality series -- this one focused on her husband's career as a champion snowmobile racer.

So far, however, there haven't been any takers, Hollywood Reporter said.

The new series follows the Mark Burnett-produced "Sarah Palin's Alaska," which debuted on TLC in November 2010 to a record-breaking 5 million viewers.

TLC owner Discovery Communications passed on the Todd Palin series, sources told the trade publication. And A&E Networks, which got into a bidding war for "Sarah Palin's Alaska," also is not interested.

Networks have balked the steep asking price, the Reporter said. "Alaska" sold for more than $1 million an episode and sources say Burnett and Palin want a similar payday for the follow-up.

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