At the Democratic convention in Denver, he asked pollster Frank Luntz to run a seminar advising Creative Coalition members how to convey their support for issues such as arts education more effectively. When Luntz mildly suggests that the actors tone down any in-your-face rhetoric, perhaps use language to sway opponents not antagonize them, actor Josh Lucas turns as red-faced as a kid whose toy has been taken away on the playground; he’s indignant at being told what to say. Actress Gloria Reuben actually compares Luntz’s advice to stomping on her First Amendment rights. Huh? This from people who make a living creating images.
Here we get an illuminating peek inside the bubble at least some stars occupy. Susan Sarandon is a voice of reason as she patiently explains, in what amounts to a Bush flashback, “I don’t talk about impeachment, I talk about accountability.”
Levinson took a more conciliatory approach during the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, asking Luntz to bring together actors and ordinary citizens to talk across the Hollywood-Main Street divide. Face to face with actors including Hathaway, Tim Daly, and Ellen Burstyn, the people in St. Paul (not all of them Republicans) were—what’s the opposite of star-struck? They practically spit venom. They are furious that showbiz millionaires get what one man calls “undue influence”; they angrily call the stars arrogant and out of touch; another man accuses them of not allowing everyday people to think for themselves. (Maybe he thought he was in a sci-fi mind-meld movie.)