Jerry Brown may be last in the box office.
With most of the Hollywood precincts in, the California governor, who has Linda Ronstadt and Jane Fonda on his team, has won the backing of billion dollars worth of talent.
But trailing right behind him in the presidential candidates' race for tinseltown support are Ronald Reagan (the former movie star) and Teddy Kennedy, who has cashed in all the chips his family built up during 20 years of wooing Hollywood.
Politics and Hollywood: It's a long tradition that has seen Al Jolson putting on blackface for a Calvin Coolidge rally and Clara Bow rinsing the flaming red out of her hair in a display for Herbert Hoover.
In 1980 race, however, has created an unprecedented demand for stars on the stump, even before the first caucuses. Brown has won the support of what is called the new Hollywood; Reagan has the James Cagney-style conservatives; John Anderson has a powerful Rock'-n'-roll following; and President Carter and drop-out Howard Baker split "Nashville on the Ocean." With the election still eight months off, this is how the entertainers' votes came in:
Brown, has Ronstadt, Fonda, Helen Reddy, J.D. Souther and the rock groups Chicago and the Eagles.
Reagan's backers include Loretta Young, Dean Martin, Irene Dunne, James Stewart and James Cagney -- all friends from Reagan's days as a leading man at Warner Brothers (considered a Democratic stronghold in its heyday).
Kennedy, whose family connections have included Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, has the support of Andy Williams, Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Jack Lemmon and Eva Marie Saint.
John Anderson has preliminary support from rock groups "The Cars," "Cheap Trick" and "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers." Anderson also began receiving a landslide of celebrity support (more than 200 checks from Hollywood) after he appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" last month. Within two weeks Anderson piled up support from comedy King Norman Lear, actor Cliff Robertson and his actress wife Dina Merrill, Stockard Channing and Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Nashville is clearly split with Carter taking Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow and Tom T. Hall and Howard Baker taking Ray Stevens, Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Russell -- before the Tennessee senator withdrew.
George Bush has Tammy Grimes, pitcher Tom Seaver and former Olympic athlete Bob Mathias.
John Connally has Hugh O'Brien, Catherine Crosby and Linda Day George.
And should Gerald Ford enter the race, he already has strong ties with the disco world through Neil Bogart, president of Casablanca Records, Bogart, a friend of the fomer president, staged a thank-you dinner for the Fords 18 months ago. Bogart and his major star, Donna Summer, were co-chairmen with Betty Ford for a cancer drive in Beverly Hills for October. Moneymakers
The political marquee is impressive. But the slogan of the 1980 campaign seems to be: If movie stars are good, pop musicians are better. Rock concerts have, in the past six years, become one of the largest sources of campaign finances.
Until 1976, entertainers were moderately successful as moneymakers -- drawing crowds to coffee parties and receptions which would customarily net a candidate from $5,000 to $20,000. And they are still valuable. President Carter's campaign, for example, has revived the Kennedy practice of holding receptions featuring panels of stars. One example was the Carter Jazz Night" held recently in New York, with Cab Calloway and Eubie Blake healining.
But rock concerts have the really big money potential. Federal election law allows what many politicians are calling the "rock music loophole." It allows candidates to get matching funds at the boxoffice for any portion of ticket sales above fair market value. For instance, if a seat at a Linda Ronstadt concert normally costs $80, but is priced at $20 for a political concert, the federal election fund will match $10 on every ticket. Some candidates have raised as much as $400,000 at a single concert.
But there's a catch -- the money can only be matched if the tickets are paid for by check or money order, "I think this is going to wreak havoc with fundraising," said a Carter finance official. "I can't see how we're going to get people to pay with checks and money orders."
Still, the law gives pop stars a powerful position in the politics of the '80s. "Isn't it interesting," said Peter Schear of the Carter campaign's "artists-and-athletes" division, "that the rock world, which has traditionally operated outside the establishment, is now on the inside. These promoters and stars are the new fat cats."
Hollywood super-aged Jeff Wald, husband of political veteran Helen Reddy, agrees. "With individual contributions now limited to $1,000, pop music stars suddenly have an entirely different importance," said Wald, who has promoted and managed more than 20 political concerts in the '70s. "It's no secret that the Carter campaign in 1976 was rescued by the Allman Brothers, who staged a concert and brought $300,000 in ready cash. tI feel that pop concerts are now the biggest single source of big money in the political world." Courting Candidates
Despite the growing power of superstars, however, the 1980 campaign marks a reversal of an old Hollywood practice. This year many of the stars are courting the candidates.
"There are many reasons for this," said Wald. "Stars began to see in the early '70s that politics was affecting their lives and that they could do something about it. So entertainers began signing on for the McGovern-Nixon contest."
Paul Newman'a alliance with the Anderson campaign, for instance, started with a phone call from the superstar to Anderson headquarters in Washington.
"First he just chatted with the switchboard operator," said an Anderson aide. "She asked if he was the real Paul Newman and then got flustered about who she would give the call to. An hour later Newman had agreed to do the first of the major Anderson TV commericals, and the deal was put together so rapidly Newman was on the air the day before the New Hampshire primary."
On his own initiative, Wayne Newton did a concert in Texas last fall which grossed $200,000 for Reagan. "Wayne has been a friend of Reagan's for some time now," said a spokesman for Newton's multimillion-dollar Wayneco Corporation. "Wayne wanted to do something early so he just called up and organized the concert."
Stephen Stills' pre-primary efforts for Carter in New Hampshire began the same way, growing out of informal discussions between Stills and the president's son, Chip. "He pulled in 12,000 people on a bitter cold night," said Pete Schear. "I disagree with those who say entertainers are good solely for raising money. We have begun to feel shifts in voter support after endorsements from certain entertainers." (The Allman Brothers are credited with bringing in new voters -- as well as cash -- in 1976, especially in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.)
Jerry Brown's "Hollywood connection" is far more longstanding and cozy than that of other candidates. His relationships with Ronstadt, Reddy, Fonda and Cindy Williams (Shirley of "Laverne and Shirley") are based on friendships of 10 years or more, Reddy (I Am Woman" and 15 other million-sellers) was a Brown campaigner four years before he ran for governor, and Fonda's relationship with the governor goes back to the Vietnam era.
But his connections also show how celebrity support can sometimes backfire. Last month, when Linda Ronstadt arrived in New Hampshire, she was collared by a mob of newsmen -- most of whom asked about her reasons for coming to the state the day before the primary. Her only answers were four bursts of giggling, followed by the statement, "I'm only here to get the lay of the land. And, oh yes, I did buy a nightgown at the May Company.
The TV networks splashed the Ronstadt incident onto its network news shows, causing hundreds of protest calls to the Brown-for-President headquarters in Los Angeles. And four days later the Los Angeles political analyst for CBS, Bill Stout, selected Ronstadt as his "turkey of the month" for reaching, said Stout, "a new high of silliness unique even for politics."
Similarly, Jane Fonda's support for Brown has been seen as a mixed blessing. "When the Brown train came down here in December it was a charming concept," said a spokesman for the San Diego Democratic Central Committee. "But San Diego is a conservative Navy town and it might have been better to save Jane Fonda for the more liberal Las Vegas."
When Fonda, in the middle of her antinuclear campaign, went on network TV supporting Brown, one of the governor's aides told a Los Angeles political reporter. "It might be just as well if she didn't go public. Too many people still associate her with trips to Hanoi." (It goes without saying, according to Democratic campaign managers, that the endorsement of controversial stars like Vanessa Redgrave could be the the kiss of death.) 'Lots of Hate Mail'
Still there is no denying the power of the stars. And without contest, the champion of the political concert arena for the last decade is Helen Reddy, who has personally raised $2 million for various Democratic campaigns since 1972, Reddy, also a key figure in California's women's movement, says that fund-raising concerts are "grueling and often thankless."
"The most frequent question that I find growled at me is "Now don't kid us -- what's in it for you?" "Reddy always gives the same answer: "A lot of hate mail." There's also no doubt that Reddy's husband is the main man on the rock-politics trail. He was recently depicted by Los Angeles magazine as the Boss Tweed of rock politics. "People don't like to accept the new guard and the new money of the power structure of the '80s," said Wald, who frequently puts together political package deals for his clients and others.
His most recent coup was a whistlestop train tour for Brown that roared up and down the California coast and inland to Las Vegas the weekend of Dec. 21. Onboard were Fonda, Reddy, Ronstadt, the Eagles (who used to be Ronstadt's backup band) and Chicago, a band that was once managed partially by Wald.
The train drew about 10,000 in San Diego and less than 8,000 in Vegas. But the gate for both concerts reportedly was around $800,000. Wald (who does not charge a personal fee for such conerts) admits that there are costs to pay for organizing the events. "There have to be", he said, "It's not easy to put together one of these packages. You have to deal with special types of accounting, with the election laws and with matching funds. All in all, it's twice the trouble of overhead for publicity, back-up musicians and stage managers."
After nearly a decade of fund-raising, starting with a special train with Sinatra and Reddy that raised $325,000 for Sen. John Tunney, Wald has become a target. "They have made me into a sinister media figure," said Wald. "The truth is that Helen and I are working for these candidates for the same reason anybody else does -- we believe in them. I, too think it's a shame that you have to draw attention to good candidates by staging a media event. But it's a fact of life."
And, of course, "It is virtually the only way left to raise big bucks quickly," said Wald.
"But it puts the rocks groups in a delicate position," said a spokesman for the Eagles. "Because fund-raising and implied endorsement are virtually inseparable, the Eagles feel a deep responsibility to millions of fans. We are giving our endorsement." Name the Stars
Many campaign houses in 1980 have become hardened by the big-money era. Gov. Brown's celebrity coordinator, Larry Pryor, says: "We don't even announce the star names on our list, with the exception of those who have volunteered to give concerts for us. Star names in themselves are not of importance." With that qualifier, the Brown campaign is in an enviable position since the Eagles, Chicago and Linda Ronstadt were all among the top 20 ticket-sellers of the last five years. (Ronstadt during one year, earned a record $12 million.)
But some campaign organizers are more old-fashioned than the Brown bosses. "I think that stars can still lend an important air to a campaign just by appearances and endorsements," said Goldie Arthur, celebrity coordinator of the Reagan campaign. "If we send a major TV star to certain areas of the country; voters there feel even more secure about Reagan and his campaign. It's an old-fashioned idea, but we have learned that millions of people will take a star's word for a candidates's."
The Anderson campaign, which only got its burst of star power two weeks ago, is solidly based on that old-fashioned idea. "it would be nice to raise money through concerts," said a spokesman for Anderson. "But getting the endorsement is tremendously important in itself. When Paul Newman called up and gave his support we knew we had reached a plateau of higher visibility." THE COZY YEARS
For the stars, 1980 is the final result of a 10-year campaign by entertainers to become integral parts of the campaign organizations. When Shirley MacLaine was brought into theinner sanctum of the McGovern campaign, she was an exception. Stars were still being used basically to dress up political coffees and dinners. And this tradition goes back to the beginning of the movies.
In Hollywood's first two decades, when only Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were considered tame enough to campaign for Woodrow Wilson, Presidents Coolidge and Hoover routinely turned down helpful offers from politically minded stars because, to quote Hoover, "Hollywood is considered to be a hotbed of madness by the rest of America."
By 1928, when Hollywood was ruled by the big studio chiefs (William Fox, Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner and Adolph Zukor), Republican candidate Hoover got silent backing from the film industry. The relationship between the GOP and MGM was so cozy that Mayer was named as a delegate to the Republican convention. Shortly after, a discreet memo was passed to the MGM stars telling them that their political philosophy would be decided in the studio's head office, and the head office had opted, again, for the Republicans.
A second memo followed -- handed out as the stars entered the commissary. Inside the envelopes were kindly messages stating that Mayer had been named treasurer of California's Republican Committee. And Mayer said he "knew most MGM employees would want to contribute a day's salary to the party." The payments were unanimous.
Over the Beverly Hills from MGM another boss, Jack Warner, was leaning equally hard on stars like Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers, John Blondell and James Cagney. But Warner was firmly in the Democratic camp. In a way the split was in character. The Democratic Warner Brothers specialized in black and white films about gangsters and the Depression while MGM turned out glossy movies about the aristocracy, millionaires and Cinderellas.
World War II erased all these class differences, bringing almost complete Hollywood support to the Democrats and Roosevelt. During the Roosevelt-Wilkie campaign, the Hollywood for Roosevelt committee (with press releases written by Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons), had a big radio campaign featuring a movie industry Who's Who: Pat O'Brien, Alice Faye, Joan Bennett, Edward G. Robinson, Henry Fonda and Rosalind Russell.
By 1950, the stars had established their political as well as their economic independence from the big studio bosses. Lauren Bascall became a close confidante of Adlai Stevenson while her husband Humphrey Bogart supported Eisenhower.
All this reached its high-water mark during "the Hollywood cozy" years of John F. Kennedy and later his brother. Robert. With their sister Pat married to one of the social lions of the movies, Peter Lawford, Camelot was the ruling philosophy of the Technicolor era. The legends are almost trite now -- with reminiscences of Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" on the phone to Jack Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" at President Kennedy's party in Madison Square Garden.
During the Nixon years the Hollywood activists split apart, with MacLaine, Beatty and the new stars backing Sen. McGovern and Dean Martin and the establishment trooping for Nixon. HARD QUESTION
And what do the stars get out of all this? That's not so clear.
Shirley MacLaine, in her best-selling book" You Can Get There From Here," writes poignantly about her disenchantment with the McGovern campaign in particular and politics in general. She concludes with the view that she should pay more attention to dancing and acting things she is very good at, and less attention to politics, where she may be over her head.
"What do we get out of it? That question is becoming harder to answer," says Wald. "At the start of this era we were hit with the claim that entertainers were afraid to become involved. So some of us changed that. We began putting our talent where our mouth is. Now they're painting me and others as selfish political bosses. I'm in politics and Helen Reddy is in politics because our generation has a stake in what's happening. So I get quoted out of context and almost slandered by the press."
Jane Fonda, at a recent press conference for her new movie "Electric Horseman," said: "I'm supporting Brown because I believe in what he stands for. And besides, he's a good friend."
Bette Davis, whose name already has been put onto the Kennedy endorsement list, said, "Actually I haven't decided for anyone yet. It's much too early and I, like many others in the entertainment industry, do a great deal of soul-searching before we support any candidate."
With the Brown campaign faltering, some doubt has been cast on the value of the Hollywood connection. But according to Romeo Dorval, New Hampshire state Democratic chairman, the stars have an appeal beyond the ballot box: "With Ronstadt and all it made a nice package. It brought people out and made them happy. But nobody in politics here took it seriously. For New Hampshire it added a little bit of levity to a somewhat dull election."