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Showbiz Activists Make Final Push In Remaining Days Of 2020 Election

The final few days before the 2020 presidential election will see phone banking, music videos and more cast reunions as Hollywood figures make a last push, largely for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Biden’s presidential campaign continues to draw on heavy support from the entertainment industry. On Friday, they tweeted out a video created by Diane Warren that is performed by JoJo.

That is just one of many videos that will be flooding social media in recent days. Will.i.am, who produced the breakout Yes, We Can video for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, created a new one tied to a Biden speech, called The Love, featuring the Black Eyed Peas and Jennifer Hudson. It’s received almost 33 million views on YouTube. A video from writer Don Winslow featuring Bruce Springsteen vocals, called America Needs Pennsylvania, has drawn 8.1 million Twitter views.

The Lincoln Project, the group formed by conservatives opposed to Donald Trump, introduced a new spot narrated by Marc Anthony, urging Puerto Ricans living on the mainland to vote against Trump. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said that he got permission from Taylor Swift to use Only the Young in a video for his political action committee.

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A political action committee formed by a group of Hollywood producers, the Win America Back PAC, debuted a new spot in which an HR person is interviewing Donald Trump for a job. The spot, produced by Micho Rutare, Mike Silver and Ben Rosenblatt, drew 3.8 million views on Twitter in its first 40 hours. The video was directed by Andrew Laurich, and written by Laurich and Gabriel Miller.

The Biden campaign, meanwhile, on Saturday is dispatching Amy Schumer to North Carolina, where she will appear with Jill Biden at rallies in Charlotte and Greensboro. That same day, Stevie Wonder will appear with Biden and former president Barack Obama at a rally in Michigan.

A group of industry figures will be phone banking through the weekend. On Saturday, Barbara Hershey, Lana Parrilla and Sean McGuire, cast members from the series Once Upon a Time, will reunite virtually to mobilize phone banking volunteers. On tap for Sunday will be  Kevin Kwan, author of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, along with Keith Carradine, who played the president on Madam Secretary. Monday’s phone bank will include Helen Hunt, and Tuesday’s will feature Rosemarie DeWitt and Ron Livingston.

Mathew Littman, a Los Angeles political strategist who has been organizing industry creatives for a weekly Zoom meeting with the Biden campaign, said that he is “very cautiously optimistic.”

“Polls don’t mean anything if you don’t get people to the polls,” he said, adding that the feeling of anxiety can be traced in part to the last presidential cycle. “Everyone has PTSD from 2016.”

He sees an uptick in industry engagement in this election, given the number of people who have shown up for organizing meetings and the phone banks. Among those who showed up at a showbiz-specific phone bank on Wednesday was Don Johnson. Justin Timberlake “Zoom bombed” volunteers at a different phone bank in a video that will debut this weekend.

“People want to do something. They don’t want to just be yelling at the TV,” Littman said.

Lara Bergthold, principal at RALLY Communications and a political strategist, has been volunteering for Biden’s get-out-the-vote efforts. Normally, at this point in the campaign, that would mean canvassing neighborhoods in swing states. Because of COVID-19, she has been texting voters to remind them to drop off their ballots or get to the polls.

“We’re seeing more full participation from Hollywood than in the past,” Bergthold said, pointing to a recent West Wing reunion that drew not just main cast members but supporting players as well.

“We are getting people participating who I haven’t seen engaged in other elections,” she said.

She, too, is mindful of 2016, when so many expected a Hillary Clinton victory.

“I think that the entire country, or at least half of the country, was burned by the polling last time, so we are cautiously optimistic,” she said. “But I think everyone is very clear that you shouldn’t leave a minute of your time on the table.”

Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, has made a point of running against the “Hollywood elite,” but in recent days he has praised some of his celebrity support. He met with Lil Wayne on Thursday, and the rapper praised the president for what he has done on criminal justice reform. “He’s really an activist in a very positive way,” Trump told reporters.

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