Actress Jennifer Aniston isn't the only closet conservative to have 'come out' in recent months. Fearing a backlash among traditionalist moviegoers—and eager to replicate the success of Mel Gibson's Bible-based blockbuster—a growing number of celebs are trading in their liberal labels.
Coming to a screen near you: the culture of life
By Russell D'Arby
HOLLYWOOD, CA—Still reeling from the news that Jennifer Aniston and hubby Brad Pitt decided to sever their knot because of political differences? Hollywood insiders say that a growing number of actors will soon follow Aniston's lead, trading in their long-time liberal labels to better match the mood of an increasingly conservative country.
What's behind this decidedly right-wing turn on the red carpet? Experts say that many celebrities who jumped on the John Kerry bandwagon last November remain embarrassed by the drubbing their candidate took at the polls. During the closely fought contest, high-profile stars including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cher, and John Mellenkamp openly backed Mr. Kerry, accompanying him on the campaign trail, starring in commercials on his behalf and aggressively panning his Republican opponent.
Reaching out—to the Right
And while some celebrities continue to make noises about moving north to Canada, where most movies are now shot, they are an isolated and lonely bunch, say observers. "The trend right now is definitely to adopt a more conservative style," says one former talent executive who now helps celebrities in multiple entertainment platforms to articulate their political views. "The stars with careers to watch definitely woke up on November 3rd and realized that they had backed the wrong horse."
At issue: hundreds of millions of dollars worth of box office receipts. Smart stars took notice of the runaway success of Mel Gibson's Biblical blockbuster "Passion of the Christ," and are eager to taste some of that triumph for themselves. Meanwhile, with the exception of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," several high-profile liberal movie projects, including "Alexander," in which the legendary military leader came out as a gay man, "Vera Drake," about the travails of a 50-something abortionist, and the pro-euthanasia tale "Million Dollar Baby," turned in decidedly mixed performances at the box office.
After Jen, who'll come out next?
Celeb watchers say that they expect that as many as two dozen young stars and starlets could soon follow in the lead of Ms. Aniston, modeling their politics on her conservative loyalties, much as millions of Americans once styled their hair to look like that of Rachel Green, Ms. Aniston's beloved character on the former NBC hit, "Friends." Until recently, the list of conservative celebs was undeniably short, and included just a handful of stars like Jessica Simpson, Angie Harmon, and Britney Spears.
Friends with private accounts
While long-time liberals such as Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sharon Stone aren't expected to reject their liberal personas any time soon—even if it costs them legions of fans and big bucks at the box office—several high-profile conservative projects are expected to hit the theaters soon.
Ms. Aniston, for example, is currently filming "Friends with Money," costarring Frances McDormand and Catherine Keener. The romantic comedy, tells the story of a maid, played by Aniston, whose wealthy friends open a private investment account for her, enabling her to retire with dignity. The film is believed to be the first big-budget Hollywood production that takes a position in favor of partially privatizing Social Security.