Hollywood’s love affair with Donald Trump is officially over. It’s what comes next that could impact the presidential race.
A new “movie” starring Johnny Depp as Trump has put an exclamation mark on the industry’s disdain for the former reality show star. Depp’s Trump in “The Art of the Deal: The Movie” is even more crude than the genuine article. He’s openly racist and treats everyone, particularly women, with disdain.
Filmed in December by Will Ferrell’s FunnyOrDie.com, the satire’s creative team didn’t expect Trump’s improbable presidential run to have legs. When the candidate won New Hampshire in a landslide, they leaked the video online.
Depp’s Trump spouts anti-Semitic jokes, mocks a soldier who died in battle and physically manhandles women. It’s more than a caricature. It’s character assassination.
Celebrities didn’t always rush to satirize the real estate magnate.
The first of many Trump cameos came during a 1985 episode of “The Jeffersons.” Since then, he’s popped up repeatedly in both film and TV shows. Remember his blink and you missed it sighting in 2001’s “Zoolander?” What about Trump’s brush with kiddie fame via a walk on role in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992)? He even played himself in an episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City,” then the queen of the zeitgeist.
The movie web site IMDB.com currently lists 204 screen credits for Trump as himself, and 18 as an actor. It’s not shocking that Tinsel Town embraced him. Trump’s political donations prior to 2008 tilted heavily in favor of Democrats. He sang Hillary Clinton’s praises as recently as 2007. No one denies he’s a first class showman.
NBC couldn’t get enough of The Donald when his reality competition “The Apprentice” became a yuge TV sensation. He even contributed a new catch phrase to popular culture — “Yah fired!”
Suffice it to say the flow of cameo offers has slowed. It’s a minor miracle NBC allowed him to host “Saturday Night Live” late last year. And now that he’s on the fast track for the Republican nomination, it’s unlikely he’ll get a second invitation.
Compare how he was treated by “SNL” to Hillary Clinton’s appearance a few weeks earlier. Clinton’s sketch, where she played a barkeep talking to herself (Kate McKinnon), played up the candidate’s alleged strength, warmth and character.
As host, Trump essentially played variations of his over-the-top persona. Things were different when he wasn’t in front of the camera. During the Weekend Update segment, the anchors suggested both Trump and his admirers were racist.
Hollywood’s late night army has already declared war on Trump. Some of their volleys have scored direct hits, too. Consider “The Late Show’s” recent sketch pitting Trump against Trump, highlighting how dramatically he changes positions. Host Stephen Colbert moderated a series of video clips undressing Trump in a way his opponents have struggled to do.
Celebrities rallied like never before to support Barack Obama’s presidential runs. Some even cut campaign videos on his behalf. Remember Lena Dunham’s “Your First Time” video?
They’re unlikely to do the same for Clinton. She’s far less popular than Obama. Many, like Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and Will Ferrell, would rather Bernie Sanders recite the oath of office come next January.
Will they torch Trump instead? The FunnyOrDie.com video recruited one of Hollywood’s biggest stars who spent four days under a ridiculous Trump wig. Other famous faces like Ron Howard, Christopher Lloyd, Andy Richter, comic Patton Oswalt, “30 Rock’s” Jack McBrayer and Alfred Molina took time out to make the mini-movie.
So who cares what a bunch of entitled celebrities think? Just ask Sarah Palin.
Tina Fey’s blistering impression of the Alaskan governor on “Saturday Night Live” left a mark. Fey’s marble-mouthed take on the then-popular politician resonated beyond the 2008 presidential campaign.
Will pop culture history repeat itself? It will if Depp and friends have their way.
Christian Toto is the editor of HollywoodInToto.com.