REALITY STAR’S REVENGE: 10 Ways President Trump Could Script An Unhappy Ending For Hollywood
Hillary Clinton’s strong show biz support may have backfired, but that‘s is not the only unintended consequence of Trump’s victory. Global trade, the FCC, the AT&T-Time Warner deal, guilds and unions and others in show biz could be thrown a curve by the Republican Congress and new President
The night before the Presidential election, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen performed in Philadelphia at a Hillary Clinton rally that featured appearances by President and Mrs. Obama, and other stars.
A week earlier in Cleveland, the stars on stage for Clinton included Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z, along with Chance The Rapper, Big Sean and others.
In Hollywood, the stars overwhelmingly supported Clinton including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Kerry Washington, Robert DeNiro, Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry.
In retrospect all of that star power may have backfired, as will be explained shortly. That was only one of the unintended consequences for the solid show biz support for Hillary that will be felt after Trump takes office.
The election of former reality TV star Donald Trump places emotional, economic and psychological dark clouds over Hollywood that could be a major thorn in the side of everyone from stars to studios for the next four years.
First, an explanation of how the support of the stars worked against Hillary instead of for her ultimately.
During the campaign Hillary called many of Trump’s supporters, “Deplorables,” which they took as a badge of pride and used to taunt her on everything from T-shirts to social media.
Those same Deplorables were also often the target of high profile stars who provide steadfast support for Clinton’s message. Many of the things she stood for, and Hollywood backed, frighten and anger a lot those in mid-America, especially those who worry their about the influence of movie star role models, movies, TV, music and games on their children.
Those include her support for the things Hollywood rallied around - women’s lib, gay rights, immigration reform (especially Hispanic), the battle against racism, women’s reproductive rights (abortion), religious tolerance (Muslims and Jews), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, global warming and more.
At a time many of these small towns and communities have been devastated by the loss of middle class factory jobs, they see Hollywood’s message as an attack on their values, their lifestyle, their beliefs and most of all, their children.
A Cleveland newspaper reported the day after Hillary’s Nov. 5 rally that even an African American minister was alarmed. “The event drew pushback,” said the article. “Darrell Scott, senior pastor at the New Spirit Revival Church in Cleveland, criticized Clinton for bringing in Jay-Z ‘as a role model for youth in Cleveland,’” adding, “For all of her talk about fighting for kids, she has no problem sharing a stage with someone who glamorizes acts of violence and having pushed drugs in our local communities.”
Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z with Hillary Clinton at a rally in Cleveland five days before the election
So these blue collar families, rural residents, out of work white men, born again Christians, and even some Black ministers, among others, turned out to vote in record numbers for Trump.
When these people, along with Neo Nazi’s, white supremacist’s, ultra Conservative businessmen who hate environmental rules and paying taxes, along with neo anarchist who want to see all forms of government control eliminated, heard Madonna or Bon Jovi perform, it didn’t boost their love for Hillary by association. Instead, it angered them and reminded them that they blame Hollywood and the media for their disrespectful kids, drugs, boozing, school dropouts, revealing clothing and profane language; and Bill Clinton for trade deals that cost them good jobs.
The more the majority of African Americans, handicapped and immigrants loved and embraced Hillary, the more these groups wanted her to lose the election - and even put her in jail.
Now that Trump has won, he can follow up on his promises, threats and the Conservative agenda. More than even George W. Bush, Trump has aligned himself with the far right fringe of the Republican party, a group so ultraconservative one of Trump’s biggest backers is dedicated to returning America to the gold standard.
This will impact the entire country and all business, but few will feel his scorn and the shift in the political headwinds than American show business, which has become a global business. Trump made clear during the campaign he would reap his revenge.
ILL TRADE WINDS START WITH CHINA
In less than a decade China has gone from being a minor market for American intellectual property to the second biggest consumer after the U.S. And by about 2019, China may well surpass the U.S. as Hollywood’s biggest, most important customer.
In 2015, American movies in China grossed some $6.8 billion, which is more than three times the next biggest country (the U.K. with $1.9 million in grosses). The U.S. by comparison had movie grosses in 2015 of about $11.1 billion.
At a time China has finally begun to loosen up the tight quota of American movies it allows to be distributed, as well as television, publishing, licensed merchandise and games, Trump could pose a huge threat to the continued growth of this crucial and growing market.
During his campaign, the President-Elect said he would rip up current U.S. trade agreements. He painted China as a villain that has stolen America’s manufacturing jobs. He vowed to punish China if it won’t give the U.S. a better deal, and if it doesn’t return jobs to the U.S.
Trump threatened to impose a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports, which would likely bring swift retaliation from the Chinese. For now Chinese leaders are saying they want a mutually advantageous trade relationship, but if Trump gets tough it could endanger the growing relationship with Hollywood and other American industries that do business there.
MEXICO ALSO IN TRUMP’S GUN SITE
A theme of Trump’s campaign was his pledge to build a very high wall across thousands of miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, and his pledge to deport some 11 million illegal immigrants, many of them Mexican.
This has brought condemnation from Mexico and fear among U.S. Hispanics. If pushed, these policies could also chill other aspects of Mexican and American trade, including the entertainment industry.
Mexico is America’s ninth biggest consumer of Hollywood movies, with a 2015 gross of about $900 million. A lot of movies are also shot in Mexico, and Mexican artists, actors, filmmakers and crews have freely crossed the borders in recent years. Perhaps most notable is Alejandro González Iñárritu, who helmed two Oscar winners, “Birdman” and “The Revenant.”
If relations with Mexico go south, the huge import export trade and the movement of artists could be impacted. That may be especially true if the big wall is actually built and becomes a symbol of America separating itself from its neighbor.
TRUMP OPPOSES TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP
Trump has blasted the TPP as another trade deal that gives way too much and gets the U.S. too little in return. Hollywood’s biggest businesses have quietly supported the passage of TPP because it is seen as a way to cut tariffs, improve cross-border regulatory cooperation and better protect intellectual property rights. Trump will work to kill it before it can be born.
The majority of Hollywood’s revenue comes from outside the U.S. but that could be threatened by Trump’s promise to make European and Asian allies pay a bigger share of the cost of stationing soldiers, keeping a nuclear arsenal and more. He has called South Korea and others who benefit from U.S. military support “free riders.” If these negotiations fail they could easily lead to punishing new tariffs and regulations. Each side will retaliate and in the end, Hollywood would be on the list of those hurt by the battles.
WILL TRUMP HANG UP ON AT&T $85 BILLION ACQUISITION OF TIME WARNER?
On the campaign trail, Trump said repeatedly that he was opposed to the combination of the phone giant and the blockbuster Hollywood studio and cable TV company, whose outlets include CNN and TNT, among others. Trump has said, “Deals like these destroy democracy.”
There have been multiple reports Trump was angry with CNN for its coverage of his campaign. Blocking the AT&T deal could be his revenge.
The deal will be up for debate next year after Trump is sworn in and it will be up to his Justice Department or other Federal agencies to decide if it is anti competitive or not. AT&T says it is a vertical merger, so it should win easy approval. Trump does not agree.
It isn’t the only deal Trump may want to block. He even spoke of going retroactive. He said he would like to break up Comcast, NBC (and cable channels) and Universal Studios.
With Chinese companies looking to buy a major Hollywood studio, it could get complicated.
ALL THE NEWS FIT TO CENSOR?
Trump constantly attacked the media for its coverage of the campaign, and promised if elected he will make it easier to sue reporters and news organizations for libel or other malfeasance.
He has sent strong signals he does not see the First Amendment (freedom of the press) as a reason to allow the media to operate without restraints. His election could have a chilling effect on news people from CBS, NBC and ABC to local newspapers.
Whether such moves could stand a court challenge may depend on how quickly Trump re-stocks the Supreme Court with Conservative judges.
Trump made frequent appearances with Sean Hannity on FNC during the campaign, knowing he would always get favorable treatment
THE FOXIFICATION OF THE WHITE HOUSE?
While President Trump may have legal and legislative barriers to making it easer to go after journalists he doesn’t believe are fair to him, he can easily follow the same path as Commander in Chief that he did on the campaign trail.
Trump held few news conferences but frequently went on the Fox News Channel to make his points and express his views. In particular, he appeared frequently with Fox host Sean Hannity, who openly has said he is not a journalist and that he saw no reason not to be an advisor Trump as well as providing him a platform on his highly rated show.
Hannity is stilt there and old likely be happy to keep up the arrangement, with Trump using his show as his bully pulpit, while ignoring other mainstream media.
Trump also has close ties to Brietbart, the Conservative online media outlet that was his cheerleader throughout the election. A key member of his campaign took a leave from running Brietbart to help Trump and it would not be a surprise to now see Trump repay the favor by giving Brietbart special access to the White House, or making sure they are fed choice news stories.
This would have a corrosive effect on freedom of the press but would not be a surprise.
CHANGING SIGNALS AT THE FCC
Few federal agencies stand to be as Impacted by the return of the Republican’s as the Federal Communications Commission.
Under President Obama and the most recent FCC chairman, Thomas Wheeler, the Democrats have taken an aggressive activist approach to everything from cable TV consolidation to forcing businesses to provide services to rural as well as urban markets, even though it may be a lot less profitable.
The headline issue is probably Net Neutrality. The rules were passed by the FCC with three Democratic commissioners in favor despite opposition from the two GOP commissioners. The rules are designed to give all entrants equal access to the Internet and to stop service providers who control broadband distribution from favoring those who pay the most or their own companies. There are big business interests opposed and they could have greater influence under Trump.
Republicans have also long favored phasing out rules that stop one media company from owning TV stations and a newspaper in the same community. Under the GOP, these cross ownership rules could be history.
The parties have even argued over Robocalls, those automated phone calls to consumers to sell services or promote anything from a TV show to a political candidate. The Republicans say the rules interfere with legitimate business interests, so with the majority for the first time in eight years, they could reverse the current consumer friendly regulations.
These are a just a few of many past, present and future FCC rules and rule-makings on which the two parties are in conflict. With the new Republican majority, many of the rules passed in the past eight years could go
UNIONS AND GUILDS FACE LABOR PAINS
Hollywood’s top unions and guilds including the Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA and the IATSE (crafts guilds), openly supported Hillary Clinton, who has been pro-labor throughout the campaign.
Trump, on the other hand, is known for using non-union workers on his business and real estate projects, and symbolizes Republican distaste of organized labor.
Matt Loeb, President of IATSE, was quoted by David Robb on Deadline warning of the threat to labor, saying Trump’s “anti-union statements virtually guarantee a rough road ahead for unions and the members they represent.”
At a Trump rally, the "Deplorables" made Hillary Clinton's insult their own.
WHO’S THE BOSS?
The coalition that got Trump elected includes a number of groups that are seen a narrow minded and prejudiced. While Trump has been careful not to openly embrace many of those Hillary Clinton called “the Deplorables,” he didn’t do much to discourage them either. So groups that are against immigration (even efforts to bring in high level foreign employees), who support so called White Power movements (think KKK), who are openly racist and sexist, were among Trump’s boosters.
There were also charges that some of Trumps campaign ads were borderline anti-Semitic, using coded language like blaming “international bankers,” which in the past has been a way to attack Jews.
Since Hollywood is both in image and reality home to an unusually high percentage of Jews in every aspect of movies, TV, music and more, this could be another path to conflict. As it is, Trump has given legitimacy to a number of anti-Semitic groups.
THAT'S OUR LIST SO FAR BUT STAY TUNED
This is only the beginning of a list of the ways show biz will be changed by President Trump. Don't expect a Kennedy or Obama style White House where stars and artists are regular visitors. In the new administration Trump and his family will be the stars, and anyone who doesn't agree may be seeing stars - including Hollywood.