What If Hollywood Produced The Democratic Convention?

Host Billy Crystal during the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 26, 2012. Should Crystal host the 2016 DNC, too? (AP)
Host Billy Crystal during the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 26, 2012. Should Crystal host the 2016 DNC, too? (AP)

Clint Eastwood’s bizarre performance at the Republican National Convention notwithstanding, it might be time for the Democrats to let Hollywood produce and participate in the DNC convention in 2016.

Very little in modern conventions is spontaneous: they are not much more than a series of speeches delivered by people who have no gifts of oratory; delegates pretend that they’re doing important business but mainly they just party; and members of the news media schmooze with one another and scrounge around for tidbits or political gossip.

(By the way, who OK’d Eastwood’s act? Mitt Romney wanted it and his media consultants, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, gave him talking points, some of which he used. The chair was Clint’s last-minute idea.)

Nevertheless, many show business personalities are outspoken Democrats and liberals. That’s also true of the music industry and professional sports. Why not use them and those who produce television shows to put on an entertaining TV special?

While it’s too late for Democrats to change their convention program for this week, they should seriously consider borrowing from the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and other entertainment shows for next time. Here are the advantages:

The hosts would be better. Billy Crystal would be a terrific host, as would Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, George Clooney, Kristen Wiig and Chris Rock. They could rotate as emcees. The show would be tighter and there would be no windbaggery that eats up, say 33 minutes. (See Bill Clinton, 1988.)

We’d need only two nights. The Republican convention, shortened by Hurricane Isaac, lost one-third of its programming without losing anything of value. The state balloting to nominate Romney and Paul Ryan was done in one evening. Democrats could do the same and, while they’re at it, vote for the ticket. Saves time.

The reading of the state delegate results would be fun. Suppose Ben Affleck or Matt Damon read the tally for Massachusetts, Madonna read it for Michigan, and Morgan Freeman read Mississippi, where he lives when he’s not in New York.

The music would be cool. How cool would it be for Al Green to sing “Let’s Get Together” the night Obama speaks? Perhaps the president could join Reverend Green for a brief duet. What about recorded audio and video music like James Brown doing “Living in America,” the Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney video “Black and White,” Bruce Springsteen performing live, “We Take Care of Our Own,” which is played at Obama rallies. Willie Nelson, a big supporter of Dennis Kucinich, could supply some country licks.

Show the best and the ugliest TV spots. Play commercials that the nominee has used or will be using in the fall. Show the attacks from the GOP or its superPACs and “charitable” organizations. Publicize who paid for the attacks for the Republicans, such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson.

The cameras could leave the building. On his TV show, Jay Leno interviews average people on the street about things they should know. Jay: “Who was the first man on the Moon?” Person: “Louis Armstrong.” Jay: “Where do they speak Gaelic?” Answer: “San Francisco?” Jay: “What two countries border the U.S.?" Answer: “Australia and Hawaii."

On second thought, maybe the cameras should stay in the convention hall. Too much democracy can be scary.

This program aired on September 3, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Dan Payne

Dan Payne Democratic Political Analyst
Dan Payne is a Democratic political analyst for WBUR.



More from WBUR

Listen Live