The Republicans will have one sure Hollywood star for their convention — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — along with performers to keep the country music fans happy. But they’ll be hard-pressed to match the Democratic convention’s appeal to young voters led by Ben Affleck.
Still, the party’s parties promise some flash, making use of the city’s many venues: Tavern on the Green. The Rainbow Room. Broadway. Hammerstein Ballroom.
When the Republicans come to town to renominate President Bush Aug. 30-Sept. 2, entertainers lending their services include country performers the Gatlin Brothers, Travis Tritt and Sara Evans. And with the convention still a week away, there’s time for more stars to be added.
Those looking to do serious star-gawking might be better off looking elsewhere, perhaps among those protesting and reacting to the presence of Republicans in the Big Apple. Performances and readings have been scheduled by Margaret Cho, Eve Ensler, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner, Joanne Woodward, Lou Reed, Moby, Joan Osborne, John Sayles and Robert Altman.
Do artists and other creative types tend to lean toward liberal stances on social and cultural issues?
“It’s a stereotype, but it’s true,” said Chris Wangro, an executive producer for the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues and Ideas, which is coordinating a number of performances during the convention. As far as which group will bring out the most celebrities, “I don’t think there will be any comparison,” Wangro said.
Even without the Hollywood A-listers, the Republicans have star power when it comes to location. Breakfasts, luncheons, receptions and galas will abound that week, taking full advantage of the city’s upscale and well-known locales. A savvy and well-connected delegate could probably end up not paying for a single meal.
There’s the host committee’s media party at the Time Warner Center on Aug. 28, the Saturday before the convention starts. The delegates are slated to attend Broadway shows the following day. Host Gov. George Pataki has a party or reception scheduled for each night, in locations like the Copacabana club and Central Park’s grand restaurant Tavern on the Green.
While some of the events are being organized by the delegations and elected officials themselves, others are being put on for them, often by corporations and special-interest groups.
The American Gas Association, which hosted events during the Democratic convention, has a slate of parties and receptions. The Wildcatters’ Ball on Aug. 30 honors Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., while the Tennessee delegation gets a reception on Aug. 31 at Sotheby’s special exhibit on Johnny Cash.
Other groups are taking advantage of the proximity of Republican policy makers to hold events and bring attention to themselves and their issues.
The Creative Coalition is planning a panel and gala, the Human Rights Campaign is holding a late-night party, and the Latino Coalition is holding an event at the Rainbow Room honoring a number of Latinos as well as Sen. John McCain. The Latino Coalition also had an event with the Democrats in Boston.
“I think it’s important to keep the Hispanic voters very visible,” coalition president Robert Posada said. “The message we’re trying to send is, ’Look, the Hispanic vote is not for granted.”’