Maximum Individual Contribution

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Look, let's not get into politics, okay? Too incendiary, and, frankly, my politics, as I've discovered from years of working in Hollywood, aren't really in line with most of my colleagues. I've heard stories from people who are more on my side of the fence, politically, of being denied jobs or shouted at on sets, but my experience has been generally fine – at best, I've been ignored; at worst, the object of a hilariously condescending curiosity, like, "Um, you're a Republican? But, how can that be? I know you. And you're not, like, a terrible person."

So, no complaints. No whining and no victimology, either. I've always said that Hollywood is a more tolerant, open-minded place – at least politically – than any faculty at any Ivy-league college, and I'll stand by that.

But I don't want to talk about politics. First, it's so boring – I mean everyone is doing it; it's on the radio, it's on the internet, it's everywhere. And second, that's not what my little four minutes here are for. I'm the stuff that goes in between the stuff about politics.

The only reason I'm even bringing it up is because it's sort of essential background for this story:

Not too long ago, I was producing a pilot and casting around for an older male lead – we were looking for a guy about fifty, maybe a little older, who could play the part of a rakish, fun-loving character who was old enough to have a son in his early 30's, but still sexy and stylish enough to have a young girlfriend.

There was, in fact, a perfect choice. And so one night we took this actor out to dinner. And of course, because dinner was on us, his manager came along.

Small talk, flattery, some more small talk, a lot more flattery – you know how it works. But at some point, as the dessert plates were cleared – I had nothing; the actor had nothing; the manager had the crème brûl&éacute;e with the berries and a glass of late-harvest Riesling – the conversation turned to politics.

The actor, you see, was a passionate supporter of a certain candidate for president in the Democratic Party. How interesting, I said. Long pause. And who do you like? The manager asked. Because this guy, he said, nodding to the actor, is a huge supporter of – and here he named the candidate. I mean, continued the manager, they're like, close friends. And we're all giving the max to this guy, the manager said. I've given the max, we're all giving the max.

All of this was said with the kind of suggestive intensity that pretty much means: get out your checkbook.

You know what, I said – and here I had the opportunity to be both cowardly and truthful, which doesn't happen very often – I never give money to politicians. I just…you know...I just hate the system so much.

We all nodded sadly, and then eventually the dinner ended and eventually the bill came and eventually I paid it. And also, eventually, the actor passed on the project – not ready to do TV, back then; ready now, though, from what my TiVo tells me, and basic cable, too – but back then, we were a little too soon, I guess.

But what I most remember about that dinner was the "We're all giving the max" comment, because later that night, I went home and got on the web and went to a site called, I think,, which lists all the contributors to all of the campaigns, and sure enough: the actor was listed, along with his wife, as having given the maximum allowable contribution to his candidate.

The manager, though, was nowhere to be found. He hadn't given the max, or the min, or anything, according to FEC records. He had done something a lot smarter: he had said he would, had eaten the dinner, had made the right noises, but when it came time to write the check, nothing.

And those are Hollywood politics that are worth emulating.

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll wait for a phone call. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long