It used to be that you couldn’t find too many Hollywood conservatives who supported Donald Trump. But more and more are coming out of the Trump closet.
“There are a lot more people in Hollywood who are more comfortable talking about him today than even three months ago,” said Roger Neal, founder and owner of Hollywood public relations and management company NPR. “There are even more who support him quietly.”
His wife, Lynn Briggs Neal, also a publicist, says she may vote for him even though she’s a Democrat.
“His brashness doesn’t worry me,” she said. “I’m strongly considering him.”
Despite Trump’s entertainment industry ties — including hosting “The Apprentice” — Hollywood conservatives initially didn’t know what to make of Trump’s campaign when he announced in June that he would run.
It’s hard enough to say who’s conservative in the entertainment industry, where some keep their right-wing ideals quiet to avoid issues with liberal colleagues. But Trump supporters have been especially secretive.
During Trump’s veterans fundraiser on Thursday night, he announced that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter and his wife, Laura, would donate $1 million to the event. It wasn’t a contribution to Trump, but did demonstrate comfort with him.
“The Perlmutters are thrilled to support their friend Donald Trump in his efforts to help veterans,” a spokesperson for the couple told TheWrap.
Some still have a tough time entertaining the idea of a President Trump, but admit they’re getting used to the idea.
“We’re forced to deal with this possibility now that Trump might be the nominee,” said Dave Berg, a former co-producer of the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno who supports Sen. Marco Rubio. “I have thought long and hard about it and while I’m very reluctant about Trump, I’m well aware that he operates as a business man. He’s making remarks that he doesn’t mean, and pulls back in order to make a deal.”
Berg is a member of Friends of Abe, regarded as the leading Hollywood conservative group. It boasts 2,200 members, including founder Gary Sinise, Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammar, Patricia Heaton and Clint Eastwood.
When he thinks about Trump these days, the idea is a lot less frightening than it was at the beginning of the election cycle.
“It’s still a bit embarrassing to admit that you support Trump. But I think there’s more of an inclination to understand there’s a rhyme and reason to what he’s doing,” he said.
Even those who don’t identify as Trump supporters say that should he win Monday’s Iowa caucuses and early primaries, Hollywood conservatives will embrace him as the best alternative to another Democratic president.
“They may have no other choice,” Lionel Chetwynd, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and member of Friends of Abe, told TheWrap.
Emmy award-winning host and actress Dee Dee Sorvino, a longtime Trump supporter, said she’s glad her friends are coming around.
“I expect Hollywood conservatives to start coming out for Trump soon,” she said. “I’ve been saying he’d be a good president for five years, and it looks like it’s going to happen.”