IS HOLLYWOOD afraid of Proposition 8 -- or has it just been slow to notice its presence on the California ballot?
The measure proposes to rewrite the state Constitution so that it prohibits gay marriage -- a suggestion that ought to raise the ire of liberal Hollywood.
So far, however, the anti-Prop. 8 campaign has received only a trickle of high-profile entertainment industry money.
As The Times reported earlier this week, Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw donated $100,000 to the effort. (They matched what Brad Pitt had given a week earlier.) They are among the first high-profile Hollywood politicos to give to the campaign, leading some to wonder why so few have stepped up so far.
Celebrity publicist Howard Bragman believes his fellow industry activists have been distracted by other things. "There's been so much going on, like the presidential election, people haven't focused on Prop. 8 until now."
He added: "Six weeks out, Hollywood is finally paying attention."
In the coming weeks, pressure to donate to anti-Prop. 8 efforts will be intense. Billionaire Ron Burkle is expected to host a large celeb-supported fundraiser at his Green Acres estate next month. No word yet on the guest list.
"We've been losing the money battle," said Bragman, noting that supporters of Prop. 8 have handily out-raised the proponents. "Maybe a little fear is a good thing."
A poster couple for the cause
Ellen DeGeneres, on the other hand, is one star who isn't afraid to take on Prop. 8 -- or any other major issue, for that matter.
DeGeneres, who recently wed her partner, Portia de Rossi, has issued a statement on the proposed gay marriage ban, in her signature comedic style. "I'm FOR gay marriage," she blogged on her website. "And in order to protect that right -- please VOTE NO on Proposition 8. And now that you're informed, spread the word. I'm begging you. I can't return the wedding gifts -- I love my new toaster."
The talk-show host is also campaigning for California's Proposition 2, which would ban the close caging of farm animals, including chickens, pigs and veal calves. DeGeneres and De Rossi will host a gala Sunday evening in Bel-Air to raise funds for the proposition.
"This issue is very dear to my heart," DeGeneres said in a statement Friday. "It makes no sense to confine animals in tiny cages their whole lives with no chance to stand up, turn around or extend their limbs."
DeGeneres, who is known for her hip comedy, is also up to speed when it comes to using new-media techniques for political causes. Recently, she recorded a series of automated Internet and phone messages to encourage women to get checkups as part of October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"My mom, 30 years ago, had a mastectomy. It's changed my life because I'm highly aware I'm vulnerable to this disease, and I get a mammogram every year," DeGeneres said.
She added: "I went into a studio and recorded a million different [versions]: 'Hi, this is Ellen DeGeneres and your sister told me to remind you that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month,' 'Your teacher told me to call you,' 'Your neighbor told me to call you,' 'Your cousin,' 'Your mother.' "
He's moved on from 'Wall Street'
Sometimes an actor can be too convincing. For example, nobody who saw the 1987 movie "Wall Street" will ever forget Michael Douglas' portrayal of financier Gordon Gekko standing before a group of investors and reassuring them, "Greed is good."
This week, Douglas, a longtime advocate of nuclear disarmament, was at the United Nations lobbying member states on the issue, calling for the U.S. and eight other holdout countries to ratify a test-ban treaty.
But when he went before reporters -- some of them obviously film buffs -- he found himself fielding questions about the collapse of Wall Street and the credit crisis.
Douglas was asked to compare nuclear Armageddon with the "financial Armageddon on Wall Street." And, according to the Associated Press, references to the movie "Wall Street" did not end there, with a reporter asking: "Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good?"
"I'm not saying that," Douglas replied. "And my name is not Gordon. He's a character I played 20 years ago."