With election season in the home stretch, celebrity campaign efforts keep pace

Lin-Manuel Miranda performs during the Stronger Together concert at St. James Theatre in New York City on Oct. 17.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Image)

With the third and final presidential debate happening tonight in Las Vegas, the election season is entering the home stretch. So too are Hollywood’s multiple efforts to encourage voter participation and, for some celebrities, to show their stance against embattled Republican nominee Donald Trump.

On Tuesday night on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Laura Benanti reprised her impersonation of Melania Trump in the wake of an interview defending her husband’s vulgar behavior in the much-discussed 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording with Billy Bush.


Speaking to Colbert, Benanti echoed Melania’s defense on CNN, saying, “ ‘Women know it’s boy talk. Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do?’ ”

Another video posted by a collective called Humanity for Hillary arrived on YouTube on Tuesday.

Springboarding off the Twitter hashtag used by writer Kelly Oxford to compile first-person stories of sexual assault after the Trump recording was released, a powerful video, dubbed “It’s Not Okay,” also features women recounting their experiences. It includes appearances by Rose McGowan, Amber Tamblyn, Meryl Streep, Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Gyllenhaal and was directed by multiple Academy Award nominee Liz Garbus.

Joss Whedon’s Save the Day PAC also remains active in releasing videos with a message that both encourages voter participation while also knocking Trump.

On Monday, “Key & Peele” star Keegan-Michael Key starred as a weatherman giving a particularly apocalyptic weather report in the wake of a Trump presidency (available here, with a single NSFW curse), and today brings a clip that introduces the “Fraud Squad.”

Featuring “Friday Night Lights” star Minka Kelly along with Anders Holm from “Workaholics” and character actor Luis Guzman, the video centers on an elite law enforcement unit focusing on voter fraud. The Whedon-directed clip boasts plenty of exploding car action in the opening credits, but after that, the clip features the crack team enduring a whole lot of down time — the joke being, as cited in the clip, only some 31 incidents of in-person voter fraud have occurred from 2000 to 2014 out of a billion votes cast.

In more conventional political efforts, stars of Hollywood and Broadway also came together earlier this week at a Clinton fundraiser in New York City.

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Dubbed Stronger Together, the event was hosted by Billy Crystal and included the likes of Julia Roberts, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Neil Patrick Harris, Helen Mirren and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who performed the hit musical’s “The World Was Wide Enough” with his costar Renée Elise Goldsberry and lyrics modified in support of Clinton.

In a bit of verbal acrobatics only Miranda could land, the reworked song featured a nod to Cypress Hill with the line “Tim Kaine in the membrane, Tim Kaine in the brain!”

Staying with the hip-hop theme, Eminem also entered the fray with the just-released single “Campaign Speech.” A sparse production that features Eminem’s free-associating, rapid-fire flow (and usual level of adult language), the eight-minute track also references George Zimmerman and Colin Kaepernick while saving enough vitriol for Trump as well. “You should be afraid of this dang candidate,” he raps midway through the track. “[T]hat’s what you wanted? A … loose cannon who’s blunt with his hand on the button/ Who doesn’t have to answer to no one? Great idea!”

And in an “October Surprise” from the agitprop filmmaking perspective, documentarian Michael Moore announced he will be releasing his latest film, “Michael Moore in Trumpland,” on Wednesday with screenings in New York and Los Angeles to go along with its debut in the iTunes store.

Said to have been finalized by Moore as late as this Monday, the film will be based on a one-man show the filmmaker tried to stage in an Ohio theater last month that was canceled for being “too controversial.” Earlier this month Moore found another venue in the state, and now the rest of the nation will have a chance to catch it as well.


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