Culture Schlock – By Darren Garnick
October 1, 1999
Maybe Carly Simon’s famous I-Hate-Warren-Beatty song will have an unexpected postscript. Warren’s ultimate revenge would be if he could walk into the White House like he was walking onto a yacht.
“Beatty for President” sounds ludicrous at first. If you disregard the actor’s on-screen stint in the U.S. Senate (1998’s “Bulworth”), fellow aging heartthrobs Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds seem just as qualified. But each time the Beatty grin is flashed on TV, or his name appears in another “Will he or won’t he?” newspaper story, the dream gains momentum.
At a Democratic Party fundraiser in Los Angeles this week, Beatty opted to keep his supporters guessing if he’ll take on Bill Bradley and Al Gore. “Let them call you coy. Let them call you flirtatious, but keep them talking,” he said, oddly referring to himself in the second person.
So Hollywood’s hope is still alive. Since the world’s gonna end next year anyhow, we may as well have our new leader provide entertainment.
Here are a few reasons why 62-year-old Warren Beatty might make a nifty president:
1. He Respects Spirituality: “Heaven Can Wait,” his 1978 film about a L.A. Rams quarterback who dies prematurely and is given a second chance at life, should be required viewing at every church, synagogue and mosque.
2. Great Hair: When Japan, Germany, France and the gang get together for the G-7 Economic Summit, it is critical that the U.S. come across as a blow-dried, sexy place for investment. In 1984, Beatty was a political advisor to Gary Hart, another guy with great hair.
3. Thick Skin: Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” about her breakup with Beatty, is one of the meanest songs in history. Warren didn’t let it destroy his psyche. Not once in his political speeches has he fantasized about using the U.S. Air Force to attack Martha’s Vineyard.
4. Tough on Crime: As “Dick Tracy,” Beatty proved he could pretend to fight crimes. As Las Vegas mobster “Bugsy,” the actor proved he could pretend to commit crimes. No other candidate has such a thorough understanding of the criminal justice system.
5. The Russians Will Love Him: The oh-so-menacing American Communist Party — or some cads pretending to represent them on the Internet — have already endorsed Mr. Beatty, posting his picture in a Commie gallery with Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Fidel Castro.
6. More Personality Than Kevin Costner: Madonna said so in “Truth or Dare,” her 1991 black-and-white documentary about herself and her most meaningful relationships.
7. Embarrassing Relatives: You thought Jimmy Carter had problems with his beer-swilling sibling, Billy? Beatty’s sister is the past-life regression queen, Shirley MacLaine.
8. An Experienced First Lady: Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, played opposite Michael Douglas in “American President.” She knows the role.
9. Congress Will Listen: Issues go unresolved in this country until celebrities testify in Washington. Just look at how quickly Christopher Reeve (spinal paralysis) and Michael J. Fox (Parkinson’s Disease) got senators to open America’s wallet. With animal rights activists Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger in his corner, Beatty’s pet issue might be “Save the Puppies.”
10. Diplomatic Charm: According to the Internet’s “Mr. Showbiz,” web site, Beatty has been romantically involved with Isabelle Adjani, Brigette Bardot, Candice Bergen, Jackie Onassis, Cher, Joan Collins, Britt Ekland, Jane Fonda, Melanie Griffith, Goldie Hawn, Bianca Jagger, Diane Keaton, Vivien Leigh, Madonna, Michelle Phillips, Diana Ross, Diane Sawyer, Stephanie Seymour, Barbra Streisand, Liv Ullmann, Mamie Van Doren and Natalie Wood. After successfully disengaging himself from at least 22 high-profile relationships, Beatty should apply his negotiating savvy to international diplomacy.
Mistaken Identity Department: There is a management professor named Warren Beatty at the University of South Alabama-Mobile. “I get comments about my name every day,” Beatty tells “Culture Schlock” in an e-mail. “They run the full-range of possible topics, from asking for specific advice on how to get more Democrats to the polls to asking me to stick to acting, since I obviously don’t know beans about politics.”
For the record, Beatty thinks his Hollywood alter-ego is “misguided.”
Darren Garnick’s “Culture Schlock” column appears every Friday in The Telegraph’s Encore magazine. Feedback and ideas are welcomed via e-mail at cultureschlock (at) gmail.com.