Politics Campaigns, charities catch reunion nostalgia

17:42  21 october  2020
17:42  21 october  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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Reunion nostalgia has gone political this year, with countless casts from classic TV shows and movies putting the band back together to raise money for Democrats and charitable causes.

Don Most, Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross, Anson Williams posing for a photo: Campaigns, charities catch reunion nostalgia © Getty Images Campaigns, charities catch reunion nostalgia

In recent days reunions of "Seinfeld," hosted by the Texas Democratic Party, and "Happy Days," organized by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, have been announced.

The "Seinfeld" effort, dubbed a "Fundraiser About Something," will feature the show's co-creator, Larry David, and actors Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander. Organizers say the cast - sans its eponymous star, Jerry Seinfeld - is reuniting for the Friday virtual event "to help the Texas Democratic Party in our quest to turn Texas blue."

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The "Happy Days" gathering on Sunday is poised to include Henry Winkler, who starred as Fonzie on the 1970s sitcom, and his castmates Ron Howard, Don Most, Marion Ross and Anson Williams. Scott Baio, who played Chachi on the show and is a prominent supporter of President Trump, is noticeably absent from the fundraiser's invite.

Wisconsin Democrats also organized a reunion of the cast of HBO's "Veep" earlier this month.

The original cast of the Broadway smash "Hamilton," including its star and creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, reunited last week to give a musical boost to Joe Biden's campaign. The Democratic presidential nominee's camp also hosted a reunion Tuesday night of "Private Practice," the ABC medical drama that ran from 2007 to 2013. The virtual event with actors Kate Walsh, Amy Brenneman, Chris Lowell and others, hosted by Women for Biden, was aimed at discussing "the importance of voting, how to make a plan to vote, and how to encourage others to make a plan to vote."

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It's not just a coincidence that this year has seen so many blasts from the past, says University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire political science professor Eric Kasper.

"Between not just the contentiousness of the campaign, but also just COVID-19 fatigue, people yearn for a time they weren't dealing with all these things," Kasper says. The author and politics and pop culture expert notes, however, that there's a "nostalgia trap" people fall into, since there's no such thing as "the days of yore when all campaigns were honest and clean and positive."

But the wistfulness for happier times has nonpartisan groups jumping on the reunion fad too. Hindered by a pandemic that has curtailed traditional in-person fundraising efforts, charity organizations across the country are turning to online, one-night-only events with celebrities who come complete with built-in fanbases.

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Last month, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston joined an all-star cast for a reading of the 1982 film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" that benefited various nonprofits' coronavirus relief efforts. Earlier this month, actors Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Parker Posey joined together for a "Dazed and Confused" table reading that raised money for voting participation efforts in Texas.

Rock the Vote announced plans for a virtual script reading of the classic '90s movie "House Party" with Kid 'n Play's Christopher Reid and Christopher Martin on Friday that will raise money for the nonpartisan organization.

And the cast of the NBC political drama "The West Wing" also came together for an HBO Max special aimed at promoting voter registration efforts.

While Kasper says there's a risk of oversaturation where even fans might OD on seeing stars from their favorite shows team up once again (and again, and again), the benefit, especially for political campaigns, can far outweigh any downside.

"You have this kind of an emotional connection that people like to have to this period in the past, when they watched that film or they watched that TV show," Kasper says. "It's a way to draw out the crowd, and then like at a traditional event, once the crowd is there, you can look to do things like fundraising, or getting people involved with volunteer opportunities, and that sort of thing that could potentially be a major benefit to the campaign."

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