We’ve grown accustomed to celebrities successfully running for public office.
Minnesota elected wrestling star Jesse Ventura governor in 1999 and sent Saturday Night Live alumnus Al Franken to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Californians put action star and body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger in the governor’s mansion in 2003.
And then there’s movie star Ronald Reagan, who not only served as governor of California, but also as a two-term president.
Now Joe Piscopo, another SNL alum, former body builder and stand-up comic, is considering a run for governor of New Jersey in 2018. He says that he’ll decide whether to run in January. If he decides yes, he probably would run as a Republican.
Piscopo, 65, gained fame as a member of the SNL cast, for his impersonations of Frank Sinatra. He’s also appeared in films, hosts a political talk-radio show in New York and is a spokesman for the Boys and Girls Club.
“I’m seriously looking at (running),” Piscopo told The Associated Press. “I love the people. I love the state. I know what has to be done.”
Piscopo, who has never campaigned for or held office, said he was emboldened to run by the against-all-odds victory of President-elect Donald Trump, whom he spoke for recently at a Florida rally.
“When I saw Mr. Trump in Tampa and he invited me to speak, I saw it was contagious. It was the movement. It wasn’t the machine,” he said.
If Piscopo ran, it could ratchet up the national attention on next year’s contest and could also be a significant boost to Republicans who are in rough shape, thanks to Chris Christie’s record-low approval ratings.
New Jersey political insiders are questioning whether Piscopo could raise enough money to run a winning campaign for the office.
“Bathroom fears flush Houston ordinance.” Such headlines circulated on Nov. 4, the morning after voters went to the polls in Houston and rejected a broad measure — the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, better known as HERO — intended to protect 15 classes of people from discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign called the defeat at the polls devastating for the people of Houston and a setback for the LGBT civil rights movement.
The measure had strong support from local politicians and the business community, but was challenged by a conservative faction that dubbed it the “bathroom ordinance” and argued it would allow predatory men to invade women’s restrooms.
A “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 14 ridiculed the Fox-influenced right-wing campaign against the ordinance. “So the theory is that guys, in their relentless quest to watch women go to the bathroom, are going through years of hormones, surgery, changing their names, their wardrobe, coming out to their families, all for that big payoff of peeing in a room without urinals. What is this fantasy that they think is going on in there?” said actor Pete Davidson.
Yet, as ludicrous as it seems, that was the argument to win over about 61 percent of those who cast ballots on Election Day in Houston.
Of course, the opponents of HERO were peddling lies about its intent and its potential impact, just as Wisconsin Republicans, seeking to advance a “bathroom bill,” are circulating fiction as fact and playing up gross and harmful stereotypes, casting transgender kids as deviants, perverts and predators.
Once a pioneering state on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Wisconsin lacks a statewide law banning bias based on gender identity. What exists are partial piece-meal protections in more progressive communities and more progressive school districts.
Now, Republicans are keyed up to roll back limited protections for transgender students in dozens of districts and halt any further reform.
AB 469, the Student Privacy Protection Bill, seeks to ban transgender students in K-12 schools from using the gender-segregated facilities that align with their gender identity and would require school districts to repeal anti-discrimination reforms and accommodations policies. The legislation is contrary to best-practice recommendations from leading medical and mental health groups, civil rights organizations and education associations. And the proposal is in conflict with findings and guidelines from federal agencies — from Labor to Justice, HUD to Education.
In Early November, the U.S. Department of Education issued a landmark ruling, finding that a suburban Chicago school district discriminated against a transgender student on the basis of her sex.
In junior high, the girl was denied access to the girl’s locker room and the girl’s restroom. This treatment caused her to be bullied on a daily basis and her parents vowed that she would not suffer the same in high school. They legally changed the child’s name, obtained a corrected passport that identified the child as female and submitted medical records to the school.
The result? The girl was still denied access to the girl’s locker room and disciplined when she did use the girl’s facilities.
The Education Department, after a lengthy investigation, concluded the school district violated federal law by denying a girl access to a gender-appropriate locker room for changing clothes simply because she is transgender. The decision placed school districts across the nation on notice that Title IX requires making such facilities available for students who are transgender.
The girl, known in the ACLU’s legal challenge as “Student A,” has hopes that “no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity.”
But if the ill-informed anatomy police succeed and AB 469 becomes law in Wisconsin, more students will suffer and students will be forced to confront indignities.
Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Education will hold their first hearing on AB 469, which would target transgender Wisconsin students for unfair treatment.
Before the legislators take up this dangerous bill for the first time tomorrow, they need to hear from you, their constituents.
Take a minute right now and click here to email your lawmakers directly before tomorrow’s critical hearing.
More than 30,000 ColorOfChange members joined the protest campaign demanding that NBC cancel Donald Trump’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 7.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, said in a news release, “This week, ‘Saturday Night Live’ will provide yet another platform for Donald Trump’s dangerous racism and xenophobia by allowing him to host their Nov. 7 episode. As one of the most popular late-night sketch comedy shows of all time, ‘SNL’ has a wide influence on pop culture. By selecting Donald Trump as a host, they legitimize Trump’s unapologetic racism and fear-mongering and make the real-world violence he incites against people of color a laughing matter.”
Robinson continued, “NBC and ‘SNL’ have an opportunity to step up and do the right thing. Canceling Trump’s appearance will deny their platform to someone who will not only embarrass them today them but whose statements and world view will be something we look back on with shame.”
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, MoveOn.org, National Council of La Raza, Credo and others are protesting the appearance of Trump on “SNL.” He also hosted the show in 2004.
Meanwhile, the AP reports that Trump drew sharp criticism in a letter signed by dozens of prominent writers, filmmakers, academics and others from the United States, Spain and Latin America attached to it, including Oscar-winning writer-director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
“We refuse to keep silent in the face of the alarming declarations of the candidate for the presidency of the United States Donald Trump,” the letter reads. “His hate speech appeals to the lowest passions like xenophobia, machismo, political intolerance and religious dogmatism.”
The letter calls on the American people to “cease to tolerate his absurd positions.”
Meet ‘Val’: Hillary does ‘SNL’
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton appeared on the season opener of Saturday Night Live as a wise bartender named Val who pours a drink or two for, ahem, Hillary Clinton (played by SNL regular Kate McKinnon).
It was an unusual move (most political candidates who appear on SNL do so just for a cameo, rather than actually acting) but one that highlights Clinton’s goals to present herself as more warm and personable in this presidential bid. The former senator, First Lady and secretary of state also has appeared this year on talk shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres.
Among the Clinton foibles the sketch poked fun at: Clinton’s slow opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, her late-arriving support of gay marriage and her inability to take a vacation. Former cast member Darrell Hammond popped in as Bill Clinton, only to run away at the sight of double the Hillary.
Eau Claire museum celebrates 10 years
The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire started off as a chance idea — sparked by a young girl’s question of why the city didn’t have one. But when her father, Patrick Rebman, talked to friends Suzie Slota and Tina Eichstadt about it, it started to become a reality. The trio spread the word and the museum officially opened its doors in 2004. This year, it’s concluding a yearlong celebration of its 10th anniversary.
According to Slota, attendance the first year was about 50,000 and executive director Michael McHorney says this year’s attendance hovered around the same number. Additionally, the museum has served as an anchor for downtown Eau Claire, bringing a young demographic into the community.
For more, visit cmec.cc.
Trevor Noah takes over ‘Daily Show,’ praises Stewart
South African comic Trevor Noah moved in at The Daily Show on Sept. 28, promising he’d try not to make predecessor Jon Stewart seem like a “crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid from Africa.”
Noah took over as host after Stewart decided that 16 years of lampooning politics and the media — half of the 31-year-old Noah’s life span — was enough and stepped down in August. Despite a new desk and set, Noah retained much of Stewart’s staff, the show’s theme music and format.
Noah paid tribute to Stewart early in the telecast, saying he was “more than just a late-night host. … He was often our voice, our refuge and in many ways our political dad. And it’s weird because Dad has left and now it feels like the family has a new stepdad — and he’s black.”
Leinenkugel ‘fan pack’ gives new definition to ‘hatbox’
Your old foam cheesehead looking a little worse for wear? New Packers gameday apparel is no further away than a box of Leinies! The Wisconsin brewery recently unveiled its Honey Weiss “fan pack,” a bright yellow, 15-can box in the shape of a triangle, designed to be emptied and worn as headgear. That’s using your thinking cap.
Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show is getting a new audience — viewers in China.
The lighthearted, celebrity-focused show is now available in China on video site Sohu within 48 hours of its original U.S. broadcast.
It is the first U.S. daily talk show to be carried in China, according to a statement Tuesday by distributor Warner Brothers and Sohu.com Inc.
Sohu Video, like other Chinese online video sites, licenses many hit American TV shows. Earlier this month it unveiled the late-night U.S. comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live” as an addition to its lineup.
NBC will air a pair of “Saturday Night Live” prime-time specials spoofing the November election.
The live “SNL” specials, which follow an election-cycle tradition for the satire series, will air Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt announced this week.
The programs take place prior to the scheduled presidential debates, which begin in October. The general election is Nov. 6.
In 2008, NBC aired several “SNL Weekend Update Specials” in Prime Time, as well as an election eve special. Most memorable was Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin and then Palin’s cameo on the show.
On the Web:
Ben & Jerry’s latest ice cream flavor pays homage to a classic “Saturday Night Live” skit. “Schweddy Balls” ice cream will debut on Sept. 24 to mark SNL’s 37th season premiere. The limited-batch flavor is made with fudge-covered rum balls and chocolate malt balls stirred into vanilla ice cream. The inspiration is a character created by Alec Baldwin – a specialty food marketer named Pete Schweddy. As a guest on a fake NPR program called “Delicious Dish,” Schweddy speaks with “hosts” Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon about his holiday treats, including rum balls, malt balls and, of course, his famous Schweddy balls. “No one can resist my Schweddy balls,” Baldwin deadpans.
Fox News aired a story June 5 about Sarah Palin being “50-50” on whether to run for president in 2012. But the picture that flashed on television screens to illustrate Palin was actually comedian Tina Fey portraying Palin in a 2008 “Saturday Night Live” skit. The real Palin is an employee of Fox News, making the mistake seem especially odd.
Fox News aired a story June 5 about Sarah Palin being “50-50” on whether to run for president in 2012. But the picture that flashed on television screens to illustrate Palin was actually comedian Tina Fey portraying the former Alaska governor in a 2008 “Saturday Night Live” skit.
The real Palin is an employee of Fox News, which make the mistake seem especially odd.
Mediaite reported that Fox News sent a memo to staff in the wake of the screw-up, stating: “Effective immediately, there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors. Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the “mistake chain,” and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination, and this will all obviously play a role in performance reviews.”
Fox News has been heavily criticized for mistakes in reporting over the past few years. But most of those mistakes have been considered intentional because they’re consistent with the network’s right-wing goals.
For instance, Fox showed footage of a rowdy union protest last winter to go with a story of peaceful demonstrations underway in Madison, Wis. But the footage contained palm trees and protesters in shirtsleeves, while Madison was shivering with temperatures well below freezing and covered with snow at the time.
Fox News executives are strongly anti-union.