Donald Trump dislikes Arnold Schwarzenegger and never misses an opportunity to needle him about being at the helm of “Celebrity Apprentice” when it was cancelled. Schwarzenegger gave an interview plugging his latest film, “Terminator: Dark Fate” to be released this fall, and addressed Trump, among other issues. Schwarzenegger has been in America since the Vietnam, Watergate days and he’s having the same deja vu as we all are. Men’s Health:
That experience informs his understanding of the present; he knows that on some level, America always exists in a state of irreconcilable tension. Which is not to say he doesn’t recognize that right now is another wilder-than-usual passage in the country’s history. Despite not having held public office since 2011, he’s directly embroiled in the madness of this political moment; to this day, President Donald Trump will take any opportunity
to publicly ridicule Schwarzenegger’s low-rated stint as the replacement host of what turned out to be the final season of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice.
“I think he really—he’s in love with me,” Arnold says when asked why the president of the United States can’t let this beef go. “That’s the reality of it. With Trump, he wants to be me.”
Does he fear you?
“I don’t think he fears me,” Schwarzenegger says. “But I remember that in the old days, when we went to the wrestling matches, the way he admired people with bodies, and the way they would jump around in the ring, and to perform physical stunts and stuff like that—he had great admiration for that. And the showmanship—he had great admiration for that. He asked me, How do you do that, with the movies? I mean, it’s so believable. He drilled down to specific questions that fascinated him. It was about How do you sell something? Like, a scene. How do you go and act out a scene so that I get affected emotionally? He was fascinated by that. How do you do this when you do interviews—that you penetrate through it and you then are totally believable?
This might only surprise you if you didn’t already know that Donald Trump dreamed of becoming a Hollywood player from very early on in life. He grew up with television and he wanted to attend film school at USC, but his father wouldn’t let him. so he stayed in New York and got into real estate. But he never lost his yearning to be accepted by all of the beautiful people in Hollywood and be one of them. L.A. Magazine:
As a young man, Trump had been interested in attending film school at USC. “I’ve always thought that Louis B. Mayer led the ultimate life, that Flo Ziegfeld led the ultimate life, that men like Darryl Zanuck and Harry Cohn did some creative and beautiful things,” he told Playboy in 1990. “The ultimate job for me would have been running MGM in the ’30s and ’40s—pretelevision.”
Maybe that’s the tragedy of Trump. Though he reportedly learned his straight-to-camera scowl by studying Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, and his appetites and parental bankroll were well suited for louche movie moguldom in the pre-#MeToo era, Trump ultimately decided to take a safer path. He gave up on USC to major in business at the University of Pennsylvania before going to work for his father, Fred, at the family’s real estate company. When President Trump unleashed a stream of puerile insults west, telling reporters “Hollywood is racist … really terrible,” it can be heard as the tirade of a frustrated inner child, stomping on the sandcastle built by a clique of cooler kids who spurned him. But, until recently, Trump’s interest in the entertainment business was undiminished.
“No one cared about Donald Trump in Hollywood,” said Susan Winston, who produced the broadcasts of nine Trump-owned beauty pageants. “He was nothing. He didn’t mean anything. There were people in Hollywood who had much more power, much more money.”
Jeff Klein, owner of Tower Bar, the go-to industry dining room at the Sunset Tower Hotel, quickly recognized where Trump belonged in the Hollywood pecking order. When regular Steven Mnuchin, then running a bank in Pasadena, brought Trump in around 2010 or 2011, Klein recalled, “They demanded a prominent table, the one everyone can see as you come in. It’s not where real movie stars sit. It’s where WB stars go—table 25. I remember him saying hello to people he didn’t know—Brian Grazer or someone like that. He reminded me of Lisa Vanderpump.”
Lisa Vanderpump was a player on “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” hardly in the same league as Louis B. Mayer. But that was the league that Donald Trump was batting in in Hollywood, at least pre “The Apprentice.” So Trump formed his own production company.
A partnership among Trump, the veteran producer RJ Cutler, and Hasbro to pitch a TV version of Monopoly fizzled. During their three-year run, Trump and Litinsky delivered The Girls of Hedsor Hall, a reality show about wayward young women; Donald J. Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger, in which Omarosa Manigault starred as the prize for whom bachelors vied; and Pageant Place, chronicling the lives of three New York City roommates: a Miss Universe, a Miss USA, and a Miss Teen USA. (Also involved in Pageant Place was now-jailed Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who helped pitch the show to VH1, according to Michael Hirschorn, the channel’s former executive VP of original programming.)
As much as Trump may have longed for moguldom, getting into that position required a level of maneuvering he never committed to and might not have pulled off. With lots of help from his powerful father, he got Trump Tower built in the ’80s and lent his name to many other developments of steadily diminishing prominence, but in Hollywood, you’re only as good as your last show. Trump’s mastery of the gossip press and the balls-out selling of his persona and brand managed to make him a caricature king in New York, but his bridge-burning style didn’t fly in Hollywood, where professional relationships are nurtured over decades, and stiffing your business associates is an infamia.
And it need not be said that the main reason that Trump wanted to be a Hollywood power broker was so that he could get women. Lots and lots of women. Remember, he’s the guy that claims to “have f**ked every model in Europe” when he was dodging the draft. That was the era of his own “personal Vietnam” if you recall, Trump’s phrase for avoiding AIDS.
Trump was interested in women both on the golf course—once asking Hepler “if he should sponsor one or two of the girls”—and off. It would be about three years later that Trump walked up to an attractive woman at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood, looked her up and down, and introduced himself. Her date that night, who in a bizarre coincidence turned out to be Michael Avenatti, was at the bar getting her a sauvignon blanc. Trump didn’t know him yet, but when Avenatti returned, Trump knew he was blocked. “He clearly figured out that I was with her; [he] introduced himself; I introduced myself. We shook hands, and then he turned around and left,” Avenatti recalled. His date joked that Trump’s gaze left her “feeling like a piece of meat hanging from the rafters,” Avenatti said.
Hugh Hefner embodied the lifestyle and business acumen that Trump clumsily emulated, and his sorties to the Playboy Mansion during his L.A. years highlighted the differences between the two men. Hefner remained a force in L.A. for generations, not least because he exhibited personal charm and occasional tact. “The mansion wasn’t a bordello,” said Braun, who produced the episode of The Apprentice shot there. “You couldn’t just choose a girl and go have sex with her. There was a leering, sneering lasciviousness to Donald Trump when he would view the women who were there. Hef looked at the women as people, and Donald Trump did not.”
In any event, Trump apparently decided somewhere along the line that he was not headed for mogul-dom, and that is when he began hatching an alternative plan, a scheme far bigger and more bizarre than being the head of a movie studio — running for president of the United States.
At dinner with Puck, at Spago with the cameras off, Trump asked the chef and some Apprentice candidates, “‘What do you think? Should I run? Would I be a good president?’” cast member Hoffman recalled. “And, of course, everyone’s like a bobblehead: ‘Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah.’” (A Puck spokesperson said the chef has no recollection of the dinner.
Further evidence of Trump’s long game can be seen in episode 5 of The Apprentice: L.A., when he travels to deliver a speech in Minnesota. In the front row is a man holding up a small sign—this is 2006—TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT. Trump was planting seeds. Product placement on the show cost up to $1.5 million for advertisers, but for Trump, who split those revenues with Burnett, it was free. In case you thought the first flash was by chance, a minute later appears a full-frame close-up: TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT.
As they say, the rest is history. Trump hasn’t read a lot of books and doesn’t comment on a lot of movies, but he has seen “Citizen Kane,” considered the greatest motion picture of all time by the American Film Institute, topping it’s list of the 50 best films of all time. Here’s Donald Trump’s review of “Citizen Kane.”
“The word ‘Rosebud’ is maybe the most significant word in film,” Trump once said for a never-completed project in which documentarian Errol Morris interviewed notables about their favorite movies. “The wealth, the sorrow, the unhappiness, the happiness just struck lots of different notes,” Trump continued. “Citizen Kane was really about accumulation, and at the end of the accumulation you see what happens, and it’s not necessarily all positive, not positive.”
Cogent, sensitive, in depth analysis of the film, don’t you think? As cogent, sensitive and deep as the man himself. Consider this film scene: Donald Trump, at the end of his life, lies in his deathbed, and as he reaches for his cell phone to tweet, he knocks the phone off the night stand and it tumbles and sparkles as it falls in slow motion to the ground. Trump utters his dying breath, “Covfefe.” Fade to black. Or, more realistically, fade to light, because the nano second we’re rid of this fool, that’s when the clouds dispel and the sun comes out.
How about the song we play at the end of this Trump horror movie we’re all cast in, whether we like it or not, is “Blue Skies?”
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When Trump is gone, my how they fly
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
With Trump gone