Antonio Sabato, Jr. took the biggest risk of his career four years ago.
He didn’t gain 50 lbs. for a role or hide his handsome visage under layers of makeup. He threw his support behind real estate mogul Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Sabato even praised Trump from the Republican National Convention stage.
The former “Melrose Place” star’s career cratered soon after. Here’s what he told Variety this week:
“I had to sell everything,” Sabato reveals in a phone interview with Variety from his new home in Florida. “I had to pay all my debts. I was blacklisted. All my representatives left me, from agents to managers to commercial agents. I literally had to move, find a new job to survive and take care of my kids. It’s been terrible. It’s mind-blowing. It’s a disgrace. It’s tough, because if you’re in that environment in Hollywood and you have something to say that they don’t like, they’re going to let you know.”
Sound familiar? It should.
Right-leaning stars routinely hide their political leanings for fear of retribution. For years conservative artists gathered under the “Friends of Abe” banner. The once-secretive group let stars who didn’t pledge allegiance to the progressive flag share war stories, bond and network.
Meanwhile, their liberal peers shouted their views for all to see … sans blowback. As it should be, it’s worth noting.
Sabato’s story is infuriating, but it’s hardly new. Every year or so a mainstream Hollywood news outlet will share a similar tale. Select stars hide their conservative views for fear of losing work.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Last year, “Will & Grace” stars Debra Messing and Eric McCormack publicly promised not to work with Trump-supporting colleagues. They quickly backpedaled, but their candor speaks for itself.
The Hollywood Reporter noted during the 2016 campaign stars who supported Trump did so with great care for fear of career fallout.
While THR spoke to dozens of Trump voters, few wished to announce their support, citing their desire to avoid backlash from co-workers. One makeup artist, for example, says longtime clients stopped hiring her after learning she was a Republican.
Intrepid reporter Bernard Goldberg did some Hollywood research and learned a startling truth: “Hollywood conservatives live in fear.”
“If you’re a conservative in Tinsel Town, it’s best to fly under the radar,” he warns. It’s why Goldberg doesn’t “name names,” affording his sources a measure of protection. It’s the kind of protection no Hollywood liberal asks for, or requires.
Comedian Steve “Mudflap” McGrew shared how he lost an annual, high-profile gig when the club’s owner, Brad Garrett, cut ties with him for supporting Trump.
Now, try to find a gaggle of mainstream media stories decrying Blacklist 2.0. Can’t find any? Try looking at Deadline.com, Variety, TheWrap.com or The Hollywood Reporter.
Still nothing? This reporter couldn’t, either.
It’s because there is no outrage in Hollywood or the left-leaning media, AKA the mainstream media.
The greatest irony?
Hollywood loves bringing up the 1950s-era Blacklist. Movies like “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Majestic,” “The Front,” “Guilty by Suspicion” and “Trumbo” all recall the injustices of the era.
Will we see movies attacking today’s injustices in 10 or 20 years? Chances are slim to none, especially since few stars can summon a syllable to protest what’s happening today.