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Actor Rob Lowe Likely to Aid Schwarzenegger

August 15, 2003|Claudia Eller and Michael Cieply | Times Staff Writers

Actor and Democratic activist Rob Lowe isn't exactly moving from "The West Wing" to the right wing, but he's going to play a real-life role in Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign, people close to the situation said Thursday.

The 39-year-old actor has been asked by Schwarzenegger and his wife, Democrat Maria Shriver, who are longtime social friends, to take a senior position in the campaign, the sources said. Although Lowe is expected to have a co-chair title, his exact role is still being defined.

With the appointment, Lowe would join a growing list of Democrats holding prominent positions in the Schwarzenegger operation. On Wednesday, investor Warren Buffet, a Democrat, signed on as the actor's senior economics advisor. Earlier this week, Bonnie Reiss, yet another Democrat, joined the campaign as a strategist. Until earlier this month she had run Schwarzenegger's Inner City Games Foundation, recently renamed the After-School All-Stars Foundation.

Reached Thursday, Reiss confirmed that Lowe would become involved with the campaign. "I've met with Rob and I will be working with him," Reiss said. A spokesman for the actor, who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and two sons, wasn't available for comment.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday August 20, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Warren Buffett -- The last name of investor Warren Buffett, financial advisor to gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, was misspelled as "Buffet" in James Flanigan's column in Sunday's Business section. Two previous articles about the campaign, in the California section on Friday and Section A on Aug. 10, also used the misspelling.

Karen Hanretty, a campaign representative, declined to discuss Lowe's role. "There will be a formal announcement about the campaign team, as well as coalitions in support of Arnold Schwarzenegger, in days to come," she said.

Sources said Lowe will act as both behind-the-scenes advisor and public advocate for Schwarzenegger. Campaign insiders have said he is one of several Hollywood Democrats to express interest in working with the action star.

"They like the way Arnold has energized the electorate," said one person involved with the campaign.

How much time Lowe could devote to Schwarzenegger remains unclear. He currently is shooting "The Lyon's Den," a new NBC series in which he stars as an idealistic son from a political dynasty who works as a maverick lawyer in an old-line Washington, D.C., firm. Lowe is also executive producer of the show, set to debut Sept. 28.

For three years, Lowe portrayed the idealistic White House aide Sam Seaborn in the hit series "The West Wing." Lowe's character was a California-born political operative who wrote speeches for the show's Democratic President Jed Bartlet, and wound up running for Congress in Orange County. He dropped out of the show midway into last season after a contract dispute. In press reports, Lowe said the show had changed and "it just wasn't for me."

Off screen, Lowe played a real-life political role in 1988, when he stumped for Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. That same year, the young Hollywood celebrity attended the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, where he had a front row seat on the floor. He also videotaped a sexual romp with two young women in a hotel room. When the explicit tape surfaced 10 months later, in May 1989, Lowe made national headlines.

Because the scandal involved a minor, Lowe had to perform 20 months of community service. He subsequently underwent rehabilitation for drug and alcohol problems.

Long a registered Democrat, Lowe has been a "political junkie" since age 8, when he sold Kool-Aid on the sidewalk in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, to raise money for George McGovern, according to a September 1999 cover story on the actor in George magazine. That now-defunct publication was owned by Shriver's late cousin, John F. Kennedy Jr.

The article also described how Lowe later befriended fellow actor Jane Fonda and her then-husband, activist Tom Hayden, and helped them lobby for Proposition 65, California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

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