Julia Louis-Dreyfus, executive producer Dave Mandel, and the cast and crew from the hit HBO show ‘Veep’ in a virtual reunion fundraiser that raised more than $500K for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Sunday, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Mandel, who took over as showrunner and executive producer for the last three seasons, was approached by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin about a month before the event, shortly after the organization had helped sponsor a similar “Princess Bride,” reunion fundraiser. The invite promised that, “Anything you donate will be used to ensure that Trump loses Wisconsin, and thereby the White House.”
Mandel phoned the show’s star and co-producer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and the two of them sent an email to the rest of the cast — including Anna Chlumsky, Reid Scott, Sam Richardson, Tony Hale, Tim Simons, Clea DuVall and Matt Walsh, and surprise guests Dan Bakkedahl and Nelson Franklin — who were all happy to participate.
During the reunion, cast members answered fan questions, performed a virtual table read of five deleted scenes and a cast-wide competition to deliver the best Jonah Ryan insult (Gwen Moore won with a “real-life Wisconsin congresswoman”). One fan asked the cast, “What really happened on Labor Day?” — but Mandel refused to answer while teasing, “You never know when we’re going to be back and filming!”
The event, which had been planned several weeks ahead, was almost overshadowed after President Trump announced he tested positive for coronavirus the Friday before. The irony wasn’t lost on the production, which often joked about how to hide behind a shift in the news cycle. “It really upstaged us in a very almost Tom Hanks kind of way,” Mandel said, nodding to a major punchline in the show’s finale.
However, the cast-wide event decided to take the “high road” when it came to the President’s illness, focusing instead on urging voters and democratic supporters to help support the fight in Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the upcoming election. “When Trump got sick, we made a very conscious decision to say, let’s just leave him out of it,” said Mandel.
True to their word, the event included “an expletive-filled plea of electoral wisdom for Wisconsin voters from the duo of Congressman Roger Furlong (Bakkedahl) and his aide Will (Franklin),” writes Jackie Straus of The Hollywood Reporter, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus explained the importance of Wisconsin in the general election: “All roads to the White House go through the great state of Wisconsin. Trump can’t win reelection if he doesn’t win Wisconsin. So, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has built an unprecedented voter mobilization operation and they need resources in these final days to deliver Wisconsin to Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Harris. The future of democracy is on the line, people, and that’s why the cast of Veep is getting together for a virtual reunion with some special guests, too. You don’t want to miss this.”
In 2016, Hillary Clinton led in the polls against Donald Trump, much like Joe Biden is now, however the President won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes. “Wisconsin is going to be close, and it’s the best way to get Joe Biden in the White House,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus reminds the audience.
Still, the President did receive a few passing remarks, usually in reference to the serendipitous parallels between the fictional main character, Selina Meyer, and the bigger than life reality star in the Oval Office. “Selina began as somebody who was very self-centered and that focus on herself was completely reinforced by everyone around her,” said Julia Louis-Dreyfus of her character. “Nobody shut her down ever. Who does that sound like? So that massive ego grew and grew and grew until she absolutely did herself in with her own self at the end of the series.”
Mandel expressed frustration with running the show in the age of Trump. “Our best day doesn’t compare to the stuff this White House does on a regular hourly basis of incompetence and stupidity,” Mandel said. He also offered some poignant advice for the show’s fans: “Look, the show doesn’t exist with this guy in the White House. So, if people really want more Veep, it’s something to think about!” But at the end of the day, the showrunner was just happy to contribute to the fight against the sitting president, “It’s nice to be able to contribute. I’m doing everything I can here at the Mandel house. But there’s something really nice about being a part of something that could make a difference — and that half a million dollars in Wisconsin and people signing up to volunteer could do it.”