Hollywood, TV Campaigns to Spread Obamacare Message

Image: Hollywood, TV Campaigns to Spread Obamacare Message President Obama with singer Jennifer Hudson.

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 11:56 AM

By Andrea Billups

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If you're already sick of the fight over Obamacare, be prepared: The Obama administration is turning its focus on prime time television series, using the influential platform and the power of celebrity to spread the word about its healthcare initiative.

The University of California's Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which promotes its Hollywood Health & Society program, received a $500,000 grant last week from the California Endowment, a private source aimed an informing more people about the federal program, Deadline Hollywood reported.

The goal is to keep producers, writers and directors up to date in the event they seek to integrate the federal health initiative into their storylines. The money will also go to producing pro-ACA public service announcements that track with storylines on the TV series.

“Our experience has shown that the public gets just as much, if not more, information about current events and important issues from their favorite television shows and characters as they do from the news media and online resources,” said Martin Kaplan, who heads the USC program, in a statement. “This grant will allow us to ensure that industry practitioners have up-to-date, relevant facts on health care reform to integrate into their storylines and projects.”

Half of the funding will be devoted to Spanish-language programming.

The USC program's advisory board contains several influential television executives, Deadline Hollywood found. Among them Jennifer Cecil, co-executive producer of "Hostages," Vince Gilligan, creator of "Breaking Bad" and Chris Nee, the executive producer of Disney Jr.'s "Doc McStuffins."

They join several high profile actors and actresses who have stepped up to lend their names and time to promoting the Obamacare message to a mass audience. Most recently, Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson completed a viral parody video of the popular "Scandal" series, which is set in a fictional White House, for Will Ferrell's "Funny or Die" online spots.

In July, a group of celebrities, including Hudson, visited Washington to meet with the president and his staff and to learn what they could do to assist in advance of the program's rollout, the Hollywood Reporter said at the time.

"The president stopped by the meeting to engage artists who expressed an interest in helping to educate the public about the benefits of the health law," a White House official told the Hollywood Reporter. "The reach of these national stars spreads beyond the Beltway to fans of their television shows, movies and music—and the power of these artists to speak through social media is especially critical."



They included comic actress Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, Aisha Tyler, as well as representatives who attended on behalf of such megastars as Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys and Jon Bon Jovi.

Others in Hollywood have taken to social media sites such as Twitter where they participate by posting photos of themselves holding signs that read "Get Covered."

They included Connie Britton, Olivia Wilde, Taye Diggs, Kate Bosworth, Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Katy Perry, Magic Johnson and Kerry Washington, The Hill reported.

"These are just the opening moves in a multi-pronged campaign using Hollywood as a platform for the ACA," a source told Deadline Hollywood.

Related Stories:

Celebrities Push Busted Obamacare Sign-Up

AP-GfK Poll: Obamacare's Rollout Is a Big Flop With the Public

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