NEW YORK (JTA) – The team behind this week’s lewd pro-Obama video by comedienne Sarah Silverman says it’s taking heat for targeting billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
The video, in which Silverman offers to perform a sexual act with Adelson if he’ll support President Obama’s reelection campaign, is a follow-up to a pro-Obama video Silverman did during the 2008 campaign, “The Great Schlep.” Produced Ari Wallach and Mik Moore and released to great fanfare, that original video offered a funny take on urging young voters to go to Florida and convince their Jewish grandparents to vote for Obama.
The video’s success helped bolster Wallach and Moore’s eponymous organization geared toward supporting Obama’s election. On Monday, Wallach and Moore announced the creation of an new mechanism called Schlep Labs to solicit creative ideas from the public to support Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
“We had several dozen people come to us in the middle [of the 2008 campaign] with great ideas for co-branding or extensions of things that could fit below the Great Schlep brand,” Wallach told JTA. “We didn’t have a process for evaluating these ideas.”
The Silverman video represents the first of the ideas to come to fruition, submitted by Silverman as a result of a solicitation by Schlep Labs two weeks ago.
In the video, Silverman offers to “scissor” Adelson while wearing a bikini if he gives Obama’s reelection campaign $100 million instead of Romney’s campaign. She then demonstrates what that means, using a puppy as a stand-in for Adelson.
Some in the Jewish community didn’t like the video’s target, Wallach told JTA in an interview this week. Adelson is a big donor to Jewish causes; on Monday, he and his wife, Miriam, announced a new $13 million donation to Birthright Israel. Wallach said he fielded angry calls from Jewish organizations after the video’s release. He acknowledged that the video “cut close to the bone” with its brand of humor but said that Adelson — many of whose millions go to right-wing political causes — is fair game.
“At end of day, he has sworn to work against a sitting president’s re-election efforts,” Wallach said of Adelson. “The goal isn’t to embarrass anyone in terms of other people in the Jewish community. The goal is to have Romney decide whether he wants to pervert democracy by taking funding from one individual who will have outsized influence on a majority of issues that are way outside of the mainstream of what most American Jews think.”
More is yet to come, Wallach said.
"We’ve had enough submissions in the past four hours that could probably take us through to the next election.” Wallach said on the first day Schlep Laps announced it was accepting new ideas. Proposals can be submitted via the Schlep Labs website and are reviewed by a team including people who work at new media, broadcast and film companies.
The Great Schlep is a project of the Jewish Committee for Education and Research, a so-called super-PAC created in January. In March, the PAC netted a $200,000 donation from Alexander Soros, son of hedge fund manager and philanthropist George Soros. Both have given to liberal Jewish organizations in recent years.