Russo, the first producer to command a $1 million fee, has been laying low in Tinseltown of late, not having produced a film since 1991's Missing Pieces. He did, however, form the ultra-right-wing Constitution Party four years ago and make the charged video Aaron Russo's Mad as Hell, which he hawked in infomercials and had a strong world-of-mouth following. (Ironic, considering Russo made his name managing the outrageous, notoriously liberal Midler.)
That video--featuring rants on IRS intrusiveness and the loss of personal freedoms--caught the eye of some conservative Republicans, who, Russo claims, have persuaded him to give up Hollywood producing for Nevada stumping.
Russo tells Daily Variety that he's gearing up for a run at the Silver State's governorship in 1998. Russo's hired high-powered strategist and former Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger to spearhead the campaign. "I got a haircut, and lost weight because Lyn said I shoud, but I resisted trading in my BMW for a Buick," says Russo.
And Russo insists he's not another rich crackpot on an ego-boosting mission, a la Ross Perot, but a legitimate politician. Besides, he thinks his platform will capture the fancy of state voters. "I can win in Nevada, I have a very big following here and that's why I'm here I'm running as Republican because I can win the governorship. My principles are freedom for all people."
However, Russo is about the only one who thinks he has a chance. "Kenny Guinn is clear and away the front-runner for the Republican nomination," John Kerr, Las Vegas Review Journal editorial page editor tells E! Online. A lifelong state resident, Guinn's held several positions in local government, served as interim president of UNLV and has been avidly fund-raising for almost two years. "He has name recognition and very strong support in the Party," Kerr said.
But the producer is undaunted. He even plans on courting some of his Hollywood buddies to help out his budding candidacy. "I'm trying to wake up Hollywood," Russo tells Variety. "It's been a bastion of freedom but they're being deceived, suckered into this indoctrination of the federal government which is leading toward a totalitarian country. They've lost sight of individual liberty."