DNC vs. RNC: Denver's stars kicked ass, St. Paul's not so much

Frankly, I would have preferred David Lee Roth.

Lucky thing for the Republicans that Sarah Palin became a media sensation during her Republican National Convention spotlight address. After all, John McCain proved with his acceptance remarks last night that he's not among the country's most scintillating personalities -- and most of the so-called celebrities who turned up during the just-concluded bash in Minneapolis-St. Paul weren't, either. Example: A Dallas Morning News piece about RNC star power, or lack thereof, led with an appearance by former second-string Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar. Who, I understand, can't drive 55.

Of the other Minnesota-visiting celebs mentioned in the DMN piece, a few, such as Tim Daly and Rosario Dawson, established their bipartisanship by hanging out in Denver during the Democratic National Convention prior to heading north; indeed, I physically ran into Daly on the Pepsi Center floor shortly before encountering director Spike Lee trying to fend off the media long enough to put condiments on a hot dog. But the other notables mentioned by the Morning News hardly qualified as traffic-stoppers. They included Stephen Baldwin, the least interesting of the Baldwin brothers, plus Joe Pantoliano, who was memorably beheaded in an episode of The Sopranos, onetime James Bond villain Robert Davi and Giancarlo Esposito, whose credits include several Spike Lee movies. Will Spike think Esposito did the right thing?

Predictably, Variety, an entertainment-industry trade magazine, was even more attuned to the low wattage of the RNC's alleged luminaries. "Perhaps most unfair of all is to compare the star quotient, with gossip columnists professing themselves bored at the lack of famous faces to interview," wrote reporter Ted Johnson. "Singer Rachael Lampa, who delivered an American Idol-like performance in the hall on Tuesday night, in an apparent bid for the youth vote, had some journos scrambling to determine just who she was." Johnson added that "the enthusiasm gap" between the star-spangled DNC and the less-sparkling RNC "is evident in Gallup polls, as well as viewership. According to Nielsen, overall viewing of the convention was 4.3 million viewers shy of the number who watched the second night of the Democratic National Convention and 600,000 lower than the number for day two of the 2004 GOP gathering."

That changed on Wednesday thanks to Palin. Around 40 million people reportedly watched her speech -- a total very similar to the one that tuned in to see Barack Obama's acceptance speech. I'm guessing it would have bested the total Sammy Hagar might have racked up, too. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts