As California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman continue their high-profile member-versus-member showdown, Hollywood is is keeping an eye on the race, which features a major ally of the entertainment industry. National Journal's Juliana Gruenwald:
The entertainment industry has long been a supporter of Berman, both for his work in protecting the industry's interests as the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee. Berman was an original cosponsor of SOPA, a bill aimed at curbing piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites. Berman and other supporters of the bill contended that current U.S. laws do not provide effective tools to target infringement on foreign websites.
So far, the issue hasn't been a major factor in the race against Sherman, who also signed on as a SOPA cosponsor. However, Berman has been critical of Sherman for backing off his support by saying the bill is flawed and needs to be fixed.
Sherman said in a recent interview that the issue isn't in the "top 25" concerns he's heard from voters during the campaign. And while he supports the goals of SOPA, he said the bill as originally drafted was flawed and the uproar from critics was a sign that it needs more work. "I could see the handwriting on the computer screen and realized that we have to change the bill," Sherman said.
Berman, however, has said he still supports SOPA even though he acknowledged the bill is effectively dead. He said he wants to work with supporters and critics to find an alternative approach and criticized Sherman for backing away from SOPA after it became political kryptonite. "I try not to sponsor or cosponsor a bill as a symbol of my support for a general position even though I think the language is stupid," Berman said at a February debate.
People in the movie and television industry are the top contributors to Berman's campaign, donating $337,000 so far during the 2011-2012 election cycle, according to the latest figures from the Center for Responsive Politics. Contributors include the PACs of Time Warner, Fox-News Corp., and Sony Pictures, each of which has given Berman $10,000, as well as executives such as Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey, Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, and Universal Pictures President Mike Knobloch, according to the latest reports from the Federal Election Commission