CENTER STAGE

A Political Thriller

“An entertaining political thriller—smart and engrossing. No shortage of political intrigue depicted with astuteness and emotional drama.”
—Kirkus Reviews

CELBRITY BUZZ DOMINATES CULTURE—BUT POLITICS?

To treat my torn muscles, I go to Sports Rehab LA, a great physical therapy clinic in Los Angeles.  The clinic’s walls hold many athletic jerseys, signed balls and photos.  My first thought—if athletes go here for physical rehab, it made sense for my aging body to go.

I was receiving treatment at the clinic, watching Sports Center which aired video clips of the New York Giant’s head coach explaining how their star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would not be participating in off-season drills.  In the next instant, the clinic buzzed—OBJ! —OBJ was here! —OBJ was now standing next to me ready to be seated at the adjacent table for his treatment.

One moment I am watching video of OBJ’s miraculous, one-hand receptions and now he is sitting at the next table? WTF?

We are two men that differ in age, race, religion, occupation and certainly athletic skill—but here we are bound together by our ailing bodies.  OBJ’s ankle fractured when he was tackled in a game with the Los Angeles Chargers, I was injured in a freak accident in a parking lot—other than that—two injured dudes.

OBJ’s presence created a stir at the clinic and his personality lit the room. He is smart and charming.  He is the best receiver in the NFL and could slide into an ESPN studio or NFL broadcast when his career ends.

In my novel Roll the Dice, mega-Rock star Tyler Sloan exits the Las Vegas stage to campaign for the United States Senate.  Sloan has no political experience; however, he possesses the winning celebrity ingredients—fame, fortune, charm and intellect.  He is likable, enjoys a high ‘Q’ factor, and while enjoying too many of a rock star’s indulgences in his youth, he has matured—he knows how to move the ball—how to campaign.

Wayne Avrashow with Gerald FordI am not astar struck, I have shaken hands or have been in the same room with Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Teddy and Bobby Kennedy.  That photo is of me years ago with then former President Gerald Ford.

My wife and I were in Paris, France about five years ago dining at a fine restaurant. Sliding into the adjacent seat to me was Bruce Willis.  He presumed I was French and greeted me, “bonsoir.”  I smiled and replied, “Good evening Bruce.”  He chuckled and we chatted briefly.  It was fun.

I cannot analyze the psychological power of celebrity.  Since the dawn of modern media, celebrities have endorsed commercial products. Baseball star Babe Ruth hawked it all; cigars, chewing tobacco and cigarettes, breakfast cereals, gasoline, girl scout cookies, underwear, gum and numerous baseball products.  Ruth, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and countless other deceased icon’s images are successfully marketed today.

My novel Roll the Dice shows how a celebrity like Tyler Sloan can attract media attention by merely strolling into a shopping center, down the Las Vegas strip or in a local coffee house.  His campaign posts it on social media and those images spark more reaction than a bland political commercial.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inundated with celebrities—Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Magic Johnson and dozens of others.  Yet Trump is President. What happened?

The hope of the formula is, “you like Bruce Springsteen, the Boss likes Hillary, so you’ll vote for Hillary.”  Yet those dots did not connect. That star power did not translate. Lady Bey posted an Instagram video stating, “I’m with her (Hillary)” that racked up over two million views.  But how many votes?

Maybe people will buy a product pitched by a celebrity, but less so a candidate?  Trump was the star at his rallies, he was the celeb.  It was a direct message—you like Trump? Vote for Trump.

Politicians have had celebrity supporters since film star Mary Pickford campaigned with Warren Harding in 1920.  JFK had Sinatra.  In Roll the Dice, Sloan does not need endorsements, he is the celeb.

OBJ caused a greater jolt in the clinic than any electric stimulation. Check out Roll the Dice, as rock star Tyler Sloan mounts his campaign for the U.S. Senate—like OBJ, a celeb with substance.

Wayne Avrashow with OBJ

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Center Stage Cover
$19.95
January 12, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64543-794-9