One of the many myths that Steve Bannon tells about himself is that he was once a Hollywood power player. The former top advisor to Trump and current collection of eels stuffed into a sausage casing saw his star dimmed by this New Yorker piece about Bannon’s failed attempt to conquer Hollywood. Now, a piece in The Hollywood Reporter about last year at Cannes shows just how much of a huckster Bannon was in film circles.
Namely, it’s about Steve Bannon’s documentary with Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. That would have been something in 2012, when the show began airing. The only problem was that this was 2016, the Robertson family had long since exited relevance and Bannon was trying to use Phil to sell a movie. Well, he had two. One was called Clinton Cash, a documentary styled to look like a horror movie about the inequities of then-candidate Clinton. The second was Torchbearer, about America’s descent into godlessness. That was the one that starred Robertson.
The two screenings were flops.
“Virtually no buyers attended,” an acquisition executive tells THR. “It was total amateur hour.”
“In fact, the man who was about to become one of the most powerful people on the planet — he’d be hired as Trump’s top campaign adviser in August and then, after the election, as White House chief strategist — made virtually no impression when he visited Cannes in May 2016,” THR writes. “He was just another of the hundreds of faceless producers who schlepped to the Marche du Film with reels under their arms — though in Bannon’s case, he didn’t even have a stand in the Pavilion. ‘Wow, I totally forgot he was at Cannes last year,’ says one buyer when reminded, repeating what turns out to be a common refrain of attendees.”
The visual of Steve Bannon and Phil Robertson walking in, chests puffed out and ready to show those snooty French what-for is almost too much to bear. Better still would be the slow-dawning realization that they would not, in fact, be able to distribute their documentaries about the evils of the Clintons and the godlessness of America. Best yet would be Bannon explaining to the Mercers, his billionaire backers, that they just didn’t find enough interest to make their films happen. Of course, he would later manage to put Trump on course long enough for victory. But that victory, too, was vanishingly short lived.
This seems to be the story of Steve Bannon. He comes in, all fire and brimstone and bombast and ends as meekly as an extinguished match that never found its fuel. Though Bannon was once though to be a top advisor to Donald Trump, he saw his star eclipsed by Jared Kushner. He’s been pulled from the National Security Council and seen his role dwindle to nearly nothing as the Trump government wobbles along. If Rome is burning, he’s the only one left without a fiddle.