Trump looks for stars at convention
© Getty Images

From Don King to Omarosa Manigault, the Republican National Convention is shaping up to be a four-day event filled with an eclectic mix of celebrities — but one that is so far lacking a promised punch from Hollywood heavyweights and sports stars.

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE’s campaign has made the promise that it’s going to be this spectacular show with Donald Trump at the center, but on the other hand, you don’t have a lot of really high-profile people who have come out and are actively campaigning for him,” Kathryn Cramer Brownell, author of “Showbiz Politics: Hollywood in American Political Life,” tells ITK.

ADVERTISEMENT

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a surprise.

Clint Eastwood’s appearance on the last day of the 2012 convention shocked many observers.

They were further surprised by his conversation with an empty chair meant to represent President Obama.

In the end, that star appearance might not have benefited 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, but it hasn’t turned Republicans off celebrity turns.

“It’s very important to put some showbiz into a convention, otherwise people are going to fall asleep,” Trump told The Washington Post back in April.

The question is, will any A-list talent show up to help Trump? 

“I think that they really want to have the show — whether or not they can deliver on it is another question,” says Brownell, a Purdue University assistant professor of history.

So far, the presumptive Republican nominee’s campaign has left much of the public and the press guessing about who might lend some star power to what’s been billed as an extravaganza in Cleveland.

“It’s not gonna be a ho-hum lineup of the typical politicians,” Trump’s daughter Ivanka said last month.

Calling it “incredibly exciting” and “a convention unlike any we’ve ever seen,” Ivanka Trump predicted that Cleveland will be “a great combination of our great politicians, but also great American businessmen and women and leaders across industry and leaders across really all the sectors, from athletes to coaches and everything in between.”

Former basketball coach Bobby Knight will be speaking by video at the convention, Trump announced at a rally earlier this month.

Antonio Sabato Jr., who gained fame as a Calvin Klein model, will be among the convention speakers, Trump’s camp announced Thursday. Golfer Natalie Gulbis also snagged a speaking slot.

While Trump supporters Mike Tyson and NASCAR chairman Brian France had reportedly been floated as being involved in the convention, neither has confirmed any role.

Trump later denied Tyson would be given a speaking slot, tweeting that the boxing legend “was not asked to speak at the Convention though I’m sure he would do a good job if he was.”

A spokesperson for Tyson didn’t respond to ITK’s request for comment.

Publicists for other outspoken pro-Trump celebrities — including former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman and singer Wayne Newton — also didn’t get back to us.

A spokesman for game show host Chuck Woolery said that although the “Love Connection” personality had attended the nominating convention in the past, he wouldn’t be going this year.

The spokesman said Woolery’s absence “has nothing to do with Donald Trump and is not a statement about him. ... [Woolery] will be supporting Mr. Trump as a presidential candidate.”

Chuck Norris, another prominent Hollywood Republican, will also be missing from the convention. A spokesperson for the “Walker, Texas Ranger” star tells ITK Norris “has other obligations at this time.”

At least one television star with close ties to Trump will be there.

Manigault, who appeared on the first season of “The Apprentice,” when it starred Trump, intends to root on the White House hopeful. Manigault, named one of TV Guide’s “60 Nastiest Villains of All Time,” will serve as an “official surrogate” for Trump, ITK was first to report earlier this month.

King, the famed boxing promoter, has said he’s “going to be involved, definitely” in some way at the convention. Trump told a crowd in early July that he exclaimed to King, “I said, ‘Don, I’d love you to speak at the convention, because you know what? You’ve beat the system.’ And he’s a friend of mine.”

Other well-known names will be in Cleveland during the convention to support various causes.

Caitlyn Jenner is poised to take part in a pro-LGBT rights brunch, according to The Daily Beast. While the brunch is unaffiliated with the convention, the transgender former Olympian and “Keeping up with the Kardashians” star told the news site, “The party conventions are like the political Olympics, and I’m excited to be headed to Cleveland to stand with my fellow LGBT Republicans and allies.” 

Kid Rock, Rick Springfield, The Band Perry and Lynyrd Skynyrd will be in town for a private concert series called Cleveland Rocks to support military veterans, while the band Third Eye Blind will headline a charity event for Musicians on Call. Country music star Martina McBride will also be in Cleveland to headline a benefit concert held by The Creative Coalition.

The nonpartisan arts advocacy group has had a presence at political conventions for the past three decades. Despite the lack of big names being announced yet, Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk tells ITK she expects the 2016 conventions to be filled with celebrities.

“We’ve had a very robust turnout, and our hardest job was selecting who to bring because we have a lot of people who to go — a lot,” Bronk says.

When asked if entertainers were leaning toward one party’s convention over the other, Bronk replied, “We’re actually chock-full and have waiting lists for both.”