Nearly 25 years after he refused to change his last name to a more acceptable American name, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood box-office machine is seeking what could be his toughest assignment: to govern California which is in deep financial trouble.
His latest film, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, plundered over $300 million worldwide, while Schwarzenegger got $20 million plus a back-end revenue sharing deal. But now, the actor would be going for a very big pay cut, too, earning about $150,000 a year.
Apparently, he wants something more than money. Considered one of the shrewdest businessmen in the state whose investments seldom go wrong, Schwarzenegger has considerable stake in real estate in and around Los Angeles.
'As you know, I don't need to take any money from anybody,' he said on the Jay Leno show announcing his candidacy and speaking against special interests groups, including unions that he said are ruining the state. He asserted, 'I have plenty of money. I will make the decisions for people.'
'I have seen firsthand coming here, with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of desire, full of will to succeed, but with the opportunities that I had, I could make it,' he continued. 'This is why we have to get back and bring California back to where it once was.'
He declared on August 6 that he is seeking Republican Party's nomination to replace Governor Gary Davis in the recall election to be held on October 7.
His stunning announcement came on Jay Leno show just as many media experts and his closest friends were convinced that many weeks' of speculations about his contest were baseless. 'I will go to Sacramento and clean house,' Schwarzenegger, 56, said.
If he succeeds in his political bid, the producers of T3 may not be happy because there is a possibility of a fourth sequel in the series. The film, which changed dramatically his declining box-office clout, is not a fly-through-the-roof hit in America. Nevertheless, it ended its run with a decent $150 million gross in America and may pump more money in video and DVD sales. Outside America, the movie, which cost about $175-$200 million, is expected to gross $250 million.
He is the second major star, following Ronald Reagan, to seek the gubernatorial post in California. Reagan was elected as governor in 1966 and for another term four years later.
His success in many B-grade Hollywood movies can never compare to that of Schwarzenegger who has worked for some of the best known Hollywood directors like James Cameron (in the first two Terminator films). But Schwarzenegger can never follow Reagan to the White House as presidential office is denied to those who are born outside America.
Schwarzenegger's Austrian heritage has come to haunt him several times. Some articles and books, critical of him, talk about his father's connection with Nazism.
Among the many challenges Schwarzenegger will face is the expected articles and features in newspapers and on radio and television that will continue questioning his comparatively wholesome image as a family man. He is married to journalist Maria Shriver, a niece of Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
A self-described fiscal conservative, Schwarzenegger wants himself to be known as a liberal Republican who supports abortion rights, gay and immigrant rights.
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