In the heat of the 2000 election, Vice President Al Gore ridiculously remarked that the characters in the movie Love Story were based on him and his wife Tipper. The comment was patently untrue and, given Gore’s earlier whopper about inventing the Internet, it was easy to shrug off.
But John Kerry, this year’s Democrat heir presumptive to the presidency, may have a greater claim to the role of screenwriter’s muse. The 1997 Gramercy Pictures production The Matchmaker features a character with an uncanny similarity to the junior Senator from Massachusetts.
The Matchmaker is a romantic comedy that stars Janeane Garofalo as a young staffer for a prominent American politician who finds herself alone in the Aulde Sod during the commencement of a local annual Matchmaking Festival. A match is eventually made between Garofalo’s character, Marcy and her antagonistic love interest, Sean (played by David O’Hara.) As with other recent lighthearted Irish comedies (Waking Ned Devine, etc.) the charming scenery, spirited score, and very Irishness of Ireland are characters in and of themselves.
OK, YOU SAY. But there’s not much there that reeks of Kerry thus far. However, there is an intriguing back story that can only have been lifted from the pages of the Boston Globe.
Garofalo’s boss, Massachusetts Sen. John McGlory (played by Jay O. Sanders), faces a tough re-election and is in the race of his life. He’s behind in the polls, so to win the hearts of the heavily Irish-American Boston voters, haggard handler Nick Ward (Denis Leary) decides to play the “Green Card.” He sends Garofalo to Ireland to round up the long lost McGlory clan for the mother of all photo-ops.
Readers may recall John Kerry’s frequent appeals to Irish-American voters, not just in Boston, but nationwide. He opened his 1986 St. Patrick’s Day address to the United States Senate this way: “For those of us who are fortunate to share an Irish ancestry, we take great pride in the contributions that Irish-Americans have made to this country.”
At the 1982 Massachusetts Democrat State Convention, Kerry had his floor whips wear emerald green T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “Up Kerry!” It was a takeoff of the “Up The IRA” murals painted all over the North of Ireland.
The scene is re-created with satirical accuracy in The Matchmaker: upon winning his re-election, Sen. McGlory waves a green derby hat to a cheering crowd. “It’s a great day for the Irish!” he yells.
ONLY McGLORY DOESN’T HAVE one bit of the emerald isle in him. The Senator’s father jokes with Garofalo in the back of the room. “The funny thing is,” he says. “I’m not even Irish. I’m Hungarian.”
And neither is Kerry. He’s a mix, Eastern European mostly. His paternal grandfather, as everyone now knows, was a Jew from Austria-Hungary. After the Globe blew the lid off this story last year, Kerry was forced to acknowledge he may have (cough) allowed people to believe he was an Irishman.
The similarities continue. Sanders, who plays Senator McGlory is easily the tallest member of the cast. Kerry stands a stately six foot five inches. Sanders also has an oversized jaw and jutting chin. Hollywood.com calls him “broad-faced.” Kerry has had plastic surgery to take over an inch of his protruding puss.
Also, by the end of the film, Senator McGlory is on the hunt for a much younger lassie over whom he has fallen head over heels. Meanwhile, John Kerry’s fancy for the young ladies has slowly started to creep into the narrative of the 2004 election. It’s as though everyone involved in the production of this film went to extraordinary lengths to capture John Kerry on celluloid.
There are more ironic coincidences. Film co-star Denis Leary plays hockey with John Kerry. And while Garofalo endorsed and campaigned for Kerry’s rival Howard Dean, is there any doubt the high-strung liberal activist will stump for Kerry once he’s the nominee?
SO WHAT’S THE DEAL? Did the makers of The Matchmaker create Sen. John McGlory with Sen. John Kerry in mind? They’re not telling. In fact, they won’t even return my calls. Left to my own devices, I have to conclude that, yes, that is indeed what happened. I urge everyone to go rent the film and judge for themselves.