By Anjali Athavaley and Amy Tennery
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pop star Demi Lovato is jazzed about Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Comic Sarah Silverman’s enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders is no joke. Meanwhile, 1980s sitcom star Scott Baio wants Republican businessman Donald Trump to be in charge.
With Tuesday’s New York primary approaching and California’s contest scheduled for June, celebrities are getting increasingly vocal about their presidential picks. The trend is prompting newfound alliances and rifts among Hollywood’s elite, many of whom have donated to candidates vying for the office and actively campaigned for them.
Celebrities are hardly shy about voicing their political preferences, but their opinions could carry more weight this year. The primaries in New York and California, where many of them live, actually matter for a change. Usually, both parties' nominees for president are effectively determined earlier in the process.
Prominent female comedians are split on whom they support in the Nov. 8 election. While Silverman is backing Sanders, two actresses who have played Clinton in satirical sketches on the show “Saturday Night Live” say they are fans of the former secretary of state. Amy Poehler appeared in a Clinton campaign video while Kate McKinnon said on an episode of "Close/Up with The Hollywood Reporter" last year that she is rooting for her.
And cast members from the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” are not toasting the same candidate. George Wendt is listed on Sanders’ website as a supporter while Ted Danson recently campaigned for Clinton in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, Kirstie Alley voiced enthusiastic support for Trump last week, sparking a Twitter storm.
“HELLO BOYS! This is my formal endorsement of @realDonaldTrump & I’m a woman! (last I checked),” Alley tweeted.
As primary results roll in, like-minded luminaries among the politically active rich and famous are linking up with each other on social media to show their support in numbers.
Last week, Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted a photo of herself with “Scandal” star Kerry Washington. Both women squeezed into a shirt together that said “Yaaas, Hillary!”
Love for a fellow supporter can come in the form of a tweet. After singer Barbra Streisand questioned the criticism over the former first lady's paid speeches in a tweet in late March, “Girls” star Lena Dunham, who has campaigned for Clinton, declared on Twitter that she was inclined to marry the ten-time Grammy Award winner.
Others are engaging in political spats as raucous as the bickering on a Bravo reality show. Actresses Debra Messing and Susan Sarandon traded barbs last month on Twitter over their support for Clinton and Sanders, respectively. Sarandon suggested that "principled people" might have difficulty voting for Clinton due to her environmental record.
"Did you see how @SusanSarandon just called us unprincipled?" Messing tweeted to fellow actress and Clinton supporter Kathy Najimy.
"Alright @DebraMessing report me to the homeroom teacher and let’s STOP," Sarandon replied.
On the Republican side, celebrity Trump supporters are defending themselves on social media. Singer Aaron Carter’s Twitter endorsement of Trump in February prompted a barrage of snarky comments. He later wrote, “NO! you guys aren’t going to bully me into my beliefs.”
While many celebrities are staunch in their views on the next president, some are trying to be more open-minded. Caitlyn Jenner, who famously revealed her identity as a transgender woman last year, said in an interview on the "Today Show" in March that she was a Republican. But her daughter Kendall and stepdaughter Kim Kardashian, as well as fellow costars on Jenner’s reality show “I Am Cait,” are Clinton fans.
A month ago, Jenner posted a photo on Instagram with Clinton with the hashtags #learningfrommygirls and #willingtolisten.
Still, Clinton fans would be wise not to count her as a supporter just yet. On a March episode of her show, Jenner said she would “never ever ever vote for Hillary.”
(Additional reporting by Melissa Fares and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)