From the Right



Trevor Donovan's Approach to Hollywood and Celebrity Is a Much-Needed Throwback

Salena Zito on

INDIANA, Pennsylvania -- When you cross the street in the downtown of this borough, located in a county that shares its name, you're in for a reminder that it's a wonderful life. Two of the crosswalk signals guide pedestrians with the voice of the late Jimmy Stewart, who was born and raised here in Indiana.

"Please wait to cross Philadelphia Street at South 9th Street. Wait for the walk signal, will ya?" the folksy voice of Rich Little impersonating Stewart tells pedestrians as they cross from the movie star's namesake museum.

Stewart is celebrated here a lot. There is the Jimmy Stewart Museum, located across the street from where his father's hardware store once stood; the Jimmy Stewart Airport with the annual Jimmy Stewart Air Show; and there are annual festivals surrounding two of his iconic movies, "Harvey" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

The borough of Indiana doesn't celebrate all things Jimmy Stewart because he is arguably the biggest thing to come out of this western Pennsylvania town; they celebrate him because of everything he did. Whether it was serving our country during World War II as a squadron leader flying combat missions or honing his craft as an actor during the Golden Age of Hollywood, he never lost his sense of place. He may have been the junior senator from Wyoming in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," but he was Indiana, Pennsylvania, all the way down to his Pennsylvania twang.

That rootedness is a rare thing today in Hollywood. If you are an actor, people associate you with Hollywood, the Los Angeles neighborhood known as the center of the film industry.

Once upon a time, it was an industry that focused on finding ways to tell good stories and entertain viewers. Today, thanks to social media and the constant emphasis on celebrity and influence that comes with that, it has an additional role: politics. That emphasis usually creates a fissure between those who spend their time and disposable income watching TV shows or going to the movies and the actors who are in them.


It is hard indeed to be from a small- or medium-sized city or town and feel any sense of connection to what an actor is tweeting about. It's not just the divergence of political views, but also the lack of connection on any level.

Meanwhile, movie and television storylines tend to find subtle and not-so-subtle ways of taking a swipe at half the people who are paying to watch them. The National Association of Theatre Owners says that 2017 and 2019, both before COVID-19 restrictions, ranked as the worst years for movie ticket buying since 1995. Analysts point to streaming as the culprit. But one might also look at the wild success that the Hallmark Channel has enjoyed. People like storylines that reflect a way of life and a rootedness that appeals to them. For the past 10 years, Hallmark has regularly peaked as cable's most-watched entertainment network in prime time.

Trevor Donovan, a Mammoth Lakes, California, native (a small, rural town that looks like it was built to be a Hallmark movie set), is also a seasoned actor whose career in Hollywood took off when he joined the cast of "90210."

Donovan has found success recently filming a series of wildly successful Hallmark Channel movies over the past few years; he is also in the new independent film "Reagan," starring Dennis Quaid as the 40th president. Donovan plays Reagan's longest-serving Secret Service agent, John Barletta.


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