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Exclusive: Marisa Tomei, Jason Alexander, and Others on Why They Support the 99%

We all know who the 99 percent are, but does the 1 percent really have an inkling? Saturday night in Los Angeles, a sea of hipsters came out for the event "All In for the 99%," a day of art, music, and cultural activism to raise awareness of issues that define the 99 percent movement and to call for campaign finance reform and a reversal of the Citizens United ruling. Of course, this being Los Angeles, there was bound to be a celebrity quotient—but this time around, instead of starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian, there was more of a cerebral contingent in the form of Edward Norton, Albert Brooks, and Shepard Fairey.

Gone were the gowns and the requisite posing—this evening was all about what you had to say, not who you were wearing—far from your typical Hollywood night out. Eighty-eight artists, including locals like Skullphone, Vanessa Prager, and Tim Biskup, donated the art that lined the walls (and was available for purchase to benefit the cause), while on the musical front, Elijah "Frodo" Wood was spinning, Jack Black and Kyle Gass (a.k.a. Tenacious D) belted out songs of strife and upheaval, and Moby performed too. Also on display was Shepard Fairey's iconic Person of the Year homage, "The Protestor," originally created for Time magazine (though it was the one piece not for sale).

After being introduced by actor Edward Norton (who then had to split to catch a plane) Rebuild the Dream's Van Jones—the keynote speaker of the night—reminded the crowd that the Pledge of Allegiance states in its last line, "With liberty and justice for all." Yet it is those last two words, Mr. Jones impressed, that have gotten lost, if not forgotten, in our current economic state. Looking at the sold-out boho crowd, Mr. Jones talked about the ignorance of the 1 percent, who have forgotten the rest—the tattooed, pierced, literate, artsy types who had come out tonight en masse.

Of course, it is often the celebrities who sometimes get the most exposure for events such as these, and we had the chance to speak with some of them. Here's what they had to say.

DETAILS: You're a celebrity. What are you doing here?

Marisa Tomei: I have a lot of friends who are performing and who organized it, so it sounded like a good time, first and foremost. Events like this are just important in my mind, even more so in an election year. This is a season of activism and the Citizens United has to be turned over—it's just bullshit.

Jason Alexander: The truth is, I think the only real work that celebrities—particularly celebrities who have the blessings of having one foot at least in the 1 percent—is that we can bring some attention to the problem; we can empower those to do the work in addressing those problems to whatever degree we can. You know, many of us know people in high places, or in charge of running this country, and the more that we can keep the message going that this requires their attention . . . the country's gonna come apart at the seams if we don't start reversing some of these policies.

DETAILS: What's in store for the 99 percent?

Albert Brooks:: Winning!

DETAILS: That's very Charlie Sheen of you.

Albert Brooks: These percentages are a little confusing, it might be more like 70/30, but I'm not really sure. What I think is, it's more of what the 1 percent needs to be afraid of.

Rain Phoenix: I hope a continued sense of power, that we've come to know as of late—that it's in our power to rebuild our own America and be patriots. We deserve a roof over our heads and food in our fridge and equality for all our hard work. It's a very exciting time to be alive. An event like this is a celebration of the 99 percent—it's an acknowledgment of the activism in our country—that we are rising to the occasion . . . I love what Van Jones said tonight, that the 99 percent and the 1 percent make up 100 percent—and that's what this is all about—all of us coming together. It's not a celebration because we're done by any means; it's about people from different income brackets saying everyone deserves a fair shake. That's really the bottom line.

Jason Alexander: Van Jones said it beautifully tonight: It used to be the road from the lower middle class into the upper middle class was you go to college and you get your own home. But now, if you go to college and own your own home, you're probably screwed because you're in debt up to your teeth and what you own isn't worth what you paid for it. We have got to figure out a final solution for this housing debacle; for me personally, what would set us down the right path is to reverse the Supreme Court decision to make sure that corporations are not people, money is not speech. Really, I think the simple solution to the reinvigoration of the middle class and the 99 percent is to really look at how we finance our campaigns—get the private money out of it—and let the best people run on an even playing field and have real elections again. The direction of the country has been bought by special interests for the last couple of decades.

Shepard Fairey: People are going to continue to push for an end to Citizen's United and push for campaign finance reform. I'm all about pushing the conversation and hopefully, good activism and getting people to get out and vote, even though we're still shackled to a dysfunctional two-party system. People still have the ability to vote and make a difference. The issues that the 99 percent movement has been bringing up all this time—and the issues that were basically ignored by the media until Occupy started—are simple: The way it is right now, that politicians are forced to raise money and forced to pander to those who will give the biggest contributions . . . it's supposed to be one person's vote counting the same as the next person's . . . that's just the way democracy should work.

DETAILS: At some point, we're going to see The 99 Percent: The Movie. Who's going to star?

Jason Alexander: I'm usually really good at this sort of thing . . . As Van Jones? Denzel Washington is going to vie for it . . . but it's probably going to end up going to Will Smith.

—Susan Michals

Photo: David Crotty / patrickmcmullan.com
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