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Spielberg, Geffen Bringing Movie Stars and Dollars to Obama Presidential Bid
Sen. Barak Obamaâ€™s Hollywood dreams coming true as DreamWorks founders kick off scramble for presidential bucks and starpower
By Alex Ben Block for Hollywood Today
Hollywood,CA (rushprnews) 01/25/2007 – Obama-mania is coming to Hollywood. DreamWorks founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen are hosting a fundraiser Feb. 20 in Beverly Hills for U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) â€œin support of his presidential exploratory committee,â€ according to invitations that went out Wednesday to top Democrats in show business.
â€œTo date this event is the most significant statement thatâ€™s been made,â€ says Andy Spahn, political advisor and spokesman for DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
All three have been supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in the past, donating to her Senate campaign and PAC. Sen. ClintonÂ is starring in her own gala fundraiser here on Mar. 24 — a major event, probably at a Beverly Hills hotel, with private dinnersÂ for big spenders. Variety reports that Sen. Clinton will includeÂ meet and greetsÂ at the homes of TV mogul Haim Saban and investment banker Sim Farar, for those who contributeÂ at leastÂ $25,000. For her gala, Clinton will be looking to turn out enough star power to balance the A-listers supporting Obama, reportedly including George Clooney, Barbra Streisand Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Oprah Winfrey and Oliver Stone.
Spahn told entertainment newsmagazine Hollywood Today (www.hollywoodtoday.net) that Katzenberg fully supports Obama. He said that, â€œSteven (Spielberg) has not made an endorsement at this time,â€ adding: â€œHe will be helping a few of his partyâ€™s candidates this Spring. He will decide on an endorsement in the months ahead, however.â€
For the political position of the third Dreamworks founder, David Geffen, Spahn directed me to a phone number at Geffenâ€™s offices. It was answered by a nervous assistant who said he was not an official spokesman, and asked not to be quoted. The assistant said that Geffen being one of the three co-hosts of the Obama reception, and hosting a private dinner at his home afterward for big contributors, should not be taken as â€œa formal statement of endorsement.â€Â When pressed, the assistant would only say that, â€œDavid has not issued a statement at this point.â€
Geffen has committed to Obama according to reports in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and elsewhere. Still, Spahn insisted that was all based on rumors and cautioned that Geffen has not officially committed to anyone yet, and would have to speak for himself.
Geffen being cagey isnâ€™t unusual. The billionaire wheeler-dealer, who made his first fortune in music and recently bid to buy the Los Angeles Times, loves to make the dramatic statement, but wants to save it for the right moment.
Tickets for the Obama reception at the Beverly Hilton are $2,300 per person and $4,600 for a couple. According to the invitation, there will be a private dinner following the reception at Geffenâ€™s home. That event is for Obama fundraiser â€œCo-Chairs,â€ â€œwho commit to raising $46,000 for the evening (10 couples/20 tickets),â€ according to the invitation.
Obama will also be celebrated at another campaign fundraising event around the same time hosted by Ari Emanuel, the high profile agent who is a partner at Endeavor Agency, and brother of Rahm Emanuel, Congressman from Illinois, and major fundraising force in the Democratic party. Rahm Emanuel has said he favors Obama, who is from his home state, without formally endorsing him at this point.
A spokesman for Ari Emanuel and Endeavor on Wednesday confirmed they will also be hosting an event for Obama. The spokesman said the details are still being arranged and will be announced as soon as practical. Emanuel, the model for the agent character on HBOâ€™s â€œEntourage,â€ represents a number of well-known clients, including Martin Scorsese, Larry David and Michael Douglas.
George Clooney was quoted in the L.A. Times that an Obama candidacy would be â€œthe most electrifying thing to happen to the Democratic party since (Pres. John F.) Kennedy.â€
This high profile attention of a visit to Hollywood will serve another part of the Obama strategy, according to another veteran show biz political consultant. â€œHe has no need to buy (expensive advertising) time, because the media have made him a focus. Thanks to that media attention, he has moved up faster in name recognition than anybody in history.â€
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When Larry King was asked at a TV criticâ€™s press conference about Obamaâ€™s seemingly irresistible lure for the news media, he commented: â€œHeâ€™s the flavor of the month, and his book is number one. Heâ€™s come out of nowhere. Heâ€™s an enormously attractive figureâ€¦ Heâ€™s become a major force through the sheer energy of becoming a major force.â€
The importance of Hollywoodâ€™s support is greater than ever for several reasons. First, Hollywood (meaning the entertainment industry) helps bring name recognition, which the candidates all need right now (even if they will disavow Hollywood values later on the campaign trail), as well as connections and marketing savvy. Â
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Hollywood has a lot of money to give, and itâ€™s not tied just to the lobbying goals of an industry. It is often about ideas and values and policies, especially the war in Iraq. For candidates who have some success and strong personal positions that match up with Hollywood, these visits can be increasingly rewarding.
Follow the Money: Read Part II of the Presidential hopefulâ€™s courtship of Hollywood and who is cashing in at (www.hollywoodtoday.net). Â
Rights to reprint granted provided entertainment newsmagazine Hollywood Today is credited and link listed whenever possible. Â
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