Like a young star with a hot script, Sen. Barack Obama pitched himself at Hollywood talent agencies William Morris and UTA yesterday in a savvy move that was unprecedented for a presidential candidate. The big agencies have direct access to both stars and deep-pocketed filmmakers being courted now by virtually every major candidate.
Obama’s Tinseltown instincts also showed last night as he raised $1.3 million a star-studded fundraiser hosted by DreamWorks honchos Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Celebrity sizzle was provided by attendees including Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Ron Howard and Natalie Maines.Absent were some stars that have previously been counted in Hilary Clinton’s camp such as Tom Hanks, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, setting up a Celebrity Showdown in Hollywood for the democrats. Sen. Clinton will hit Hollywood on Thursday and return March 24 for a big-ticket gala at the home of supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle. Also weaving political spin during Oscar week, which is normally abuzz about statues and gowns, is Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, who will be introduced by Hollywood’s top political muscle, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today while Sen. Joe Biden gets a piece of the pie tonight at a fund-raiser tonight in Beverly Hills.
The money counts as all candidates are on fast-track fundraising due to early primaries in California and other states. The movie, television and recording industries gave $33.1 million to federal candidates and parties in 2004, with much of that coming from Hollywood, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.Obama told the elite audience at the $2,300-a-plate fundraiser that they have “enormous power” that comes with “enormous responsibility” because of their impact on American culture. “Don’t sell yourselves short,” he said in a 25-minute address. “You are the storytellers of our age.” Obama also received checks from studio bosses, including Universal Pictures’ Ron Meyer, Paramount Pictures’ Brad Grey and Walt Disney Studios’ Richard Cook.