Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow, Idina Menzel and more show up for Obama
Idina Menzel's voice and Barbra Streisand's money were present at the Hancock Park home of producer John Wells and wife Marilyn on Monday night, where President Barack Obama spoke at an event that raised $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The president arrived shortly before 7:30 p.m., introduced by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and welcomed by guests who, after paying $2,500 to attend, had been drinking wine and listening to a string quartet while mingling in "The West Wing" and "ER" producer Wells' yard -- a walled courtyard with a pool surrounded by grass lawn, manicured lemon trees, sage, rose bushes and Japanese maples.
"What a spectacular evening," said the president, who bounded out onto a brightly lighted stage as the air cooled and the sun softened, speaking for about a half-hour without a teleprompter or notes, pool reports said. "Let's just hang out."
Hanging out with Obama was a bargain for one guest -- Debra Deckerof Phoenix, the winner of an online contest for grassroots donors, who attended with daughter Amber Romero and contributed $25.
Moving up the financial food chain, co-hosts including Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, writer-producer JJ Abrams, Time Warner chief Alan Horn and wife Cindy, and venture capitalist Tom Unterman and wife Janet attended, donating $30,400 a couple for the privilege; Jeffrey Katzenberg and wife Marilyn, as well as Streisand, were also cohosts and donors but did not attend.
"Wicked" star and "Glee" guest Menzel -- who performed at the White House in July and was slated to entertain Monday -- was on hand with husband Taye Diggs, as were writer-producer-director Judd Apatow, former NFL head coach Dennis Green and a host of politicians, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, pool reports said.
"I hope you understand why we're here tonight. It's not to take a picture with the president," Obama said. "We're here to make sure those who took the tough votes are rewarded."
To the Hollywood crowd, he declared, "We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda -- one that helps working families -- not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three."
Obama did not linger, the pool reports said. The motorcade zipped back to Beverly Hills shortly before 8 p.m., as the sun set over Olympic Boulevard.
Unfortunately for commuters, while POTUS was zipping to and from the party, many Angelenos were stuck in hours of event-related gridlock, L.A. Now reports -- a little side effect of streets and sidewalks being closed down for hours during the Monday rush.
No ticket was required to attend the traffic-jam part of the event.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photos: Idina Menzel, top right, at the 61st Annual Tony Awards in New York on June 13, 2010. Barbra Streisand, left, at the "Standing Ovation" premiere in Universal City on July 10, 2010. Credits: Peter Kramer / Associated Press, right; Dan Steinberg / Associated Press, left
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