Cher, Reese Witherspoon among celebrities greeting Obama in L.A.
This post has been changed. Please see note below.
President Obama's two-day tour of Los Angeles was a star-studded affair with celebrities, including Cher and Reese Witherspoon, attending fundraising events.
Obama's trip began with a LGBT Leadership Council gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, emceed by comedian Ellen DeGeneres. "Glee" heartthrob Darren Criss provided entertainment after singer Pink withdrew because of illness.
The 600-person gathering was a who's who of gay Hollywood and included many of the creative minds whose portrayals of gays on screens large and small has nudged society toward accepting gay rights. Max Mutchnick, creator of "Will and Grace," was a co-host. Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Milk," was in the audience, as were Cher and her son, Chaz Bono.
The president opened with a comment about DeGeneres and his wife, who recently beat the comedian in a push-up contest on her talk show. He said DeGeneres had complained “that Michelle didn’t go all the way down.”
The audience interpreted it as off-color and began to chuckle, then erupted in bawdy laughter. Obama kept a straight face.
"That's what I heard," he said. "I just want to set the record straight. Michelle outdoes me in push-ups, as well. You shouldn't feel bad."
After a 30-minute speech outlining his administration's gay-friendly accomplishments, the president left for a dinner fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy and his fiance, David Miller.
Several dozen guests sat at small tables lighted with candles in the courtyard of the couple's white stucco mansion. A campaign official confirmed Witherspoon, Julia Roberts and actress Jane Lynch all had tickets to the dinner, which cost $25,000 per person.
Obama's visit to Los Angeles last month also was a celebrity-studded affair with Robert Downey Jr., Barbra Streisand, Tobey Maguire, Billy Crystal, Jack Black and Salma Hayek attending a fundraiser at George Clooney's Studio City home.
[Updated at 1:05 p.m. June 7: An earlier version of this post said President Obama had made an off-color joke. He made a comment that was interpreted by the audience as off-color.]
— Robin Abcarian, Kathleen Hennessey and Kate Linthicum