Barack Obama to Hollywood: Without you, no Obama White House
When rock stars need to replenish their bank accounts, they hit the road and go on tour.
President Barack Obama demonstrated again Wednesday night that he is the current star money-raiser of American politics, as he brought his support-the-Democratic National Committee tour to Beverly Hills and packed not one room, but three at the Beverly Hilton there.
How big a draw is the president?
Well, big enough to convince 250 Hollywood bigwigs and stars like Seth Rogin, Marisa Tomei, Kiefer Sutherland, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Holly Robinson Peete, Tyler Perry, Nicky Hilton, Lawrence Bender and the entire Avant family.
Not to mention newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter and healthcare go-to guy Sen. Chris Dodd -- to spend more than $30,000 a couple to eat dinner in one of the hotel's private ballrooms.
By the way, for that check the diners got Sonoma greens, marinated artichokes, pepper goat cheese, roasted tenderloin, kabachi ravioli, grilled organic chicken and sunchoke rosemary mashed potatoes.
The president was introduced by Katzenberg, who said, "If you look in the dictionary under 'grace under fire,' it will say Barack Obama."
Obama, ever the basketball fan, quipped about the Lakers-Nuggets playoff game, by then underway at Staples Center, "It was tied in the first quarter," he said. "That's the story. We will get out of here before the end of the third. Some of you will get out of here before halftime."
And they did, lining up for their cars behind police lines and opposite a group of protesters on Wilshire Blvd.
The president went on to thank Katzenberg, saying "If it weren't for you, we would not be in the White House."
Addressing the assembled big-ticket donors, Obama added that, it's "because of Americans like you, who are willing to dig deep," not just with money but also going door to door and volunteering ... that we have the chance to bring about change."
One of those particularly thrilled by the president's remarks was Bender, an early Obama supporter who had to miss the inaugural because he was in Berlin working on a film with Brad Pitt. Bender said he had to pinch himself to make sure he really was in the same room with the president.
After dinner, it was on to a bigger ballroom for a concert by the other sort of rock stars (Earth, Wind and Fire and Jennifer Hudson). Obama still got the biggest applause.
And an estimated $4 million from the party for the party.
-- Tina Daunt