The president's first stop on the film industry dollar tour is George Clooney's Fryman Canyon (Los Angeles) home, where celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck will personally cater the $40,000-a-plate dinner for Hollywood high rollers tonight. Security for the star-studded fundraiser is expected to look more like a special ops mission than a chummy dinner for Democrats, with the Los Angeles Police Department bringing in its highly trained Counter-Terrorism unit to back up the U.S. Secret Service, according to the latest TMZ report.
The event, which is expected to raise as much as $15 million for the president's re-election campaign, has already raised well over $6 million, with many millions more coming in via an online raffle, according to the New York Times. Organizers had to stop selling $40,000-a-plate tickets last week because there was no room to squeeze in any more tables, the Times reported.
Producer and activist Norman Lear, who had been reluctant to contribute due to the president's apparent willingness to compromise on key liberal issues, said almost immediately after the president's announcement that he and his wife would contribute $80,000, the maximum allowed by law.
“This is the kind of leadership we support, and we are happy to max out today to his re-election campaign,” Lear said.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told the Times the event at Clooney's could rake in as much as $15 million, as Hollywood liberals who had become suspicious of the president's liberal credentials--and had felt somewhat snubbed by the Oval Office--made a major about-face in light of Obama's announcement that he favors gay marriage. Director Rob Reiner was among the first to proclaim his change of heart:
“I felt that he tried to accommodate the other side too much,” Reiner told the Times. “I realize now that it was an attempt to try to broker some kind of compromise. I think he realized like everybody realized, that it’s virtually impossible.”
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose scathing op-ed piece in the Hollywood Reporter critized Obama for his "sluggish, self-described 'evolution' on the issue of marriage equality," is now devoting his considerable influence to the president's re-election in November. Black told the Huffington Post that Obama's gay marriage announcement was a total "game-changer."
"It does show leadership. It shows strength. And all these things I've been waiting to see," Black said. "I've caught myself saying, 'Yes we can' again."
Even Jon Stewart, who ripped Obama on Tuesday night's "Daily Show," had a sudden change of heart. On Wednesday night's show, Stewart called the president's announcement "exciting, positive news for equal rights for all citizens."
This isn't just hot air. When it comes to politics, Hollywood puts its money where its mouth is. Just ask Bill Clinton. And never underestimate the wealth behind the gay vote. One in six of the president's top campaign finance bundlers is gay, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Obama may not have the wealthy right-wing PACs behind him, but there's a lot of gold in them thar Hollywood Hills--and most of it is going into the president's campaign fund now that he has announced his support for gay marriage. Clooney's soiree is just the beginning.