‘Don’t Be Late’ -- or a Dollar Short

by Michael Walsh

Shakedown-wise, everything is not copacetic in Tinseltown. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Barack Obama’s recent barrage of Hollywood campaign fund-raisers is drawing backlash from an unlikely place: Hollywood.

Some of the president’s most ardent entertainment industry supporters quietly tell The Hollywood Reporter that while they realize he needs to deploy all of his weapons to compete with deep-pocketed Republican super PACs, they fear the increasing reliance on stars and celebrity contests could backfire with swing voters and mobilize the right.

“We don’t like what he’s doing, but we understand it,” says one Hollywood fund-raising insider. “He has to raise the money. It’s a bad situation.”

Do tell. Folks on both sides of the political divide (yes, there are two sides) in Hollywood cringe whenever the news breaks that the president will be jetting in for another visit to his Beverly Hills–Hancock Park–Brentwood ATM machines, the better to suck up excess cash to support his typically spendthrift campaign operation, and not just because they hate being turned upside down and shaken until their pockets empty. Obama’s frequent arrivals and departures turn whole sections of the San Diego Freeway, Beverly Boulevard, and the Sunset Strip either into parking lots or no-go zones, and the city freezes in Week End–type gridlock until Air Force One is safely airborne again. 

Can it be that the cognitive dissonance between Obama’s tribune-of-the-people pose and plutocratic reality is finally registering? It can:

Reaction was particularly strong to the $40,000-a-plate dinner co-hosted June 14 by Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue editor Anna Wintour with guests including Meryl Streep, Aretha Franklin and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. Critics say the tony, heavily promoted event­ — Parker sent an e-mail to supporters promising the evening would be “fabulous,” and Wintour posted a video online urging supporters to enter a lottery for two tickets — risked creating the impression of an elitist, out-of-touch candidate in a period of ongoing distress and growing economic inequality.

“It’s a mistake,” a veteran Hollywood exec says flatly of the event, which the Drudge Report headlined “Checks in the City.” The exec adds: “He’s supposed to be a man of the people, and he’s hanging out with Anna Wintour? Is he trying to turn the election into a celebrity reality show?”

Anna Wintour (the inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada)? A celebrity reality show? What could possibly go wrong? Who could have resisted a heartfelt plea like this?


To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, anyone who can watch Anna Wintour begging for money without laughing has a heart of stone.

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