Hollywood opened its wallets to Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid on Tuesday, as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen threw the first major show biz fund-raiser of the 2008 campaign in an event expected to take in $1.3 million.
A $2,300-per-person cocktail reception at the Beverly Hilton drew stars and studio chiefs, including Eddie Murphy, Ron Howard Morgan Freeman, Jackson Browne, Jennifer Aniston, Natalie Maines and Ben Stiller along with Universal's Ron Meyer and Paramount's Brad Grey. Also present were writer-director J.J. Abrams, producer Lawrence Bender and producer Norman Lear.
The event was followed by a private dinner at Geffen's home for fund-raisers who brought in at least $46,000 for the evening.
The fund-raiser was closed to the press, although a handful of political reporters and news crews staked out entrances to the hotel, and guests stood behind a rope inside, snapping pictures as stars went by. Absent, though, was the paparazzi, unusual given the star quotient of the evening.
Earlier in the day, Obama had separate meetings with employees of United Talent Agency and the William Morris Agency, and then spoke to a public rally at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex in South Los Angeles.
The fund-raiser kicked off a flurry of activity in Hollywood this week among presidential contenders that threatened to overshadow the buildup to the Oscars on Sunday. "Everyone's speaking about politics now," said Irena Medavoy, who plans to throw her own fund-raiser for Obama next month.
Joseph Biden was scheduled to attend a fund-raiser tonight at the Beverly Hills home of real estate magnate Richard Ziman, and Hillary Clinton is skedded to visit Thursday for a series of smaller receptions with donors in advance of a March 24 gala at the home of Ron Burkle. Sen. John McCain, who raised money in January at a fund-raiser at the home of MGM's Harry Sloan, is scheduled to appear in Terminal Island today with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for a press conference on climate change.