“We were discussing the new season of Glee,” tweeted Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson about what he and President Obama said to one another last night at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues. It’s where the actor emceed one of two Hollywood fundraisers for Obama’s re-election campaign Monday. According to a White House pool report, Obama greeted Ferguson, turned to the microphone, and said, “I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family.” Some in the crowd chanted “Four more years”. Roughly 900 people paid ticket prices starting at $250 and as much as $10,000 (to secure a photo with the president).
The second fundraiser cost $17,900 for each of the 120 people in attendance at Melrose Avenue’s Fig & Olive restaurant. The private event’s co-hosts included Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, his longtime political adviser Andy Spahn, and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now,” Obama was quoted by a pool report as telling showbiz attendees like Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Jamie Foxx, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Jon Landau (producer of Avatar and Titanic). “I urge some of you to watch the Republican debates,” Obama added.
Obama received a standing ovation from the industry types seated at round tables with white table linens. But news of the president’s impending Hollywood fundraising was punctuated by several media articles proclaiming that Tinseltown support for him had eroded greatly since 2008. Recently Democratic activists like Robert Redford, Matt Damon, and Michael Moore have criticized Obama’s inability to stay the liberal course. Katzenberg seemed to address that disappointment when he introduced Obama by saying, “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.” Katzenberg also noted, “I have a dependency on President Obama. He inherited a crashing economy and two wars and opponents who questioned if he was even born (in the U.S.). Yet he kept us moving forward. He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature.”
Katzenberg is leading the Hollywood “bundlers” for the president’s re-election campaign. (Bundlers use their substantial personal connections to haul in money for candidates.) Campaign finance reports must be filed by Sepember 30th, and latest 3rd-quarter fundraising totals released on October 15th. These will reveal who in Hollywood is and isn’t donating this time around to Obama. “For better or worse, I’ve maxed out giving to Obama. Though it’s not the smartest use of my money,” one unenthusiastic movie mogul tells me. He’s like a lot of Hollywood Democrats including Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, and Will Ferrell who have maxed out at $35,800 apiece for the Obama Victory Fund 2012. That’s the joint account of the Democratic National Committee and Obama For America. The campaign gets the first $5,000 of an individual contribution. A $5K contribution would account for both a primary and general contribution and be the max an individual could give the campaign for the cycle, while $30,800 is the maximum an individual can give to a campaign committee per year. The pool report quoted Landau as saying, “I think Hollywood is very positive. I think they’re very excited about what’s going to happen next year. I know not everybody around the country is, but I think everybody here believes over the next 14 months you will see who the true leader of this country is.”