Republican presidential candidates have campaigned in Georgia repeatedly this primary season. Now President Obama follows. Last night he visited supporter Tyler Perry’s film and TV studio for a pair of Atlanta fundraisers. But in 2008 when Barack Obama was first campaigning for President, he declined Perry’s invitation to the grand opening of his Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Had he not back then, the Democrat endorsed by many labor unions would have been met by picket lines thrown up by the Writers Guild of America and supported by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Prior to that incident and after, Perry has remained one of Obama’s staunchest supporters and prized campaigners and even film biographer…
The first 5 PM gala featured a performance by singer Cee Lo Green and was sponsored by the African American Leadership Council. It sold tickets for $500-$2,500 per person. A photo with the president cost $10,000. About 1,000 people attended, according to a spokesperson. Local news reports said Obama spoke to the crowd for 30 minutes and kept to many of his campaign points such as healthcare and increasing taxes on the wealthy. He took a friendly jab at host Perry on that score. “Tyler can afford to do a little more. He knows that,” said Obama. Grammy-winner Green, who is a judge on NBC’s The Voice, made news when he flicked off the audience before asking, “Can I curse in here?” and let out a loud “Fuck you!” Cee Lo then switched to cleaner “Forget You” lyrics.
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Then an 8 PM elite dinner followed at Perry’s private estate with an estimated 40 guests — including Perry’s gal pal Oprah Winfrey — paying for tickets costing $35,800 per person. The money will be split between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Back in 2008, the Writers Guild Of America called a labor action against Tyler Perry Studios over his two television series, House Of Payne and Meet The Browns which weren’t WGA-covered shows at the time. Obama chose not to cross the WGA picket line outside Perry’s big new production studio after the Guild filed charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board. It accused Perry of firing more than half his writing staff on the TBS sitcom House Of Payne because of their union activity, and bargaining in bad faith with the Hollywood guild. Dozens upon dozens of the biggest producer, writer and showrunner names in scripted television even went so far as to sign an open letter bashing Perry for his anti-WGA activity. Soon after Obama wouldn’t visit Tyler Perry Studios, Perry settled with the WGA. Meanwhile, there’s no recent word on Perry’s announced plans to write, direct and produce ”a love story inspired by the relationship between Obama and his wife Michelle” after meeting them through Oprah. Perry had said he dreamed of casting Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett in the lead roles.
Here is video of Perry welcoming Obama to the filmmaker’s Southwest Atlanta studios: