Partially in jest and partially dead serious, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tonight told a mogul-heavy big ticket fundraiser at the home of Fox’s Jim Gianopulos and his wife Ann that NY was the birthplace of film in America. He also said he has no qualms about trying to bring more of the film and TV business back to the Empire State. With tickets going for up to $50,000 a couple, a crowd of over 100 tonight packed the “intimate evening” fundraiser for the Democrat’s reelection held in the Gianopulos’ backyard, which had been set up with tables and heat lamps. Introduced by the MPAA’s Chris Dodd, who himself was introduced by Gianopulos, Cuomo spoke for about 20 minutes. Among a number of topics, the Governor stressed on the importance he puts on protecting Intellectual Property. Having helped lure The Tonight Show back to NYC last year, Cuomo also discussed the value he puts on what the industry can contribute to the NY State economy. New York has a film/TV tax incentive of more than $420 million – the highest in the country. Even with a reelection war chest estimated at over $33 million, the over $600,000 raised tonight was a hefty contribution to Cuomo’s campaign.
One of a growing number of pricey midterm election fundraisers being held by moguls, the Cuomo gathering tonight was strictly top tier. DreamWorks Animation boss and Hollywood fundraising chieftain Jeffrey Katzenberg co-hosted the evening event with Disney’s Alan Horn, NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer, Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff
Shell, CBS chief Les Moonves, Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara, Sony’s Michael Lynton, Paramount’s Brad Grey, the MPAA’s Dodd, and Steven Spielberg. The Lincoln director didn’t actually make the event nor did Horn but NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt was there. The MPAA and Katzenberg’s political consigliere Andy Spahn put the event together with tickets going from $5,000 per person and $10,000 per couple in the patron range and $25,000 individually and $50,000 a couple in the Chair range. With the Governor flying in this afternoon, the evening started around 6PM with a Host Committee Reception and then was followed at 6:30PM for the general reception. After his speech, Cuomo took questions from the donors, touching on topics like education and global warming.
Earlier this week, it looked like the harsh Winter Storm Janus that hit the East Coast could postpone the tonight’s fundraiser with Cuomo handling the state of emergency that he declared in New York. However, with Janus come and now basically passed, the Governor headed out West today. Not that he didn’t catch some heat from his GOP rivals. “Wait a minute – Didn’t Andrew Cuomo just gave a big tax break to Hollywood companies that film in New York State? He did. And now he’s in Hollywood to collect on that debt. The New York Republican State Committee has called for an end to such corporate welfare in our Jobs Agenda,” wrote Repulican NY State Chairman Ed Cox in a fundraising letter sent out today.
Like for many prominent Democrats, Hollywood has proved to be a good ATM for Cuomo. He raised money out here for his failed bid to be New York State Chief Exec in 2002 as well as for his successful 2006 race for NY Attorney General and his 2010 run for the Governorship. Less than a year into his term, the Governor raised half a million bucks for his re-election from a November 2011 fundraiser at the home of then HBO VP Global Licensing and Retail James Costos and his partner and White House decorator Michael S. Smith. JJ Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath and Rob Reiner and wife Michele were among the donors, as they have been for a number of Democrats. Costos, who also raised a lot of money for both of President Obama’s White House runs, is now the U.S. Ambassador to Spain.