UPDATE, 1:27 PM WRITETHRU: President Obama took to the stage today for a speech on the economy at DreamWorks Animation, the company run by one of his biggest Hollywood bundlers Jeffrey Katzenberg. After being introduced by Mellody Hobson — the DWA board chairman from Aerial Capital Management, a Chicago native and longtime friend — he thanked Katzenberg for inviting him before launching into a pro-Hollywood and pro-economy message tailored to the crowd estimated at 1800-2000 that included DWA employees and pretty much every entertainment mogul in the city. “His place in the entertainment business is legendary … don’t need to puff him up too much he has a healthy sense of self”, Obama joked about Katzenberg, with the president adding that “my ears were the inspiration for Shrek”. The president called the entertainment biz “one of America’s biggest exports” and “one of the bright spots of our economy”, adding that he’s figured out what his next job will be. “I told Jeffery I’d like to work here”, Obama said to cheers from the crowd. As he wrapped up, after his customary “God bless America” line, Obama said, “Can’t wait to see your next movie”.
The Glendale stop, on the second day of a two-day LA fundraising swing, drew a who’s who of Hollywood moguls including CBS Corp’s Les Moonves, NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Jeff Shell and Robert Greenblatt, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Paramount’s Rob Moore, Fox’s Jim Gianoplulos and Peter Rice, Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer, Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara, Disney’s Bob Iger, Alan Horn and Anne Sweeney, LA Film Czar Tom Sherak and the MPAA’s Chris Dodd. Those execs participated in a closed-press meeting with Obama ahead of his speech, with a White House spokesman describing it as an “opportunity to discuss the economy and highlight the entertainment industry as a bright spot in our growing economy. The President discussed the impact that broader economic conditions has on the industry. He also touched on piracy and intellectual property rights, which are chief concerns of participating film industry leaders.” The moguls were hard to pin down on the meeting, with Meyer telling me only that “it was great, really great”.
Also before the speech, Katzenberg led Obama on a tour of DWA’s Glendale’s headquarters, including watching a demonstration of the motion capture process — DWA is currently using mocap for How to Train Your Dragon 2. He then watched Steve Martin and Jim Parsons record lines for the upcoming film Home. Martin was among four greeters in the recording studio, and told Obama he got a cold in anticipation of his visit, according to pool reports.
Meanwhile, a group of VFX professionals gathered about a mile away at Griffith Manor Park for a march to DWA to protest lost jobs in their industry. (Check out some photos here.) The activists are upset Obama would praise employment at a studio hit by layoffs in the last year in the face of an animation and VFX community that’s struggling to survive — though they say raising the issue, not dinging Obama and Katzenberg, is their focus. The plan was to have attendees inside the event wear green T-shirts in support of the protest, but only 3 or 4 green shirts were seen as the crowd gathered to hear Obama speak.
Earlier on Tuesday, Obama made a stop at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kaufmann in Hancock Park, which was closed to press. According to pool reports, about 30 supporters attended the roundtable DNC fundraiser contributing up to $32,400. On Monday, the president hit a pair of high-profile homes — Magic Johnson’s and Haim Saban’s — for fundraisers.
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