EXCLUSIVE: UPDATE, 7:56 AM: Looks like last night’s private power-player dinner with President Barack Obama was with more than just Jeffrey Katzenberg. After our initial scoop late last night, I hear that Will Smith and Disney’s Alan Horn also were in attendance for an off-the-schedule post-fundraisers sit-down with POTUS. As these private dinners go that Obama seems to be having almost every time he’s in town, their presence makes sense — along with the DreamWorks Animation CEO, the Concussion star and the Disney Studios chairman are longtime supporters of the President.
Cindy Horn and several others joined the late-night meal at the Westside hotel where Obama was staying overnight. However, like Katzenberg, neither Smith nor the Horns attended the duo of deep-pocket events the President headlined earlier Thursday.
(UPDATE, 11:59 AM: “I am going to protect the president’s ability to have private conversations, whether that’s with lawmakers, whether that’s with candidates for president, or whether that’s with Hollywood artists,” said WH deputy press secretary Eric Schultz today. With neither a Yes nor a a No, Schultz was being asked by media traveling from L.A. to Palm Springs with Obama if POTUS had participated in an off-the-books dinner with big Hollywood donors as I exclusively reported. Questioned further, he repeated “I don’t have any private conversations to read out,” according to pool reports.)
PREVIOUS, 11:03 PM: There was a lot of talk about big money in politics in tonight’s Democratic debate but after a long day fundraising and taping daytime television, there is nothing the incumbent leader of the free world likes to do more than unwind with a casual meal with an old pal. And, in an almost repeat of last June, that’s exactly what President Barack Obama did tonight with Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The DreamWorks Animation boss was seen late Thursday at the very hip and well protected westside hotel where POTUS is staying. Sources confirm the Commander-in-Chief and his top bundler were having a private dinner.
Just like when Obama broke bread with Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg last summer, this meeting was off the books. Katzenberg’s quiet Burbank sitdown in August 2013 with the President was also not on the official schedule.
Katzenberg did not attend the pricey Hancock Park shindigs that the President was the headliner at on Thursday after taping a Friday appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ show. While there were a few spots at $1,000 a pop at the around 340 guests first event at home of Scorpion EP Danny Rose and husband/entertainment lawyer Aaron Rosenberg, the top tickets were snapped up for $33,400. Unlike the first event, there was no performance by John Legend at the more intimate Michael Lombardo co-hosted dinner and discussion at Leah and Sam Fisher’s pad afterwards, where there were less than 70 guests. However, it certainly was ritzier with the lowest price going for $10,000 and the highest for $33,400. The President was out in L.A. looking for Hollywood dough for the 21st time since taking office in 2009. The funds raised tonight are intended for his 2012 re-election campaign debt and the Democratic National Committee.
Of course, tonight’s dinner between Katzenberg and Obama comes after fellow Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton battled it out on stage for PBS and CNN. No word if that matchup was a topic of discussion around the Presidential table tonight — or when we are going to see Kung Fu Panda 4.