While some members of the Hollywood ruling class flirted with backing ex-LA Los Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor during the primaries, there was no doubt that this Democratic town was going to line up behind Gavin Newsom once the current Lt. Governor secured the party’s nomination in early June.
So, it’s no real surprise that next week will find Universal Pictures Chair Donna Langley joining the usual deep pocketed suspects for a pricey fundraiser for the ex-San Francisco mayor on the Universal lot. “Gavin’s a northern California guy but he knows he needs southern California’s money to dominate this race,” a regular contributing industry insider told Deadline of the $1,000 to $29,200 a ticket August 16 shindig at the Grill at Universal Studios.
The 5 PM event has a host committee that includes Langley and Ramin Shamshiri, NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Universal Filmed Entertainment boss Jeff Shell and wife Laura Shell, and of course Jeffrey Katzenberg and spouse Marilyn.
Though there are legal limitations on how much business can be discussed at such fundraisers, the Newsom for California – Governor 2018 event will certainly have that $330 million annually state film and TV tax incentive program on the mind of some attendees. Despite current Gov. Jerry Brown signing an extension of the 2.0 version of the program to 2025 earlier this summer, the Golden State is still lagging behind jurisdictions like Canada and the state of Georgia in attracting the big budgeted tentpole films.
Yet, more than a one issue marquee name for the town, Newsom’s Hollywood bench is pretty deep with Starz boss Chris Albrecht, NBC chief Robert Greenblatt, Star Wars leader Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, as well as Katzenberg’s political right hand man Andy Spahn and Jennifer Perry are also on the host committee of next Thursday’s gathering. According to an invitation obtained by Deadline, Comcast execs Amy Banse and David L. Cohen will be there too with State of Play producer and investor Andrew Hauptman, RealD’s Michael V. Lewis and ex-Paramount boss Sherry Lansing.
A long known and welcomed presence in Tinseltown, Newsom clearly looks to have a lock on winning the keys to the Governor’s mansion in Sacramento in November against the Donald Trump backed and trailing Republican John Cox. If there was even a small bit of hesitation for Hollywood to now come out strong for Newsom, it was cast aside when former President Barack Obama announced his support for the Lt. Governor last week among other Democrat candidates on ballots across the country that the ex-Commander-in-Chief is backing.
In a case of time and practicality healing all wounds, that endorsement came despite the friction between the two when the then Illinois Senator was running against the Newsom backed Hillary Clinton in 2008 for the Dems’ Presidential nomination.
After mainly staying on the sidelines since leaving office in January 2017, Obama has said that he will be participating frequently and publicly in the midterm elections. Races that, in Cali at the very least, the 44th POTUS’ biggest financial backer Katzenberg has already committed some big bucks. With Democrats only needing 23 seats to regain control of the house for the first time since 2010, the potentially vulnerable GOP held districts in California’s congressional delegation could help tip the scales AKA Trump’s worst nightmare.