Hollywood’s stars (and suits) have aligned behind Bobby Shriver, who has emerged as the entertainment industry’s clear favorite over former child actor Sheila Kuehl in their race for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, contribution reports show. But Shriver trails Kuehl big in overall fundraising, thanks to her support among independent committees representing many county employee groups.
Both candidates told Deadline that they want to be Hollywood’s voice on the Board, but Hollywood is putting its money on Shriver, according to financial reports filed with the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office. The election is Tuesday.
Shriver is a Kennedy clan scion best known for his involvement in high-profile philanthropic efforts such as Project [Red}, and is backed by many of show business’ biggest names.
Donors include Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw, Robert Downey Jr., Jodie Foster, Warren Beatty, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Quincy Jones, Renee Zellweger, Jessica Alba, JJ Abrams, Ted Danson and wife Mary Steenburgen, Herb Alpert and Garry Marshall. Each contributed the maximum allowed $1,500.
Kuehl, a 1960’s TV star turned Harvard lawyer and state legislator, has received surprisingly little backing from the industry she once worked in, and which she also represented in the California State Assembly and Senate. Her only well-known industry backers are actress Linda Hunt, producer Marcy Carsey, and the American Film Institute‘s retired CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg.
The contest is important because whoever wins will become one of the most important, if low-profile, politicians in the region as part of the five-member Board of Supervisors. The board oversees a county government with more than 80,000 employees, provides municipal services to dozens of cities in the county and runs the massive child-protection, jail, courts, welfare and health systems. It has a $26 billion budget, and represents more people than 42 states.
The district that Shriver and Kuehl are vying to represent includes several of the region’s big studios and network operations in Hollywood, the Westside and the Valley. From a practical standpoint, the new supervisor will be faced with nudging a notoriously unresponsive county bureaucracy to do more to solve runaway production, make the county more film friendly and provide more access to county facilities, parks and beaches.
Shriver is also the hands-down favorite among industry titans, receiving maximum donations from many of the industry’s biggest movers and shakers, including:
DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn
Walt Disney Company chairman/CEO Robert Iger
Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes
CBS Corporation president and CEO Les Moonves
Viacom chairman and CEO Brad Grey
Imagine Entertainment co-founder Brian Grazer
Entertainment attorney and LA film czar Ken Ziffren
Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Paramount Pictures president Adam Goodman
UTA chairman Jim Berkus
Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton
HBO CEO Richard Plepler
CAA president Richard Lovett
CAA managing director Bryan Lourd
ICM partner Chris Silbermann
20th Century Fox president Emma Watts
Lionsgate co-chairman Rob Friedman
Mandalay Entertainment chairman and CEO (and LA Dodgers co-owner) Peter Guber
Saban Capital Group chairman Haim Saban
David Geffen Company CEO Richard Sherman
Revolt Media co-founder and president Andy Schuon
Fox Films chairman and CEO James Gianopulos
Disney Media co-chair Anne Sweeney
Starz CEO Christopher Albrecht
Warner Bros. chairman emeritus Morris Ostin
Other heavy hitters contributing to Shriver’s campaign include Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, former Warner Bros. chairman Terry Semel, two-time Oscar-winning producer Albert Ruddy, Oscar-winning producer Tony Bill, producer Lawrence Gordon, former ABC Entertainment president Brandon Stoddard, record and film producer Lou Adler, Rolling Stones co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner, Bill and Melinda Gates, philanthropist Eli Broad, Walt Disney Studios president Sean Bailey, philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Barbara Benedek, Wasserman Media Group CEO and president Casey Wasserman (the grandson of MCA mega-mogul Lew Wasserman), former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker, deputy LA film czar Rajiv Dalal, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
By contrast, Kuehl received support from only a handful of industry execs, including Thomas Schumacher, president of the Disney Theatrical Group (and executive producer of The Lion King), Harmony Gold CEO Frank Agrama, Fyxx Entertainment CEO Adrian De Pamphilis, David Ambroz, director of corporate citizenship and social responsibility at the Disney/ABC Television Group, and Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, who contributed to both campaigns.
Her other prominent industry supporters include The Newsroom executive producer Alan Poul, Emmy-nominated producer Neal Baer, CSI executive producer Ann Donahue, IATSE Camera Local 600 national executive director Bruce Doering, and Michael Richie, artistic director of the Center Theatre Group.
Shriver’s campaign received more than $200,000 – a sixth of all the money he raised from private individuals – from more than 200 actors, writers, directors, producers, agents, managers, entertainment attorneys, and studio heads – most of whom contributed the maximum $1,500.
Kuehl, on the other hand, received less than $40,000 from fewer than 70 members of the industry, mostly in checks for less than $500.
Even so, Kuehl has raised more money than Shriver in individual contributions. As of the Oct. 18, she raised $1,570,122, compared to Shriver’s $1,201,323.
And Kuehl has received far more money from independent Super Committees, which are not bound by any spending limits. Together, three committees representing various county employee groups raised more than $3.2 million for Kuehl.
The biggest donor was Local Experience We Can Trust for Our Communities – a coalition of nurses, teachers, firefighters and public safety officers. It raised a whopping $2.9 million for Kuehl.
Another, called First Responders for Sheila Kuehl – a coalition of deputy sheriffs, district attorney investigators, nurses, and victims’ rights advocates – raised another $122,249, with major funding from the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs State Political Action Committee.
Still another group from one of the county’s giant union locals, Service Employees International Union Local 721 PAC, spent $209,225 covering Kuehl field expenses.
By contrast, the three biggest super committees backing Shriver’s campaign raised a little more than $450,000.
So far, according to the funding reports, Kuehl has raised more than $4.7 million, nearly three times the $1.65 million raised by Shriver, for a job that pays $179,000 a year.