Barack Obama’s recent barrage of Hollywood campaign fundraisers is drawing backlash from an unlikely place: Hollywood.
Some of the president’s most ardent entertainment industry supporters quietly tell The Hollywood Reporter that while they realize he needs to deploy all of his weapons to compete with deep-pocketed Republican super PACs, they fear the increasing reliance on stars and celebrity contests could backfire with swing voters and mobilize the right.
“We don’t like what he’s doing, but we understand it,” says one Hollywood fund-raising insider. “He has to raise the money. It’s a bad situation.”
Reaction was particularly strong to the $40,000-a-plate dinner co-hosted June 14 by Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue editor Anna Wintour with guests including Meryl Streep, Aretha Franklin and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. Critics say the tony, heavily promoted event — Parker sent an e-mail to supporters promising the evening would be “fabulous,” and Wintour posted a video online urging supporters to enter a lottery for two tickets — risked creating the impression of an elitist, out-of-touch candidate in a period of ongoing distress and growing economic inequality.
“It’s a mistake,” a veteran Hollywood exec says flatly of the event, which the Drudge Report headlined “Checks in the City.” The exec adds: “He’s supposed to be a man of the people, and he’s hanging out with Anna Wintour? Is he trying to turn the election into a celebrity reality show?”