---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine
Date: Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Subject: re: Hollywood Donors Set to Cast Hillary Clinton in Top Role
To the Editor:
As long as U.S. law privileges political donations as protected symbolic free speech, moneyed elites--whether in Hollywood or on Wall Street--will presume to crown our "leaders" for us. We will never truly know the "voice of the People" while the voices of the rich are permitted to dominate the public discourse.
Barry Haskell Levine
By AMY CHOZICK and ADAM NAGOURNEY
Published: November 7, 2013
LOS ANGELES — In the prelude to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary season, the split between the Hollywood mogulDavid Geffen and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton represented an early and embarrassing sign of trouble for Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Geffen, previously one of the Clintons’ most generous benefactors, criticized the former first lady as overly ambitious and called the former president “a reckless guy.” Hollywood divided, quickly and sharply, between Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama, then a senator.
When Mrs. Clinton arrives here on Friday to accept an award at an A-list charity event organized by, among others, the producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, she will find a decidedly more embracing climate.
Conversations with a range of Hollywood figures suggest that there is widespread — if not so starry-eyed — support for Mrs. Clinton should she decide to run for president in 2016, a stark contrast with 2008, and an important early indication of Mrs. Clinton’s standing with some of the biggest donors in the Democratic Party.
“If she ran, I would support her — no question,” Mr. Geffen said in an interview. “I think she’s the best candidate currently available for either party.”
Mr. Katzenberg, who joined Mr. Geffen and Steven Spielberg in arranging a $1.3 million fund-raiser for Mr. Obama at Mr. Geffen’s Beverly Hills estate in February 2007, also said he planned to throw his weight behind Mrs. Clinton the next time around.
“If Secretary Clinton makes the decision to run, I expect she’ll have near-unanimous support here,” Mr. Katzenberg wrote in an email. “Hillary represents our best chance to win in 2016, build upon the successes of the Obama administration, and keep the country moving in the right direction.”
The shift reflects enthusiasm about Mrs. Clinton’s prospects for winning the election, but it also highlights the less rose-colored view of Mr. Obama now held by some of his most loyal supporters. “The Hollywood community really came together in the last election and raised an awful lot of money and supported him,” said Felix Schein, a Los Angeles-based political strategist. “I wouldn’t say that’s gone, but the mood is sour.”
In his first run for president, Mr. Obama offered Hollywood not only a new leading man but an irresistible story line: The idea of electing the first black president electrified the industry. And he was an antiwar candidate in a part of the country where the war in Iraq was highly unpopular. Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, seemed like a sequel, a wooden Washington insider.
Disenchantment with Mr. Obama in Hollywood has grown over the years, over such issues as eavesdropping and the perception that he has been weak in dealing with Republicans in Congress.
There is little suggestion, however, that this is the major factor driving the embrace of Mrs. Clinton; several figures here said they were at this point more frustrated with Republicans in Congress than with Mr. Obama.
Given “how poisoned the atmosphere is,” said Rob Reiner, the actor and director, “I don’t think he could have done any better.”
The Clintons have always had a close, if complicated, relationship with Hollywood. Bill Clinton had an ease with the world of pop culture, fostered by his fun-loving mother, Virginia, who revered Elvis Presley. After a speech at the 1988 Democratic convention that most pundits considered political suicide, Mr. Clinton used an appearance on “The Tonight Show” to poke fun at — and ultimately redeem — himself.
In 1992 he played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” and it was his television producer friends Harry and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason whose video, “The Man From Hope,” introduced many Americans to the future president’s small-town-boy-made-good biography.
Last week, at a charity gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, told the story of the time he and the actors Billy Crystal, Sam Waterston and Christopher Reeve dropped in unannounced on Mr. Clinton in the Oval Office as he pored over Supreme Court briefing books.
“I hope HBO will soon come again to the White House and there will be another President Clinton sitting at that desk,” Mr. Plepler said. “But next time, I promise to knock first.”
Since leaving the State Department, Mrs. Clinton has reconnected with old Hollywood friends like the agent Casey Wasserman, and her schedule has been peppered with Hollywood-related events.
Last month, she headlined a $25,000-per-couple luncheon in Beverly Hills hosted by the entertainment entrepreneur Haim Saban to raise money for Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia governor’s campaign.
Before Mrs. Clinton picks up an award at the International Medical Corps gala in Beverly Hills on Friday, she and her daughter, Chelsea, will attend a discussion about early-childhood development moderated by Mr. Reiner. And the political action committee Ready for Hillary plans to hold two Hollywood fund-raisers by the end of the year, one of which will be hosted by Howard Gordon, the executive producer of the hit TV shows “Homeland” and “24.”
The changed climate does surprise some of Mrs. Clinton’s crucial 2008 supporters. Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who was a prominent figure in Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign and Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, said he was struck by the shift.
“There’s a lot of support and excitement about the prospect of Hillary as a candidate,” Mr. Villaraigosa said. “People feel like she would be tough to beat. She’s a proven commodity.”
The newfound support is welcome, but it also brings back memories of the rifts between the Clintons and Hollywood donors in 2008, the most notable of which was Mr. Geffen, who aired his grievances with the Clinton “machine” in an interview with Maureen Dowd of The New York Times. He criticized Mrs. Clinton for her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq. “It’s not a very big thing to say ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,” he told The Times.
Mr. Geffen had raised about $18 million for Mr. Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom twice, which he told Ms. Dowd was “not as nice as my bedroom.” The falling-out between Mr. Geffen and the Clintons attracted widespread news media attention and entered political lore as one of the most acrimonious donor-politician rifts.
In the interview this week, Mr. Geffen acknowledged his past critical words of the Clintons, but added: “I think Hillary is an extraordinary, smart, accomplished woman.” In July, he told Fortune magazine he would “absolutely” support Mrs. Clinton.
“I supported Obama because when I heard his speech at the Democratic convention, I told him I would support him for president if he ran, and this was before anyone announced,” he said. “And I’m a man of my word.”
Mrs. Clinton’s support here also highlights a concern in the Democratic Party that should she decide not to pursue the presidential nomination, there is no obvious fallback candidate. The Hollywood power brokers interviewed for this article agree that other potential 2016 candidates, including Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of New York, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the vice president, or Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, would not generate the same kind of unity.
“Last time, the community was really split down the middle between Obama and Hillary,” said Mr. Reiner, a steadfast supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s. “This year I think everybody is going to be rallying around Hillary.”
Asked why, Mr. Reiner said that in addition to Mrs. Clinton’s record: “There is nobody else.