Entries in Hollywood (5)


If Washington Chose the Oscar Winners... 

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Oscars’ official theme this year may have been music and movies, but there was also an unofficial theme — celebrities and politics.

According to, if Washington had given out Oscars, the winners might have been (slightly) different.

With a combined total of more than $3.6 million in donations to Democrats over the past 12 years, Hollywood continues its historical association with that party. Amounts of the donations vary, but many nominees across major categories contributed to Democratic political campaigns in some way.

Steven Spielberg, one of this year’s Best Director nominees for Lincoln, leads the pack with more than $2.7 million in donations from 1990 to 2012. More than half of this sum was accounted for in the last election alone — Spielberg donated a combined total of $1.1 million to Priorities USA Action, an Obama super PAC, and smaller sums to various congressional campaigns and the Democratic National Committee.

Director/producer Ben Affleck and producer George Clooney of Best Picture winner Argo have also given to Democrats. Since 1990, Clooney has donated more than $130,000, while Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner have donated $48,200 in support of Democrats in the past three presidential elections.

Newcomer to the Hollywood political scene and this year’s Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway has given $50,000 since last June  to the Obama campaign, the DNC and various Democratic state committees.

Denzel Washington and his wife, Pauletta, have also spent more than $150,000 since 2008 in support of Obama, with donations to Democratic Party committees, as well as to Obama’s presidential campaigns.

Other notable political activist nominees this year included Robert DeNiro, Sally Field, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix and Helen Hunt. None of them won.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Trio of Hollywood Elite Hosting Obama Fundraiser

JB Lacroix/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is enlisting the help of Hollywood stars as he travels to Connecticut today to raise some much-needed campaign cash.

The president will reportedly rub elbows at an intimate event at the home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, co-hosted by A-listers Anne Hathaway, star of The Dark Knight Rises, and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The dinner for 60 supporters at Weinstein’s Westport residence is expected to bring in more than $2 million for the president’s re-election campaign.

Tonight’s fundraiser comes on the same day that Obama and the Democratic National Committee announced they raised $75 million combined in July for the president’s re-election campaign, well below the $101 million Mitt Romney raised last month.

Facing a deluge of fundraising by GOP political action committees, Obama has often turned to liberal Hollywood to boost his campaign coffers. In the past year, he has attended fundraisers hosted at the homes of such high-profile stars as George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker and Tyler Perry.

The president will hold two fundraisers in Connecticut today, a firmly Democratic state. In Stamford, he will speak at a reception for 500 supporters, who will pay $500 each to attend the event, before heading to the $35,800 per person star-studded dinner.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hollywood Stars Come to DC to Advocate Arts Funding

Steven Lawton/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- Amid the budget cut stalemate unraveling in Washington, a handful of celebrities made their Capitol Hill debut on Thursday to advocate for increased funding for the arts.

Actor Tim Daly led the star-studded delegation on behalf of The Creative Coalition, a non-profit organization that advocates for the arts and entertainment.  Once a year, the group blitzes Washington to petition legislators to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), according to Daly, the president of the Creative Coalition.

Each actor in attendance shared a personal story about how the arts affected their home towns, their education and their lives, with true showbiz flair.

Los Angeles-bred actor David Arquette remembered how he struggled in school before finding a place in theater.

“I got distracted when I was younger,” Arquette told ABC News.  “The school play really focused me.  It’s given me a drive.”

The actor and producer will soon grace the small screen with his own show for the Traveling Channel, a project that has allowed Arquette to witness the ripples of American entertainment.

“It’s incredible to see the impact that American culture has around the world and how it’s still a huge influence.  And that’s something to be nurtured; it’s not something to be cut,” he said.

When the time came to visit lawmakers, the stars focused not only on the cultural benefits of the arts, but on its economic importance as well.

Richard Kind, star of the HBO series Luck, emphasized the industry’s power to stimulate the economy.  For every dollar spent by the NEA, according to The Creative Coalition, it reaps seven tax dollars, which was admittedly a surprise for the actor.

“I thought the arts were just there for enrichment of the soul,” Kind said.  “It can also enrich the economy.”

“Those are odds that you would take to Vegas, to the stock market any day of the week,” Daly said.  “We feel that to cut a program that is working so well would be foolhardy.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Actor Matt Damon Breaks with Obama; Hollywood Honeymoon Over?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Actor Matt Damon, one of the liberal elite's first celebrity Obama backers, told CNN's Piers Morgan Thursday that he has been disappointed in President Obama's performance. Asked if he was happy with the man he once so vocally supported, the actor responded, "No. I really think he misinterpreted his mandate. A friend of mine said it the other day and I thought it was a great line: 'I no longer hope for audacity,'" a take on Obama's Audacity of Hope book title.

On Afghanistan, Damon said he doesn't believe the "mission there has been very well articulated. And I think it would help to kind of reframe the way we're thinking about being there and why we're there." But Damon is not the first -- nor, surely, will he be the last -- of Obama's high-profile Hollywood supporters to express disappointment in the president's accomplishments.

Barbra Streisand in December complained about both Obama specifically and Democrats in general. Robert Redford said last summer that Obama was not taking enough action to clean up the BP gulf oil spill. Director Spike Lee also blasted the president for his oil-spill response, or lack thereof. In an interview with the British paper Guardian in January 2010, Glee star Jane Lynch called Obama a "huge disappointment" for not taking bolder action on gay rights.

Of course, Hollywood is hardly a monolith. And many of the president's supporters continue to stand by their man, among them George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey.

Obama's approval ratings fell by 11 percent across the board in 2010, according to the most recent Gallup poll.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chris Dodd to Head MPAA, Follow in Jack Valenti's Footsteps

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Five-term Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd left office in January, but it didn’t take long for him to decide he’s not ready for retirement.

The 66-year-old lawmaker has accepted a new job as the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, making him the top lobbyist for Hollywood in Washington.

The MPAA represents U.S. filmmakers internationally, administering the film rating system and pushing for more stringent copyright protections for producers and efforts to combat piracy.

Dodd replaces Dan Glickman, who stepped down last year, and follows in the footsteps of Jack Valenti, who led the MPAA for 38 years after serving as a special adviser to President Lyndon Johnson.  He’ll start in his new role on March 17.

Before retiring from Congress, Dodd chaired the Senate Banking Committee that drafted landmark financial reform legislation and led the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during the height of the health care overhaul negotiations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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