WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to attend a high-profile fundraising event in Los Angeles this week, marking his first major engagement in the entertainment industry since disruptions caused by strikes from writers and actors impacted his fundraising efforts. The entertainment industry has historically been a crucial source of financial support for the Democratic Party.
Taking place on Friday at the residence of celebrity interior designer Michael Smith and his partner, former HBO executive James Costos, the event is anticipated to generate millions in contributions and attract a star-studded audience. Renowned musician Lenny Kravitz is scheduled to perform, and notable figures such as director Steven Spielberg, actress Kate Capshaw, music mogul David Geffen, showrunner Shonda Rhimes, and director Rob Reiner are among the event hosts, according to an invitation obtained by The Associated Press. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and iconic singer Barbra Streisand will also co-host the event.
Expressing excitement about the overwhelming enthusiasm, Smith stated, “We don’t do many events, but when we do, we do it out of great passion.”
This fundraising event is part of a larger effort by President Biden to secure financial support for his upcoming reelection campaign, particularly in anticipation of a challenging rematch against Republican Donald Trump. Additional fundraisers are planned in Boston with a concert by James Taylor, as well as events in Washington, Maryland, and Philadelphia alongside various political figures.
With the prospect of substantial contributions from elite party donors, the Los Angeles event aims to alleviate concerns within the Democratic Party about Biden’s reelection prospects. As of the last fundraising reporting deadline in September, Biden and the Democratic Party reported $91 million in cash on hand. Biden benefits from a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee and state parties, allowing him to receive significant donations, potentially reaching $1 million from a single donor.
In the backdrop of Hollywood, there is an element of intrigue and melodrama. Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks Pictures and co-chairman of Biden’s campaign, traditionally held a significant role in shaping presidential fundraising in Los Angeles. Katzenberg will host his own fundraising “meeting” during Biden’s visit, potentially reshuffling the established Hollywood pecking order. The event could be pivotal as it contrasts with the historical influence of Katzenberg, who has been a key figure in Los Angeles fundraising since the presidency of Bill Clinton.
During the 2020 Democratic primary, Michael Smith and James Costos hosted Biden’s initial major fundraiser in Los Angeles, raising over $1 million. Notably, during that time, Katzenberg was involved in organizing events for another Democratic candidate, Pete Buttigieg, who currently serves as Biden’s transportation secretary.
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