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Hollywood bailing on President Obama and the Democratic National Convention
By Hollie McKay

Pop Tarts

Published August 24, 2012


LOS ANGELES – President Obama recently praised Hollywood superstar George Clooney, calling him a “wonderful guy” and good friend. But even in the wake of the headline-grabbing compliments, a rep for the Oscar-winning actor confirmed he will not be attending the forthcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina.

And it seems the majority of Clooney's high-powered Hollywood counterparts are also passing on the 2012 convention – a far cry from 2008’s showdown in Denver, Colorado which attracted dozens of A-listers including Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Silverman, Fallout Boy, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, Ashanti, Fran Drescher, Ashley Judd, Rage Against the Machine, Aisha Tyler, Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Jon Hamm, Cash Warren, Jessica Alba, Fergie,, Kanye West, Matthew Modine, Kerry Washington, Stevie Wonder, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Hudson, Shawn Johnson, Forest Whitaker, Star Jones, Wilmer Valderama, Daniel Dae Kim, Kelly Hu, Jamie Foxx, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Melissa Etheridge and Pharrell Williams.

Just to name a few.

We reached out to reps for all of the above in an attempt to find out if these stars would be attending the DNC again this year. A majority did not respond, but of those who did, few will be making a return trip.

Fergie and Cyndi Lauper will not be attending, and neither will Chevy Chase due to "Community" filming commitments. A rep for Fran Drescher said her schedule remained unconfirmed. According to political publication The Hill, reps for Susan Sarandon and Jon Hamm confirmed that their clients too would not be returning to the convention.

Not only will there be fewer famous faces, but fewer lavish affairs too. For one, Vanity Fair, which co-hosted a hotly-ticketed to-do in 2008, is not holding an event this year.

"No place is more fickle than Hollywood. Obama over promised and under delivered with regard to ‘Hope & Change’ and he is experiencing the consequences with the lack of celebrity support at this year’s DNC," political expert and humorist Rob Taub told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "Many celebrities are still making large financial contributions to the campaign, but they’re concerned about public displays of affection to a candidate with waning popularity. At best, expect B-list stars at the convention."

So who from Hollywood is going?

A rep for Alba confirmed that the actress intends to make her way to Charlotte, and Eva Longoria, Dave Grohl, The Roots and the B52s are also expected to be on-hand. In addition, Jeff Bridges is slated to attend both the DNC and RNC to promote his efforts to end childhood hunger.

It has also been widely reported that the Democratic National Committee had a hard time booking musical acts due to the fact that the MTV Video Music Awards will be taking place in Los Angeles on September 6, the same night Obama will accept the party's nomination for president. The convention also commences just after Labor Day weekend, which means celebs may already have plans.

Yet one source closely connected to the party assured us that the lack of Hollywood types this year is very deliberate, as the "Democrats try to keep celebrities away as they think it hurts their image." While Barack Obama's barrage of Hollywood fundraisers earlier this year did give his campaign fund a significant monetary boost, it proved to be a dangerous double-edged sword as many expressed concern that he was relying too much on celebrities, and that the tactic could backfire with swing voters.

"It may be that Hollywood is not all that excited as they were four years ago. It also may be that Democrats are trying to brand themselves as the everyday person party more than ever before and Hollywood royalty does not jibe with that," said PR guru Glenn Selig. "The president has relied heavily on Hollywood for money and Democrats have criticized Romney over his wealth, perhaps Democrats want to keep that as an issue and they certainly cannot do that if Democrats are seen as elitist, too."

Don Peebles, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation and a member of President Obama's National Finance Committee, concurred that simmering down the star-studded focus was likely a strategic move.

"It sends the wrong message if you’re a candidate for President, Republican or Democrat, and you’re surrounded by celebrities. The message does not resonate well with middle-income Americans, especially in the current financial climate," he explained. “And it’s just that the novelty has worn off a bit as it does with any popular candidate. President Obama is still well respected and admired in the celebrity community, but in 2008 he was a transformational figure with a transformational message. That message has been received and the President is now delivering a renewed message.”

Others have suggested that even over the last four years, celebrities have become more and more about being paid to make an appearance at any party or event, and clearly neither the DNC or RNC is likely willing to shell out the big bucks typically requested by the show business elite.

And although the Republican National Convention is not typically associated with a huge Hollywood presence, it will still have a touch of Tinseltown (and Nashville) this year as the likes of Kid Rock, Wyclef Jean, Journey, John Popper, Rodney Atkins, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Oak Ridge Boys and Lee Greenwood have all been booked to entertain the masses. An insider also said that country star Sara Evans will be performing at a private party, however her rep did not respond to a request for comment.

“I don’t think it is surprising that the acts you mentioned are scheduled to be at this year’s RNC convention or after-parties,” added Brian Marriott, Founder of Axiom Strategies in Kansas City, MO. “GOP celebrities participate because of their ideology. Democrat celebrities do it for the party, and with unemployment over 8 percent, the parties just aren't that fun.”


Read more:


another version

Celeb presence will be smaller this year for Dems

Associated Press
August 24, 2012 - 5:35 PM

WASHINGTON - Four years ago, Ben Affleck was a familiar presence around the Democratic convention, packing produce for charity and even winning a poker tournament. Singer Fergie performed with her Black Eyed Peas. Sheryl Crow sang, too, with Susan Sarandon joining in from the audience.

But none of these celebrities are planning a similar trip to Charlotte this year, and that's likely true for a number of other A-listers who were in Denver as well. In terms of star wattage, this gathering will be decidedly less sparkly.

Some reasons are obvious. A re-election bid is hardly as exciting as the historic anointment of the first black nominee, on his way to becoming the first black president. And Barack Obama is no longer a rising star: He's, well, an incumbent.

Also different is the general tone of this year's campaign — not so full of lofty thoughts about hope and change, but focused on evoking doubts about Mitt Romney. Romney is trying to do the same with Obama. "This is a campaign based on raising questions about the other candidate," says Democratic consultant Chris Lehane. "It's a whole different narrative this time."

There's also the possibility that some Hollywood celebrities have lost a measure of their enthusiasm for the candidate they warmly embraced four years ago. The most public of these has been actor Matt Damon, who as recently as last month repeated his disappointment with the president — while adding that he was still the "clear choice."

At the same time, there's a sense that the struggling economy, the central preoccupation of most voters, has cast a pall over the celebratory nature of the conventions — and that both campaigns need to be wary of too much partying, with or without celebrities. "Both the Democrats and the Republicans are cognizant of not looking decadent when the rest of the country is hurting," says Lehane.

Still, it can't be denied that parties — and if they involve celebrities, as the best ones do, so much the better — are an essential part of conventions. "They're a natural part of the process," says Michael Steele, the former RNC chairman. "I don't think anyone expects the conventioneers to show up in sackcloth. Parties celebrate the grueling process that has gotten us this far. They celebrate the nominee. And they fire up the troops."

He adds, though, that he expects the parties to be tasteful — "not in-your-face, not ostentatious."

The Democrats in particular have made a point of saying that this convention has a different mood. They're spending significantly less than four years ago, they say, and they point out that they've limited corporate and special interest money. They also say their parties will have a more public feel.

"Instead of the exclusive, closed-door, party-insider-only events of the past, we're opening and closing the convention with public events that will allow more people than ever before to participate," says Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters.

As for the Republicans, "I don't see any scaling back," says James Davis, communications director for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. "We've got Republicans coming from across the country, some 70-plus venues being booked for events. This is going to be really big for us. I think it shows the excitement of where our party is right now."

As usual, there will be high-profile entertainment at both conventions. The RNC announced Friday that the Mississippi band 3 Doors Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Oak Ridge Boys would be among the official entertainers in Tampa. The Democrats announced that folk icon James Taylor would perform on the final night in Charlotte, before Obama accepts the nomination.

On the sidelines, the arts advocacy group Creative Coalition will present the band Journey in Tampa — cue the perfect campaign song, "Don't Stop Believin'" — and the B-52s in Charlotte (cue "Love Shack"?) Given the state of the economy, "I was concerned," says the coalition's CEO, Robin Bronk, of the high-profile fundraisers. "But happily we are almost sold out already. This is a celebration of the arts in America."

And the Recording Industry Association of America is presenting, along with the Auto Alliance of America and others, pop star Gavin DeGraw in Tampa and the rapper Common in Charlotte. Both shows, which will seat some 2,000 people each, benefit the charity Musicians on Call.

"We're feeling what everyone has been feeling," says Cara Duckworth, spokeswoman for the RIAA, of the economic concerns. "But this is about celebrating music. We expect to sell out."

In a way, the relative lack of high-wattage celebrity guests this year may benefit the Democrats. In 2008, the John McCain campaign tried to use Obama's considerable celebrity appeal against him, most memorably with an ad likening him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton: i.e. all splash and no substance. Earlier this year, the pro-GOP super PAC American Crossroads put out an ad asking: "After 4 years of a celebrity president is your life any better?"

Obama's campaign did try to downplay celebrity presence in Denver, keeping it on the sidelines. But still, luminaries of the entertainment world — from Spike Lee to Anne Hathaway to Obama's biggest booster, Oprah Winfrey — were there in droves.

The AP called representatives of a number of celebrities who were in Denver to ask if they were coming this year. Of those who responded, all said no, except for Jessica Alba: The actress will be headlining a final-night party with her husband, Cash Warren, featuring performances by Pitbull and Scissor Sisters.

Also, Eva Longoria, a co-chair of Obama's campaign, will be speaking at the convention.

Traditionally there have been fewer celebrities at Republican conventions. Two past attendees are skipping Tampa, though, according to their representatives: former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, now back in show business, and actor Robert Downey Jr., who was at the last GOP convention, but also attended an Obama fundraiser in May at George Clooney's home.

Speaking of Clooney, many powerful Hollywood boosters of Obama simply prefer to stay away from conventions but maintain their strong support nonetheless. Like Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, all of whom have hosted major fundraisers recently, some obviously feel they can be of greater use in other ways than hanging out in Charlotte.

And the most important thing is what happens after the convention, says Steele, who notes he worked hard when he was RNC chairman to create relationships with celebrities.

"Of course, the real goal is to have these stars then go out on the road for you in the fall," Steele says.

© 2011 Star Tribune


I hate it when celebrities get involved in politics. Of course the only reason the candidates want them to show up at there conventions is so there fans will vote for them. The whole damn thing is nothing but a fan-fair. All of that crap I hate. I wouldn't be caught dead at a presidential convention. Those idiots walking around with there flashing hats and signs is clear admission to the fact they are all robots doing exactly what the real owners of this country want them to do, that is to believe they have to power to change things in there favor by electing presidents.


I totally agree Tyler.I am glad Obama campaign is playing it down on celebrities..


Obama had no choice, many seem to be shying away from him this year.


more concentration on what is important, Obama is methodically smart,I am sure invitations were sent from the republican party for these entertainers.


But its interesting to note that most are rejecting Obama's presidential convention when before they were there. But I really do think the musical celebrity's have a good reason, because of the MTV Awards is that week. If I was in the music business you can bet I'd be at the awards show. But its the other celebs in movies and such that are not going to Obama's convention this year when before they did, that is interesting. It leads one to believe and suspect they are not pleased with his 'performance' as president so far. So therefore they are going with the Republicans this time around.


Could be! I think it is a phase because Obama was first Black president to run,and win Nomination. many of the celebrities
that were for Obama will be again ,it is not a sign of rejection..


Black smack he could be purple just do the job and in 4 years he has it more screwed up than it was. Please don't try to pull a race card, that is to typical of ignorant people who have no other way out, so they scream race..SMH


if he were white maybe congress would work with him,Congress has done nothing to move this country forward, the proof is all around us, they made it clear they would not work with Obama, it had nothing to do with policy..

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