Inside the Love Affair Between Hollywood and the Presidency

President John Kennedy and Frank Sinatra

As far back as 1930, when studio mogul Louis B. Mayer invited Calvin Coolidge to visit MGM, the entertainment industry has been attracted to D.C.'s power base as business concerns, political idealism and bragging rights beget an interwoven sphere of influence.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

As election day approaches Nov. 6, some of the biggest players in Hollywood, led by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, have thrown their lot behind Barack Obama. From MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer, who courted Republicans like Calvin Coolidge, to MCA mogul Lew Wasserman, who backed Democrats like Lyndon Johnson, industry executives have cultivated Washington power brokers out of both political idealism and practical business concerns.

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Hollywood liberals may support Obama because of his stance on social issues, but the MPAA also is looking to the administration to protect intellectual property rights. Politicians turn to Hollywood to share in its limelight and for its deep pockets: TV, movie and music donations to Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee amount to $26.2 million so far this season.


Calvin Coolidge: Currying favor with Washington, in 1930, studio mogul Mayer (center) invited President Coolidge (left) to visit MGM, where the former president watched the filming of the musical The March of Time. Actress Mary Pickford (far right) also was on hand.

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