Election '12: The Hollywood Players
When it comes to Hollywood's part in election-year politics, casting is as important as in any big-budget feature. If political operatives want access to the industry's heavy hitters, they have to know who's up for which role in the new electoral cycle. Here's a rundown of players getting top billing in the 2012 drama:
Jeffrey Katzenberg: The DreamWorks Animation CEO is emerging as the town's main political player on the Democratic side. He has become Obama's most prominent and enthusiastic Hollywood fund-raiser, plus he has given $2 million to the Democrats' presidential super PAC, Priorities USA.
J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath: The Producer-director and his wife, a former Ted Kennedy aide, have become the most engaged political couple on the scene, hosting gatherings for Democrats from California Attorney General Kamala Harris to first lady Michelle Obama. The couple recently gave $100,000 to Priorities USA and hosted a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser with California Rep. Nancy Pelosi on the rooftop of Abrams' production studio, Bad Robot.
ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE
Jerry Perenchio: The former Univision CEO has given $3 million to former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads, which has used the money to air attack ads against Democrats nationwide.
Harry Sloan: The former MGM chief, a longtime GOP stalwart in Hollywood, is trying to rally the industry's Republican supporters, which include Terry Semel and Jerry Bruckheimer, to get behind Mitt Romney. He tells THR he hopes to have a fund-raiser set by the end of October.
BACK TO THE DEMOCRATS
Ken Solomon: The Tennis Channel CEO has upped his game by becoming California co-finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee. He serves alongside Capital Group's John Emerson, known in Hollywood from his days in the Clinton administration.
Tom Hanks: The preternaturally likable actor-producer is expected to remain the Dems' go-to guy on commercials and in films.
Andy Spahn: The man who got his Hollywood start as top philanthropy and politics adviser to Steven Spielberg, Katzenberg and David Geffen at DreamWorks SKG has spent more than 20 years in national politics and nonprofits. He has become one of the most determined Democratic fundraisers; this year alone, he has single-handedly brought in $1 million-plus for President Obama's re-election campaign.
Steve Bing: The producer has quietly put more than $200,000 into federal campaigns during the past three years. This year, he has given $400,000 to two Democratic super PACs. He's expected to give much more.
Haim Saban: The media mogul gave more than $10 million to the Democratic Party from 2000 to 2002, helping prompt Congress to pass campaign-finance limits. Now that some of those limits have been ruled unconstitutional, everyone's waiting to see how much Saban will give to super PACs.
Chad Griffin: The former Clinton White House staffer made his name in Hollywood as a philanthropy adviser to Rob Reiner, Bing, Chris Albrecht and Janet and Jerry Zucker. These days, Griffin is considered one of entertainment's most engaged gay-rights activists, especially in regard to California's contested Prop. 8. He's an Obama fund-raiser and an authority on one of this cycle's big social issues.