Elizabeth Warren's Hollywood Backers: Big Names, Big Money
Every political season, Hollywood Democrats rally behind at least one fresh face. In 2010, it was Kamala Harris, who raked in thousands of dollars from the industry in becoming California's first female attorney general. Before that, it was Alan Khazei, who sought Ted Kennedy's Senate seat that eventually went to Tea Party candidate Scott Brown.
This year's rising star is ex-Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, who likely will face Brown in November 2012. Warren, 62, came to Hollywood's attention when President Barack Obama asked her to chair the panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program and she became an advocate for financial regulation reform.
At about that time, film composer Hans Zimmer came across a speech on YouTube that Warren had given at UC Berkeley. Zimmer contacted her to discuss ways Hollywood might aid middle-class Americans and also got in touch with Ron Howard, who introduced Warren to Adam McKay, Will Ferrell's producing partner. Ferrell, Jim Carrey and others were enlisted to star in a Funny or Die video urging Obama to back consumer financial reform. Warren received a mention in the credits, and the video became a viral sensation.
Now, Norman and Lyn Lear are set to host a $1,000-to-$5,000-a-plate fund-raiser Nov. 1 for Warren, with co-hosts including Barbra Streisand, Steve Bing and Lorraine and Sid Sheinberg.
Warren has raised $3.15 million, and she'll need more if she wants to beat Brown, who has $12 million banked. But taking Hollywood money has drawbacks. Harold Ford Jr. visited Beverly Hills so often for his 2006 Senate run in Tennessee that his opponent portrayed him as a Hollywood party boy. Ford lost.
Still, Warren is expected to be a frequent Westside visitor. Says Zimmer, "She will be that strong and principled voice we need in Congress."
3 OTHER CANDIDATES SHOWBIZ LOVES:
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Senator: The incumbent has raised more than $200,000 from industry sources, most of them supporters of Hillary Clinton, who previously held the seat. CAA's Kevin Huvane hosted an Oct. 23 fund-raiser for Gillibrandat his Beverly Hills home.
Patrick Murphy, Former Congressman: He's running for Pennsylvania attorney general, but the West Point graduate helped persuade moderate Democrats to support the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell." Expect Rob Reiner and others to pledge cash.
Dan Roberti, Running for Congress in Connecticut: The first-time candidate has raised $50,000-plus from Hollywood. How? While working on a graduate degree in New Orleans, Roberti met James Carville, who is helping him with industry introductions.