Martin O'Malley Arrives in Hollywood to Woo Supporters

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Martin O'Malley

Although Hillary Clinton has the backing of key industry moguls, the former governor of Maryland enjoys grassroots support from a cadre of progressives who strongly supported Obama in 2008.

You can't be a serious Democratic presidential hopeful these days without a fundraising base in Hollywood, which is why former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is back in town this week to meet with a loyal cadre of industry admirers.

O'Malley on Wednesday afternoon made a visit to Sony Studios, where he has longstanding relationships with a number of top executives. On Thursday evening, he'll attend a high-wattage meet-and-greet hosted by Sony Pictures-Screen Gems senior production vp Eric Paquette and Dixon Slingerland, the Youth Policy Institute's executive director, who raised nearly $1 million for Barack Obama's campaigns.

The evening event, which is set for the fashionable Republique restaurant on La Brea Ave., is expected to draw more than 50 industry Democrats and activists. It's the second such affair Paquette has hosted for O'Malley, who is generally thought to be positioning himself as the alternative candidate to Hillary Clinton.

Although he significantly trails Clinton in support among entertainment industry moguls (Haim Saban and Casey Wasserman sent out emails this week asking for Clinton campaign donations), O'Malley's left-of-center views have generated excitement among some Hollywood progressives who worry that the former Secretary of State has become too conservative.

O'Malley's potential candidacy seems to be picking up the most traction among activists and contributors who came out early for Obama when he contested the nomination against Clinton. Sony Studios, meanwhile, has become a frequent West Coast stop for the former Maryland governor.

Last June, the Sony lot was the scene of an O'Malley meet-and-greet, with more than 40 Maryland-born studio executives and producers. Attendees included Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko and Sony's new film studio chief Tom Rothman. Food for that event — including Maryland's iconic crab cakes and soft-shelled crabs — was flown in from the storied CJ's Restaurant, one of Baltimore's leading old-time crab houses.

In September, Sony's Paquette put together a $1,000-per person fundraiser for O'Malley's PAC, "O'Say Can You See," at Osteria Mozza Italian restaurant on Melrose Ave. Attendees at that gathering included MarketShare CEO Jon Vein, KMS Software founder Yolanda "Cookie" Parker and producer Moctesuma Esparza.

Thursday's event will be the fourth such Hollywood gathering at which O'Malley is attending amid talk of a possible presidential run. If nothing else, his potential candidacy looks to be a substantial stimulus to the restaurant industry.

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