Meet 5 of Hillary Clinton's Biggest Hollywood Confidants
Is she or isn't she? These five L.A. political players — from 'Friends' producer Marta Kauffman to Cheryl Saban — aren't saying before the former first lady's official announcement to run, but they're throwing all their considerable influence (and economic power) behind her
This story first appeared in the 2014 Women in Entertainment issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Will she or won't she? If anybody would know -- aside from Bill -- it'd be the women who make up Hillary Clinton's California cabinet. The Clintons have spent decades cultivating Hollywood support, and along the way Hillary has chosen a small but trusted band of confidants who are fiercely loyal to her. Before they supported Barack Obama in the last two general elections (and they all did), these longtime Clintonistas first stumped hard and spent big for Hillary in the 2008 Democratic primary -- traveling with her, hosting fundraisers and rallying influential, deep-pocketed supporters. And they're poised to double those efforts if and when Clinton announces a 2016 run.
One of Clinton's longest-running Hollywood friendships is with Designing Women creator (and one-time Arkansas resident) Linda Bloodworth-Thomason; they've known each other since the '80s, when the Clintons were occupying the governor's mansion. "I just knocked on the mansion door in 1980," recalls Bloodworth-Thomason, 67. "She opened the door and had on jeans and a sweater and socks. She was holding Chelsea's hand, and … I was taken with her authenticity, with the way she was very comfortable in her own skin."
Arkansas-born Mary Steenburgen also knows Clinton from her time in the statehouse and flew around the country with her during the 2008 campaign. "When I first met her, I thought she was dazzling," says the actress, 61. "She has a sense of humor that I just loved from the get-go."
Cheryl Saban, 63, is the wife of top Democratic donor Haim Saban, who -- like Steenburgen -- has flown with Clinton, though he nearly didn't survive the experience. As Haim later told his wife, when one of the engines conked out and the pilot announced an emergency landing, Clinton didn't break a sweat. "She said, 'Oh, OK,' and went back to her book," says Cheryl. "She has this ability to be very strong in the face of calamity."
Laura Wasserman, 50, wife of sports mogul Casey Wasserman (whose parents also supported Bill), is moved by Clinton's personal touch. "Every year Hillary would call Casey's grandmother on her birthday," says Wasserman. "She doesn't ever forget friends." A "powerhouse human being and a very loving person" is how Friends producer Marta Kauffman, 58, describes Clinton. And Bloodworth-Thomason notes her "unrelenting ability to endure" -- then jokes about the wait she and her compadres have endured as their political hero deliberates: "Yes, she's [running]. She's asked us to announce it here at the Mondrian Hotel." Adds Saban, "If we have anything to do with it, yes."