Obama Dispatches Former Diplomat to Mend Hollywood Ties and Raise Campaign Funds (Exclusive)
President Barack Obama's top Hollywood fundraiser has resigned the ambassadorship to the Bahamas and returned to Los Angeles in the hopes of patching up the incumbent president's battered relationship with the entertainment industry, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Nicole Avant, the daughter of longtime music executive and Democratic activist Clarence Avant, was one of Obama's earliest and most dedicated Hollywood supporters -- raising millions for the president's 2008 campaign.
She was rewarded with a plum diplomatic post, which she has now put aside to support the president's reelection in the city where she grew up.
Sources told THR that Obama's reelection campaign plans to use Avant as one of its top liaisons to the entertainment community.
These sources characterize the relationship between the Obama administration and Hollywood as tense and troubled, even though all of the president's fundraisers in town have sold out and have been attended by a diverse array of industry leaders.
Hollywood activists believe Obama has given their causes short shrift since moving into the White House. Making matters worse, some of Obama's top money givers have felt ignored and disregarded -- except for when the president needed campaign contributions.
The entertainment industry runs on personal relationships, something that the Obama administration apparently took for granted over the past three years.
Avant, with her deep ties to both the Democratic party and the entertainment industry, is being called upon to patch things over and rekindle at least some of Hollywood enthusiasm for Obama.
To that end, Avant and her husband, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, will host a major fundraiser attended by first lady Michelle Obama at their Beverly Hills home on January 31. Co-chairs of that event include Kelly Meyer, Irena Medavoy and Colleen Bell. Invitations will go out in the coming days, THR has learned.
The first lady will also be in Hancock Park for a luncheon on February 1. The event is being hosted by attorney Michael Lawson and his interior-designer wife Mattie McFadden Lawson. The president and vice president are also expected to be in Los Angeles in the coming weeks for additional meet-and-greets.
"I can't think of a better ambassador for the president to the Hollywood community than Nicole," said veteran Democratic consultant Kerman Maddox. "She has a direct line of communication to the president and the first lady because they trust her and she's well regarded in the Hollywood community. If anyone can further solidify the relationship between the president and the Hollywood community, it is Nicole. I'm not sure who came up with this idea but I think it's brilliant."