Democrats take a cue from Tinseltown

Who needs Hollywood celebs for a star-studded evening?

DENVER -- Hollywood could couldn't have done it better.

The Dems pulled out all the stops Wednesday night in two tightly packed primetime red-white-and-blue hours that crystalized the message the party will deliver for the November election.

From the sentiment of a "Band of Brothers"-inspired video segment on war veterans to the surprise denouement of Barack Obama's stage entrance, Oscar producer Gil Cates couldn't have done it better.

There were tears, cheers and amazingly well-choreographed signage changes, from red Joe Biden salutes to white Obama-Biden signs, in less than one minute flat.

Some folks had practice.

Inside the SRO convention center, the atmosphere was electric from the moment Bill Clinton took the stage to deliver his long-awaited endorsement of Obama, through John Kerry's rousing call to arms, to Joe Biden's touching remembrance of his wife and daughter's fatal car crash. Their remarks, however vetted, suggested a story line the envy of any scriptwriter in Tinseltown.

The most perfectly scripted Hollywood moment -- albeit out of the Kennedy and Clinton political playbooks -- was the largely surprise appearance of Obama onstage after Biden's speech.

On cue, the unsuspecting crowd inside -- probably 18,000 -- went berserk.

Outside, too, in the soft Denver summer night and amid the crowd at the CNN Grill, strategically located outside the main entrance to the DNC's convention center, folks stopped their conversations midstream to take in the moment.

"It's really cool. Hard to imagine the same excitement in St. Paul," said a pair of bloggers who didn't have passes to get into the DNC convention center. They were, like many others gathered outside, seemingly moved by the speeches broadcast on screens outside the convention center.

"I think the convention's gone pretty well so far. What do you think?" Obama asked, obviously rhetorically, in his brief remarks from the stage.

A handful of celebrities were in attendance Wednesday night, including Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba and Steven Spielberg, who directed the war veteran video segment, but the focus was squarely on the politicians.

The evening, scripted as it no doubt was, could be construed as the warm-up to Thursday night's apotheosis of Obama as the top Dem at the 75,000-strong Invesco football stadium down the street from the DNC convention center.

It's arguably the hottest ticket in town since Spielberg unveiled "Indiana Jones" in Cannes three months ago.

Karen Nicoletti in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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