Donald Trump to Fundraise in L.A. as Hollywood Conservatives Fret Over Backing Him

Donald Trump -2016 annual New York State Republican Gala on April 14, 2016 -Getty-H 2016
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“This town will get vicious to those who support Trump,” predicts one filmmaker.

After Donald Trump finishes taping Jimmy Kimmel Live! at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on Wednesday, he’ll head to the Los Angeles mansion of Tom and Rachelle Barrack for an event that could be considered the GOP presumptive presidential nominee’s foray into campaign fundraising.

The effort won’t include many in the entertainment industry but that is expected to change, according to several insiders, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they say it is too uncomfortable to be a Republican in liberal Hollywood.

In fact, several celebrities and wealthy entertainment executives tried, largely unsuccessfully, to wrangle free entrance into Wednesday's fundraiser — which costs as much as $100,000 per couple — not necessarily to save money, but because buying a ticket means they’d have to publicly disclose their choice for president earlier than they are willing to do so. By contrast, the famous guests at fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats oftentimes are leaked to the press both before and after events to generate media coverage.

“This town will get vicious to those who support Trump,” one filmmaker said. “It’s not that Hollywood Republicans are cheap. In the end, they’ll contribute, but they want to wait as long as possible.”

Nevertheless, insiders say there will be a small Hollywood presence at Wednesday's event, including a prominent TV producer and former studio head. Plus, Barrack runs Colony Capital, which was a co-owner of Miramax for more than five years until it recently sold the film studio founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein for $1 billion to Qatar-based beIN Media Group. Also, a co-host of the event is Steven Mnuchin, the chairman of Dune Entertainment Partners who was recently tapped as Trump’s national finance chairman.

Lionel Chetwynd, the writer-producer-director who co-founded Friends of Abe, the private group of conservatives in Hollywood, also predicts that Trump will get more support from the entertainment community, though not until further down the road. “This is history, and Hollywood will get involved on both sides,” says Chetwynd “Nothing will be the same after this election. It will be very hard to sit on the sidelines.”

Chetwynd adds: “It’s a mistake to give money early in the season because your politics will become a topic of discussion around town. It wears you down.”

Celebrities who have publicly endorsed Trump include Jon Voight, Scott Baio, Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Robert Davi, Ann Coulter, Duck Dynasty’s Phil and Willie Robertson and a handful of others. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee would not say whether any of the celebs were invited to Wednesday’s fundraiser.

Reince Priebus, the RNC chair, is also co-hosting, given much of the money raised will go into RNC coffers: According to the invitation, the first $2,700 per ticket goes to Trump’s primary campaign, the next $2,700 to his general election and the next $33,400 to the RNC’s operations. Some money will also go to the RNC Convention, its headquarters, some political action committees and the Republican party of various states, such as Arkansas.

Trump is expected to hold at least 50 fundraisers in an effort to raise about $1 billion. Since he has mostly self-funded his campaign thus far, he trails Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who have raised $204 million and $208 million, respectively, compared with $58 million for Trump. Clinton held a pricey fundraiser Monday at CAA partner Bryan Lourd's house in Los Angeles. The same day, Sanders held two separate rallies in L.A. and Santa Monica.

Clinton has an additional $85 million through PACs that support her, and Trump will eventually get a similar boost. Recently, for example, the Committee for American Sovereignty, run by some former supporters of Dr. Ben Carson, pledged to raise $20 million. Great America PAC, whose supporters include actress and pundit Stacey Dash, has also come up with about $1 million thus far, with more expected, presumably.