Wikileaks Has Chilling Effect on Hollywood Ambassadorships

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - October 19, 2016 -Getty-H 2016
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Glamorous foreign postings may be hard to come by — and less enticing — for Clinton's industry supporters.

Whether it was raising a few million for a super PAC or taking to social media, super bundlers including Peter and Megan Chernin and Tom Rothman have been there for Hillary Clinton — support that typically might be rewarded with an ambassadorial posting. But “if and when [Clinton] wins, I do think they will be extremely careful,” says Adam J. Schiff, senior vp of Strategies 360 (Schiff previously worked with L.A. operative and fundraiser Noah Mamet, who once served as an adviser to the Wasserman Family Foundation and now is ambassador to Argentina).

“Sure, donors will be considered, but the vetting process will be more intensive than ever.” Says one political strategist at a major studio: “Some [President Obama appointees] weren’t the most well versed on issues they were expected to be, and that was embarrassing for the administration. The Clinton machine will work hard to avoid that experience, especially as a former secretary of state, so a lot of the top posts will be off the table for the new players.”

With a Republican-controlled Senate, confirmation for Obama appointees was grueling: Mamet’s took almost 18 months. And that was before the specter of WikiLeaks. Nicole Avant, the wife of Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, was given the Bahamas posting by Obama in 2009; a State Department inspector general’s report that criticized her tenure recently made its way into a WikiLeaks dump.

And for super bundlers at studios, networks or agencies, who mostly aren’t in a position to leave their perches — even for the industry-coveted Cuba posting — a spot on, say, the Kennedy Center board might be a better fit. Many insiders won’t speculate about any such postings. Says fundraising veteran Andy Spahn, a key player in the D.C.-L.A. axis, “We are focused on Nov. 8 and only Nov. 8.”

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.