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By George, It's Time to Party Like a Democrat


Hot ticket of the week: George's party.

As in George magazine. The Wednesday party at the Holmby Hills home of "Pulp Fiction" producer Lawrence Bender was hosted by the slick political magazine and (among others) the Creative Coalition, a nonpartisan political fund-raising organization for the entertainment biz.

Creative Coalition President William Baldwin packed in the celebs for the event: George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Goldie Hawn, Samuel L. Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Broad, Al Franken, Karenna Gore Schiff and Chelsea Clinton were among the 500 or so invited guests. Michael Douglas left his new baby boy and fiancee Catherine Zeta-Jones to come say hello to Michael J. Fox, who made a special trip from New York for the party.

The backyard of the English-style home was decorated with white paper lanterns. One of the first things partyers saw upon entering the home was a photo of Bender shaking hands with President Clinton.

George's convention get-togethers shot to the top of the A-list in 1996, when political heavyweights and celebs alike clamored to get into the Republican bash in San Diego and another for Democrats in Chicago. Back then, John F. Kennedy Jr., who founded and edited the political glossy, was the top celebrity draw.

"George was his baby, George was his refuge; he would have been so happy that this happened without him," said J.D. Podolsky, senior editor of arts and entertainment and the only editor still at the magazine who worked with Kennedy. "He's beaming right now."

Despite the party's popularity, Podolsky learned this week how difficult it is to get Hollywood celebs to commit to attend. He sent out invitations two weeks ago by Federal Express, but he was still sweating the guest list the day before the party. Many RSVPs came Wednesday, including a request by Salma Hayek to bring a friend and regrets by Brad Pitt and James Wood.

Even without Kennedy, the George party at the Republican convention last month in Philadelphia was a big hit. In fact, so many people showed up that heavyweight pols such as Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had to wait outside in the rain before finally being admitted.

Proceeds from the Philly party went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Wednesday's party here benefited the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. (Reeve founded the Creative Coalition in 1989 with actress Susan Sarandon and others.)

"I'm just amazed that Larry now has a house that can take 500 people," joked Reeve about host Bender. "I remember back when we were in an acting workshop together in New York and we probably didn't have $25 together."

Tickets started at $500. VIP guests (who paid $10,000) took home Kenneth Cole leather shoe bags containing bath products, Kenneth Cole watches and wallets.

Ms. Kennedy Strikes a Chord With Carville

More than 1,000 people showed up for the California delegation party at the Rumba Room at Universal CityWalk. Among them was James Carville, the political strategist who helped elect President Clinton in 1992.

Carville said the highlight of the convention for him was seeing Caroline Kennedy address the delegations.

"I'm a 55-year-old Democrat, and seeing her and everything that's happened to her was great," he said.

Leave Your Check at the Door, Please

High-roller dinner: the Jefferson Trust. Vice presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman attended this one after his Wednesday speech to the convention. The Jefferson Trust is an elite group of donors who have raised or donated $100,000 or more to the Democratic National Committee. The dinner was held at the posh Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Turning the Camera on Homelessness

The plight of the homeless was the focus of a gathering Wednesday night at the Los Angeles Public Library. Sponsored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the event showcased a photographic exhibit depicting homelessness and paid tribute to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.)--both longtime activists in the cause.

"Homeless people have lots of different issues, but the bottom line is they don't have a place to live," said alliance president Nan Roman said.

Entertainment Options Run Hot and Cold

The host committee for the Democratic convention put out a 30-page booklet for services that delegates and others might need during the week. It ranged from where to buy balloons to limo services and left no doubt about the major role of entertainment during the convention: 17 of the 30 pages were devoted to the subject, including where to hire such obscure things as Andean, Samoan and--seriously--Siberian entertainment.

Times staff writers Booth Moore, Jeannine Stein, Matea Gold, Elaine Dutka, Lynell George and Gayle Pollard-Terry contributed to this story.

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