Some of Hollywood's most influential Democrats are throwing their support behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection bid, following the lead of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and media mogul Haim Saban.
Schwarzenegger's campaign sent out hundreds of invitations this week to an event -- hosted by Sherry Lansing, Casey Wasserman, Danny DeVito and wife Rhea Perlman, director James Cameron and more than two dozen others -- asking the Hollywood glitterati to donate up to $22,300 each to attend a fundraiser for the Republican governor at Saban's Beverly Hills estate on Sept. 30.
Political insiders say that the governor's Democratic Hollywood supporters -- generally more middle of the road than outspoken liberal types such as Sean Penn and Michael Moore -- are willing to support Schwarzenegger because they feel he has taken a nonpartisan approach to some of their key causes, including stem-cell research, school reform and global warming.
"They see him as taking positions that mirror those taken by the Democrats," said ultra-connected Hollywood political consultant Andy Spahn, who was instrumental in helping the Schwarzenegger campaign secure entertainment-industry support. Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, also played a large role in winning the endorsements by calling the Hollywood Democrats herself.
"This is a very significant list of names of major Democratic donors and major entertainment-industry leaders," Spahn added. "And there are likely to be others."
Consultants for Schwarzenegger's opponent, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, downplayed the support.
"It's basically a group of people who are social friends of Arnold and Maria's, and I don't think it is anything beyond that," said Angelides strategist Bill Carrick. "There's not a name on the list that's a surprise. Not one. It's just the usual suspects."
And to be sure, Angelides has his own loyal Hollywood following.
Former President Bill Clinton, a longtime friend of Spielberg and Katzenberg, hosted a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Angelides recently, raising an estimated $4 million. (The campaign also cites backing from more than two dozen celebrities, such as Barbra Streisand, Larry David and Jeremy Piven.)
But there is no doubt that Schwarzenegger has amassed a powerful collection of heavy hitters. Spielberg, Katzenberg and Saban were the first to publicly support the governor -- which made way for more endorsements.
"He's the best man for the job," Saban said.
Other supporters include sitcom guru Tom Werner; avid John Kerry supporter Daphna Ziman; Cindy Horn (wife of Warner Bros. chief Alan Horn); HBO chairman Chris Albrecht; veteran talent agent Sam Haskell; director Billy Friedkin; Universal's Ron Meyer; and News Corp. chief executive Peter Chernin.
The Saban event also includes a variety of business leaders -- a mix of Republicans and Democrats -- that includes Eli Broad, former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, mall magnate Rick Caruso, Anschutz entertainment's Tim Leiweke, KB Home CEO Bruce Karatz and Jerry Perenchio.
Just too real
At the Toronto Film Festival, actor Kevin Costner joined the debate over the controversial new movie "Death of a President," which features doctored images of George W. Bush being assassinated.
Costner told reporters that filmmaker Gabriel Range should have considered how Bush's family would react.
"It's awfully hard if you're his children, his wife, his mother, his dad," Costner said. "There's a certain thing we can't lose as human beings, which is empathy for maybe the hardest job in the world."
Former Vice President Al Gore found himself in the middle of a political spat in Australia this week as he promoted his documentary on the dangers of global warming.
Industry Minster Ian Macfarlane told reporters there that he had no intention of listening to Gore, who singles out Australia in the film "An Inconvenient Truth" for failing to make necessary changes to control greenhouse gases.
"There are three places I do not go for advice on climate change," Macfarlane told reporters. "One of them is to unsuccessful candidates for the U.S. presidency who cannot even convince their own people that they are right. The second place is the movie." (The third, he said, is from his political opposition.)
An opposition Labor Party environment spokesman defended Gore, saying the film "documented the scientific consensus that climate change had led to a significant increase in both the duration and intensity of hurricanes and a drop in rainfall in agricultural areas."
Gore might find a friendlier crowd in Malibu this week. City officials and members of the environmental group, Coastal Advocates-CCPN, announced that they would hold an open-air screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" at the Malibu Bluffs at 7 this evening. (It's free -- although organizers say donations are welcome.)