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Obama's filmland backers are asked to open wallets

Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenberg set a bash for the '08 hopeful, at $2,300 a person.

January 25, 2007|Tina Daunt | Times Staff Writer

THE presidential dash for dollars is officially underway in Hollywood.

On Wednesday, DreamWorks trio David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg sent a letter to 700 political donors and activists asking them to donate $2,300 per person to attend a reception for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential exploratory committee at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 20.

The event -- one of several being held for Obama here next month -- will be followed by a private dinner at Geffen's house for people who agree to raise $46,000 for the Illinois Democrat.

"We hope you will be able to join us and meet Sen. Obama in person," the trio wrote in their invitation.

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid, meanwhile, will also get a chance to pitch in at a large fundraiser on March 23. (The location, probably a hotel in Beverly Hills, is yet to be decided.) The New York Democrat, who announced via the Web on Saturday that she's seeking the presidency, is expected to be in Los Angeles on Feb. 11 and 22 for private meetings with supporters.

Other '08 Democratic contenders courting the Hollywood crowd include New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who are in town now; Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.); and former Sen. John Edwards, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2004.

"The anger about the war and the Democrats' improved chances of winning the White House are big catalysts for raising a lot of money here," said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick. "We're going to see everybody out here before the first-quarter filing deadline at the end of March. That's really an important date. You don't have any votes to count, so you count dollars."

Carrick predicted the Hollywood crowd would donate to multiple candidates instead of siding with just one this early in the game. (For example, a Spielberg spokesman said Wednesday that the filmmaker's support would not be limited to Obama.)

"I think there's a phenomenon here in L.A. and New York where there is a lot of multiple giving," Carrick said. "And you will see plenty of that."

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