UPDATE, 1:27 PM WRITETHRU:President Obama took to the stage today for a speech on the economy at DreamWorks Animation, the company run by one of his biggest Hollywood bundlers Jeffrey Katzenberg. After being introduced by Mellody Hobson — the DWA board chairman from Aerial Capital Management, a Chicago native and longtime friend — he thanked Katzenberg for inviting him before launching into a pro-Hollywood and pro-economy message tailored to the crowd estimated at 1800-2000 that included DWA employees and pretty much every entertainment mogul in the city. “His place in the entertainment business is legendary … don’t need to puff him up too much he has a healthy sense of self”, Obama joked about Katzenberg, with the president adding that “my ears were the inspiration for Shrek”. The president called the entertainment biz “one of America’s biggest exports” and “one of the bright spots of our economy”, adding that he’s figured out what his next job will be. “I told Jeffery I’d like to work here”, Obama said to cheers from the crowd. As he wrapped up, after his customary “God bless America” line, Obama said, “Can’t wait to see your next movie”.
The Glendale stop, on the second day of a two-day LA fundraising swing, drew a who’s who of Hollywood moguls including CBS Corp’s Les Moonves, NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Jeff Shell and Robert Greenblatt, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Paramount’s Rob Moore, Fox’s Jim Gianoplulos and Peter Rice, Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer, Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara, Disney’s Bob Iger, Alan Horn and Anne Sweeney, LA Film Czar Tom Sherak and the MPAA’s Chris Dodd. Those execs participated in a closed-press meeting with Obama ahead of his speech, with a White House spokesman describing it as an “opportunity to discuss the economy and highlight the entertainment industry as a bright spot in our growing economy. The President discussed the impact that broader economic conditions has on the industry. He also touched on piracy and intellectual property rights, which are chief concerns of participating film industry leaders.” The moguls were hard to pin down on the meeting, with Meyer telling me only that “it was great, really great”. Read More »
VFX artists and supporters have gathered in Glendale for today’s “Go Green” rally organized around President Obama‘s visit to DreamWorks Animation. (The President is slated to address an audience on the closed DWA campus shortly; look for coverage from Deadline’s Dominic Patten.) Security was in place around DWA as the “Go Green” rally marched down Flower Street:
Power Rangers billionaire and staunch Israel supporter Haim Saban tonight offered strong support to President Obama for his efforts to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his recent initiative in negotiations with Iran. “We’re out of Iraq, we’re out of Afghanistan and the military and intelligence cooperation with Israel — our staunchest ally in the Middle East, arguably in the world, has never been deeper and the president’s commitment to Israel’s security has never been stronger,” Saban said in his introduction to Obama’s remarks tonight at his Beverly Hills home, according to White House pool reports. “And if the Iranians are at the negotiating table today, make no mistake about it, it is only as a result of President Obama’s resolve in striking down the most strict sanctions ever.” The event was the second fundraiser of the night for Obama and the first Saban has hosted for the President directly. (He’d hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last month.) About 120 people attended tonight’s dinner — including Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson, Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and wife Wendy, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — with tickets going for $16,200 each. (Read an edited and condensed version of the White House Pool report and official WH Press Office remarks from both of tonight’s fundraisers below.)
Earlier in the evening, Obama was the headliner at a fundraiser at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house. About 160 people including Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton paid $2,500-$15,000 a ticket hear the commander-in-chief speak at the reception. Tomorrow morning the president will be attending a $32,400-per-guest breakfast event at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman (take a look at the original invite here). After that, he will visit and give a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry at big donor Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation HQ, as well as meeting with studio bosses. Obama’s Southland visit, his first since August, is partially a makeup for a planned swing in September that was scrapped because of the Syria crisis.
UPDATE: Organizers of the VFX artists’ protest scheduled during President Obama’s visit to DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday say they now plan to march between Griffith Manor Park and the street. The group has also announced the name of its CVD campaign coalition: Association of Digital Artists, Professionals & Technicians (ADAPT).
PREVIOUS, 1:34 PM:Barack Obama’s visit to DreamWorks Animation tomorrow will be matched by a protest by the VFX professionals behind an anti-subsidy tariff campaign, but the organizers say they don’t have the president — or DWA head Jeffrey Katzenberg – in their sights. “We are not trying to embarrass DreamWorks Animation at all,” the industry blogger known as VFX Soldier told Deadline. “This is about raising awareness about what is happening outside the walls of DreamWorks: The absolute collapse of VFX employment.”
Obama is in town today and Tuesday for midterm election fundraisers as well as his DWA appearance. After a studio tour and a meeting with industry leaders, Obama is expected to speak about the economy and the strength of the entertainment industry in his DWA address scheduled for 12:15 PM Tuesday. During his DWA visit VFX supporters will gather just under a mile away at Glendale’s Griffith Manor Park. The VFX activists are aghast that Obama would praise employment at a studio hit by layoffs in the last year to an animation and VFX community that’s struggling to survive. Pink slips delivered by DWA earlier this year were the result of changes in the studio’s production schedule, not outsourcing or similar activities. Sources tell Deadline that many of those let go from DWA have since been rehired as the studio has new films in the pipeline. Still, everyone in VFX feels the instability of the industry. “We’re trying to prevent the embarrassment,” said VFX Soldier. “Why would you go to L.A.? This is ground zero.”
While the president won’t see the protesting VFXers, the White House is clearly sensitive to perception about Obama speaking at the HQ of his biggest donor bundler. “DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California and the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the president’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there. Rather, it’s an opportunity to highlight the success of one business and the success that they’re having in creating jobs in Southern California,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest today on Air Force One according to pool reports. Similar to the fundraiser last week for Gov. Jerry Brown at Disney Studios boss Alan Horn’s home, a number of other studio chiefs such as Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara and CBS’ Les Moonves are expected to attend Obama’s speech at DWA.
If you aren’t attending the two big-ticket fundraisers President Obama is headlining in Beverly Hills tonight, you might want to stay out of West LA today. Because of Obama’s two-day visit, the LAPD says there’ll be street closures from the 405 Freeway to La Cienega Boulevard and from Santa Monica Boulevard south down to Venice Boulevard today from 4:45-10 PM. There will also be closures from Fairfax to Western and from Beverly Boulevard to Pico from 8-10:45 AM Tuesday for a Hancock Park fundraiser. Also expect delays in the Glendale area from 10:30 AM-1:30 PM when the President heads over to big bundler Jeffery Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation for a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry.
Today, Obama is set to fly into LAX at 4:30 PM and then chopper over to the Veterans Administration building at 11000 Wilshire Blvd near UCLA. Coming to town from San Francisco, POTUS will head first to a $2,500-$15,000 a ticket gathering at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house; Obama is scheduled to speak at the event around 7:10 PM. Staying in the neighborhood, the President will then head to the home of Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl for a $16,200-a-person or $32,400-a-couple dinner. A longtime Democratic Party supporter who had an event with Hillary Clinton last month at his house, this marks the first fundraiser the Power Rangers billionaire has held with Obama directly. After delivering remarks at 8:20 PM, Obama will head to a hotel, likely the Beverly Hilton, for the night. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The last time President Obama was in town back in early August he had a private dinner with Jeffrey Katzenberg – now the Commander-in-Chief is heading over to his top bundler’s DreamWorks Animation Glendale campus for a very public pre-Thanksgiving visit. While in town next week for a series of fundraisers, Obama will be dropping by DWA on November 26 in the afternoon, I’ve learned. While there, the President will be giving a speech to company employees and invited guests at Katzenberg HQ. Of course, Obama’s visit to DWA isn’t the only political face time on Katzenberg’s calendar in the next week – the Animation CEO is co-hosting a mogul heavy fundraiser today for Governor Jerry Brown at Disney Studio boss Alan Horn‘s Bel Air home.
Stephanie Cutter just got another new job today thanks to President Obama. Just over two and a half months since the former White House staffer debuted on CNN’s resuscitated Crossfire with co-hosts Newt Gingrich,S.E. Cupp and Van Jones, Cutter is back working for her old boss – at least partially. Obama Tuesday named his former Deputy Campaign Manager as a Member for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to join this Administration and serve our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” said Obama in a statement announcing Cutter’s appointment and several others today. With the political consultant as one of its four rotating hosts, Crossfire came back after 8 years odd the air on September 9 this year with modest ratings. A low impact patronage post, the Committee traditionally has the current First Lady as its Honorary Chair and Michelle Obama serves in that capacity for her husband’s administration. Cutter was Mrs. Obama’s Chief of Staff during the 2008 campaign. Read More »
Hillary Clinton is in town today getting some one-on-one with Hollywood but Barack Obama is coming back to LA in late November to soak up some more Tinseltown cash. As was widely expected, the President will be here on November 25 to more than make up for a September fundraising visit that was scrapped first because of potential military action in Syria and then, with First Lady Michelle subbing, because of the government shutdown. Hitting town to raise dough for the Democrats midterms coffers, Obama is first the headliner at a $2,500 to $15,000 a ticket gathering at Magic Johnson and his wife Cookie’s house. The opening acts include Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Then the President heads over to the Bev Hills home of Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl for a $16,200 a person or $32,400 a couple dinner. The Sabans hosted a $15,000 a ticket fundraiser on October 30 for Terry McAuliffe’s ultimately successful Virginia Governor bid where Clinton was the marquee attraction. The next day, Obama finally makes it over to the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman, where he was originally going to attend that September fundraiser. Like its previous incarnation earlier this year, entrance to the somewhat informal event comes at a price of $32,400 per guest and is expected to raise over $1 million for the party. In what is being set up as … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Just over 12 hours after tonight’s screening with President Obama of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom at the White House, Harvey Weinstein will be back at the Executive Mansion to talk film again. This time the Weinstein Company co-chairman will be with First Lady Michelle Obama at 10 AM PT for the Careers In Film symposium she is hosting Friday. Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and One Chance director David Frankel will join Obama and Weinstein. Naomie Harris, who plays Winnie Mandela in Long Walk To Freedom, also will be participating. The filmmakers’ discussion will be moderated by Gayle King. Coogler also will be joining the Obamas, Harris, Weinstein and Mandela director Justin Chadwick and star Idris Elba at the screening tonight, I’ve learned. The Friday event is designed to teach high school students from Washington DC, NYC and Boston about the film industry. Read More »
Nelson Mandela is coming to the Executive Mansion this Thursday. Not the former South African president himself but the Weinstein Company’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.President Obama is set to host a screening of the epic on November 7 with Harvey Weinstein and the film’s director and cast. “Knowing what a strong relationship President Obama has with President Mandela, it’s an honor for this film to be shown at the White House,” said Weinstein in a statement Monday. The screening comes a day before First Lady Michelle Obama is holding an event on November 8th with as yet unnamed industry experts for high school students wanting to learn more about the film biz. Sources say it’s likely that Weinstein, director Justin Chadwick and Mandela stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris could drop by for the First Lady’s event. All will be attending the screening the night before. Mandela’s daughters Zindzi and Zenami will also be in attendance at the White House screening on the 7th. Heavily considered an Oscar contender, the Mandela film joins DreamWorks’ Lincoln and Legendary/WB’s 42 as having screened at the White House in the past year.Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom debuts on November 29 in LA and NYC.
Interviews today with President Obama and controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio officially launched Fusion with a special edition of the new America With Jorge Ramos. Actually, Fusion kicked off three minutes beforehand at 3:57 PM PT with a hip swiveling music video featuring actors playing CEO Isaac Lee and other senior executives plus various real hosts from the network. Amidst the dancing around the office and cameos by Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, the Fusion employees lyrically proclaimed themselves “the corporate godchild of ABC-Disney and Univision” that will “offer world class reporting with a pop culture theme.” Still, the dance video aside, ABC and Univision’s Fusion was very traditional in its first hour for a joint venture aimed at young English-speaking Hispanics and millennials. The dance routine was followed with a more sober intro by Ramos promising to “challenge the people that make the news” and asking “Why is the government spying on us and foreign leaders?” Then Fusion went straight into a traditional cable news show with interviews, produced segments, talking heads and a taped interview with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Will Obamacare become plot fodder for CBS’ Hostages and Under The Dome? A $500,000 grant awarded this week to USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Hollywood Health & Society program certainly suggests it’s a possibility. In the latest push to get Tinseltown to promote President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the decade-old program has received the money from the private California Endowment to give Hollywood producers, writers and execs details about the newly launched health insurance initiative. “Our experience has shown that the public gets just as much, if not more, information about current events and important issues from their favorite television shows and characters as they do from the news media and online resources,” said Hollywood Health & Society’s Martin Kaplan in a statement today. “This grant will allow us to ensure that industry practitioners have up-to-date, relevant facts on health care reform to integrate into their storylines and projects.” Hostages’ co-EP Jennifer Cecil sits on Hollywood Health & Society’s Advisory Board as does Under The Dome EP Neal Baer. So does Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins EP Chris Nee among others. The grant comes just over a week after Jennifer Hudson appeared in a pro-Obamacare Scandal parody video produced by Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die. Read More »
It’s the DNC fundraiser that just isn’t happening. First President Obama cancelled his scheduled September 9 appearance at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman because of the possibility of military action in Syria. Now Michelle Obama will not be coming to the LA home of Everybody Love Raymond creator Philip Rosenthal on Friday as a substitute for her husband because of the ongoing government shutdown. One source cited the optics of the First Lady headlining the big-ticket event while many government workers aren’t collecting their paychecks as the primary reason for the cancellation. The First Lady is also pulling the plug on a planned San Francisco fundraiser set for October 13. Neither event has been re-scheduled. First announced on August 27, the President’s latest Hollywood visit was taken off the calendar September 5. It was announced on September 13, that the First Lady would come to the re-scheduled event. With tickets ranging from $1,250-$32,400, the October 11 fundraiser was supposed to be a one-hour event with a photo op for the lower ticket buyers and a smaller Q&A gathering for the top-tier donors, just like the President’s September event was supposed to be.
U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif) wonders why a Time Warner Cable lobbyist is emailing Republicans in the House and Senate, telling them “next time you think about helping broadcasters” they should first read a Weekly Standard article taking NBC News to task for its weeklong look at the Affordable Care Act. “Could you please explain why this email was sent and what purpose it serves?” Waxman, the ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said this afternoon in a terse letter addressed to TWC CEO Glenn Fritt.
The Weekly Standard article to which the unnamed lobbyist linked was called “NBC Launches Week of Programming to ‘Help’ Obamacare Succeed.” The Weekly Standard appears to have looked askance at an announcement NBC News emailed around last week – we got a copy too – detailing plans for this week’s “Ready or Not, the New Healthcare Law” — a “multi-screen experience to help Americans get the most out of the Affordable Care Act.” NBC’s coverage included results from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, conducted in conjunction with NBC News, that details public opinion and awareness about the ACA. And, NBC Nightly News aired an interview between NBC News’ Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Doctors, nurses, employers and patients all have a stake in how the Affordable Care Act will play out,” said Snyderman. “The sweeping federal law is confusing. We will clarify parts of the law, explain how states differ and tackle many of the challenges associated with it. We are committed to answering questions and serving as a guide as this legislation is implemented.” Read More »
CNBC’s Washington correspondent John Harwood has scored a sit-down today with President Obama to discuss the government shutdown. The NBCU cable net has scheduled the interview for today at 4 PM on Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo. Congress pushed the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday over the GOP’s dispute with Obama’s health care law. The shutdown forced about 800,000 federal workers off the job and suspended many nonessential federal programs and services, including the Environmental Protection Agency, national parks, etc. Continuing to work are staffers classified as essential government employees, including air traffic controllers, border patrol agents, etc. — and the government will continue to pay Social Security benefits and Medicare and Medicaid fees to doctors. Here’s Harwood on CNBC when the shutdown officially began:
The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts is about to get a taste of some Olivia Pope – kind of. On the day of the Season 10 debut of Grey’s Anatomy, President Barack Obama today used some of his patronage power and appointed Shonda Rhimes, the creator/EP of the medical drama and Scandal, to the Center’s Board of Trustees. Obama also appointed the Carlyle Group’s CEO David Rubenstein Empire Global Ventures’ CEO Alexandra Stanton, Chicago art gallery owner Amalia Pera Mahoney, FI Investment Group CEO Frank Islam and Entravision Communications’ CEO Walter Ulloa to the Board Thursday as well. “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead,” said Obama in a statement when making the announcements. Rhimes was a big supporter of Obama’s campaigns for President as both a donor and even worked in a phone bank with Private Practice actress Kate Walsh for the candidate. Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy premieres tonight on ABC with Season 3 of the D.C. political drama Scandal set to launch on October 3rd.
2ND UPDATE, 5:07 PM: Well, Univision got what it wanted from President Obama…sort of. Almost a week after the network and its marquee anchor Jorge Ramos took President Obama to task for omitting Spanish-language news divisions from his Syria whistle-stop network news tour, rival Telemundo said today it has landed an exclusive interview with Obama. The NBCUniversal-owned network is claiming its Obama’s “first interview to a Spanish-language television network since asking for congressional approval for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria”. Excerpts of the sit-down, to be conducted by news anchor José Díaz-Balart, will be broadcast on Noticiero Telemundo on Tuesday at 6:30 PM ET. The interview, expected to focus on immigration reform, Obamacare, the latest on the Syrian crisis and other subjects of interest to the Hispanic community, will air in its entirety on Enfoque Con José Díaz-Balart on Sunday at noon.
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 9 PM: Now the network itself has chimed in. Earlier today Univision’s Jorge Ramos posted some displeased tweets over not being one of the anchors interviewing Barack Obama about possible military action in Syria. Calling the lack of an interview “disappointing,” Univision has expanded on that view with the statement below.
What happens in Syria is important to Univision News’ audience. As the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. the decisions that are made by our government on issues like this one have a direct impact in their lives and their future. The U.S. Hispanic community has the right to be well informed and receive all the news and information they need from the news source they trust the most. It’s disappointing to see the lack of interest to reach our audience on this important issue.
President Barack Obama won’t be coming to town after all for the DNC fundraiser that was originally scheduled for September 9 but First Lady Michelle Obama will. The event is now set for October 11 at the LA home of Everybody Love Raymond creator Philip Rosenthal, says an email the DNC sent out today. Announced on August 27, the September fundraiser was first set for the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman. However, due to the possibility of military action against Syria and a now postponed vote in Congress, Obama’s trip was taken off the calendar on September 5. With tickets ranging from $1,250 to $32,400, the October 11 fundraiser will be a one-hour event with a photo opp for the lower ticket buyers and a smaller Q&A gathering for the top tier paying donors, just like the President’s event was supposed to be. Largely absent from midterm fundraisers this cycle, the First Lady is back on the trail and will be heading up to San Francisco for another event on October 13.
President Barack Obama told the American people last night that he was going to give diplomacy a chance in the Syria crisis before ordering military action. For Fox News Channel, victory came more easily. The cable news network drew 4.042 million viewers for Obama’s speech Tuesday, with 939,000 in the adults 25-54 demo for the 9-9:17 PM ET live address from the White House. That’s more than double what rival CNN got with its 1.914 million viewers, and a solid 300,000 more than the 683,000 demo viewers the Jeff Zucker-run network pulled in the same time period, according to Nielsen. While MSNBC did not break out their numbers for the speech, the network still came third with 1.196 million viewers and 310,000 in 25-54 between 8-10 PM. Interestingly, in the post-speech analysis, led by anchor Bret Baier, FNC’s numbers didn’t fall that much. From 9:17-10 PM, the news network averaged 3.6 million viewers with 830,000 adults 25-54. Led by Piers Morgan, CNN’s 9:30 – 10 PM post speech coverage got 1.56 million viewers with 565,000 in the demo. Broadcasts nets NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC also cut into regularly scheduled programming to run the president’s speech live. Over primetime Tuesday, FNC won the night in viewership and the demo among the cable news networks. Fox had 3.078 million viewers with 651,000 in the 25-54s from 8-11 PM last night. CNN had 1.21 … Read More »