UPDATE, 8:57 AM: ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as well as the cable networks have just broken away from normal programming to cover President Obama‘s remarks live from the White House on the latest from yesterday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster over the Ukraine. Obama said one U.S. citizen was among the 298 passengers killed from what is suspected to be a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian rebels. He called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and demanded a credible investigation, saying a UN investigation is already underway with Ukraine and Russia expected to cooperate fully.
With Showtime‘s Ray Donovan set to debut season 2 tonight, star Jon Voight, one of Hollywood’s highest-profile conservatives, used the bully pulpit of Fox News to vent about Barack Obama’s Middle East policy and more, as shown on the attached video below.
On the show, Voight plays the title character’s Very Bad Dad, ex-con Mickey Donovan. On Fox News Channel‘s Huckabee, he takes the role of Very Mad American, talking with host Mike Huckabee and reading from a statement about Obama in Iraq (or not), U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) campaigning on reproductive rights, Democratic boycotts of Dinesh D’Souza over his latest film and more.
Less than 10 months after President Obama appointed Shonda Rhimes to the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts’ Board of Trustees the Scandal EP is doing the Commander-In-Chief a solid with a big bucks fundraiser next month. Heading out to Hollywood once again to hover up cash for the Democratic Party, Obama will be the headliner at a $32,400 a ticket event at Rhimes’ home on July 23. To help make it a fully scandalous affair, Kerry Washington, the star of the ABC political intrigue series, is serving on the host committee for the shindig. This is not the first time Rhimes has worked for Obama. The producer was a big supporter of both of Obama’s campaigns for President as both a donor and a volunteer – even pitching in at a campaign phone bank.
Tickets for the late July event range from $1,000 to the more than $30,000 for high rollers. Patrons who pay out the top price will not only get entertained by a yet unnnamed musical act and get their pic with POTUS but also participate in an up close and personal dinner the Fundraiser-In-Chief will have with 30 couples. “This type of thing has proven a real …
Ryan Murphy and Larry Kramer’s HBO movie The Normal Heart can count President Barack Obama among its supporters. I hear the president made a surprise call to Murphy today to tell him that he loved the film and found it incredibly moving. The two know each other — Murphy hosted a major fundraiser for Obama at his house in 2012 — but I hear the writer-director had no idea Obama had seen his HBO film about the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in thea early 1980s. I hear Obama asked how the movie came together. Kramer had been trying to get his Tony-winning play adapted to the screen for three decades, with Murphy taking on what would become a passion project for him too in 2010. Murphy confirmed getting the call to Deadline, adding, “The whole movie is about Larry trying to get the attention of Washington and 30 years later, to get a call from the President is a full-circle moment.”…
WRITETHRU: President Obama accepted the Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador of Humanity Award from Steven Spielberg tonight during a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Following some jokes from host Conan O’Brien and acoustic takes on set from Bruce Springsteen (“The Promised Land” and a haunting “Dancing In The Dark”), Spielberg presented the president with the honor, after which Obama gave a heartfelt and somber speech before a crowd of about 1,300, according to the White House pool report. He didn’t touch on any subjects directly related to the entertainment industry, but the crowd that included many Hollywood heavy-hitters was moved by its universal themes of violence, war and intolerance. “The work of this foundation,” he said, “the testimonies of survivors like those with us tonight, also remind us that the purpose of memory is not simply to preserve the past; it is to protect the future.” It was the second stop on the president’s visit to Los Angeles. Earlier in the evening, he spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser hosted by Alan and Cindy Horn at their Bel-Air home. The mood was much lighter for the roughly 90 guests, including Jeffrey Katzenberg and Barbra Streisand, who shelled out $64,800 a couple. They heard the president give what amounted to a stump speech that also eschewed any mention of showbiz. Obama will stay overnight before leaving for San Diego in the late morning. A full transcript of his Shoah Foundation speech is at the bottom of the original post.
4TH UPDATE, 10:15 PM: Host Conan O’Brien kicked off the Shoah Foundation event where President Obama was being honored with a few zingers. “Whoever Steven [Spielberg] suckered to tell jokes at this event is a true idiot,” he said in his opening remarks. The late-night host teased Obama about the traffic gridlock his visit caused. “You left Washington six hours ago, but I left Burbank seven hours ago.” But O’Brien got one of the night’s biggest laughs when he mentioned Spielberg’s efforts to record Holocaust survivors and other victims of genocide. O’Brien said the filmmaker “was recording evidence of intolerance long before Donald Sterling’s girlfriend.” Obama was seen laughing at the remark. The TBS host also acknowledged the philanthropists and other humanitarians in the room before reminding everyone of the true nature of Hollywood. “I’m also told there are some people from CAA here, so that evens it out,” he said to a huge laugh. “They don’t represent me, so I don’t care.” He then introduced Bruce Springsteen, who played a couple of acoustic numbers including a haunting version of “Dancing In The Dark.” As he introduced Spielberg after the performance, O’Brien recalled a lunch they’d had when he first moved to LA in 2009 for what ended up being a short stint hosting The Tonight Show. “Steven took me on a tour of his awards,” he said. “It took 5 hours.”
Spielberg then took the podium. “Everywhere from Syria to southern Sudan, the world has yet to learn the lessons,” he said of genocide and war during his introduction of Obama.”This program exists because we know the future can be re-written.” Then he introduced the president, who gave a somber and heartfelt speech that ran about 15 minutes.
“Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will,” Obama said after accepting the Ambassador of Humanity Award from Spielberg. The president passionately praised genocide survivors in the packed ballroom as “inspirations of hope.” He also praised the foundation’s work capturing on video the survivors’ stories “Recording the memories that would be lost to time. … They turn never forget into never again.”
He later said, “It’s up to us to search our own hearts for those stories that have no place in our world.” The president asked the crowd to “erode” the destructive forces of anti-Semitism and other bigotry and injustice. “Drop by drop by drop … never forget, never again,” said Obama, who mention in closing the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria.
5th UPDATE – FINAL: (See McHale and Obama videos here and here) If last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner with headliner Conan O’Brien was white bread bland, tonight’s event was just painful. In way way over his head, Joel McHale stumbled and sputtered through a routine that got more moans and groans from the packed Washington Hilton ballroom than laughs. With failed one-liners about runaway production, Robert De Niro’s career choices, Jessica Simpson’s historical knowledge, the Kardashians’ sex lives, George Clooney’s political affiliations, Bill Clinton’s qualifications as a grandfather and a slew of other poorly conceived and badly executed jokes, the Community star left the stage after 30-minutes to weak applause from the 2,600 guests. At least he made President Obama’s speech and his now standard swipes at cable news look good in comparison. Obama’s sharpest line of the night came courtesy of Netflix when Obama sympathized with House Speaker John Boehner’s problem with his fellow Republicans. “Which means orange really is the new black,” quipped the President with perfect timing. At another pop culture point, Obama made a nod to HBO’s Game Of Thrones. The Commander-in-Chief envoked the merciless acts of the ruler of the fictional Seven Kingdoms when he joked about enacting more executive actions and just doing his job every day as a doctored pic appeared on the video monitors.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 4, 2014
Besides the speeches, the mixed crowd of Hollywood, D.C. and captains of industry were entertained by a video featuring real life Vice-President Joe Biden and HBO’s fictional VP Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus on a tear around D.C. and the White House kitchen. In addition, there was also an earnest History Channel-produced video about the White House Correspondents Association, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. (For the complete play-by-play, take a look at our live blog below)
— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) May 4, 2014
Related: Hollywood Guests At 2014 WHCD
With no Kevin Spacey, no Stephen Spielberg and no Jeffrey Katzenberg the Hollywood wattage was a little lower than usual but then again Robert De Niro was there and so were at least three Presidents: The real one plus Scandal’s Tony “President Fitzgerald Grant” Goldwyn and House Of Cards’ Michael “President Garrett Walker” Gill. Basically the entire main casts of Scandal and House of Cards where there except for respectively Kerry Washington and Kevin Spacey. Harvey Weinstein was back for another year, while Universal President & COO Ron Meyer was pulled into a cell phone photo with the studio’s Ride Along box office champ Kevin Hart. 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o got all the cameras turning her way with that polka-dot dress, with Modern Family’s cleavage covered Sofia Vergara not exactly being ignored by photographers either. The Good Wife‘s Julianna Margulies posed with Barbara Walters.
Also showing up: Frozen’s Kristen Bell, Katie Couric, Julie Delpy, Patrick Duffy, David Gregory, Savannah Guthrie, Arianna Huffington, Mindy Kaling, former Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing and French Connection director Billy Friedkin, John Leguizamo, Rose McGowen, 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, Glee’s Matthew Morrison, Joe Morton, Olivia Munn, ET’s Nancy O’Dell, Molly Parker, Freida Pinto, Tonight Show bandleader and Roots drummer Questlove, Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson, Rosario Dawson, Dax Shepard, Jessica Simpson, GMA’s Lara Spencer, AOL’s Tim Armstrong, Morgan Spurlock, George Stephanopoulos, Sir Patrick Stewart, Madeleine Stowe, Oscar winner Tilda Swinton, Lindsey Vonn (sans Mr. Woods) with Will.i.am who is making the rounds in D.C. and set to appear on Meet the Press tomorrow morning. Crossfire co-host Van Jones was one of many CNNers at the dinner too, including headman Jeff Zucker.
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) May 4, 2014
4th UPDATE, 8:55 PM: If you want to know how to die in front of the President of the United States, the D.C. Press Corps and some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, ask Joel McHale The Community star was a total bomb tonight at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
It’s a toss-up whether the Washington Hilton Ballroom was a harder room for a comedian to play than the Dolby Theater on Oscar night. Joel McHale received jeers for going blue in his introduction at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner tonight, exclaiming, ”I host a show called The Soup which is on the E! network. To Republicans in attendance, E! is the channel that your deeply closeted gay son likes to watch. Democrats, it’s the same channel that your happy, openly gay son likes to watch. It’s also home to the Kardashians, who, believe it or not, are Republicans. And I know that because they’re always trying to screw black people.” Then McHale took a potshot at legendary actor Robert De Niro — something that former Oscar host Chris Rock learned, when he made fun of Jude Law, is a total no-no in a roomful of showbiz types. Quipped McHale, “I don’t do a De Niro impression, but I do one of Robert De Niro’s agent. Here it is: (ring ring), ‘He’ll do it!’ Mr. De Niro I was in Spy Kids 4, so clearly I’m beyond reproach. So, I will see you on the set of Spy Kids 5.” Take a look:
While not the official headliner, President Obama was clearly on better form than Joel McHale at tonight’s White House Correspondents Dinner. Check out POTUS’ roasting of Fox News, MSNBC, NJ Governor Chris Christie, Putin, Healthcare.gov, and um, CNN’s coverage of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane:
James Bond has teamed up with President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden to protect people from sexual assault. Along with POTUS and VPOTUS, Daniel Craig is appearing in a new PSA encouraging men to intervene and stop the situation when they realize someone is in danger of being sexually assaulted. The 007 star is joined by Steve Carell, Benicio Del Toro, former West Wing and Psych actor Dulé Hill and NBC’s Late Night host Seth Meyers.
“I am honored to be part of such an important and crucial project,” said Craig in a statement released by the White House today. “The message is clear and simple; everyone has a responsibility. There are no exceptions. There are no excuses. Please watch it and pass it on.” Launched in coordination with the 1 Is 2 Many campaign and the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the PSAs will debut next month in Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark movie theaters. In both a 30-second and 60-second format, they will also appear over NCM Media Networks’ Lobby Entertainment Network and on the big screen in U.S. military bases and ships around the world.
Guess Joel McHale really didn’t know what he was signing up for when he took the gig to headline this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Seems once the E! host and star of NBC’s Community learned that he’d be fronting “Nerdprom” — as the WHCD has been tagged in the last few years — he re-tweeted a posting from C-SPAN today and proclaimed “I’m out.” Of course, McHale isn’t going anywhere, but rather amping up the hype heading into Saturday’s centennial dinner with President Obama at the Washington Hilton.
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) April 29, 2014
As part of that push, McHale stopped by David Letterman’s show Monday night, with Letterman trying to to find out what was on McHale’s mind as he prepped for the gig, also known in DC as the annual Hollywood petting zoo. Turns out, it was not much:
White House Correspondents Enlist History Channel To Produce Documentary About Journalists Organization
Pulling back the curtain, History Channel announced this morning it will work with the White House Correspondents’ Association to produce a special video commemorating the centennial celebration of the organization as well as its annual White House Correspondents Dinner. The video will be screened at that annual Beltway bash/Hollywood petting zoo, which will again be held at Washington’s Hinckley Hilton on Saturday, May 3. President Obama and former President Clinton will participate in the video chronicling the origin of the WHCA in 1914 and its evolution over the century.
In addition to Obama and Clinton, among those scheduled to be interviewed include historians; press secretaries Marlin Fitzwater, Mike McCurry, and Dana Perino; and the WHC Dinner’s past and current celebrity hosts. In theory the latter means Stephen Colbert, who scorched the ballroom with his in-character indictment of then-president George W. Bush, and Craig Ferguson, who pronounced VPOTUS Dick Cheney “funny for an evil guy” after Cheney told him “enjoy your audit” following a Ferguson joke that Cheney had to start his move out of his official residence before the end of Bush’s second term because “it takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon.”
Broadway has made no secret of casting Hollywood A-listers in the past few years in an effort to fill more seats, and tomorrow the Great White Way will be getting two particularly prestigious patrons. If all goes to plan, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are set to attend the 8 PM performance of the revival of A Raisin In The Sun at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The president will be in NYC earlier in the day on official biz. This latest version of the revered 1959 Lorraine Hansberry play stars Denzel Washington in the Oscar and Tony winner’s first return to Broadway since 2010′s Fences. The Kenny Leon-directed and Scott Rudin-produced play sees A Raisin In The Sun return to the very theater where it first opened more than 50 years ago. Having had previews last month, the play — which is set on Chicago’s South Side, where the Obamas have a home in the upscale Kenwood neighborhood — opened on April 3 to a limited engagement that sees it running just to June 15. I’m assuming the Obamas, who will be heading back to D.C. after taking in the show, didn’t have to pull too many favors to get tickets to the nearly sold-out run. But with a hot commodity like this, it helps that they know people.
Louis C.K. prepares his own material, which explains why his monologue last night was genuinely funny with thoughtful jokes instead of the usual SNL opening shticks. For those who like the show’s recurring themes there’s the latest Jeopardy take off, Black Jeopardy. The cold open, supposedly about President Obama‘s efforts to promote the Affordable Care Act on social media, gave cast members an opportunity to impersonate pop celebrities.
President Obama Begs To Differ With FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, Thinks Lincoln Would Have Appeared On ‘Between Two Ferns’
President Obama, responding to a question about Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly’s criticism of his appearance on Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns, said today that President Lincoln had a sense of humor. ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd asked Obama today about criticism that Abraham Lincoln would not have appeared on the web series hosted by Zach Galifianakis. (Obama did, last week, as part of a media tour to urge viewers and listeners to sign up for Obamacare before the March 31 deadline. The ESPN Radio interview was part of that campaign.)
“One of the hardest things about being president is being in this bubble that is artificial, and, unless you make a conscious effort, you start sounding like some Washington stiff,” Obama told Cowherd. “If you read back on Lincoln, he loved telling the occasional bawdy joke and, you know, being out among regular folks.”
Continuing to urge Americans to sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage before the March 31 deadline, President Obama today turned to the woman who’d broken his re-tweet record, Ellen DeGeneres. Obama appears on her syndicated The Ellen DeGeneres Show via live shot from the White House – his first appearance on the show since being elected to the White House. “I thought it was a pretty cheap stunt myself,” the president says of Ellen’s Oscar selfie, “Getting a bunch of celebrities in the background…you feeding them pizza.”
It’s been about a week since Obama appeared on the Funny or Die web series Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis to tout the benefits of Obamacare; some members of the media had a field day with that one, but they’re pretty busy now with the missing Malaysia Airlines plane story so you may not see so much hair-tearing about today’s appearance, in which POTUS discusses his having eaten carrot sticks with potato chips while FLOTUS Michelle Obama is in China with their daughters; his Practically Perfect Tattoo Deterrent for his two teenagers; and how life at the White House is not nearly so sexy as it’s played in House Of Cards and Scandal. (Check out the video below.)
UPDATE, 9:30 AM: White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett tells CBS This Morning that Healthcare.gov’s traffic has increased 40% since the launch of the Funny or Die video featuring President Obama and Zach Galifianakis early yesterday morning. In an interview broadcast this morning, Jarrett told CBS morning show co-hosts Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King that the video campaign has been “overwhelmingly successful.” ”Zach and the guys at Funny or Die, they have huge followings. Every young person I know watches their videos on YouTube,” Jarrett said, adding, when asked, “No, it wasn’t hard to get [Obama] to participate.”
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY AM: A little more than a month after Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly landed his contentious pre-Super Bowl sit-down with President Obama, Zach Galifianakis scored an interview with the president on his Funny or Die show Between Two Ferns. In the interview, which was taped a couple weeks ago, the two men discussed why a third term would be as bad an idea as that third Hangover movie, Obama’s birth certificate, Obamacare, and the rash growing on Galifianakis’ arm. “That’s disgusting — how long have you had that? That’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen,” Obama said. Watch here:
President Obama has just named HBO programming president Michael Lombardo an appointee for General Trustee, Board of Trustees at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, an administration post. Lombardo, who has been at HBO since 1983, has been a regular fixture on Obama’s fundraiser trips to LA for both his 2012 re-election and to stump for funds for the Democratic Party. In 2012, Lombardo and partner Sonny Ward held an Obama fundraiser at their home, and among his efforts last year he lunched with the president at a DNC event at Peter Chernin’s home, where tickets went for $10,000-$32,400. Lombardo already serves on the boards of The Paley Center, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, Film Independent, and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Last month he was appointed to the TV Academy’s executive committee.
President Obama on Tuesday will host cast and crew members of Sony’s The Monuments Men for a screening at the White House. George Clooney, who co-wrote, directed and stars in the pic, will be attending the closed-press evening event, we’re told. The pic, based on the true story of an unlikely World War II unit that was tasked with saving priceless art from the Nazis, opened February 7 and has grossed $46M+ to date. It’s a rare case of the White House screening a movie that’s already in theaters. This is not Clooney’s first go-round with the president: He hosted a May 2012 Obama re-election fundraiser at his Studio City home that raised a then-record $15 million. “We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George,” Obama said during that $40,000-a-ticket event. “They like me, they love him.”