HOLLYWOOD — The Dems have descended.
Red eyes were everywhere Sunday as thousands of politicos and reporters in town for the National Democratic Convention recovered from doing what any good tourist in Hollywood does — looking for stars.
At parties across town, out-of-towners craned to see just who was in the middle of the camera huddle. Warren Beatty, perhaps? So much for the stereotype of the cynical Washingtonian.
The pricey fund-raisers for the president and Hillary Clinton aside, the various cocktail hours, brunches and more cocktails hours were relatively sedate.
Such was the case at Hugh Hefner’s Saturday night media bash at the famed Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills.
Hefner, surrounded by Playmates, spent more than two hours speaking with reporters about the now-canceled fund-raiser planned for the mansion Wednesday night by Hispanic Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
Democratic party officials, saying the Playboy Mansion wasn’t an appropriate place for such an event, told Sanchez she’d be yanked from her speaker slot at the convention and possibly booted off the party’s national committee if she didn’t move the party.
Sanchez announced Friday she will hold the event at Universal CityWalk.
“I think the whole thing stinks,” Hefner told reporters. “It’s like a return to the bad old days of the Moral Majority.”
Hefner’s guests seemed far less concerned with political infighting than with getting a glimpse of Hollywood. Everyone — everyone — stared at actor Kyle MacLachlan, while CBS’ Bryant Gumbel and Bill Maher, host of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect,” also got a fair share of stares.
Partygoers stood in line to get Polaroids taken with Playmates, while Hefner’s spider monkeys were stuffed to the gills with grapes offered by gawkers.
Other hot party invites over the weekend included a party for 800 for NBC’s “The West Wing,” a hit show starring Martin Sheen as a liberal president.
Also Sunday, Barbra Streisand threw a fund-raiser at her Malibu home for President Clinton’s library. A complete news blackout was imposed, with rumors flying that millions could be garnered. Streisand, ever the good Dem, will sing several songs at a closing gala for the Democratic National Committee Thursday night.
The actual convention will get underway today at 1 p.m. at the Staples Center. The Demo confab was last held in L.A. in 1960, when John F. Kennedy won the party’s nomination.
Expected to attend this week are about 20,000 delegates and more than 15,000 members of the media. With the nomination of the Gore/Lieberman ticket a cinch, journalists are in something of a news vacuum.
Reporters poured into the downtown Marriott Sunday to pick up coveted credentials for the Democratic National Convention and try to make sense of the hundreds upon hundreds of convention-related gigs.
The L.A. Press Club was in the lobby of the Marriott offering press parking placards to any journalist paying the $50 membership fee.
Actual political news slated for the convention include President Clinton’s speech tonight and, later in the week, speeches by presidential contender Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a frequent Hollywood critic.
TV networks have been giving more favorable coverage to GOP presidential contender George W. Bush, according to a report expected to be released today by the Center for Media and Public Affairs. At the same time, pundits expect news outlets to give more air time to the Democratic confab than they did several weeks ago to the Republican gathering in Philadelphia.