Attendees wait in line for hours at fund-raiser
Barack Obama inspires passion in his supporters, but some of the emotions on display during his recent swing through Hollywood weren’t what his campaign was hoping for.A $2,500-per-person fund-raiser at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Sept. 16 sold out to the tune of about 800 people, lured not just by the candidate but by the fact that Barbra Streisand and Ben Harper were on the bill to perform. The trouble was getting all the attendees in the door. Donors waited for hours to pass, single file, through one door and one metal detector. The line stretched through much of the hotel’s valet parking area, and the likes of Magic Johnson and Rhea Perlman were among those who patiently waited. Jerry Springer instead chatted with reporters watching from some nearby steps. Others were a bit more vocal: One woman shouted in frustration as one side of the line (not hers) was led through another door. Another donor quipped that the last time she waited in a line so long “was in 1974 to see ‘The Exorcist.’” An Obama staffer apologized to the crowd and said the fire marshall ordered that only one door be opened — ultimately the cause of the confusion. By the time most donors made it inside and Streisand took the stage to sing “Make Someone Happy,” many frayed nerves were considerably soothed. Even the legendary singer didn’t seem to mind when dozens of donors pointed cameras and phones in her direction. She said, “I thought there was no press here tonight. Hmmm. YouTube junkies.” Sure enough, by the next morning, there was video of the event on YouTube. While the event drew such stars as Ron Howard and Pierce Brosnan, the big concentration of VIPs was several miles away, at the Greystone Estate, where Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg and Will Ferrell were among the 280 guests who attended a dinner with Obama. The cost was $28,500 per person — with no waiting lines. All told, Obama raised about $10 million.