The Stars Are Out

Dave Matthews sang ballads on the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Tony Bennett dined at the Palm. And Spike Lee was swarmed by a mob of media as he entered Mezcal Restaurant, for a reception to honor African American leaders. According to the Rocky Mountain News, after one reporter pointed a mike in his face, Lee said, “I don’t do Fox News,” and he rushed inside.

There is little doubt that, as much as this is Barack Obama’s week, it also is fodder for the celebrity gossip pages, as stars pop up around the Mile High City (Cindy Adams reportedly is in town). It is destined to be one of those surreal mixtures of celebrity and D.C., as when CNN’s Paul Begala arrived at the cabler’s cafe at the Pepsi Center and noted, with a smile on his face, that he had just seen “Rhoda,” a.k.a. Valerie Harper.

That will undoubtedly be the first of many star sightings throughout the week. Rumors are flying over which entertainer will actually perform on Wednesday or Thursday night of the convention, with the most likely name floated being Stevie Wonder. Wonder hit the campaign trail for Obama, singing at some of his rallies.

Will all of this help or hurt Obama?

“If I were in the Obama camp, I would lock Ben Affleck and Barbra Streisand away in a closet for the rest of the year,” Todd Harris, a Republican strategist and former aide to candidate Fred Thompson, told the AP. “To the degree that all of this celebrity glitz and glamour reinforces an emerging negative view of Obama, which is that he is all glitz and no experience, it could be very detrimental.”

The Obama campaign itself appears not to be all that concerned — and some of his supporters believe that all of this talk of celebrity is simply overblown. In fact, much of the word on the street here is that the McCain “celebrity” attacks are beginning to grow very old.

We caught up with Tim Daly, he co-president of the Creative Coalition, who provided his take. He actually thinks that Obama should talk more about his profession — not about Hollywood but about the importance of funding for the arts. My interview with him outside Mezcal Restaurant is below.

On a more serious note, Ken Burns and Mark Herog were the team responsible for doing the tribute film for Edward M. Kennedy, to be shown on Monday night.

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