President Obama’s schedule on Tuesday includes a meeting with studio executives and other entertainment industry representatives at DreamWorks Animation, where economic issues specific to Hollywood are expected to be discussed, sources said on Monday.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has been inviting studio chiefs to the meeting, sources said, and among those expected at the closed-door event are MPAA chairman Chris Dodd, CBS’s Leslie Moonves and possibly Warner Bros.’ Kevin Tsujihara and Barry Meyer and Fox’s Jim Gianopulos. Although no agenda has been set, such issues as the economic impact of entertainment, as well as the fight against piracy, are expected to be brought up .
Obama’s visit is a rare trek to Los Angeles when he has an industry-specific event on his agenda that is not a fundraiser. Although he will be raising money for Democratic Senate and House candidates this evening at the home of Magic Johnson and Haim Saban, and on Tuesday at the home of Marta Kauffman, the late-morning event at DreamWorks is not to raise money. His agenda also includes a speech to DreamWorks employees that is not open to the public but is open to the press.
Obama’s speech will focus on the economy but also is expected to focus on the entertainment industry’s importance to growth.
On Air Force One on Monday, White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said that Katzenberg’s support of Obama — the DreamWorks Animation chieftan was one of the biggest fundraisers for Obama’s reelection campaign — had “no bearing on our decision to visit there.”
“Contributing to the president’s campaign or being a political supporter of the president doesn’t guarantee you a presidential visit, but it shouldn’t exclude you from one either,” Earnest said.
“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,” Earnest said. “Rather, it’s an opportunity to highlight the success of one business and the success that they’re having creating jobs in Southern California.”
Nevertheless, a group of visual effects artists are planning a protest outside the DreamWorks Animation campaign in Glendale to highlight the loss of special effects jobs to outsourcing to other countries that offer generous subsidies. Those involved say that their protest is of the subsidies, putting U.S. on an unequal playing field in the competition for production. Also in the works is an effort in which DreamWorks employees will wear green shirts in solidarity with those artists who have lost their jobs. Some 500 shirts have been purchased with the hope that employees will wear them and draw attention to the issue.
VFXSoldier, a widely read blog by an anonymous visual effects artist, posted this morning that the effort is not “to make DreamWorks look bad.” In fact, he praises DreamWorks Animtation for how it treats it workers. Rather, the focus is on the international subsidies and the idea to impose a duty to offset their effect.