WASHINGTON — With John McCain’s new campaign finance reform laws pushing up the first reporting period for political contributions to April 15 — the earliest deadline ever — Hollywood’s legendary fundraising muscle is getting plenty of exercise as the presidential campaign approaches.
But, reflecting the wide-open race among Democratic hopefuls as well as uncertainty about Hollywood’s ties to D.C. in general, showbizzers are hedging their bets.
Indeed, contributions to more than one candidate seemed de rigueur this time around.
Fox Studios prexy Peter Chernin gave $2,000 to both Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and to Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt. Warners’ topper Alan Horn ponied up $1,000 for the campaigns of both South Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Gephardt.
Thesp Michael Douglas did the splits as well, adding $2,000 to the war chests of Gephardt and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
In this first leg of the long horse race to the 2004 finish line, Edwards came out ahead of the pack in coin, banking $7.4 million overall.
Kerry was just a hair behind with approximately $7 million. Gephardt ranked third with $5.9 million, counting among his contributions a $1,000 check from former Warners topper and now L.A. Dodgers chairman Bob Daly.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) may have paid a price for his rants against showbiz violence and indecency, as well as his support for Bush’s war in Iraq: Al Gore‘s ex-running mate came in fourth with $3 million.
Dean — the favorite of Rob Reiner and Martin Sheen, who each gave $2,000, came in fifth, raking in $2.6 million.
Los Angeles — and Hollywood in particular — was certainly lucrative ground for all the Democratic hopefuls, who have spent the past six months booking coast-to-coast flights and attending numerous fundraisers.
Not surprisingly, given that his anti-war stance meshes with that of many in Hollywood, Dean has spent plenty of time dialing for dollars in Tinseltown. A glance through his filings reads like a who’s who of showbiz’s corporate and labor players.
ASCAP prexy Alan Bergman, Carol Fuchs of CastleRock, Jon Paul Felson of Universal Studios and Sarah Timberman of Universal Television all gave at least $1,000 to Dean’s campaign, as did Susan Glatzer of Paramount, Jeffery Strauss at HBO, and mogul Haim Saban.
Edwards bagged his share of showbiz execs as well, among them Universal Studios prexy Ron Meyer and Vivendi U’s Edgar Bronfman Jr.
MPAA topper Jack Valenti, who’s been on the political scene for years, handed Kerry a check for $2,000 — but he plans to give money to others, so this was not seen as an endorsement.