Biz tosses party hats in Dems’ ring

Delegates, lawmakers, celebs mingle at RIAA-Creative Coalition bash

BOSTON — Hollywood has always known how to throw a good party, but the showbiz bashes in Boston this week have left Dems dancing. The Creative Coalition, a lobbying org pushing an arts and entertainment agenda in Washington, and the Recording Industry Assn. of America dazzled delegates and lawmakers by fielding a Hollywood contingent and throwing one of the best parties, featuring a performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

On the guest list Wednesday night were Ben Affleck, Ron Reagan, Alec Baldwin, Harvey Weinstein, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Bateman, Wes Craven, Ellen Burstyn, Chris Cooper and Mike Medavoy.

“Before this, I didn’t really know the Creative Coalition existed, even though I served on the Judiciary Committee that deals with intellectual property rights and a lot of entertainment issues,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said. “Their huge presence here put them on the political radar screen.”

Coalition co-directors Tony Goldwyn and Joe Pantoliano saw quite a buzz around them. And the ubiquitous Affleck, a member of the coalition, was deftly using the DNC to polish his reputation in Washington. “Ben Affleck has become the best spokesman Hollywood has this week,” said Tucker Carlson, the conservative co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire.” “He comes off as a reasonable, smart guy.”

In contrast, Jack Valenti, Hollywood’s leading man in Washington for nearly four decades, kept a much lower profile, even though this Dem confab will be his last as head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America. The MPAA did not underwrite any events here.

So far, Valenti has attended only a few public events, showing up for a Creative Coalition reception honoring the retiring Sen. John Breaux (D-La.).

Event was preceded by a panel discussion promoting arts and education spending and the need to support arts programs in Washington.

Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), a hip young member of the black caucus and a rising star in the party, participated on the panel. He’s helped the coalition raise its profile in the nation’s capital during the last few years.

“The MPAA already has a major presence in Washington, but it represents the broad corporate interest of showbiz,” he said. “The coalition cares about less obvious concerns, like the budget for the National Endowment of the Arts and the flight of filmmaking to Canada and overseas.”

It was also an important convention for the RIAA.

Last year, the music industry’s trade org hired Mitch Bainwol, a GOP political operative, who is eager to show his willingness to reach out to Democrats.

“We don’t have huge political assets,” Bainwol said. “But we work with creative talents that thrill and inspire everyone — Democrats and Republicans alike. Getting to showcase their talent here makes a great case for the entire music community.”

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