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Obama White House: Celebrities Welcome, But…

26celeb500.2 Sheryl Stolberg writes in tomorrow’s New York Times about the parade of Hollywood figures who’ve visited the Executive Mansion since Obama took office, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Leonardo Dicaprio, Ben Stiller and Jon Bon Jovi.

Stolberg writes, “The meetings have happened quietly with good reason: At a time when
ordinary Americans are struggling through the darkest economy since the Great Depression,
and the president is confronting epic problems like health care and the
nuclear ambitions of Iran, Mr. Obama can ill afford to be seen
cavorting with Hollywood types.”

Her story continues: “Why does the opinion of a movie star matter, except insofar as he or she is a citizen?” asks Leon Wieseltier,
the literary editor of The New Republic, adding, “There is something a
little risible about these people being invited to the White House for
their perfectly conventional views on, say, climate change.

”Mr.
Axelrod, though, says it is a mistake to imagine that Hollywood stars
are flocking to the White House. “Weeks and months can go by before I
see anyone, a movie star or a television star around here,” he said,
adding, “I have always felt that there is a certain cultural quality
about Washington and L.A. that is similar. They are two towns that are
filled with very smart, creative people who spend a lot of time talking
to themselves.”

Stolberg also writes that Kal Penn — now associate director in the Office of Public Engagement under his real name, Kalpen Modi — is keeping it low key in his role and is perhaps trying to get out of his commitment for Warner Bros.’ “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” for 2010.

White House photo: President Obama and Reese Witherspoon.

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