President Obama, conveying a fighting spirit as he seeks to energize supporters, turned to Hollywood on Monday night for two fundraisers that drew stars like Jack Black, Jamie Foxx and Danny DeVito and industry figures such as Quincy Jones and Judd Apatow.
Obama attended two events, one at the House of Blues, where tickets started at $250 per person, and another at the Fig & Olive, a Melrose Place eatery, geared to high dollar donors with a ticket price of $17,900 per person.
At the latter event, Obama told the 110 gathered, “Don’t get tired on me now,” a reference to questions about whether the same level of enthusiasm can be achieved in 2012 as he got in 2008.
Stars who were there also included Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, Eva Longoria, Gina Gershon, producer Jon Landau, Jamie Foxx, Will.i.am, Legendary Entertainment’s Thomas Tull and California Gov. Jerry Brown. Donors were give some face time with Obama, and he answered questions in a Q&A session with the whole group.
The co-chairs of the event were DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, political consultant Andy Spahn, Capital Group’s John Emerson and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. Emerson said that the president “was very inspirational and people were pumped up.” A figure of how much was raised was expected in the coming days.
Per the pool report from the event, Katzenberg, who introduced Obama, said, “He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature…We much keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.”
Even though some industry figures like Matt Damon and Robert Redford have been vocal in expressing their disappointment, Landau told reporters beforehand that he thinks Hollywood “is very positive” about the president. “I think they’re very excited about what’s going to happen next year. I know not everyone in the country is, but I think everybody believes over the next four months you will see who the true leader of the country is.”
Earlier, a younger crowd of about 1,000 supporters, many in their 20s and 30s, packed into the House of Blues to hear Obama speak, with Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family,” hip hop artist B.o.B and the Gay Men’s Chorus warming them up.
Before Obama even went in to his remarks, he was interrupted by a man who shouted, “a Christian God is the one and only true living God.” Obama stopped, and the man continued before Secret Service agents began escorting him out.
The president spotted a jacket near the stage and asked, “Is that his jacket?” The crowd began to drown him out with chants, but Obama said, “Make sure he gets his jacket.” But then he said that the jacket belonged to a woman. “Someone’s car keys are in there…We’re having all kinds of confusion here…Don’t leave your jacket around like that.”
The man screamed “Obama is the antichrist!” as he was dragged out past the bar and through the back entrance, and then the president began to speak again.
His speech echoed themes he has made elsewhere on his West Coast fundraising swing, including the need for the rich to pay their “fair share” and more strident rhetoric against Republican opposition that has called it “class warfare.”
“If asking a billionaire to pay the same rate as a plumber is class warfare, then sign me up,” Obama said. The line drew some of his biggest applause. Obama also talked about health care reform as one of his accomplishments, and one man shouted, “Don’t forget medical marijuana.” Obama responded, a bit at a loss, “Thank you for that.”
Ferguson called the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “the signature achievement of our time.” Obama returned the compliment, saying that his wife and daughters “love” “Modern Family.”
Alex Wilkinson, 21, a UCLA political science major who is volunteering for the campaign, as he did in 2008, said Obama’s remarks “showed that he was aggressive in a way he hasn’t been since the beginning of his presidency. I think he can be aggressive and still be the middle man that he is known for at the same time.”
Nevertheless, he said, “there’s too much assurance within the Democratic party that he is going to get reelected. It’s not the same energy. It’s there, but I think it needs to get back to the level that it was in 08.”