First lady puts focus on military families

Mrs. Obama also slated for 'iCarly' cameo, pair of fund-raising stops

First Lady Michelle Obama, promoting one of her signature initiatives, encouraged Hollywood’s creative community Monday to consider putting more stories of military families into their projects.

Obama appeared Monday at a Beverly Hills event sponsored by five industry guilds as part of a campaign called Joining Forces, which aims to bring more attention to the needs of military families. As part of her trip, she also taped an appearance on Nickelodeon’s “iCarly.”

“When I think about where I hope we are in a year, I want the conversation to be different,” she said. “I want the military families to fell this support on the ground.” During the event, she sat on a panel moderated by J.J. Abrams that included three members of military families, including Capt. Kelly Smith of the California Air National Guard, retired Army sergeant Bobby Jarman and Arnita Moore, a Marine wife.

Obama also attended a lunchtime fund-raiser in Pasadena, and was scheduled to headline an evening reception at the home of designer Michael Smith and HBO executive James Costos to raise money for her husband’s re-election campaign.

One component in the Joining Forces campaign is an interguild task force made up of the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild of America and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Obama said the creative community has “already stepped up in so many ways already,” but she suggested that it still has been difficult in getting the public’s attention.

She said she and Jill Biden would “do whatever we can for however long the country allows us to do it to keep this issue on the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

“I think we are very proud that one of the things that Hollywood really does do, on occasion, but actually often, is make a difference,” said producer Bruce Cohen, who is coordinator of the task force.

He was joined by Katherine Fugate, creator of “Army Wives,” who outlined a series of steps in the works including public service spots featuring Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey and military families that will launch nationally in July. Songwriter Diane Warren has composed an original song, “Compass,” to be sung by Rascal Flatts.

“My work on ‘Army Wives’ has helped me understand that behind every soldier is a family that serves,” Fugate said.

Obama chose to do a cameo on “iCarly” because the show’s lead character is the daughter of an Air Force colonel. She also quipped that her daughters’ friends “didn’t believe” she was actually going to be on the show, one of their favorites.

“I was like, ‘Look, I stayed in Buckingham Palace. Why is it such a leap that I would (be on the show)? They don’t believe that,” Obama said to laughs.