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With the March 5 primary just four weeks away, the sexiest issues in the
Los Angeles mayor’s race seem to be pensions and the city’s financial
health. So it’s no wonder the leading candidates are looking to put a
starry shine on their campaigns, wooing Hollywood to gain the perception
of momentum — or maybe even grab on to the real thing.

Overall, as
of Sept. 30, Hollywood had contributed almost $1 million to the race,
according to local outlets KPCC and NBC4. That’s a significant chunk of
the total raised, and can be particularly effective in the traditionally
low turnout of a city election.

While the money may reflect the
realization of the influence city politics can have on the industry in
everything from film permits, real estate development, studio expansion,
business taxes and runaway production, the list of those who have
donated suggest that, typically, biz givers don’t necessarily have
industry issues in mind.

In the past week, the campaign of City
Councilman Eric Garcetti, leading in some polls, unveiled a somewhat
irreverent Web video featuring Salma Hayek, who talked about his skills
as a dancer, among other things. The campaign has been promoting a Feb. 7
fund-raiser at the Henry Fonda Theater with headliners including Moby,
Will Ferrell and Jimmy Kimmel. Also being tubthumped: A list of 200
“entertainment leaders for Garcetti,” with laudatory quotes from the
likes of Michael Eisner, Showtime’s David Nevins and attorney Ken
Ziffren, and including the names of Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey,
Michael Ovitz and Tom Sherak, as well as campaign finance chair, Sony
executive Eric Paquette..

Overall, as of Sept. 30, Hollywood had
contributed almost $1 million to the race, according to local outlets
KPCC and NBC4. That’s a significant chunk of the total raised, and can
be particularly effective in the traditionally low turnout of a city
election.

While the money may reflect the realization of the
influence city politics can have on the industry in everything from film
permits, real estate development, studio expansion, business taxes and
runaway production, the list of those who have donated suggest that,
typically, biz givers don’t necessarily have industry issues in mind.

Many
see the list as a counter to City Controller Wendy Greuel, a former
DreamWorks executive, and in particular the high-profile endorsements
she gained early in the campaign from her former employers, Steven
Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Spielberg, Katzenberg
and their political consultant, Andy Spahn, have an extensive network of
industry contacts to urge to write checks, and sources say they are
helping a pro-Greuel independent expenditure committee that can collect
contributions beyond the $1,300-per-individual limit placed on the
campaigns. Greuel has a fund-raiser at the Soho House on Feb. 11 that
features Kate Hudson, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Lourd, Tobey Maguire and Sarah
Silverman among the co-hosts, and her campaign has held aloft her
endorsement from the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The
campaign also released its own list of supporters, including Eva
Longoria, Tom Hanks, Haim Saban and Ron Meyer.

City Councilwoman
Jan Perry, meanwhile, may not have the same depth of ties to the biz,
but she has drawn support from Amy Poehler and George Takei.

And
the campaign of Kevin James, a former prosecutor, entertainment attorney
at Lavely & Singer and host on conservative talkradio, has released
a list of its own supporters from the industry, including Gary Sinise,
Bill Duke, Marty Singer, Lionel Chetwynd and Marc Cherry. In addition to
being the only right-of-center candidate among the major contenders,
James is also openly gay, and has been heavily involved in AIDS Project
Los Angeles.

The candidates have been courting the industry to
the point where the line that separates support from endorsement has
been blurred. James’ campaign lists screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and
CAA’s Kevin Huvane among supporters, and while each has given money to
the candidate, Black says he has yet to endorse anyone. Huvane,
meanwhile, also appears on Garcetti’s list of supporters. And Abrams
gave money to Garcetti, but he’s now on Greuel’s list.

Strange bedfellows indeed.

According
to the recent KPCC/NBC4 analysis, the race for industry money has been
one of Garcetti vs. Greuel, with Garcetti collecting $488,000 from
industry sources to Greuel’s $277,000.

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe,
senior fellow at USC’s School of Policy, Planning and Development, sees a
somewhat higher level of sophistication now in entertainment figures’
support of local candidates than evidenced a few decades ago. None of
the mayoral candidates has yet solidified a base or coalition, she
notes, adding that Garcetti and Greuel are engaging in a cat-and-mouse
game to capture attention within the biz.

“Greuel has the big
guns (with Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen), and Garcetti’s message is,
‘Don’t count me out in Hollywood,’ ” Bebitch Jeffe says.