- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

LOS ANGELES Forget the protesters and their plans to scale the highest buildings and block the busiest streets while trying to disrupt the Democratic National Convention here next week. Forget the canned speeches on the podium, too.
The real action here will be on the social front, which is quickly evolving into the mother of all party scenes, featuring celebrities galore in glittering settings that not even top politicians get to visit often.
The most notorious of these so far is California Rep. Loretta Sanchez' planned soiree at the Playboy mansion high in the Hollywood hills on the convention's second night.
Even though the event is a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, presumptive Democratic nominee Al Gore will boycott it. He adamantly refuses to go anywhere near Hugh Hefner and his well-endowed minions.
But the vice president may well venture out of his aerie atop the Westin Century Plaza Hotel to attend some of the less controversial but more glamorous bashes.
Most glitzy of these may be one scheduled for Saturday night, before the convention starts, two days before the first official protest march.
In exchange for a $1,000 donation to Hillary Rodham Clinton's New York Senate campaign, partygoers at a Beverly Hills estate can rub elbows with Mrs. Clinton and her husband, the president plus singers Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Paul Anka, Michael Bolton, Cher, Natalie Cole, Melissa Etheridge, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross and Brian McKnight.
Not enough star power for your thousand bucks? For another $24,000, donors can stay for dinner with the lame-duck first couple and hear tributes to Hillary from an even longer talent list: Red Buttons, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Anjelica Huston, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Dylan McDermott, Jimmy Smits, Mary Steenbergen, Ted Danson, John Travolta and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
There's much more on the party agenda, of course. Dream Works co-owner David Geffen, television bigwig Haim Saban and former Universal Studios chieftain Lew Wasserman all longtime big-money Democratic donors will host fund-raising parties at their own Beverly Hills mansions.
Barbra Streisand plans a $1,000-a-head reception and concert the night of Mr. Gore's nomination. Miss Goldberg will emcee the event at the Shrine Auditorium, site of the last several Academy Award ceremonies. Miss Streisand will also host a private party but has not revealed when or where she will stage it or whom she will invite.
Money will flow along with champagne at the studio magnates' affairs. So far, Dream Works has tossed $691,600 to the Democrats in this election cycle and helped raise several million more for them. That doesn't count personal donations from Mr. Geffen and his partners, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The studio has also tossed $3,250 to Republicans.
How lucrative might the upcoming Geffen party be? In April, Mr. Gore and President Clinton raised $2.8 million at a single Dream Works party attended by the likes of Miss Goldberg, Kevin Spacey, Jay Leno and Ron Howard. And if Mr. Geffen's own party isn't enough, his studio is co-hosting a reception for female Democratic congressional candidates headlined by California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow will serenade contributors and pols there.
Other movie studios are hustling not to be left out. Sony Corp. will foot the bill for California Gov. Gray Davis' luncheon Monday for Democratic governors in the ornate Union Station, built by the old Works Progress Administration. Sony will host another bash sponsored by major Jewish organizations at its own movie lot.
Paramount Studios will open its back lot scene of movies such as "Top Gun" and television shows from "Cheers" to "Leeza" to a massive California Welcome Party, also hosted by Mr. Davis.
That, of course, is no accident. Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing is a Davis appointee to the University of California Board of Regents. She is also a California delegate pledged to vote for Mr. Gore.
The party scene also includes some odd pairings. General Motors and the United Auto Workers will co-host a media picnic in the L.A. Center Studios at the famed intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street the Saturday before the convention. People for the American Way will join the Working Assets credit card company in hosting another gathering, with actor Richard Dreyfus, director Rob Reiner, Bianca Jagger and producer Norman Lear on the host committee along with House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
And there will be parties for almost every ethnic group in America, starting with a Latino Vote 2000 shindig headlining comic Paul Rodriguez and another sponsored by the African-American New Leaders organization.
Even the "shadow convention" sponsored by pundit Arianna Huffington will have its share of glamor, featuring actor-director Warren Beatty, who once toyed with the idea of running for president and played a senator in "Bullworth."
In fact, much of Los Angeles appears eager to show the world what it has missed in the 40 years since John F. Kennedy was nominated in the city's last political convention.
More than 7,000 volunteers signed up over the past two months for duties ranging from stuffing envelopes to greeting delegates at the spiffed-up airport.
But the national media will likely focus on celebrities, both at parties and on the convention floor. Some of those expected to lobby delegates include Mr. Danson and fellow actors Ben Affleck, William Baldwin, Patricia Arquette and Woody Harrelson.
"This whole scene will make the celebrities who turn out at Lakers games look like nothing," said Hal Dash, a Democratic political consultant.
"It's amazingly different from 1960," said Mr. Dash's partner, Joe Cerrell, who was executive director of the California Democratic Party in that era. "I can only remember about two parties back then. The movie industry is just much more involved in politics now."
"People in Hollywood are attracted to power, and powerful people are attracted to the glitter we have here," added Democratic consultant Tom Sullivan. "On both sides, it makes them feel important to be around each other."

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide