- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Welcome to Hillarywood.

Trolling for campaign dollars for a politician is never easy, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, looking to raise funds for her 2006 state re-election bid, raked in big bucks over the weekend in California. She did it with a nonstop fundraising foray into ground zero of liberal donors — the big names and bulging checkbooks of the entertainment industry.

There was no shortage of people who ponied up for a chance to help the woman they hope will become the first female president of the United States.

Lacking the undeniable charisma of her husband, the former first lady still manages to boil the blood of Bush-hating celebrities and she is seizing the moment to fill her war chest in the wake of the president’s low approval rating.

“What does Hollywood think of George Bush?” said Susan Estrich, former Michael Dukakis campaign manager. “How much is Hillary hated by the Christian Coalition?”

Calling Tinseltown “so bright blue it’s blinding,” Miss Estrich, the author of the newly published “The Case for Hillary Clinton,” said Mrs. Clinton’s fundraising efforts over the weekend were hugely successful.

“People feel there’s a bit of apathy,” said ICM talent agent Brian Bunnin, who co-hosted Friday evening’s $500-per-person event at the home of director Rob Reiner and his wife, Michelle. “But Mrs. Clinton is a very, very strong senator. And this [money] will enable her to continue her fine work in the Senate.”

The committee for the $1,000-per-person Saturday brunch hosted by Oscar-winning film producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks included producer Frank Marshall and wife Kathleen Kennedy, and actresses Marisa Tomei, Kathy Najimy, Joely Fisher and Daphne Zuniga.

Television producer and creator of “Friends” Marta Kauffman also hosted a private lunch Saturday afternoon at her home.

Organizers hoped to raise $75,000, but the take was “close to double that,” said Miss Estrich who attended the cold fish and soba noodle luncheon along with 100 or so guests with a “tremendous amount of money.”

Mrs. Clinton “looked very stylish in a blue tunic jacket and necklace. There was enormous enthusiasm. She looked great. She sounded great, and her stump speech is vastly improved from her past. She is the presumptive [presidential] nominee. I think the sky’s the limit out here.”

Current Clinton donors also include actress Jane Fonda and actor Robert DeNiro ($8,400), as well as Barbra Streisand, Chevy Chase, Don Henley, Norman Lear and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Last week, two books were published speculating on Mrs. Clinton’s run for the presidency: Miss Estrich’s (pro) and “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race,” (con), co-authored by political adviser Dick Morris.

The notion of a woman in the Oval Office has been popularized this fall with the success of the ABC series “Commander in Chief” starring Geena Davis as the first female president, causing some pundits to speculate that it’s teaser for Mrs. Clinton’s run.

One sticky issue with the entertainment crowd is the war in Iraq.

Mrs. Clinton voted in favor of sending in troops, and on Saturday, a small group of war protesters — all in pink — stood on the sidewalk across from Miss Kauffman’s home.

“People are sophisticated enough to realize that this will work to her advantage,” Miss Estrich said.

But at least one star is not amused by Mrs. Clinton’s latest efforts to use her entertainment connections for political purposes. Mrs. Clinton is hosting a “meet-and-greet” for 18 guests at $2,500 a person in a luxury suite at the MCI Center this Wednesday at a sold-out U2 concert.

Although friendly with her husband because of his work fighting AIDS in Africa, lead singer Bono released a statement deploring the use of the popular band’s music as a campaign fundraiser.

Still, sharing a seat at the rock concert with Mrs. Clinton is expected to raise $45,000 more to her $13.8 million war chest.

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