- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2008

As Democrats celebrate in Denver next week, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain will be trying to fire up some star power of his own by collecting checks and support from conservatives in Hollywood.

Mr. McCain will attend a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton on Monday, the day the Democrats’ convention opens,bringing together top leaders from the Los Angeles business and entertainment communities, according to an invitation for the event obtained by The Washington Times.

Show business publication Variety reported that Angie Harmon, David Zucker, Jon Cryer, Lionel Chetwynd, Craig T. Nelson, Jon Voight, Craig Haffner and Robert Duvall are among those expected to attend.

Tickets start at $500 for those 35 or younger, and $1,000 for everyone else. As usual at these events, those who give more get more time with Mr. McCain, and chances for private photos with him.

Several of the expected attendees did not return calls from The Times seeking comment, but Variety said some of the stars are expected to go to the Republicans’ nominating convention the week after, in St. Paul, Minn.

A Republican Party operative said on the condition of anonymity that the hope is the celebrities will drive up attendance and interest in the fundraiser and in the McCain message.

McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said the event is meant to attract a wide swath of Los Angeles supporters, not just the Hollywood glitter.

“We´re proud to have such a broad cross-section of support in the Los Angeles area from people who share the firm belief that John McCain is the best prepared leader to move America forward,” he said.

Conservatives in Hollywood have slowly been joining the political fray this year. Last month, The Times reported that Hollywood figures, organized by Gary Sinise and others, have been meeting in a loose-knit network dedicated to supporting U.S. troops and traditional American values.

And Mr. Voight wrote an op-ed arguing that an Obama presidency would mean “we will live through a socialist era that America has not seen before, and our country will be weakened in every way.”

According to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org, employees in the entertainment industries of TV, movies and music have contributed $4.7 million to Sen. Barack Obama, dwarfing the $838,101 to Mr. McCain.

That figure includes contributions from media bosses such as Jerry Bruckheimer, who is listed as one of the co-chairs of Monday’s event.

Mr. McCain angered some of the Hollywood set when his campaign began running a television commercial earlier this year comparing Mr. Obama to celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

Miss Hilton’s mother, a McCain donor, was harshly critical, and Miss Hilton herself made a well-received video response spoofing both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama.

And the Los Angeles Times reported that some in Hollywood thought Mr. McCain a bit hypocritical since eight years ago, in his primary battle with then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, he was considered the darling of Hollywood.

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