President Obama Turns to Hollywood for Cash

As he ramps up his 2012 re-election bid, President Obama on Thursday turns to one of his earliest and most pivotal constituencies of support when it comes to campaign cash: Hollywood.

Obama is set to headline a fund-raising rally at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif., which will feature appearances by actress Rashida Jones, entertainer Jamie Foxx and singer Jason Mraz. Tickets for the event range from $100 to $2,500, with 3,000 people expected to attend.

Afterwards, the president will attend two intimate dinners for Hollywood heavyweights—one at Sony Studios, hosted by Sony CEO Michael Lynton, and another in the tony Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood, hosted by several entertainment industry titans, including producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Each dinner seats 60 people and will cost in upwards of $35,800 a person to attend with $5,000 going to Obama's re-election campaign and the rest going to the Democratic National Committee.

Obama's fund-raising push comes amid tensions between the president and some of his most prominent Hollywood supporters in recent months. As The Ticket previously reported, Matt Damon, one of Obama's earliest Hollywood backers in 2008, trashed the president in an interview last month with CNN's Piers Morgan. Asked if he thinks Obama has done a good job as president, Damon simply replied, "No."

Meanwhile, a separate group of Hollywood A-listers, including Anne Hathaway, Martin Sheen, Ellen DeGeneres and Jane Lynch, signed an open letter to Obama calling on him to step up his support of gay rights and legalize same-sex marriage.

And that's just some of open grumbling voiced by Hollywood types, who have stepped up their complaints about everything from Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan to his lackluster progress on environmental issues.

Still, as Variety's Ted Johnson correctly noted earlier this week, Hollywood, in spite of all of its belly-aching, looks unlikely to turn to another 2012 candidate next year, especially when it comes to their campaign cash. And as Obama attempts to raise at least $750 million for his re-election bid, that's one segment of financial support that he can't afford to lose.

The big unknown is whether celebrities will be as keen on serving as Obama surrogates in the upcoming election. Back in 2008, Damon and other celebrities, including actress Scarlett Johansson, campaigned on Obama's behalf in hopes of stirring up younger voters.

With Obama looking to mobilize that army of support again, the president's re-election campaign will no doubt be turning to Hollywood for help--but it's unclear how enthusiastically celebrities will turn out on the trail again.

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