With all indications that the presidential election on Nov. 6 will be extremely close, one factor in the race clearly isn't: the money Hollywood is giving to the two presidential candidates.
Through Oct. 21, 198 "celebrity" donors have given $684,006 to the Barack Obama campaign compared with 14 donors who have given $43,250 to Mitt Romney's camp, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the leading organization that tracks donations. For those keeping score, that’s a 16-to-1 advantage for the incumbent over the Massachusetts governor.
Among the actors, producers and directors who have given the Obama campaign at least $5,000 are Cameron Crowe, Will Ferrell, Ron Howard, Scarlett Johansson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Eddie Murphy, George Clooney, J.J. Abrams, Ellen DeGeneres, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Brian Grazer, Adrian Grenier, Tom Hanks, Mariska Hargitay, Will Smith, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Quentin Tarantino, Marlo Thomas, Sam Waterston and Rita Wilson.
Among singers and songwriters, Don Henley and Randy Newman have given Obama $5,000 each. Dozens more from the industry have given lesser amounts.
The list of Hollywood campaign contributors has grown so long that, for the first time, The Center for Responsive Politics has established “celebrity” lists with the names of well-known people giving to each campaign. The list, which is based on filings with the Federal Election Commission, includes entertainers but also professional athletes, authors and fashion designers.
“It’s new for us,” says Russ Choma, a Center spokesman. “We started it a couple of weeks ago, mostly out of demand, but also because there are so many people on it."
Over the last two years, Obama has outraised Romney from what the Center calls the “TV/Movies/Music” industry, by nearly 5-1, with $4,518,742 in donations to the President and $836,038 to the Romney campaign.
But those figures do not include money raised by the usual entertainment industry bundlers, people like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Harvey Weinstein and Ron and Kelly Meyer, who collect money from friends, relatives and business associates and combine it into one gift. Three actors are also among the top bundlers for the President this cycle – Wendell Pierce, Tyler Perry and Eva Longoria, who almost has to be there: She’s a co-chair of the Obama campaign.
All of them collected at least $500,000 each, according to the Center, which shows that altogether, 41 bundlers from “TV/Movies/Music” have given Obama $11.4 million. Other bundlers have raised lesser amounts. The Center provides no comparable figures for Romney.
Also, the bundling figures do not include individual contributions or money given to SuperPacs, which are not required to reveal their donors.
The Center’s data shows that among celebrity donors, Bill Maher stands at the top, with contributions of $1,010,000, almost all of it (99 percent) to Priorities USA Action, the SuperPac working for President Obama. Next is Morgan Freeman, who gave all his money, $1,001,000, to the same group. Magic Johnson, the former Laker star who is now a businessman and now part owner of the Dodgers, has given all of his $111,600 in campaign contributions to Democrats.
As for Romney, his list of bold-faced Hollywood names includes only Scott Baio, Jerry Bruckheimer, Neil Simon, Orson Bean and John O’Hurley. His supporters also include the McMahons of Connecticut, from the wrestling division of the entertainment business. Linda McMahon is now a Republican candidate for the Senate.
Romney also got $250 from Alex Rodriguez, who, despite his lousy post-season, still has five years to go on his 10-year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees. Look, it’s a tough economy.