As President Obama made his way to George Clooney's celebrity-packed L.A. home, the civilian population braced for traffic snags
Updated at 10:46 p.m. PT
As 150 of President Obama’s closest Hollywood friends suited up for Thursday night’s power dinner at George Clooney’s house in Studio City, the civilian population of Los Angeles went on alert for POTUS-induced traffic holdups around the city.
Local councilman Paul Krekorian was at the ready with warnings and updates about rolling street closures, which began around 6 p.m., 15 minutes before Air Force One touched down in L.A. President Obama enjoyed an incident-free flight from Seattle, where he’d spent the afternoon at two other (what else?) fundraisers.
By 6:46 p.m., Obama was on board his SUV in Burbank, with aides Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe along for the ride, as well as Congressman Howard Berman, as his motorcade wound through the Valley and into the hills. "Then we took the 170 Freeway, ruining several thousand commutes at the tail end of rush hour," as a wise-cracking member of Obama's media team put it in the White House press pool report.
Crowds gathered along the president's route, some hoisting signs spotted by his handlers that read, "We (heart) U Obama," "Our gay family says thanks Mr. President" and "Will trade Lakers for Bulls if you stop!"
President Obama and his entourage rolled up to Clooney’s home in time to press the flesh with guests and make a speech at 7:30 p.m.
Residents of the actor’s Studio City neighborhood spotted black SUVs patrolling near Laurel Canyon that morning, and by mid-afternoon they were joined by helicopters hovering overhead in preparation for the big night. (Pictured below: The presidential SUV is parked outside of Clooney's home on Thursday afternoon.)
Krekorian’s camp issued a polite note to Clooney’s neighbors to “expect delays and/or road closures from about 5 to 8 p.m.," and the LAPD estimated that the area would be blocked off, requiring residents to flash their IDs to get home. “Everyone else is advised to avoid the area as much as possible,” the notice said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Obama campaign released the names of the two winners of the "Obama, Clooney & You" online contest which awarded them seats at the dinner, which raised an astounding $8-$9 million in small donations.
Beth Topinka, a science teacher from Manalapan, New Jersey, and Karen Blutcher, a communications coordinator for a local utility company from St. Augustine, Florida. Both women picked their husbands as their plus-ones for the fundraiser.
Topinka and Blutcher were picked from among millions of Obama boosters who pitched in at least $3 a pop to support the president's reelection and vie for the chance to dine at Chez Clooney. Tickets for the event cost $40,000 per person.
DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg co-sponsored the event, which could drum up as much as $14 million to back Obama’s second bid for the White House, Politico reported Thursday.
Other Hollywood insiders who put up the dough to break bread with the president included DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, political consultant Andy Spahn, Robert Downey Jr., Tobey Maguire and Barbra Streisand.
One star who made it clear he wouldn’t be there was Albert Brooks, who tweeted that afternoon: “Was going to go to George Clooney's tonight but bought a house instead.”