President Obama defended his policies during an economic address at the DreamWorks Animation campus on Tuesday — including his struggling health care reform — by quoting the late film critic (and fellow Chicagoan) Roger Ebert.
“I was fortunate enough to get to know Roger, and was always inspired by how he handled some really tough stuff,” Obama said. “He said, ‘Kindness covers all of my political beliefs.’ … When I think about what I’m fighting for, what gets me up every single day — that captures it.”
See photos: Obama’s Visit to DreamWorks Animation
Obama started his day with a visit to DreamWorks Animation’s motion capture and sound studios in a tour led by CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. His brief speech began around 1 p.m., starting with the President praising Hollywood and Southern California as an “economic engine.”
“We have shaped a world culture through you … I would like to work here,” he joked after his tour. “The lights were pretty dim in the offices and I’m pretty sure I’d fall asleep.”
The event at the Glendale campus attracted a who’s-who of Hollywood moguls, most of whom sat up close during his address, stage-right. They included: CBS Corp’s Les Moonves; NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Jeff Shell and Robert Greenblatt; Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton; Paramount’s Rob Moore; Fox’s Jim Gianoplulos and Peter Rice; Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer; Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara; Disney’s Bob Iger, Alan Horn and Anne Sweeney; LA Film Czar Tom Sherak; and the MPAA’s Chris Dodd.
Obama spent much of his speech praising and thanking Hollywood for its economic and cultural contributions, saying that “in a global race for jobs and industries, the thing we do better than anybody else is creativity.” He was cautionary as well, calling on the industry not to glorify gun violence in the wake of Sandy Hook.
But for the most part, he reflected back the kindness that the industry has shown him, both as a social leader and a fundraising candidate.
“Believe it or not, entertainment is, in some ways, part of American diplomacy,” he said. “Entertainment is one of America’s biggest exports.”
Obama kept his remarks mercifully short, but saved a moment at the end to thank his hosts (though he did get in a friendly dig at Katzenberg earlier, saying the cartoon mogul has “a healthy sense of self”) .
“Thank you Dreamworks for what you do. Thank you Jeffrey for your hospitality,” Obama said as he prepared to leave the stage. “Can’t wait to see your next movie!”