With history already made in 2009, some of Obama's biggest Hollywood supporters are staying home
Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Sony CEO Michael Lynton won't be on hand to watch Barack Obama's second swearing in. Neither will Spike Lee, Dustin Hoffman, Denzel Washington, Ben Affleck or Samuel L. Jackson.
Those notable names in entertainment were among the 1.8 million people who swarmed the National Mall in 2009 to watch the first African-American president take the oath of office. But with that history already made, turnout at the second inauguration is expected to be much lighter. Even though high-profile supporters including Beyoncé, will.i.am and Harvey Weinstein are expected to attend, many won't make the trek from Hollywood to the nation's capital.
It doesn't help that Monday's ceremony coincides with the Sundance Film Festival, or that the industry's mood may be more somber this time around because of the Newtown, Conn., shootings a month ago.
“Sequels rarely have the luster of the originals,” Mike Cornfield, a political science professor at George Washington University, told TheWrap. "Add to that the downbeat mood in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre — an event that the entertainment industry is being indirectly blamed for — and it's no wonder that the Hollywood presence will be smaller and quieter than in 2009."
Not that Hollywood is abandoning the Commander in Chief: Among those who will be there for Obama, Part 2 are Presidential Inaugural Committee co-chairwoman Eva Longoria, Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, "Bold and the Beautiful" producer Colleen Bell and BET CEO Debra Lee
Also read: Eva Longoria and Kal Penn Join Barack Obama Campaign
One of the night's hottest tickets is the Creative Coalition’s Inaugural Ball. The nonprofit advocacy organization for arts and entertainment has held its biggest fundraiser on Inauguration Day for the last 15 years. Guests expected this year include Tim Daly, Johnny Galecki, Paula Abdul, Melissa Leo, John Leguizamo, Marlon Wayans, David Arquette, Taraji P. Henson, Alan Cumming and Evan Handler. The Goo Goo Dolls will perform.
They can expect more elbow room in Washington than people had in 2009. The Associated Press reports that attendance is expected to drop by at least a million, with city officials predicting between 600,000 and 800,000 spectators at Monday's spectacle. (Because Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, Obama will be privately sworn in then, before taking the oath publicly on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)
Even Obama seems to understand that people might not find him so novel anymore.
“I think that a lot of folks feel that, ‘Well, he’s now president. He’s a little grayer. He’s a little older. It’s not quite as new as it was,’” Obama told supporters during his campaign, in a widely reported moment of candor.
Inauguration planners are adjusting accordingly. The number of official inaugural balls has dropped from 10 to two — the Commander in Chief's Ball and the Inaugural Ball. There also won’t be another massive “We Are One” concert to kick off the long weekend's festivities at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert attracted 400,000 people, and many more watched on HBO.
Inaugural events will begin on Saturday morning with a National Day of Service Summit on the National Mall. Longoria is scheduled to appear with a mix of speakers and performers including singer-songwriter Ben Folds, Star Jones, actress Angela Bassett, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and the World Children's Choir.
Although there will be fewer parties, there will be plenty of entertainment. 20 artists have been announced as performers between the two inaugural balls and a Kids Inaugural Concert on Saturday. Some will pull double duty.
The line-up include Smokey Robinson, Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Soundgarden, Jennifer Hudson, Far East Movement, fun., Katy Perry, Marc Anthony, Mindless Behavior, Nick Cannon, Soul Children of Chicago, Maná, Black Violin and select “Glee” cast members.
John Legend, Jamie Foxx, Stevie Wonder and Usher, who all appeared at the "We Are One" concert, will be back. But several stadium-filling acts that took part in that event won’t be — including U2, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. The "Born in the U.S.A." singer memorably sang with 90-year-old folk icon Pete Seeger, who made a rare public appearance.
Beyoncé and James Taylor also sang at the "We Are One" concert, but this year will take part in Obama's public swearing in. So will Kelly Clarkson, who was not part of the 2009 performances and at one point during the latest campaign said she was a Ron Paul supporter. (She says she ultimately voted for Obama.)
Clarkson is set to sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and Taylor will perform “America the Beautiful,” while Beyoncé will conclude with a rendition of the National Anthem.
Lucas Shaw, Tim Kenneally, Sharon Waxman, and Ira Teinowitz contributed to this report.