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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Hollywood's Democratic love affair
Diana Ross
Diana Ross sang for the Clintons on Saturday
Success in US elections is at least partly secured by the support of big business - including the entertainment industry.

Hollywood's generosity to Democratic party coffers has reached a highpoint unimaginable 40 years ago when John F Kennedy last led a party convention in Los Angeles.

Employing their glitziest friends to attract funds, President Clinton and his wife, would-be New York senator Hillary, are milking the showbiz cow for all it is worth.

The liberal Democratic party has a long-standing tradition of appealing to big-money donors in Hollywood.

McCarthyism

Kennedy, who surrounded himself with glamorous friends such as Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, won the support of actors and writers traumatised by the persecution of alleged communist sympathisers.

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder: Clinton fund-raiser
The fear of being blacklisted during the McCarthy "witch-hunts" of the 1950s inspired a deep suspicion of rightwingers and Republicans in the entertainment world.

This animosity reached a new high when Ronald Reagan, himself a former actor, was elected president in 1980.

Hollywood heaved a collective groan that one of its own should gain office, only to curtail social welfare programmes and increase defence spending.

Funds

Raising money has always been more difficult for Democrats than it is for Republicans - who have been able to gather funds from big business with the promise of tax cuts.

Prominent Democrats
Stephen Spielberg
Tom Hanks
Barbra Streisand
Warren Beatty
Kevin Costner
Michael Douglas
David Geffen
Clinton changed that by appealing to the big-hitters in the entertainment world - record industry executives, movie moguls and these days, new media magnates.

At a fund-raiser on Saturday guests paid $1,000 each (667) to get in and $25,000 (16,685) to stay for dinner - all going to Hillary Clinton's Senate race.

Actors and singers on stage included John Travolta, Shirley MacLaine, Diana Ross, Cher, Melissa Etheridge, Natalie Cole, Luther Vandross, Michael Bolton and Stevie Wonder.

In the audience were newlyweds Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, actors Rod Steiger and Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Tribute

On Sunday, Barbra Streisand hosted a tribute to Bill Clinton at her beach-side home in Malibu as the president comes to the end of his tenure.

The event, which will raise money for a presidential library in Arkansas, was shrouded in secrecy. The White House refused to disclose the guest list, reveal the president's remarks or confirm reports that he raised as much as $10m (6.6m).

Prominent Republicans
Charlton Heston
Bruce Willis
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Pat Boone

The star-studded donor list for Al Gore's election campaign boasts 17 Oscar winners including Warren Beatty, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Nicholson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and Barbra Streisand.

But - Joe Lieberman's comments aside - Al Gore may prove to be a less able fundraiser in Hollywood than Clinton.

For instance the trio behind DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, have all pledged support for Gore, but have expended more energy on Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Gore's wife Tipper enraged sections of the music industry a decade ago when she successfully campaigned to have "parental advisory" stickers put on albums featuring adult themes.

Republicans

On the Republican side there are far fewer active star-fundraisers.

Charlton Heston who heads the National Rifle Association, the country's largest pro-gun lobby, is one of the most active Republicans in Tinseltown.

Also active are actor Bruce Willis, the bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and actress Bo Derek, who addressed the Republicans' convention last week.

Other prominent Hollywood Republicans include country music singers - Loretta Lynn and Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys - actor and martial arts expert Chuck Norris, and crooner Pat Boone.

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