George Clooney's fundraiser for Obama raises nearly $15 million
A fundraiser George Clooney held for President Barack Obama at his Los Angeles-area home on Thursday attracted scores of Hollywood stars - and netted almost $15 million for the U.S. leader's re-election campaign, marking a record for a single such event.
Among the some 150 attendees were co-host and Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, singer Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Eddie Murphy, Jack Black, designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Salma Hayek, actor and frequent Oscars host Billy Crystal, Tobey Maguire and Clooney's girlfriend, WWE star Stacy Keibler.
Guests paid $40,000 to be at the private event, which was held inside a tent on the actor's outdoor basketball court.
"I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court," Obama told the guests. "This guy has been talking smack about his basketball game ever since I've known him. And we've actually known each other a while."
The U.S. leader is running for re-election in November with his Democratic party against Mitt Romney, who is expected to secure the Republican nomination. Obama stirred emotions earlier this week with an ABC News interview that say him expressing personal support for same-sex marriage, marking a change in his stance on the matter from previous years.
"Obviously yesterday we made some news," the president told the crowd. "But the truth is it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be."
Obama also made reference to his famous "Hope" poster from his 2008 campaign. He said it was based on a photo of him sitting next to Clooney, when the actor was in Washington to advocate on behalf of Darfur. The president was a senator at the time.
"This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photo-shopped out of a picture," Obama said. "Never happened before. Never happened before, will never happen again."
The poster's artist, Shepard Fairey, used a different photo of Obama but has said he relied on picture of him and Clooney to avoid a copyright infringement case with The Associated Press.
"The wonderful thing is the artist actually sent George ... a print with my picture and his picture right next to each other with the same ... in the same format," Obama said. "Why he said at the bottom, 'Dope and Hope' I don't know. I don't think that's fair. That's not fair. That's not right. It ain't right."
"We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George," the president added. "They like me; they love him. And rightfully so. Not only is he an unbelievable actor, but he is one of those rare individuals who is at ease with everybody, seems to just occupy a constant state of grace, and uses his extraordinary talents on behalf of stuff that's really important."
Clooney was detained earlier this year in Washington, D.C. after participating in a protest about a humanitarian crisis in Sudan. He was released the same day and was not charged.
Clooney had already contributed at least $35,000 to Obama's re-election campaign before the fundraiser and has called the U.S. leader a person "who is smarter than almost anyone you know, who is nicer and who has more compassion than almost anyone you know."
The fundraiser was also attended by two women, who won a raffle, and their husbands. It was catered by famed celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, who also feeds stars at the Academy Awards. His dinner menu included an artichoke salad followed by roasted duckling "Peking style" with tiny buns, a duo of lamb and beef cheek with potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and sweet corn tortelloni, according to the Associated Press.
(Pictured above: Academy Award winning actor George Clooney,left, and Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., take part in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, April 27,2006 to bring awareness to the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. / Artist Shepard Fairey's famous Obama "Hope" poster.)