BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- It's the Hollywood primary.
White House hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are competing for support from stars and moguls here this week as they hunt for millions of dollars from an elite group of famous donors to bankroll their campaigns.
Hillary and Bill Clinton have been mining the stars and studio heads for years. Obama is the new name on the marquee. He topped off a two-day California money blitz headlining his own $2,300-a-ticket fund-raiser with the stars that raised $1.3 million for his 2008 bid. Some people are taking sides. Some are giving to both.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., greets supporters at a rally in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. His Beverly Hills fund-raiser with the stars later in the day raised $1.3 million.
Now it is Tuesday night and a number of bold-face names are flowing into a Beverly Hilton ballroom at an Obama event hosted by a trio of Hollywood superpowers, Dreamworks partners Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg. Later, the people who raised at least $46,000 -- called "bundlers" -- were treated to dinner at Geffen's house. (Spielberg is expected to end up with Clinton -- and will host a fund-raiser for her next month.)
Zach Braff, the star of "Scrubs" who deliciously plays the often-suffering Dr. John Dorian in the comedy, told me as he walked into the Obama reception that he's just getting more involved in the Hollywood donor community.
Braff wrote a check for Obama "because I'm just intrigued by him. I'm a registered Democrat and I like what I see. He's just an amazing public speaker."
The stars stream in the hotel to hear Obama -- to name a few: Ben Stiller, Christine Lahti, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Paul Reiser, Hill Harper, Ron Howard, Eddie Murphy and Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks. Add to that writers, producers and magnates in the entertainment business: Norman Lear, Lawrence Bender, J.J. Abrams and Steve McKeever.
Obama prospected for campaign cash in San Francisco, San Diego and in Los Angeles at another event at the posh Beverly Wilshire Hotel and in a private home.
Clinton arrives in Los Angeles on Thursday for receptions hosted by mega Democratic fund-raisers Ron Burkle, Haim Saban and Sim Farrar. She hits San Francisco for a larger fund-raiser and prospects in Silicon Valley on Friday with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
"We're thrilled with the support we're getting so far from all across the country, including California," said Blake Zeff, a Clinton spokesman. "Quincy Jones, Meg Ryan and Liz Taylor are among some of our early backers, and next month Steven Spielberg and others will host an event for us."
Obama will have more Hollywood cash in the pipeline: Super agent Ari Emanuel, the brother of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (who will be for Clinton) has a funder in the works for Obama.
It's clear that Obama and Clinton have nailed down most of the major Democratic donor money here. John Edwards is in Santa Monica on Friday -- at a fancy oceanfront hotel -- at a $20-per-person event.