With just a month left in the campaign, Hollywood Democrats are turning their fundraising efforts toward winning back the U.S. Senate.
On Wednesday night, actor Seth Rogen appeared at a virtual fundraiser for Jaime Harrison, the Democrat in a tight race with Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.
Rogen’s wife, actor Lauren Miller Rogen, also made an appearance. Co-hosts included Heidi and Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Sam Kurtzman-Counter, Nina Jacobson and Jen Bleakley, Ashley and David Kramer, and Christy Callahan and Jon Glickman. The event raised $110,000.
The entertainment industry has been raising money for Democratic candidates for many months, but the efforts took on new energy with the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18.
“The passing of Justice Ginsburg shone an additional light on how important this election is,” said Jon Vein, a prolific Democratic fundraiser and husband of producer Ellen Goldsmith-Vein. “The sense of urgency is more broad-based now.”
Vein recently hosted a joint event with Mark Kelly, the Democrat running in Arizona; Cal Cunningham, the candidate in North Carolina; Sara Gideon, who is running in Maine; and John Hickenlooper, who is running in Colorado. As with all such events in the COVID era, the event was held on Zoom. Each candidate went through breakout meetings in sequence.
Candidates and donors have gotten comfortable with raising money on Zoom, which allows the candidates to reach many more people without the travel expense and time commitment required for in-person events.
Callahan said, even without getting to see candidates in the flesh, there has been no lag in contributions from the Los Angeles and New York fundraising circuits.
“People actually care about the country,” she said. “We’re raking in the money without events. They’re literally getting nothing out of it.”
Vein said Zoom has its advantages, but that he is looking forward to getting back to in-person gatherings.
“This is not ideal, but I do think it’s something that has opened up a lot of opportunity,” Vein said. “I don’t think Zoom fundraisers will go away, but I do think people are eager to see a candidate in three dimensions and see their friends and have a shared experience.”
Hollywood donors are also giving to the Senate Majority PAC, the committee supporting Democratic candidates. In August, the committee received $250,000 from Jeffrey Katzenberg; $125,000 from Alan and Cindy Horn; $100,000 from John and Marilyn Wells; and $20,000 from Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Greg Berlanti contributed $100,000 and Chris Meledandri gave $50,000 in July; Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw gave $500,000 in June; and Seth MacFarlane contributed $1 million in March.
Katzenberg has donated $750,000 to the committee in total this year. Haim Saban has donated $1.5 million.
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