Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Chicago Goes Hollywood in Fundraiser for Rahm Emanuel

The Hollywood fundraiser being staged on November 4th in Beverly Hills for Rahm Emanuel brings the presumed mayoral front-runner squarely into the big bucks game of presidential campaigns. One of the organizers of the party, to be held just two days after the midterms, is Rahm’s younger brother Ari, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. As political junkies everywhere know, Ari is a…

The Hollywood fundraiser being staged on November 4th in Beverly Hills for Rahm Emanuel brings the presumed mayoral front-runner squarely into the big bucks game of presidential campaigns.

One of the organizers of the party, to be held just two days after the midterms, is Rahm’s younger brother Ari, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. As political junkies everywhere know, Ari is a hard-hitting Hollywood agent—and, like his brother Rahm, a man with no small ego. In his Who’s Who entry, Ari notes that Entertainment Weekly in 2007 named him “one of the 50 Smartest People in Hollywood.” 

Then again, maybe he’s not so smart about Chicago. 

While a no-brainer for a national campaign—say, the presidency or even the U.S. Senate—a Hollywood fundraiser might not be a good idea in a local race. Some Chicagoans (and all of Rahm’s eventual opponents) are sure to look askance. What do these L.A. big shots have to do with Chicago? they’re sure to ask.

As first reported by Nikki Finke in her “Deadline Hollywood” blog, the hosts are a quintet of Hollywood honchos whose checkbooks have previously been at the service of the DNC, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. (One of the many readers who commented under Finke’s post wrote, “I hope the people of Chicago pick their Mayor, not the billionaires of California.”)

The event will be held at the Beverly Hills neo-French chateau of Haim Saban, 65, a former DNC finance chairman who made his multi-billions by producing and importing from Japan the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Saban also co-owns Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster, and is   chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Group.

I looked closely at Saban while writing a book on Bill Clinton’s post presidency. An Egyptian-born Israeli, Saban spent his childhood in Israel, moving to France in 1975 and to the U.S. in 1983. He was a Bill Clinton loyalist and moneyman in good times and bad, even during the worst days of the Lewinsky scandal. (Also a Hillary loyalist, Saban was among her biggest financial backers in the primary battle with Obama.)

Consider just one example of the scale of the money Saban has contributed: Leading up to the 2002 midterms, he wrote a $7 million check to the DNC to help build its new headquarters in Washington, D.C. That election cycle, in the days before restrictions on soft-money donations, his gifts to Democrats totaled $100 million.

Corky Hale, a Hollywood activist and supporter of Democrats, told me that Saban is second only to financier/philanthropist George Soros in generosity to Democrats.

Saban and Rahm—whose father is an Israeli—are an obvious match. Alan Solomont, another former D.N.C. national finance chairman, described Saban as “a classic Israeli, kind of gruff exterior, tough guy.”

The other hosts of Rahm’s fundraiser are Robert Iger, 58, CEO of Walt Disney Company; Peter Chernin, 58, the former second-in-command at Murdoch’s News Corp; and David Geffen, 66, record producer, founding partner of Dreamworks, and the early Obama champion who came out raging against Hillary and Bill.

Share

comments
4 years ago
Posted by soccer

And they shall call his name Emanuel, which being interpreted is, God is with us. Matthew 1:23

4 years ago
Posted by SKEPTICAL

Since money is largely raised anonymously in these local races, no one knows where any candidate's money is coming from. At least in this case we will. Its entirely legal and hardly unfair. And it isn't bad for our city that Hollywood pays us more attention.

Sorry Ms. Felsenthal, I can't get excited about this.

4 years ago
Posted by Anna Tarkov

I would say to SKEPTICAL that the goal of the mayoral (or any) local election isn't to get Hollywood excited about us. The goal is to elect someone who will be committed to the city of Chicago and fully engaged in solving our many problems.

It's nice that Mr. Emanuel has extremely wealthy friends that can give him heaps of money, but is he the best candidate? If you believe he is, then this is all irrelevant anyway. But if you believe there's a chance that he is not, then his financial advantage is problematic. It's especially problematic given the fact that these are not local donors. What is their interest in who is Mayor of Chicago you might ask? And if you believe (as most people do) that a candidate is greatly beholden to his donors if he wins the office he is seeking, then is it not a problem that a Mayor Emanuel would be beholden to so many outside interests, people who are not Chicago residents?

4 years ago
Posted by SKEPTICAL

My guess is in this particular case, the money would come with far fewer strings likely than would be the case with large contributins from local donors.

And lets face it- the cost of media in the Chicago market makes the cost of running for Mayor her incredible. I wish Hollywood would fund several campaigns and show its appreciation by filming a lot more movies here too.

Submit your comment