| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Many Hollywood heavyweights who had
supported Hillary Clinton are rallying behind Barack Obama,
pledging money and star power to his U.S. presidential bid
before a big fundraiser next week.
Experts say that since Clinton conceded defeat this month
after a grueling Democratic nominating contest, celebrities
have quickly united behind Obama.
The result, they said, could be a campaign cash windfall
for the senator from Illinois, but star support doesn't
necessarily translate directly to votes.
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior scholar at the University of
Southern California, said that once a politician becomes known,
voters look for candidates with positions they like and with
whom they can identify, regardless of celebrity backing.
In fact, stars can cause harm if a performer's public image
rubs voters the wrong way. That happened when Jane Fonda and
Barbra Streisand campaigned for former Texas Gov. Ann Richards
in her conservative state, and Richards lost the bid.
"Sometimes they can come back to bite the candidate," Jeffe
But Los Angeles is a town where stars wield a great deal of
power and have money to spend, and numerous celebrities are
expected to turn out at a Tuesday fundraiser featuring the
singer Seal -- at a cost of $2,300 per ticket.
Director Steven Spielberg and his partner in the Dreamworks
movie studio, David Geffen, and Dreamworks Animation Chief
Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg are organizing another
Obama fundraiser later this year, said Andy Spahn, a consultant
to the Hollywood power trio.
"If a Hollywood celebrity puts his or her mind to it,
they're good money raisers," Jeffe said.
ALIGNING THE STARS
Mitchell Schwartz, who was Obama's California campaign
manager through the primary election season, said Obama's
appeal in Hollywood had been limited, until now.
"I don't think we were the Hollywood candidate -- ever,"
Schwartz said. "I think Hillary might have been more ... she
might have had more support."
Other Obama celebrity endorsers include actors talk show
host Oprah Winfrey and actors Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks,
Scarlett Johansson and Halle Berry.
Billionaire Geffen upset many Hollywood power players last
year when the longtime Clinton supporter broke for Obama.
Oscar winner Hanks, the star of "The Da Vinci Code," gave
money to Bill Clinton's legal defense fund when he was
president, but endorsed Obama with an online video in early
May, when Hillary Clinton was still campaigning.
During the primaries, Obama had trouble attracting Hispanic
voters in some states because, analysts said, some Hispanics
were reluctant to vote for a black candidate.
But a pro-Obama video in Spanish with Hispanic actors
Jessica Alba of "The Love Guru," John Leguizamo of "The
Happening" and comedian George Lopez, has attracted more than
250,000 viewers on the video sharing site YouTube.com.
"It helps build a broader sense of a candidate's support,"
said professor Chon Noriega, director of the University of
California, Los Angeles, Chicano Studies Research Center. "But
I don't think that because George Lopez said support (a
candidate) somebody's going to say, 'Well that's who I'm going
to vote for."'
Presumptive Republican candidate Sen. John McCain also has
his celebrity endorsers, including actors Robert Duvall and