Big checks and political galas: Hollywood donations expected to rise following the end of the strike

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 03: Signage is seen at the picket line outside Warner Bros. Studios on October 3, 2023 in Burbank, California. The WGA (Writers Guild of America) reached a deal with Hollywood studios after 146 days of strike, ending the strike at midnight on September 27. Members of SAG-AFTRA and WGA (Writers Guild of America) walked out in their first joint strike against the studios since 1960, halting a majority of Hollywood productions. SAG-AFTRA has not reached a deal with the studios and has been on strike since July 14. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
(David Livingston/Getty Images)

Big checks and political galas: Hollywood donations expected to rise following the end of the strike

California politics, 2024 elections, jobs, labor and workplace

Ziema Mehta
Julia Wick

November 12, 2023

Political donations in Hollywood, sharply hampered by this year’s protracted entertainment industry strikes, are expected to rise now that the Screen Actors Guild has reached a tentative deal with the studios.



Biden is widely expected to raise money in Los Angeles


coming weeks, along with a slew of Senate and Congressional candidates who have largely avoided the region because of the writers’ and actors’ strikes.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, a Californian with longstanding relationships with entertainment industry leaders, have largely failed to publicly tap into those donors this year. Harris even withdrew from her first public appearance in her home state in May after she and Biden announced their reelection campaign at an MTV mental health event in Carson due to the Writers Guild of America strike.

Attending a glitzy industry fundraiser would have been even more fraught. Biden or Harris would almost certainly have had to cross a union picket line, an anathema in Democratic politics, where support from organized labor is essential. Furthermore, studio executives didn’t want to host fancy donor meetings or write big checks while pleading poverty while negotiating with actors and writers.

The actors’ strike ends: The SAG-AFTRA deal, what happened and what’s next

Biden and Harris have not suffered at all from the decline in fundraising in Los Angeles. They’ve raised more than $70 million in each of the last two budget quarters, and their campaign and the Democratic National Committee have $91 million in cash on hand, the most ever by any

Democrat Democratic

Ticket to the White House at this point in the election cycle.

Still, campaign manager Julie Chvez Rodriguez said


president and vice president purposefully avoided Hollywood because of the strikes.

“We have been very respectful [and] “aware of the environment that people in the industry face,” she said in an interview


shortly before the actors’ strike was resolved. “I hope we get a chance to get to that before the end of the year, the end of the fourth quarter, because it’s a really important foundation for us to connect with before the clock runs out.”

Biden praised the preliminary agreement on Thursday.

“Collective bargaining works,” he said in a statement. “If both sides come to the table to negotiate seriously, they can make companies stronger and enable workers to secure salaries and benefits that help them raise families and retire with dignity.”

The entertainment industry has been a historic treasure trove of political money for both parties, but especially for Democrats. In 2020, people who reported working in television, film and music jobs donated $43.7 million to presidential campaigns and outside groups.

Democrats received nearly three-quarters of the money, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks election finances.

The strikes are over, but Hollywood’s lost year is a turning point for the industry

Political contributions from donors working in the television, film and music industries have fallen sharply this year, according to an analysis the center conducted for The Times.

Donors in these sectors contributed $5.4 million to federal campaigns in the first nine months of 2023, according to the center’s analysis. During the same period in previous presidential elections, these donors contributed much more: $24.6 million in 2019, $21.1 million in 2015 and $15.5 million in 2011.

One of Hollywood’s most famous fundraisers took place in 2012 on the basketball court of actor George Clooney’s Studio City home, when then-President Obama raised nearly $15 million for his re-election efforts, believed to be the largest overnight campaign ever. that time. The dinner, hosted by Wolfgang Puck and attended by Robert Downey Jr., Diane Von Furstenberg, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Tobey Maguire, Billy Crystal and others, took place a day after Obama announced his support for gay marriage.

Such star-studded events were rare

this in

summer. The pace has picked up slightly in recent months, though it is still slower than the typical series of political galas, parties and dinners in the year before the presidential election, several people said. Such events not only provide an opportunity to publicly express one’s political views, but are also a cornerstone of the Hollywood social scene.

“Fundraising in Hollywood is the ultimate in networking,” says Donna Bojarsky, a longtime Democratic political consultant and co-founder of a nonprofit dedicated to increasing community engagement in LA. “You go to a fundraiser in Hollywood and you see everyone you know.”

However, some are skeptical that entertainment industry fundraising will return to the top priority.

Lara Berghold

a communications consultant who has long operated at the intersection of Hollywood and politics, identified a broader problem than the gridlock in the labor market and the resulting financial losses.

“When we look at the broader landscape of progressive organizations and candidates, we see that fundraising for them is lagging compared to today

4 four

Years ago, it wasn’t just Los Angeles, it wasn’t just the strike, it was kind of everywhere,” she said, citing donor burnout, exhaustion and broad economic concerns.

Still, there was a class of major donors who had largely abstained this year because writing five- or six-figure checks felt flashy and flashy at a time when it was actually much more appropriate to hold back, she said.

earlier last week recently

. Bergthold expected donations to resume at full speed soon after the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

The writers’ strike ended after 148 days in late September, and the actors’ union bargaining committee approved a tentative agreement with the major studios on Wednesday.


after a nearly four-month strike that paralyzed industry and left thousands without work. The ratification vote is expected to take place this week.

[week of 11/12]

Last week I spoke at the SAG


The strike ended, Jay Sures, the politically powerful co-president of Hollywood’s United Talent Agency, said he was unsure how fundraising would proceed in the coming months.

“I think it’s going to be a mixed bag,” Sures said. You’re going to see super mega donors who are just going to give no matter what, and you’re going to see other donors who are going to say, ‘Maybe it’s time to just wait and see. where the world takes us.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has benefited greatly from Hollywood donors, said he expects it will take some time for fundraising to pick up because of the rollercoaster many have been on lately.

“I think everyone is taking a deep breath. It has been a difficult three years for all of us, with COVID, social instability, macroeconomic uncertainty, issues of geopolitical uncertainty. And now you have these strikes,” Newsom said.

earlier this month[11/3]

. That said, he added, “the economy has done very well for a lot of those people. Binomics has been good to them. I would expect that generosity to undoubtedly emerge in subsequent quarters.”


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