How Hollywood elects to celebrate

How Hollywood elects to celebrate
YOUNG STARS: Actors James Franco and Jessica Albaƒo at the Bipartisan Election Night Party in New York City. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Hollywood helped pay for Barack Obama's historic victory with money and talent -- and now it's looking forward to the party.

Washington is about to look like Sundance on the Potomac. If you don't have a hotel room already booked for inaugural week in January, you are behind the curve. It's too early to know if a movie mogul will get dibs on the Lincoln Bedroom, like back in the golden days of the Clinton administration.

Since Franklin D. Roosevelt, most inaugural celebrations have followed a fairly familiar pattern (one not unlike Oscar night in L.A.). There's an official, ticketed inaugural ball (think Governors Ball following the Oscars) and a raft of parties with guest lists determined by juice. And, like Oscar, the main event is usually over in one night.

But landscape-changing elections, like Obama's, have a way of spinning beyond party planner's expectations.

Take Andrew Jackson's swearing in, for example. For the majority of us who snoozed through history class, here's the abbreviated version: Jackson was the tall, rugged manly man -- sort of like Clint Eastwood without the squint -- who captured America's imagination when he ran as the frontier hero in 1828. He made the mistake of throwing the White House doors open to throngs of his supporters, who traveled for days on horseback to attend the celebration.

Jackson had to move the punch bowl onto the front lawn to lure the rowdy crowd back outside. It seems the unwashed masses were breaking the White House furniture, which was not tastefully replaced until Jacqueline Kennedy moved in more than a century later, or so the story goes.

Don't expect Obama to make the same mistake, but the town will be rocking when he arrives. Entertainment industry favorites like the Creative Coalition and Rock the Vote already are making plans to celebrate not only Obama's victory but also their own in getting out the vote. And like the Democratic National Convention in Denver this year, private satellite celebrity parties are likely to spring up everywhere in the nation's capital. As happened in Denver, you'll always be wondering if there are more stars at somebody else's party.

Hollywood cast Obama in a leading role the minute they saw him (it was Norman Lear who introduced him to the entertainment industry bigwigs at his hilltop Los Angeles house nearly five years ago). Since then he's collected celebrity fans like paparazzi.

Top names, such as Barbra Streisand and, have been working the campaign trail for the senator's presidential bid. The Denver convention was almost as much a Hollywood event as it was a national political one. ( Jennifer Lopez was there, so were Fergie, Charlize Theron, Ben Affleck and Kanye West, to name just a few.)

Look for Obama's inaugural week to be much the same. After all, Hollywood feels it has a stake it this victory.

"He did a really smart job of getting the Hollywood support without flaunting it in a way that turned off voters," said longtime publicist Howard Bragman.

"I have so many people call me and say they want to go to the inauguration. I think people feel the power of the change."

The industry support went beyond just traditional fundraising; young talent like Jessica Alba and Christina Aguilera lent their celebrity to successful efforts to turn out young voters, who showed up at the polls for Obama in unprecedented numbers.

Along with the fate of the nation, this election may help decide a question that has kept Hollywood up at night in recent years: Do celebrity endorsements and, particularly, personal appearances help or hurt a candidate? Here's a cut to the last scene: They helped.

Overall the efforts were "smartly and effectively done, specifically for younger and first-time voters," said Los Angeles-based political consultant Noah Mamet. It showed; more than 66% of voters ages 18 to 29 went for Obama.

"The world has turned a new chapter in history, and I'm so proud," said producer Lawrence Bender, an early and avid supporter of Obama's candidacy. (He was stuck in Berlin on election day working with Quentin Tarantino on his new movie, "Inglorious Bastards." Bender stayed up all night watching election returns in his hotel room.)

Even reluctant George Clooney, who deliberately stayed off the campaign trail because he didn't want to open his old friend Obama up to criticism or trivialization, issued a reaction statement after the results were in.

"I congratulate President-elect Obama on his historic victory, and now it's time to begin unifying the country so we can take on the extraordinary challenges that this generation faces," said Clooney.

Courteney Cox and husband David Arquette hosted a private election night party with guests who included Jennifer Aniston. Others, like Brad Pitt, the Medavoys and Nicole Avant, made the trek to Chicago.

Lear, meanwhile, spent election night at home with friends, family and members of the group Declare Yourself, which, along with other groups like Rock the Vote, worked to register young voters.

Lear was thrilled about the turnout -- and the fact that Obama won.

"Measured against all the other world leaders, it could not be clearer: Obama is head and shoulders above the rest," said Lear.

Daunt is a Times staff writer.