Gov. Jerry Brown raised $2 million from Hollywood luminaries who gathered Thursday in Bel Air to fete him and line his campaign coffers for an expected reelection bid next year, according to people who attended.
Brown, who is widely expected to run for reelection but has not announced his plans, headlined a low-key fundraiser in the backyard of the Bel Air home of Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and his wife Cindy, according to an invitation.
Rain forced the gathering of well over 100 Brown supporters – mainly entertainment industry executives but also actors such as Robert Downey Jr. – to be tented. Waiters served appetizers on trays to guests sipping wine and gathered around nearly a dozen cocktail tables decorated with flowers.
Former Sen. Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, introduced Brown. The governor spoke for about 10 minutes, according to a person who attended the event but declined to be identified.
Brown highlighted "the importance of the entertainment industry to the state and the country, how the economic turnaround has gone in California, and the promise of the future of this state," the attendee said.
Among the co-chairs of the event were Hollywood moguls David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Ari Emanuel, Ron Meyer and Brad Grey; philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and real estate giant Ed Roski, according to the invitation.
Co-chairs committed to raising $54,400 for Brown's reelection bid, which has already banked $17 million in two accounts. The cheapest ticket to the event, which was closed to the press, was $5,000.
Andy Spahn, a political consultant for Katzenberg and other top Hollywood names who organized the fundraiser, said the early showing demonstrated Brown's popularity in the entertainment industry.
"Tonight's event is an indication of the near-unanimous support the governor enjoys here," Spahn said. "He has turned the state around and we need his continued leadership in Sacramento."
Brown, 75, has been coy about his intentions. "I am aware that in November of next year there will be an election, and I will make some decisions regarding that," he said when asked by reporters earlier this week about the fundraiser.
A political spokesman for Brown used the fundraiser to poke at one of Brown's three potential Republican competitors, Neel Kashkari, a wealthy former investment-banking executive who oversaw the $700-billion bank bailout under President George W. Bush.
"In California there always seems to be some ultra-rich banker who wakes up one day and decides to spend their fortune trying to win an election, so it's best to be prepared," said Dan Newman, a spokesman for Brown.