The stars are out in force in Denver
If Cecil B. DeMille had directed the Democrats’ Denver festivities, the trailers would have touted “a cast of thousands.” Even if the possibility of a strike hadn’t shut down film production across Los Angeles, Hollywood would be empty this week because nearly everyone with a screen credit or a connection to somebody with a screen credit is here in the Mile High City.
Reservations at restaurants from Beverly Hills to Malibu must be going begging, and the celebrity wattage at this year’s Labor Day parties in the Hamptons wouldn’t power one of those energy-conserving compact fluorescent bulbs we’re all supposed to use.
The harmonic convergence of so many stars, writers and entertainment executives and professionals here in Denver this week has lent this national convention an unprecedented vibe, particularly when it comes to socializing with a purpose -- which is something Hollywood does better than any other town.
Among those mingling with the pols were Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lopez, Rosario Dawson, Charlize Theron, Angela Bassett, Ashley Judd, Kirsten Dunst, Chevy Chase, Josh Brolin, Hill Harper, Fran Drescher, Annette Bening and Spike Lee. (To name a few.)
Meanwhile, an impressive group of A-list singers made the convention seem like a weeklong music festival.
At Invesco Field on Thursday night, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and others warmed up the crowd for Barack Obama. Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar-winning star of “Dreamgirls,” sang the national anthem.
“We are here to support the democratic process,” said actor-director Tim Daly, president of the nonprofit Creative Coalition, a group that brought together many of the stars this week to discuss issues ranging from the economy to health reform.
Celebrity involvement in politics and political causes has been criticized and even mocked by some, but Daly was having none of it. “Performers are citizens and in the U.S., we are allowed to talk about our beliefs. It’s also the privilege of people not to listen,” he said. “The interesting thing about celebrity involvement is that they’re the only group of so-called lobbyists who stand to gain nothing from what they do, except to support the causes they believe in.”
(Next week, Daly said, the Creative Coalition will be taking a number of celebs to the Republican National Convention. So get ready, St. Paul.)
Wednesday night, it was hard to choose between concerts featuring Kanye West (performing for the One Campaign) and the Black Eyed Peas (performing for the Creative Coalition). West’s concert at the EXDO Event Center was one of the week’s biggest hits. The singer was joined onstage by actor and radio host Jamie Foxx, who also happened to be broadcasting live from the convention hall.
The two performed a duet in tribute to Obama, prompting members of the crowd to jump up and down as if on pogo sticks.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, the Black Eyed Peas rocked the overflowing Fillmore Auditorium before an audience that included Jessica Alba, Hayden Panettiere and Tatyana Ali.
The Fillmore saw a lot of action this week. The funky theater on the edge of downtown was the venue for many of the most popular gatherings. At the Human Rights Campaign’s concert Tuesday night, Cyndi Lauper performed her evocative song “True Colors,” along with other new and old hits.
Rufus Wainwright captured the crowd with his haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah.” He dedicated it to Obama and “his beautiful wife, Michelle.”
By Thursday, even the most energetic delegates and attendees were becoming a little vague on where they heard which performer and when. Nelly sang at one party, John Legend at another. There was Fall Out Boy, Rage Against the Machine and the tireless Melissa Etheridge, who even got her own slot on CNN on Wednesday when she performed for the general convention.
Alex Avant, co-founder of the website iamhiphop.com, said he grew up attending every musical event imaginable as a youth in Beverly Hills. (His dad was head of Motown, which gets you into a lot of places.) Even he was awed.
“Nothing can compare to this,” he said of the convention and its parties, concerts and speeches. “Nothing.”