LOS ANGELES - For Hollywood, there's only one star left in the presidential campaign.
Sen. Barack Obama's gala fund-raiser today will attract the mandatory lineup of big-screen talent and boldface names - actors Samuel L. Jackson and Dennis Quaid, model Cindy Crawford and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard - and reconfirm that the entertainment industry remains one of the most reliable and abundant sources of Democratic campaign cash.
The party's 2008 presidential contenders pocketed $8 of every $10 coming from movie, TV and music businesses, and Sen. Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race all but guarantees a Hollywood windfall for Obama as the party begins to unite around its presumed nominee.
The glitzy gathering will be an early test of the Illinois Democrat's ability to enlist Clinton's financial backers, many of whom are still nursing some pain from the grueling primary contest.
Obama is to meet with Clinton and her top fund-raisers Thursday in Washington and the two are to campaign together for the first time on Friday in New Hampshire.
The two will stage their show of unity in the small town of Unity.
The location, announced yesterday, was chosen not only for the symbolism of its name, but because each candidate received exactly 107 votes there in the Jan. 8 Democratic primary.
The Obama campaign also has been coaxing Clinton's fund-raisers to join his finance operation, which had raised more than $287 million as of the end of May.
The Los Angeles event comes just days after Obama spurned the public financing system for the general election, opening the way for him to raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars after the Denver convention in a race in which he has already broken fund-raising records.
Top tickets are priced at more than $30,000, with the money to be divided between the Obama campaign and the party's national committee.
"There are few Republicans in this town," says Chad Griffin, a Clinton fund-raiser and Hollywood-connected political consultant, who is now supporting Obama.
Sen. John McCain has banked money from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and
Saturday Night Live
executive producer Lorne Michaels, but "Hollywood has already voted with its feet," said former Clinton fund-raiser and current Obama fund-raiser John Emerson.
Oprah Winfrey's fund-raiser for Obama at her Santa Barbara-area estate was one of the biggest events of the primary season, helping cement Obama's position as a credible challenger to Clinton.
An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, based on fund-raising data released May 21, found that Obama had collected more than $4 million from the movie, TV and music businesses during the campaign. Clinton had received $3.4 million.
McCain's take: $636,000.
That's in keeping with prior years. In 2004, Democrats seeking federal offices banked 70 percent of the donations from those industries.
Hollywood "is always an uphill climb for Republicans," said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. "I think that we're very encouraged by the support that we've been able to get from the folks in the entertainment industry, and John McCain is a great fan of a lot of the work that they do."
It was McCain who had a cameo in the 2005 comedy
The Wedding Crashers