Published January 15, 2009
Considering that she’s the richest woman in the media world and possibly a lot of other places, Oprah Winfrey remains in control of tight purse strings when it comes to her hero, Barack Obama.
Winfrey has still not donated one red cent to Obama’s Inaugural Committee as of postings to the federal website as recently as yesterday. It’s all the more surprising considering that Winfrey is said to be hosting at least one luncheon next week in Washington.
But so far Oprah has proven more of a vocal supporter of Obama than a financial one. She donated only $2,300 to his primary campaign, nothing to the presidential one, and zilch to the Democratic party. She did host a fancy fundraiser at her Montecito/Santa Barbara estate in September 2007, but so far, that’s it.
Winfrey’s thriftiness has not extended other celebrities whose names we’ve already told you in past columns. But now we can add a couple of other names to the list of donors. For example, Sean "Puffy" Combs – perhaps anticipating a windfall for his “Notorious” soundtrack—sent in $50,000. So did New York artist George Condo.
More humorously, the donations from divorced couple Larry David, of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and his ex wife Laurie, the environmental activist, are in. Laurie sent the Inaugural Committee $25,000 of Larry’s money. Larry, on the other hand, curbed his enthusiasm and sent just $12,500.
The other new contribution of note to the Inaugural Committee: $3,000 from wealthy New Jersey governor Jon Corzine. It’s not very much from a man of his standing, but so far he’s the only governor to send in personal funds. It’s just so Obama doesn’t forget his pals in the ironically named Garden State.
Beyonce’s had a big hit for weeks with “If I Were A Boy,” a song written by 21 year old up and coming star BC Jean of San Diego.
Readers of this column will recall that BC co wrote the song with a producer who sold it to Beyonce without permission. In the end, the newcomer got $250,000, royalties, and an agreement that Beyonce would sing on her debut album.
Now I’m told that BC Jean—who happens to be a hot blonde, too, besides being a talented singer songwriter— has finally signed her own deal. It’s not with Columbia Records, where Beyonce records, or with Universal Music, which pursued her. Instead, it’s with Clive Davis at the RCA/BMG side of Sony, meaning Columbia Records’ corporate cousin.
“Columbia had the chance to sign her,” says a source, “but they don’t want pop music.” Or hits. In recent years, Columbia passed on the Jonas Brothers, Alicia Keys, Lady GaGa, among others. Now all eyes are on Columbia for its release of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s new one, “Working on a Dream.” With the highest national exposure possible—back to back performances on this Sunday’s Inaugural special and then on the Super Bowl—“Dream” had better not turn into a nightmare. Springsteen is just at beginning of a contract worth $100 million.
Meanwhile, another Columbia artist is about to return to the scene of her greatest victory. I’m told that Celine Dion will go back to Caesar’s Palace next spring, joining the rotation of Cher, Elton John, and Bette Midler. The theater was built for Celine in the first place, but she’s been off on tour around the world.
The Sundance Film Festival gets started tonight in earnest with an animated film, “Max and Mary,” to open the festival. Despite dire reports of a recession crippled event, we’re here and Park City—though a little warmer and quieter than usual—looks ready to ramp up for action.
This year’s slate looks like the best one in some time, with high anticipation for a number of indies including Jeff Daniels in “Arlen Faber,” John Krasinski of “The Office” directing “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” Ben Affleck producing a documentary called “Reporter” about the New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof, Paul Giamatti and Emily Watson in “Cold Souls,” Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan in “The Greatest,” Kevin Bacon in “Taking Chance,” and director Lee Daniels’s “Push” with Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and Sherri Shepherd (yes, of “The View”).
That’s just a small sampling, and there are bound to be surprises. Already one of the nicest ones is that Trudie Styler has produced not one but two entries. “Moon” stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut abandoned up there and waiting for a return flight. (It sounds like my experiences on Delta Airlines.) With even more gravity, Styler is presenting Joe Berlinger’s documentary called “Crude,” about the oil company scandals in Ecuador. Both films are highly anticipated.
And don’t think for a minute that all the swag and fun have left Park City. Many businesses on Main Street have rented themselves out to “gifting suites” and party headquarters. I’m getting emails every other minute about free stuff and where to get it. It’s too bad no mortgage broker has thought to set up shop. That’s what everyone really wants!
There’s plenty of food, too. For the second year in a row, Bon Appetit magazine is back hosting lunches and dinners for select films. They’ve taken over the Easy Street restaurant beginning tomorrow through Sunday, installing famous chefs and whipping up a frenzy. Among the guests they’re expecting are Spike Lee, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfonso Cuaron and Diego Luna. Rachel Dratch, Parker Posey, Chris Rock, and the aforementioned Sarandon and Brosnan.
You can’t beat The Grill in Beverly Hills for Hollywood action. Sir Anthony Hopkins was in other day. Our own Jim Gianapolous, head of 20th Century Fox, lunched with power agent Jim Wiatt this week. You can pretty much just walk in and find power players on any day of the week. And very good onion rings!...
… Aaron Eckhart may not get to reprise Harvey Dent in the next Batman movie since he was killed off in “The Dark Knight.” No matter: Eckhart should be coming to Broadway this fall in a new play by Neil LaBute. The two got their start together with the movie “In the Company of Men” several seasons ago…
…Former Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino (“Mighty Aphrodite”) and husband Chris Backus watched the Golden Globes from the NBC Universal viewing party and dinner on the Beverly Hilton rooftop…
…Someone should tell the caption writers at People that buddies Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck aren’t such a strange duo. They’re brothers-in-law. Casey is married to Joaquin’s sister, Summer.
…Remembrances: Harvey Ginsberg, the great book editor, died on December 30th but it was just announced. He was 78. Harvey edited many of John Irving’s novels including “The Cider House Rules” and had many successes over the years with a variety of literary and commercial authors. He was also my neighbor, and a longtime welcome presence in Greenwich Village with his snow white hair and elegant visage. He will be missed …
Here’s a FOX 411 exclusive: the first listen of Stevie Wonder’s new single, “All About the Love Again.” It’s from the album being released next Tuesday in honor of Barack Obama’s inauguration, and it’s a totally new song, not even the one Stevie performed with Take 6 at the Democratic National Convention last August.
“All About the Love Again” is a tremendous pop record, better than just about anything on the radio now. Wouldn’t it be great if radio programmers just started playing it because they liked it, because Stevie is one of those seven new “wonders” of the world?
The album it’s from, as I told you on Monday, was produced by Steve McKeever and Bonnie Goldberg for McKeever’s Hidden Beach Records. I broke that story on Monday but I’m told McKeever is worried people will think he was the source for the story. Don’t worry, he wasn’t. I’ve never been able to get this guy to return one of my phone calls! LOL!
By the way, the folks at Hidden Beach are apparently nervous that I said Warner M. Group wouldn’t license songs to them. They point out that Warner’s Atlantic Records gave them tracks from Death Cab for Cutie and Wilco from their Nonesuch label. I’ve been told a different story, but I’m happy to include their version.
Anyway, Stevie’s got a great song on the CD, and there are some others. We’ll try and get another one up for streaming tomorrow. In the meantime, let Stevie tell you that the Obama years will be “All About the Love Again.”