PHILADELPHIA – The glitter. The glamour. The A-list celebrity performances. The movie stars in the crowd.
A Hollywood event?
No, it’s the Democratic National Convention, known as much for its razzle dazzle as it is for showcasing a presidential hopeful.
Year after year, celebrities and lavish parties that attract sports and Hollywood A-listers are part and parcel of the Democratic event, and not as big of a focus at the Republican National Convention.
“We’re just plain more fun than they are,” quipped Labor Secretary Tom Perez as D.J. “Cassidy” played pulsating music at a red carpet party at the regal Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia Wednesday night.
The list of speakers at the DNC read like one at an entertainment awards show – Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Lena Dunham, Demi Lovato, among others.
Alicia Keys closed the second day of the convention with a rousing performance of her song "Superwoman," and her new song, "In Common."
Thursday’s Tinseltown presence will be heavy – Carole King, Katy Perry, Sheila E. and Ted Danson will take the stage.
Republicans balk at the Democratic glitterati, calling it superficial and another sign of Hollywood’s strong bleeding heart liberal bent.
The few stars who back GOP presidential candidates say they are ostracized in Hollywood. About a handful of celebrities appear in the GOP conventions.
GOP nominee Donald Trump, a reality T.V. celebrity himself, cast the lack of star power as a badge of honor.
Trump said he wanted real people, not big names, on the stage.
But in Philly, the glitz and red carpet have been embraced.
Puerto Rican singer “La India” danced and laughed at the glitzy Barnes red carpet party hosted by DNC financial chair Henry Muñoz, who is a close friend of Longoria.
“Hillary Clinton is great,” the singer said, adding that it was yet another reason to feel celebratory this week.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros sipped cocktails and laughed as servers offered tiny Philly cheesesteaks and even tinier empanadas.
“We have always been exciting,” said Cisneros of Democrats. “But now, with more millennials among us, we have even more fun, noisier fun.”
Of course, then there are the many Hollywood star-hosted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton. One of the most headline-grabbing ones was the fete at the home – one of the homes – of George and Amal Clooney, which commanded a whopping $15,000 for admission.
At the convention stage, stars with speaking gigs turned serious.
Longoria, wearing a $109 white houndstooth knit jacquard dress from her new collection with the Limited, told the crowd gathered at the convention that she was personally insulted by Trump's comments about Mexican.
“Like many of you, this election is very personal to me,” Longoria said. “I’m from a small town in South Texas and if you know your history, Texas used to be part of Mexico. Now, I’m ninth generation American. My family never crossed a border, the border crossed us.”
She added: "So when Donald Trump calls us criminals and rapists, he’s insulting American families. My father is not a criminal or rapist, in fact, he’s a United States veteran."
"Ugly Betty" star Ferrera, alongside Dunham, also spoke of her family's Latino roots.
“I am profoundly grateful for the access and opportunity that exists in this extraordinary nation,” she said. “Not everyone looks at [the children of struggling families] and sees an investment, but Hillary has spent the last 30 years proving what she sees in us — not our color, gender or economic status, but our capacity to grow into thriving adults capable of contributing great things to this country.”
Lovato took a different tone when she took the stage in Philly on Monday, speaking about mental illness before breaking into song.
“Like millions of Americans, I am living with mental illness, but I’m lucky I had the resources and support to get treatment at a top facility,” the 23-year old star who suffers from bipolar disorder said. “Unfortunately, too many Americans from all walks of life don’t get help, either because they fear the stigma or cannot afford treatment.”