Tales from the Trail

The Oscars, an evening of golden statues and golden donors – to Democrats

In a presidential election year, the Oscar statuettes are not the only gold-plated figures at Hollywood’s annual Academy Awards ceremony. The audience on Sunday will be sprinkled with big political donors — at least to Democrats.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, which has three films up for awards, is a top bundler for President Obama who has donated $4 million in national and state-level races, according to The Sunlight Foundation, which analyzed data about filmdom donations. Katzenberg gave half that total – $2 million – to Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama Super PAC.

Steven Spielberg, who produced the best picture nominee “War Horse,” has spent $1.6 million in donations to Democratic state and federal candidates and committees, including Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and California Governor Jerry Brown, Sunlight said.

Among other big names, George Clooney, a best actor nominee for “The Descendants,” has given $178,000 to Democratic candidates and committees including Obama and the Democratic National Committee. Brad Pitt, a Best Actor nominee for “Moneyball,” donated $100,000 against California’s Proposition 8, the effort to ban same-sex marriage. Glenn Close, a best actress nominee for “Albert Nobbs,” has donated $47,900 to recipients including Obama and the DNC. And director Martin Scorsese, up for best director for “Hugo,” has made donations totaling $27,600, to recipients including Obama, the DNC and New York’s two senators, both Democrats, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

“The results of our inquiry do absolutely nothing to dispel the notion that the Hollywood hills are a Democratic stronghold,” Sunlight said.

Brad Pitt tries out role as lobbyist

brad1Hollywood star Brad Pitt made the rounds in Washington on Thursday keeping a low profile while calling on some some high-profile people to promote sustainable housing.******Pitt dropped by the White House for a private meeting with President Barack Obama but the White House said there was “no read-out” on the visit.******Pitt also went to Capitol Hill to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn. He joined them for that time-honored Washington tradition: a media availability behind a bank of microphones.******Pitt thanked Pelosi for taking time to talk to him about the post-hurricane rebuilding effort going on in New Orleans, where his “Make it Right” foundation is constructing sustainable houses for low-income residents in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.***    ***Pelosi hailed Pitt as a role model. Clyburn thanked Brad for his help …  and for giving him bragging rights.******”I did not realize when the speaker asked me to chair the Katrina- Rita Task Force that it would lead to my getting in a position to make my grandchildren so envious of me because this effort brought the two of us, Brad Pitt and myself, together,” the South Carolina Democrat said.  ***   ***For the record, Pitt was flying solo on the Hill.  Angelina Jolie was making her own low-key appearance in town shooting a scene for a movie in a blond wig.

The First Draft: urgent care

President Obama takes on healthcare reform at a 1:00 p.m. White House forum today, hoping to design an overhaul of a costly and inefficient system he believes is threatening the economy. About 120 participants from industry and government will gather to discuss potential fixes to the $2.5 trillion system. JAPAN

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Brussels, said it was time for NATO to make a new start with Russia after formal ties were suspended when Moscow sent troops into Georgia last summer.

The House is expected to approve a bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to slash mortgage payments for homeowners as a last resort.