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Hollywood’s Most Powerful Jews Invited to White House State Dinner

by Danielle Berrin

November 24, 2009 | 7:17 pm

It won’t be hard to guess four of the Jewish men who were invited to have dinner with President Obama tonight.

The most obvious of these is Endeavor chief Ari Emanuel, whose brother Rahm, is Obama’s Chief of Staff.

As for the other three, the initials SKG may ring a bell: For all of Hollywood’s Jews, Steven Spielberg is probably the industry’s most famous Jew; Jeffrey Katzenberg is the man who would be Lew Wasserman if only he possessed the galvanizing personality; and David Geffen, the third DreamWorks partner may in fact be the wealthiest, with an estimated fortune around $4.6 billion, according to Wikipedia which he has used to become one of Hollywood’s biggest philanthropists.

Tonight’s dinner, hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle, is being held in honor of Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India and Ms. Gursharan Kaur.

Other Hollywood Jew invitees are Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton and his wife, Jamie. Oprah’s BF Gayle King will attend, along with Jeff Immelt, the Chairman of GE, director M. Night Shyamalan, Alfre Woodard and Blair E Underwood.

Nikki Finke who first reported the story, offers some analysis on the whys behind the guest list:

This first dinner is primarily a thank you to the Obamas’ most important political supporters.
...
Spielberg’s inclusion is interesting since he was a much ballyhooed Hillary Clinton supporter during the first months of her primary campaign when she looked like a sure thing, then quietly threw his clout behind Obama after he became the clear winner. But, given that the guest of honor is India’s highest ranking statesman, Spielberg’s new financial relationship with India’s giant corporation Reliance more than explains his presence. Geffen was an early Obama backer who publicly took on the Clintons with pointed criticism at the start of the primary season. Katzenberg was not an early bird, but he became a faithful fundraiser. Both he and Geffen were considered Obama’s biggest Hollywood bundlers during the campaign.
...
Lynton was a longtime supporter primarily because of the influence of his wife Jamie whose Chicago family has longtime political connections to the Obamas. Her mother Joanne Alter, the first female Democrat elected in Cook County, talent-spotted Obama in 2003 and convinced her daughter to support him. As a result, Lynton co-hosted an early fundraiser for Obama’s Senate bid in 2004 in addition to hosting one of the earliest Hollywood campaign events for him when most showbiz types were still supporting Hillary. (Will.i.am, who composed the viral video for the Obama campaign anthem “Yes, We Can,” met the candidate during a fundraiser at the Lyntons’ home.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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