New­som holds edge in Hol­ly­wood fundrais­ing

In­dus­try gives his bid for gov­er­nor nearly twice what it’s do­nated to Vil­laraigosa

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Seema Me­hta and Maloy Moore

As mayor of Los Angeles, An­to­nio Vil­laraigosa built re­la­tion­ships in Hol­ly­wood: He sought the coun­sel of stu­dio heads, fought for state tax cred­its to keep film and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion in the city and min­gled with celebri­ties on the red car­pet at glitzy film pre­mieres and HBO par­ties.

In re­turn, mem­bers of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try backed his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions — a rare show of sup­port at the time from Hol­ly­wood for a lo­cal politi­cian.

But as Vil­laraigosa runs for gov­er­nor — po­ten­tially the fi­nal chap­ter of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer — Hol­ly­wood is di­vided. Lt. Gov. Gavin New­som, Vil­laraigosa’s chief ri­val, has raised nearly twice as much from donors tied to en­ter­tain­ment and the arts.

Vil­laraigosa brought in about $887,000 from donors tied to the arts and en­ter­tain­ment sec­tors, a re­spectable haul, but far less than the $1.7 mil­lion New­som has raised from the same group, ac­cord­ing to a Times anal­y­sis of fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure re­ports filed with the state through the end of July.

“It’s a bit sur­pris­ing,” said Donna Bo­jarsky, a vet­eran en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant, not­ing that Vil­laraigosa’s ties to Hol­ly­wood pre­date his two terms as mayor. “An­to­nio was the first mod­ern may­oral can­di­date that re­ally reached out and got Hol­ly­wood sup­port.”

The en­ter­tain­ment and arts do­na­tions re­flect the over­all fundrais­ing race. New­som leads the pack across most sec­tors, in­clud­ing tech­nol­ogy, fi­nance, le­gal and la­bor, rais­ing nearly $16 mil­lion. Vil­laraigosa lags be­hind with $5.1 mil­lion. But the en­ter­tain­ment and arts con­tri­bu­tions make up a greater pro­por­tion of Vil­laraigosa’s to­tal fundrais­ing, 17%, com­pared with nearly 11% of New­som’s haul.

The other can­di­dates in the race have been largely ig­nored by th­ese donors. State Trea­surer John Chi­ang has raised $182,000 from the

en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and art world. The re­main­ing three top can­di­dates — Demo­crat De­laine Eastin and Repub­li­cans Travis Allen and John Cox — re­ceived few do­na­tions from th­ese donors.

Most of th­ese con­tri­bu­tions were made by peo­ple in movies and tele­vi­sion, such as stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives, tal­ent agents, celebri­ties, pro­duc­ers and di­rec­tors. The group also in­cludes do­na­tions from mu­si­cians, artists, fash­ion de­sign­ers, video-gam­ing ex­ec­u­tives and en­ter­tain­ment at­tor­neys.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, New­som was the first can­di­date to en­ter the 2018 gu­ber­na­to­rial race, which has partly driven his fundrais­ing edge — he has raised up to $58,400 per donor since then. Vil­laraigosa en­tered the con­test 18 months later, two days af­ter the Novem­ber 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“An­to­nio just got into the race, and Gavin’s been run­ning for a long time,” said Rick Ja­cobs, a Hol­ly­wood fundraiser who is an ad­vi­sor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “If you’re rais­ing money statewide and have been in the race a long time, you would be re­miss if you weren’t rais­ing money in Hol­ly­wood.”

The Demo­cratic-lean­ing en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try has his­tor­i­cally been a well­spring for po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions. Last year, it spent nearly $24 mil­lion back­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton’s un­suc­cess­ful pres­i­den­tial bid, ac­cord­ing to the Center for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics.

The in­dus­try has not been as con­sis­tently in­volved in state and lo­cal races, though Gov. Jerry Brown, for­mer Sen. Bar­bara Boxer and Garcetti were strongly backed by some in Hol­ly­wood.

Many of the in­dus­try’s pol­icy con­cerns, such as in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty is­sues, are de­cided at the fed­eral level. But many of the con­tri­bu­tions, whether at the fed­eral, state or lo­cal level, are driven by donors’ ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships with can­di­dates — and by ide­ol­ogy.

New­som and Vil­laraigosa are “left-of-center Democrats,” said Rick Rosen, head of tele­vi­sion for Wil­liam Mor­ris En­deavor En­ter­tain­ment. “I don’t think there’s an enor­mous amount of pol­icy dif­fer­ences be­tween the two of them.”

But Rosen de­cided to back Vil­laraigosa be­cause of his long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with the for­mer Los Angeles mayor.

“I’ve seen An­to­nio do the hard work of get­ting things done,” Rosen said, point­ing to Vil­laraigosa’s con­tro­ver­sial ef­fort to re­form the city’s schools. Rosen sits on the board of a Lin­coln Heights char­ter school and re­called Vil­laraigosa speak­ing in English and Span­ish at its grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, and stick­ing around for pic­tures with stu­dents and fam­i­lies af­ter­ward.

“He’s not afraid of rolling up his sleeves, bang­ing heads to­gether and tak­ing on dif­fi­cult po­si­tions with teach­ers unions, with other unions in fact,” he said.

Rosen has con­trib­uted $5,000 to Vil­laraigosa, but more no­tably co-hosted a June fundraiser for him — the big­gest in Hol­ly­wood for a gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date this cy­cle — at the home of stu­dio and me­dia ex­ec­u­tive Peter Ch­ernin and his wife, Me­gan.

Other co-hosts in­cluded Paramount Pic­tures Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Jim Gianop­u­los, Net­flix co-founder Reed Hastings, co­me­dian Ge­orge Lopez, for­mer Sony Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Lyn­ton, NBCUniver­sal Vice Chair­man Ron Meyer and pro­ducer Rob Reiner.

Other no­table Vil­laraigosa donors in­clude ra­dio and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Ryan Seacrest, mu­sic pro­ducer Quincy Jones, adult en­ter­tain­ment mogul Larry Flynt, tele­vi­sion pro­ducer Nor­man Lear and Wil­liam Mor­ris En­deavor co-CEO Ari Emanuel.

Many of th­ese re­la­tion­ships date back to Vil­laraigosa’s eight-year ten­ure as mayor, which ended in 2013. He was viewed as an elected of­fi­cial who didn’t just show up to be pho­tographed at high-pro­file events, but sought to be a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity.

But at the same time,

Vil­laraigosa de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for seek­ing the lime­light.

“I sense a fa­tigue. He has burned some bridges be­cause he did ask for a lot dur­ing that time,” said a for­mer stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive who has backed Vil­laraigosa’s pre­vi­ous elec­toral ef­forts and asked for anonymity to speak can­didly.

Vil­laraigosa’s pres­ence at Hol­ly­wood events also caused him prob­lems. Ques­tions were raised about his at­tend­ing the city’s many award shows, film pre­mieres and sport­ing events for free, and when he was pic­tured so­cial­iz­ing with ac­tor Char­lie Sheen in Mex­ico as he was re­port­edly un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for a Cab­i­net ap­point­ment by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

New­som, who was born and raised in the Bay Area, moves com­fort­ably in Hol­ly­wood cir­cles. His wife, Jen­nifer Siebel New­som, is an ac­tress and doc­u­men­tar­ian whose films pre­miered at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val in 2011 and 2015.

As mayor of San Francisco, New­som sought city tax re­bates to boost en­ter­tain­ment pro­duc­tion in the city. The move raised eye­brows when the NBC tele­vi­sion show “Trauma,” which ben­e­fited from the tax breaks, cast New­som’s wife in its de­but episode.

New­som makes fre­quent ap­pear­ances on tele­vi­sion. In ad­di­tion to be­ing a reg­u­lar guest on news pro­grams, he hosted a weekly talk show on Current TV for nearly a year, of­ten ap­pears on “Real Time with Bill Ma­her” and has turned up on shows in­clud­ing “Chelsea,” “Jimmy Kim­mel Live!” and “The Simp­sons 20th An­niver­sary Spe­cial.”

Ear­lier this year, New­som spoke at a pre-Os­car rally out­side the United Tal­ent Agency’s Bev­erly Hills head­quar­ters along­side Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox and Reza As­lan where he protested Pres­i­dent Trump’s travel ban tar­get­ing refugees and visi­tors from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

In­dus­try ob­servers say New­som’s pop­u­lar­ity in the in­dus­try is driven by his his­tory of pro­gres­sive ac­tivism.

“There’s a lot of good old Hol­ly­wood lefty money that’s probably go­ing to go to Gavin. He’s a dar­ling of the left,” said Howard Brag­man, a Hol­ly­wood publi­cist who noted that New­som is­sued same-sex mar­riage li­censes in 2004 when he was mayor of San Francisco. “He went out on a limb — and he went out alone. The gay com­mu­nity in Hol­ly­wood has a lot of re­spect for him.”

New­som’s sup­port of gay mar­riage — many years be­fore Democrats in­clud­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton backed it — as well as his lead­ing role cham­pi­oning bal­lot mea­sures in 2016 to le­gal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana and en­act the na­tion’s tough­est gun con­trol laws are fre­quently raised by his Hol­ly­wood sup­port­ers.

“To be able to take on tough is­sues way ahead of their time, that’s ap­peal­ing to me,” said Jay Sures, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of United Tal­ent Agency, who has con­trib­uted $10,000 to New­som’s cam­paign. “I do think it truly boils down to sub­stance.”

New­som has won the sup­port of other big-name en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try fig­ures, in­clud­ing Cre­ative Artists Agency agent Jim Toth, Me­tal­lica drum­mer Lars Ulrich, model Cindy Craw­ford, singer Bar­bra Streisand, ac­tor Balt­hazar Getty and Ma­her.

But a ques­tion re­mains in con­sol­i­dat­ing Hol­ly­wood sup­port over the next 15 months: Will Garcetti jump into the race? The Los Angeles mayor rep­re­sented Hol­ly­wood when he was a city coun­cil­man and has strong ties to the most prom­i­nent names in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

“It would be a scram­ble for those of us who love him and al­ways want to sup­port Eric,” said Dayna Bochco, who serves on the California Coastal Com­mis­sion with New­som and has, along with hus­band Steven Bochco, pro­ducer of “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue,” do­nated $12,500 to New­som’s bid. “Let’s say I hope it doesn’t hap­pen.”

Some in­dus­try lead­ers, in­clud­ing DreamWorks Chief Jef­frey Katzen­berg, Sony Pic­tures Chair­man Tom Roth­man and re­tired Paramount CEO Sherry Lans­ing, are putting off a de­ci­sion by donating to both New­som and Vil­laraigosa at a time when many of the pre­dom­i­nantly Demo­cratic donors in Hol­ly­wood are fo­cused on the midterm elec­tions and op­po­si­tion to Pres­i­dent Trump.

“Peo­ple give ‘go-away money,’ ” said Andy Spahn, the pres­i­dent of Gon­ring, Spahn & As­so­ciates, a po­lit­i­cal firm that ad­vises Katzen­berg and di­rec­tor Steven Spiel­berg. “Here’s a check, leave me alone. Call me next year once the race gets some oxy­gen.”

Kirk McKoy Los Angeles Times

DONORS IN THE arts and en­ter­tain­ment sec­tors have given Lt. Gov. Gavin New­som, seen in Fe­bru­ary, about $1.7 mil­lion to­ward his cam­paign for gov­er­nor — nearly twice what they gave to his chief ri­val.

Kevin Mazur WireI­mage

AN­TO­NIO Vil­laraigosa, shown with wife Pa­tri­cia Govea, had built ties with Hol­ly­wood be­fore his two terms as L.A. mayor, an in­dus­try con­sul­tant notes.

Greg Do­herty Getty Images

AN­TO­NIO Vil­laraigosa’s no­table donors in­clude Paramount Pic­tures Chief Jim Gianop­u­los, Netf lix co-founder Reed Hastings and co­me­dian Ge­orge Lopez. Above, the for­mer L.A. mayor at a Bev­erly Hills gala last year.

Jen­nifer Gray­lock FilmMagic

LT. GOV. Gavin New­som has re­ceived an edge in fundrais­ing by be­ing the first to en­ter the 2018 race.

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