Tonight's $35,800 dinner at Connecticut estate will be star-studded...
UPDATE: CLICK HERE for a full post about the dinner
President Obama's State Dinner in March for British Prime Minster David Cameron gave new meaning to the term Special Relationship: More than two dozen top campaign fundraising bundlers were invited to the lavish diplomatic affair. Some of the lucky guests have rapidly repaid the honor by hosting pricey events for Mr. Obama's re-election, raising millions since their historic evening in the bulletproof pavilion on the South Lawn. Movie magnate Harvey Weinstein is the latest guest to step up, with a $35,800/plate dinner on Monday night at his huge waterfront estate in Westport, Connecticut. (Above: Weinstein and spouse Georgina Chapman arriving at the State Dinner)
Yogurt mogul Gary Hirshberg, who attended the State Dinner with his wife, last week welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to a hi-dollar fundraising luncheon at his New Hampshire mansion.
State Dinner guests George Clooney and Anna Wintour's separate $40,000/plate dinner fundraisers for the President in May and June respectively not only made endless headlines, but raised millions. Wintour is expected to be among the 50 guests at Weinstein's 8,900 square-foot Colonial style home this evening; she was originally listed as a co-host, but now co-hosts are The Dark Knight Rises star Anne Hathaway; Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing and more recently HBO's The Newsroom; and Joanne Woodward, actor and widow of Paul Newman.
President Obama is scheduled to speak to the Weinstein gathering at 8:30 PM, following an earlier fundraiser in Stamford.
Even without Wintour on hand, the guests are expected to include the fashion world. Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, is co-founder of the Marchesa couture house (Mrs. Obama wore one of Chapman's gowns to the State Dinner). Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy "has been working the phones to encourage people to attend," reported the Hartford Courant, and he will be at the dinner.
Co-founder of Miramax Films and co-chairman of the Weinstein Co.,Weinstein is in the top tier of bundlers for the President, having already raised in excess of $500,000; the campaign lists no higher amounts. Weinstein last hosted an event for the President at his Manhattan town home in 2011.
Before he arrives at the Weinstein manse, the President will speak at 6:55 PM at a fundraiser in at the Stamford Marriott Hotel, where tickets began at $500. About 400 supporters are expected.
Hirshberg, chairman and former president and CEO of organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, welcomed Mrs. Obama to his lakefront estate in Holderness, New Hampshire on August 2 for a fundraising luncheon. Guests paid between $5,000 and $10,000 each to attend. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was on hand for Mrs. Obama's third visit to the state, where she spoke to a packed room of supporters for close to 25 minutes, defending her husband's record. The yogurt mogul and his wife Meg hoped to raise $1 million from the event, a record for the Granite State, Hirshberg told local media. (Hirshberg, above, arriving at the State Dinner)
Ahead of the State Dinner, Hirshberg was already a top bundler, having raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for the President. Mrs. Obama attended two other NH campaign events on the same day as the luncheon; she also traveled to Massachusetts and North Carolina last week.
Following the State Dinner, where he was seated across from the President and beside Mrs. Obama at the Head Table, Clooney hosted a $40,000/plate dinner for Mr. Obama at his Studio City mansion on May 10th. The haul was pegged at more than $15 million, due in part to the online Obama, Clooney & You sweepstakes. And due to deep-pocketed Hollywood guests, who included co-host Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tobey Maguire, Eddie Murphy, Jack Black, Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr, Salma Hayek, Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin, Trina Turk, and Diane von Furstenberg, with her mogul husband Barry Diller. (Above: Clooney arriving at the State Dinner)
Clooney is scheduled to headline an intimate fundraising dinner and reception for the President in Geneva, Switzerland on August 27th, designed to get American ex-pats to open their wallets.
Vogue's Wintour, who wore Chanel to the State Dinner, also wore Chanel when she joined forces with Sex and The City star Sarah Jessica Parker for a $40,000/plate fundraising dinner in Manhattan on June 14. Billed as "A New York Night," the affair was at Parker's chic West Village brownstone, and also had an online fundraising contest attached. Mrs. Obama attended with her husband. Celeb guests included Aretha Franklin, Meryl Streep, designer Michael Kors, Bravo TV's Andy Cohen, Solange Knowles, and actress Olivia Wilde. (Above: Wintour arriving at the State Dinner)
Georgina Chapman was at the dinner, too. Trombone Shorty entertained the crowd.
Parker has yet to be invited to a State Dinner. The only State Dinner currently on the White House schedule is Mrs. Obama's 'Kids' State Dinner,' a luncheon scheduled for August 20.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, President Obama will be in Colorado for at least four more fundraisers. Mrs. Obama will also travel west this week to attend a fundraising lunch at The Snow King resort in Jackson, Wyoming on Saturday, August 11. Tickets are $35,800 for Founding Families, and begin at $2,500.
*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; photo of the President by Christopher Dilts/Obama for America