Celebs Abound in Charlotte, Casting Glamour on Convention
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If politics is Hollywood for ugly people, as the saying goes, national political conventions are sort of like the Oscars. Political junkies get to see, talk to, drink and make merry with the biggest stars of their parties.
But this Democratic National Convention is so thick with Hollywood stars that they’ve nearly eclipsed the mayors, governors and members of Congress so used to basking in the adoring glow of diehard supporters.
On Wednesday, former Ohio Rep. (and presidential contender) Dennis Kucinich strolled down the corridor between the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the big events take place, and the Charlotte Convention Center, where smaller meetings are held, barely noticed. That’s probably because Jessica Alba happened to be nearby, drawing squeals and swarms and a pedestrian traffic jam.
Alba, here as part of a Creative Coalition contingent, joined America “Ugly Betty” Ferrera, Alfre Woodward and Kal Penn (Kumar of the “Harold and Kumar” franchise and President Obama’s Office of Public Engagement) for a town hall meeting, “Conversations with the Next Generation,” at the Discovery Place museum that generated an iPhone camera frenzy.
Penn, who addressed the convention on Tuesday, wreaked mobs at least twice on Wednesday afternoon. Later in the evening, Eva Longoria, a co-chair of the president’s reelection campaign, caused a similar stir on the streets, just before she appeared on the convention podium.
Other celebrities participating in panels, fundraisers, parties and the arena: Zach Braff, Elizabeth Banks, Alexis Biedel, Keshia Knight Pulliam, John Leguizamo, Rosario Dawson (who co-founded Voto Latino), Will.i.am of Outkast, Fran Drescher, Wayne Knight, Viola Davis, Robert Redford, Tony Shaloub and hip-hop artist Common.
The Republican National Convention showed Clint Eastwood and his now-infamous address to an empty chair. The nation’s television audience knows that the Democrats have a featured a bunch of celebs, including Ashley Judd, who, as a delegate from Tennessee, helped officially nominate the president, as well as James Taylor, Mary J. Blige, the Foo Fighters, Marc Anthony, Scarlett Johansson and Kerry Washington.
When the convention program is over, there are many parties, lasting to the wee hours, where all these celebrities and more (Oprah, anyone?) are expected to show. But will they exclude the regular folks—faithful, hard-working, precinct-walking Democratic Party activists who comprise the bulk of the delegation here? That’s the rumor, but who knows? The media is most emphatically Not Invited to these events.