John McCaslin

Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, learned of his federal grand jury indictment charging him with seven felony counts of making false statements "from the CNN news ticker," a well-placed Republican source on Capitol Hill tells Inside the Beltway.


In light of Sen. John McCain's latest television ad attempting to adjoin "celebrity" candidate Sen. Barack Obama to the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, Mr. Obama and Democrats vying for the White House before him can't help but enjoy overwhelming support from Hollywood.

What Mr. Obama doesn't want, or so one leading celebrity insider tells this columnist, is a "Hollywood convention."

"Out here people are talking about, 'Are you going to the convention?' They don't even ask which convention, almost like Minneapolis doesn't even exist," says Ted Johnson, editor at large of Variety, referring to the Democratic and Republican conventions in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, respectively.

Indeed, Mr. Johnson draws attention to "Hollywood's affinity for Obama and the Democrats" by highlighting $4.4 million in "showbiz sector" contributions so far for Mr. Obama, more than five times Mr. McCain's total of just over $757,000.

Yet the Variety editor, in an interview heard on Inside the Beltway Radio at, points out that "too much glitz" will land any presidential candidate in hot water.

"Just look at what Barack Obama has said as he was on his way back from Europe. He was saying I have to get out there and start talking about economic issues in Ohio, in Iowa, around the 'common people.' So this is a troubling thing for any campaign actually is how do you bring celebrities into the mix?

"There's a temptation there to help you draw crowds and everything, but there's a downside to it. It kind of feeds into the notion that you're somehow elitist, or somehow in this exclusive club that is separated from the common man, so to speak," he says.

Nevertheless, campaign contributions are difficult for any presidential candidate to turn down, and Mr. Johnson says Mr. Obama can expect a star-studded fundraiser this fall for his campaign hosted by "the trio behind DreamWorks" - moviemakers Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

"There's no lack of people who want to host a fundraiser for Obama, but the candidate literally has to pick and choose. There's a lot of politics just involved in that decision," he explains.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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