Tinsel Town to invade staid Washington on Obama inauguration

January 17th, 2009 - 10:24 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaLos Angeles, Jan 17 (DPA) Ever since Republican presidential candidate John McCain used a sarcastic video to mock Barack Obama as the world’s biggest celebrity, the US president-elect has scrupulously kept a respectable distance from his closest Hollywood supporters.All that is likely to change Jan 20. The stars who backed Obama are in no mood to miss out on what is likely to be the world’s biggest party. But though Obama used his transition period to name his cabinet in record time, he has been in no rush to name the entertainers attending his inaugural bash beyond those performing at official events.

Asked to comment on the lack of an entertainers’ roster, an official in the organising committee explained that the focus was on making this a “people’s inauguration” rather than a celebrity event. “Trust me, some of the biggest stars in the world will be there. But we are keeping things quiet so as not to distract from the seriousness of the event,” the official said.

The entertainment world is traditionally a bastion of Democratic support. The level of Hollywood enthusiasm for Obama’s campaign hasn’t been seen since Tinsel Town fell for Bill Clinton.

In a single September fundraiser hosted by Barbra Streisand, Obama raised almost $10 million. The guest list was so packed with celebrities it almost seemed like Oscar night - Leonardo DiCaprio, Jodie Foster, Tobey Maguire, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Renee Zellweger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Larry David, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and a host of other Hollywood stars and industry bigwigs.

Many are sure to turn up to one of the 10 official inauguration balls, or at one or more of the bevy of parties hosted by the likes of MTV or the dozens of organisations that backed the Obama campaign.

The star performers’ list of the official inauguration ceremony will be headlined by Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul. But she will have some classical competition from a quartet that includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill. Jennifer Hudson may also sing the national anthem.

Among the roster of music stars on the schedule of Sunday’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial are Beyonce Knowles, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban and James Taylor. Also appearing will be Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Mary J. Blige, Herbie Hancock and John Legend, while historical passages will be read by Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington.

Elsewhere, the Creative Coalition will hold a gala to be headlined by Elvis Costello. The nonprofit arts and entertainment advocacy group says that attending its party will be Anne Hathaway, Sting, Spike Lee, Tim Robbins, Maggie Gyllenhaal and many others.

Rihanna and Dionne Warwick will headline two separate music industry balls, while Lou Gossett Jr. will host the Purple Ball, where Ashley Judd and Patricia Arquette are among the expected guests. And gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will also throw a party with Cyndi Lauper, Melissa Etheridge and others.

Stevie Wonder and Barbra Streisand have also been asked to perform at inauguration events, according to unconfirmed reports, which also predict that the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus will play at a special children’s party.

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, who famously broke down in tears when she gathered in Chicago park on election night to celebrate Obama’s victory, will also be in town, taping an inauguration show at the Kennedy Centre Monday.

Halle Berry, Bradley Whitford, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Samuel L Jackson, Jamie Foxx and James Lassiter will likely also be on hand. They each paid $50,000 into the inauguration fund, according to official records.

“We have a celebrity president so there is a lot of electricity in the air around this inauguration,” said Ken Vogel, a senior reporter at the web site Politico.com. “Those folks who give a lot of money will get more access.”

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