Billionaire Hollywood mogul David Geffen told people a year ago that he wanted to help Vice President Al Gore and the Democrats raise millions of dollars in order to beat the Republicans in this year's elections.
And he did it. The movie, television and music industries have contributed more than $4 million to the Democratic Party and its candidates through March 31, compared with less than $800,000 for Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
In just the last month, although official reports are not yet filed, Mr. Geffen and his DreamWorks partners, Steven Spielberg and former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, helped Mr. Gore and Democratic campaign committees raise another $4 million from California's entertainment elite, party sources said.
"I view this as an important election," Mr. Geffen, producer of the Oscar-winning "American Beauty" and long-running Broadway musical "Cats," told entertainment celebrities and studio executives last May at a fund-raiser for Democrats at his nine-acre $47.5 million Beverly Hills estate.
"We're going to work very hard to elect Gore and replace the most radical House and Senate in history."
The 56-year-old patron of music and screen stars has been ducking the press since publication last month of Wall Street columnist Tom King's tell-all biography, "The Operator." He could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Geffen, who cast Tom Cruise in his 1983 star-making role in "Risky Business" and brought to fame such music performers as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Jackson Browne, has already put $201,000 of his own money into Democratic coffers.
Mr. Spielberg, of "Saving Private Ryan" fame, and Mr. Katzenberg, the animation genius behind "Lion King," "Aladdin," and the "Prince of Egypt," have donated $220,000 each.
The DreamWorks trio hired Andy Spahn, finance director for former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart's 1988 presidential campaign, as adviser for the political fund-raising effort. Mr. Spahn in turn reached across to rival Walt Disney Co. executive John F. Cooke, Mr. Gore's finance ambassador in Hollywood.
The results have been a 5-to-1 fund-raising advantage for Democrats over Republicans among actors, film and television producers, and writers in Hollywood and New York, FEC records show.
More than 260 actors, most giving maximum $1,000 donations or even larger unrestricted "soft-money" amounts, gave $250,300 to Democratic candidates and committees and $44,900 to Republicans through March 31.
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has been showered with Hollywood money for her New York Senate campaign. Actors have given $77,750, while Hollywood and New York studio executives have donated $42,300.
Mrs. Clinton's top givers among actors were Mr. Cruise and wife, Nicole Kidman, $5,000 each; Kate Spielberg, $13,000; and Cynthia Yorkin, $12,000.
The DreamWorks trio gave Mrs. Clinton $27,000. Director Rob Reiner of Castle Rock Films and his photographer-wife, Michele Singer Reiner, each gave the first lady $7,000. Forty-three employees of Miramax Films gave Mrs. Clinton $1,000 each.
By contrast, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani - the Republican who so far has raised a total of about $19.3 million to Mrs. Clinton's $12.8 million for the Senate race in New York - has received almost no money from Hollywood givers. Just two actors, Chuck Norris and Anthony Lobianco, gave $1,000 each to Mr. Giuliani's exploratory campaign committee and he received $2,000 from a New York producer.
Democrats reaped $286,374 from film and television producers in Hollywood and New York, compared with $41,740 to Republicans.
The vast majority of entertainment celebrities and studio bosses have favored the Democratic Party and liberal-left causes since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration in the 1930s, said Robert Thomas, veteran Associated Press reporter, who has covered Hollywood for the wire service since FDR's New Deal era. …