Celebs, Democratic Edition
Apart from Clint Eastwood’s talking-to-a-chair routine, the celebrity quotient at the Republican National Convention was, well, a bit D-list. Actor Jon Voight was the biggest name wandering around the convention hall, followed by Stephen Baldwin (brother to more-famous actor Alec), Evan Handler (perhaps best known for playing Charlotte’s husband on Sex and the City), and Tim Daly of the television show Private Practice.
True to the stereotype of Hollywood loving the Democratic Party, the star turnout in Charlotte is expected to be much larger. Actress Jessica Alba and producer husband Cash Warren are cohosting Super-O-Rama, the top fete on Thursday night. Other big names to look for: Patricia Arquette, Jeff Bridges, Rose Byrne, Ashley Judd, John Leguizamo, and Tony Shalhoub. Musical acts will include the B-52s, Common, Foo Fighters, Pitbull, The Roots, and James Taylor.
Labor Unions Can’t Stay Away
Remember how labor unions were furious when the pick to host the Democratic National Convention was Charlotte, a city in a right-to-work state? Well, the unions still are not pleased, and they’re still not throwing any huge parties or renting out skyboxes. But they are making some quiet appearances in and around the city this week.
The president of AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, is holding a meeting for labor delegates on Tuesday morning at the Hilton Charlotte Center City. On Wednesday, SEIU is cohosting a panel on the health care law with the advocacy group Families USA at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Big political names expected to attend include Victoria Kennedy, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Reps. Xavier Becerra of California and John Lewis of Georgia.
Also, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker will speak at the conclusion of Monday’s Labor Day parade.
Some Hospitality for Heather Podesta
One half of the Democratic lobbying power couple, Heather Podesta, landed herself in a bit of hot water before even arriving in Charlotte. She told a Reuters reporter last week that Charlotte’s restaurant scene was a bit “grim” and that “going to the NASCAR Hall of Fame isn’t reason enough to be in Charlotte.” Podesta tells Convention Daily that she has heard plenty of complaints in the wake of the Reuters report, but she insists that she was being tongue-in-cheek with her comments and had lots of lovely praise for the host city.
“I’ve had numerous invitations [since then] to go to numerous places I’ve never been to before,” she says. “Southern hospitality truly exists.”
The Podestas will put their own brand of hospitality on display this week. On Monday and Tuesday, the Podesta Group and Heather Podesta + Partners are hosting an invitation-only “farmhouse chic brunch” at the Mint Museum, to which the Podestas have donated works of art. (Brunch menu: cornbread, turkey eggs, Catdaddy moonshine).
On Wednesday, the Podestas are throwing an exclusive cocktail reception at King’s Kitchen to honor Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and architect of President Obama’s health care plan, and John Podesta, the brother of Heather Podesta’s husband, Tony, as well as the founder of CAP and former chief of staff to President Clinton.
This article appears in the September 3, 2012, edition of NJ Convention Daily.