Looks like Barack Obama's star power hasn't dimmed after all.
In 2008, Hollywood insiders donated $9.2 million to the presidential hopeful's campaign. This year, despite much talk of softening support among entertainment professionals, they are expected to contribute even more.
According to Michael Janofksy of TheWrap, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Alec Baldwin and many other major figures have already maxed out their $5,000 personal contribution limits.
The trouble, for Obama, is that many in Hollywood do not want to dirty their hands with contributions to Super PACs, the controversial new groups that can accept unlimited donations as long as they don't direct their funds to a single candidate. Many Democrats have criticized Super PACs for giving wealthy donors outsize influence over the political process -- and if there's one thing Hollywood heavyweights understand, it's the power of bad publicity.
Jeffrey Katzenberg and Stephen Bing have waded into the Super PAC waters, but other big names are opting instead to bundle donations to the Obama campaign itself. The Wrap cites statistics gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics (often referred to as Open Secrets), which values producer Harvey Weinstein's bundle at $688,026 and agent Ari Emanuel's at $447,290.
Over the past year, reports of declining overall donations to Democrats (a $2.5 million decrease year over year at the end of 2011) and sharp criticism of the President from the likes of Matt Damon have created the impression that Obama was losing his hold on Hollywood.
The Obama campaign responded by sending a former ambassador to Los Angeles to set up a series of high-profile fundraisers.
TheWrap notes that Obama's latest fundraising trip was meant to raise $3 million and ended up bringing in $4 million. The dinners, hosted at the home of soap opera producer Bradley Bell, featured celebrity hosts, including Will Ferrell and his wife, Viveca Paulin. Tickets were priced at $35,800 each.
Head over to TheWrap for more in-depth analysis of Obama's relationship with Hollywood.