Oprah Winfrey has said she's not interested in running for president--but can she help elect one? On Saturday afternoon, Winfrey will throw the flashiest fund-raiser of the 2008 cycle when she welcomes about 1,500 guests to her Montecito, Calif., home to support the candidacy of Democrat Barack Obama. Tickets are sold out at $2,300 each, the legal maximum for primary-campaign giving. Hollywood stars Will Smith, John Travolta, Jamie Foxx and Halle Berry are all on the guest list. Among the musicians who'll perform: Stevie Wonder and gospel singer BeBe Winans, a Winfrey friend.
A source close to Winfrey, who declined to speak publicly for fear of angering the TV star, says Oprah bonded with the Illinois senator in 2005 when the pair flew from Chicago to Houston together to visit Hurricane Katrina refugees. "I think Oprah got to see the genuine side of Obama ... and was just blown away," says the source.
Younger actors and executives in black Hollywood tend to support Obama; older figures support Hillary Clinton. But the Oprah ticket is so hot that some on the fence are contributing the maximum anyway. "Are you kidding?" says actress Holly Robinson Peete. "If she invites you somewhere, you go." Still, that doesn't mean all of Oprah's friends are attending. Producer Quincy Jones, a longtime pal who's even named a wing of his home after Oprah, is co-hosting a Clinton bash on Sept. 14 at Magic Johnson's place. "The house is incredible, and the food and music is going to be topnotch," Jones says. "But there is no competition here at all." Just tell that to the candidates.