Hollywood power players pull funding from Biden campaign in hopes he is replaced (2024)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Sunday, July 7. I’m your host, Andrew J. Campa. Here’s what you need to know to start your weekend:

  • Hollywood debates ridin’ with Biden.
  • Palm Springs scorched at 124 degrees on Friday.
  • Here’s our proposition voter guide.
  • And here’s today’s e-newspaper


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    Hollywood debates backing Biden

    The fallout from President Biden’s debate performance in late June has led to calls that he step down from the presidential race by a variety of media outlets and fellow Democratic politicians.

    The editorial boards of the New York Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and the Economist made such an argument.


    Democratic Reps. Angie Craig of Minnesota, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Mike Quigley of Illinois have also asked the president to step aside in favor of another candidate.

    Columnist Mark Barabak noted that even old allies, like former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, acknowledge “something was off” with Biden at the debate.

    Boxer gave the president two weeks to convince the nation he’s capable. “And if he can’t, he can’t,” Boxer said, “and there will be someone else.”

    There have been Biden defenders too, from former President Obama saying “bad debate nights happen,” to First Lady Jill Biden telling Vogue we “will not let those 90 minutes define the four years.”

    This debate about whether to replace or defend Biden has played out among Hollywood elites as well, with some strong backers now cutting off funding to the president’s campaign.

    No longer ridin’ with Biden


    “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof wrote a column Wednesday for the online entertainment news site “Deadline” in which he said he would no longer cut checks for the Biden campaign.

    He thanked Biden for being a “good man and a great president” but likened the 81-year-old to a starting pitcher who needed to be replaced. Lindelof proposed a “DEMbargo” with no checks for any Democratic candidates until Biden bowed out.

    “For me, this isn’t about the ability to govern, it’s about the ability to WIN,” he wrote to The Times.

    Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, too, called for Biden to “step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” according to the New York Times.

    Endeavor Chief Executive Ari Emanuel, brother of Democratic politician Rahm Emanuel, has shown concern about Biden while media titan Barry Diller replied with a blunt “no” when asked by the Ankler if he would continue to support the Biden campaign.

    Filmmaker and Disney heir Abigail Disney said she would also withhold donations until Biden was replaced at the top of the Democratic Party’s ticket.


    Why does Hollywood matter?

    Hollywood has long been a major funding source for the Democratic Party, with industry power players often hosting major fundraisers and publicly throwing their support behind candidates.

    It wasn’t long ago that some of Hollywood’s elite were at a star-studded fundraiser for Biden at the Peaco*ck Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

    The event raised more than $30 million, according to the Biden campaign.

    Hastings and his wife have contributed more than $20 million to the Democratic Party over the last few years, the New York Times reported.

    Lindelof said he donated $125,000 this cycle to the Biden campaign and nearly as much to Democratic Party Senate and congressional candidates.

    That’s why the industry’s current anxiety looms large over the Biden campaign.

    What’s next?


    Deciding whether Biden can stay in the presidential race will come down to three factors — Democratic Party leadership, the president’s polling performance and sentiment among big donors, said Jessica Levinson, who teaches election law at Loyola Law School.

    “If your key donors jump ship, that’s not just a pocketbook hit, but it’s a big signal to other people as well,” she said.

    Some in Hollywood aren’t hitting the panic button, though.

    “Everyone just needs to take a breath,” Democratic Party fundraiser and Hollywood advisor Andy Spahn said in an email Friday to The Times. “This will sort itself out soon enough.”

    For more analysis on Hollywood’s anxiety, check out this article by journalists Samantha Masunaga, Wendy Lee and Jenny Jarvie.

    The week’s biggest stories

    Hollywood power players pull funding from Biden campaign in hopes he is replaced (1)

    (Jason Busa/Jason Busa - stock.adobe.com)

    Southern California heat wave

    • Intense heat wave brings new California fires; Palm Springs breaks all-time heat record.
    • Thousands evacuate, some stay as Thompson fire spreads in Northern California.
    • ‘An absolute scorcher’: Sweltering heat, wildfire risk loom for July Fourth weekend.
    • Craving a pool day? Cool off with a day pass at these L.A. hotels.
    • L.A. County opens more pools and staffs them with better-paid lifeguards.

    Joe Biden campaign

    • Biden dismisses age questions in interview as he tries to salvage reelection effort.
    • As Biden flounders, why aren’t more Democrats sold on Kamala Harris?
    • Column: Barbara Boxer gives Biden two weeks to fix his ailing campaign.
    • How the California border changed after Biden’s order limiting asylum.
    • Column: Biden’s defiance, born of his long history, has hardened into denial

    Local elections

    • 2024 California propositions voter guide: minimum wage, crime, marriage, healthcare, rent and more.
    • Your guide to Proposition 3: Affirming gay marriage in California’s Constitution.
    • Your guide to Proposition 32: an $18 hourly minimum wage for all Californians.
    • Your guide to Proposition 33: Effort to expand rent control.
    • Your guide to Proposition 34: Effort to limit major healthcare group’s non-patient spending.
    • Your guide to Proposition 35: Taxing managed care organizations.
    • $10-billion climate bond will go before voters in November.
    • Should L.A. County expand to nine supervisors? Voters may decide in November.

    Crime, courts, traffic accidents and policing

    • One dead, two injured in head-on collision on deadly stretch of PCH in Malibu.
    • ‘Senseless death’: Three men charged with killing New Zealand tourist during Newport Beach robbery.
    • 12-year-old girl killed, nine others injured in multi-car crash in South L.A.
    • Pedestrian seriously injured after being struck by L.A. Metro train in Hollywood.
    • California’s workplace violence prevention law is now in effect. Here’s how it changes things.
    • Assailant opens fire on LAPD cruiser during traffic stop, injuring 2 officers.
    • Samuel Woodward convicted in stabbing death of gay ex-classmate.

    Environmental news

    • Supreme Court ruling could jeopardize California’s environmental rules.
    • Fireworks pollution leads to unhealthy air across Southern California.
    • Avoid the bacteria-tainted water at these Southern California beaches this holiday weekend.
    • Grant money approved to help turn former landfill into Puente Hills Regional Park.
    • Live poultry markets may be source of bird flu virus in San Francisco wastewater.
    • Mountain lion killed on the 405 Freeway on Fourth of July.

    International news

    • Sheryl Lee Ralph confirms she’s safe after riding out Hurricane Beryl in Jamaica.
    • Beryl batters Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as Texas officials urge coastal residents to prepare.
    • France braces for potential political earthquake: a far-right surge. What to know about the election.
    • New prime minister vows to ‘rebuild Britain’ after Labor’s landslide win.
    • NASA astronauts spend unexpected July 4 on the International Space Station.

    Entertainment and Sports news

    • Danny Trejo brawls at a Fourth of July parade in Sunland-Tujunga. Why? A water balloon.
    • Vanessa Hudgens confirms birth of child, slams photo leak: ‘Disrespected and exploited.’
    • Ellen DeGeneres just canceled 4 dates on her comedy tour — no explanation given.
    • Kendrick Lamar pops out with Ghetto Rodeo hat in ‘Not Like Us’ music video.
    • Column: Guess what? Movies aren’t dead. So let’s stop with the prophecies of doom for a minute.
    • Column: El Tráfico at the Rose Bowl on the Fourth of July needs to be an L.A. staple.
    • Column: Tyler Glasnow and the Dodgers’ rotation are a midsummer mess in need of help.
    • Column: LeBron James’ new deal confirms the Lakers’ offseason is a bust.

    More big stories

    • Need a background check in California? Changes at the courts are causing long waits.
    • California just cut the red tape on housing in San Francisco. Is L.A. next?
    • Fourth of July gas prices in California and nationwide reach lowest levels in three years.
    • 10 books to add to your reading list in July.
    • Californians won’t pay more than one month’s rent for security deposits under new law.


    Get unlimited access to the Los Angeles Times. Subscribe here.

    Column One

    Column One is The Times’ home for narrative and longform journalism. Here’s a great piece from this week:

    (Jose Carlos Fajardo/AP)

    Mason Ma wanted Korean barbecue. On Juneteenth, the PG&E employee was about to step into Jong Ga House near Lake Merritt when he was struck three times in a mass shooting that injured 13 others. The incident shocked the city. But it was quickly eclipsed by news of an FBI raid the next day on the Oakland mayor’s house.

    More great reads

    • For Jewish voters in France, the election is ‘a choice between the plague and cholera.’
    • At a Gardena shop, brothers labor to create mochi that reminds people of home.
    • Barrett sought middle ground in Trump immunity case. This time Roberts said no.
    • California community’s future at risk in fight over declining groundwater, residents say.
    • California adopts sweeping statewide water conservation framework.
    • Column: Anthony Fauci’s memoir strikes a crucial blow against the disinformation agents who imperil our health.

    How can we make this newsletter more useful? Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


    For your weekend

    (Illustration by Lindsey Made This; photo from Thomas Laisné/Getty Images)

    Going out

    • ☕ Join actress Emma Roberts as she breaks down her perfect Sunday, starting with coffee in Laurel Canyon.
    • 🍔 Burgers, ice cream, oyster bars and great patios: What and where to eat in L.A. this summer
    • 🌴 Here are 19 of the best Caribbean restaurants to try in Los Angeles.

    Staying in

    • 📖 Grab your reading device and check out the next great American novel: ‘Long Island Compromise’
    • 🚔 Axel Foley is back for the fourth edition of the ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ saga, which can be seen on Netflix.
    • 🦈 Discovery kicks off its annual ‘Shark Week’ today with a slew of programming for all the chums out there.
    • 🧑‍🍳 It’s hot this summer! So cool down with our 7 agua fresca recipes.
    • ✏️ Get our free daily crossword puzzle, Sudoku, word search and arcade games.

    L.A. Affairs

    Get wrapped up in tantalizing stories about dating, relationships and marriage.

    (Rahana Dariah/ For the Times)

    My L.A. neighbor followed up on second-date details. I asked for a day to rearrange my schedule. Within minutes, he jumped to asking, “Are you sure you want to date me?” In that moment, “Let It Go” from “Frozen” echoed in my head. I crave someone who’s patient, kind and understanding.

    Have a great weekend, from the Essential California team


    Andrew J. Campa, reporter
    Carlos Lozano, news editor

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    Hollywood power players pull funding from Biden campaign in hopes he is replaced (2024)


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