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Obama shift on gay marriage unleashes Hollywood's star power (+video)

Just as Obama is heading to Hollywood for what promises to be a blockbuster fundraiser, his shift on gay marriage is getting rave reviews in the entertainment world.

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He points to the explosion of celebrity tweets all over Twitter in support of Obama’s newly stated stance on gay marriage. People from Russell Simmons to Alec Baldwin are speaking their minds, says Mr. Ferraro. “This also means that when someone like Russell Simmons speaks out, his comments get picked up not just on the mainstream media, but in black media and entertainment media as well.”

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The Thursday night fundraiser is slated for the Fryman Canyon home of actor George Clooney in Studio City, where A-list actors and executives such as Robert Downey Jr. and Jeffrey Katzenberg will mingle with the other 150 or so luminaries who forked over the $40,000 price of entry.

Joining them will be two winners of an online raffle. This record-breaking strategy dangled two spots at the fundraiser for anyone willing to donate the suggested $3 or more in an online drawing.

This points to another important facet of the Obama campaign, the power of the small donor in contrast to the big celebrity, says Gordon Coonfield, professor of communication at Villanova University in Philadelphia.

“From what other media outlets have reported concerning Obama's fundraising, it isn't the rich and famous who do the bulk of the donating – it is ordinary, everyday Americans,” he says. Indeed, if the $15 million   materializes from the event, it would mean that far more than half came from small donors.

Locals such as Lisa Swane, an unemployed nurse who lives in Fryman Canyon, anticipates a nightmare traffic block on Thursday, but says Obama made the right move.

“I’m not thrilled about the traffic this is going to cause,” she says, sitting in a Studio City Starbucks and reading an article about the possible record intake at the Clooney soirée, “but I think Obama is smart to tap Hollywood because he needs their deep pockets to offset Romney’s millions.”

Starbucks barrista Andrew Manus age 20, who just moved from Las Vegas, doesn’t think Obama needs the money at all, but feels the president’s clarified stance in favor of gay marriage will “most definitely help Hollywood types to open their wallets. It was a very smart move.”

Staff writer Daniel B. Wood contributed to this report.

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