Hollywood producer and Obama fundraiser Harvey Weinstein arranged First Lady Michelle Obama’s Oscars appearance, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Silver Linings Playbook producer and promoter approached the Academy Awards’ president and Oscar show producers who “loved the idea.” Michelle Obama, who said, “we watch movies all the time at the White House,” also liked the idea.
Complicated plans—which one Oscar show producer likened to a CIA mission—were then made for the surprise appearance.
With top rivals “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty” both having big political angles that resonated beyond Hollywood, our sources tell us that Cutter was hired to tout SLP not just as a well-made movie, but a culturally relevant and especially politically significant film that was shaping the national conversation about mental health triggered in part by the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Indeed, in the run-up to the Oscars, “Silver Linings” seemed to undertake a series of self-administered pats on the back “for making progress towards removing the stigma of mental illness,” as proclaimed by a February Center for American Progress press conference featuring “Silver Linings” star and Best Actor Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, along with two Democratic pols, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and former Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.
Then, less than a week later, Cooper and his director, David O. Russell, met with Vice-President Joe Biden in his office, again to chat about mental-health reform. (Eventual Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence declined to attend the powwow.) …
“When it was clear that “Silver Linings Playbook’s” treatment of mental health issues was becoming a topic in the advocacy community and political circles,” wrote a Weinstein Company spokeswoman, “Harvey Weinstein sought the advice of a number of friends with experience in those areas, including former Senator Chris Dodd, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, and Stephanie Cutter, who he knows from his work as a supporter of President Obama.”
Weinstein, who produced and promoted the film, hosted a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser for President Obama at his Connecticut home in August, where he referred to the president as “the Paul Newman of American presidents.” That fundraiser netted Obama $2.3 million.
Weinstein has a history of direct access to the White House; he was spotted at a number of other high-profile fundraisers, a state dinner, and a private meeting with Obama and other Hollywood insiders, as well.