Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a long history of supporting Hollywood studios' efforts to get their films into China.
For decades, Biden has developed close relationships with studio executives, and he is set for another round of Hollywood fundraisers this week, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of those events will be co-hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg, former head of DreamWorks Animation, who hosted a May fundraiser which yielded more than $700,000 in one night for Biden.
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Former Senator Chris Dodd, who headed the Motion Picture Association of America during Barack Obama's presidency, called Biden "our champion inside the White House."
The Times highlights an example of Biden's close relationship with Katzenberg and the film industry:
When then-Vice President Joe Biden hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a five-day diplomatic blitz in 2012, a Hollywood Democratic mega-donor kept popping up with them.
There was Jeffrey Katzenberg, then the head of DreamWorks Animation, dining alongside Xi, the then-vice president of China, at a State Department welcome lunch in Washington. And there he was again, standing just behind Xi, then-Gov. Jerry Brown and then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a Lakers game in Los Angeles. And there was Katzenberg hanging out in a nearby hallway with Disney CEO Robert Iger to provide last-minute counsel as Biden closed a deal in which China committed to considerably expand its market for American films.
On the final day of Xi’s visit, Dreamworks announced Xi had signed off on the company’s own deal — the launching of Oriental DreamWorks, a $330-million joint venture with Chinese companies to develop and distribute animated films in China.
Daniel Russel, who was involved in Xi's visit, said it was standard for business executives to participate in these state visits.
"It is very common for top CEOs of an industry to piggyback on the visit of a foreign leader if their issue is hot," Russel said. "If they are in big negotiations, they want to cozy up to the foreign leader. They want to signal their respect. They want to work the room, work the margins."
Biden's history of supporting studios precedes his time in the White House. He advocated strict rules to prevent online piracy, and as vice president he pushed for the Stop Online Piracy Act, although Obama ultimately opposed it.
Hollywood supported Biden's advocacy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which would have strengthened copyright protections and removed DVD tariffs. Biden has not said if he still supports TPP.
Biden's campaign claims his support of Hollywood does not relate to the movie industry's support for his candidacy.
"Protecting American intellectual property, opening new markets and ensuring better labor standards around the world is the job of any American administration. Vice President Biden has always been a fierce advocate for American industry throughout his career, including the film and television industry, which is one of our country’s major exports. The suggestion that his leadership on these issues was motivated by anything other than promoting good policy is ludicrous," campaign press secretary T.J. Ducklo said.
Former California Controller Steve Westly, a fundraiser for Biden, said the former vice president "has a track record the others, pure and simple, don’t have."