President Obama’s Charlotte convention lacks the star power he drew in Denver

The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., is expected to be far less star-studded than in 2008, when a rock-star-like President Obama first accepted his party’s nomination.

There will be fewer parties celebrating Obama’s nomination and a smaller number of celebrities to watch him accept his party’s blessing, according to an early events list compiled by The Hill.

{mosads}Compared to the Democratic convention four years ago, this year’s gathering has a noticeably toned-down list of events and a much smaller A-list presence than Denver.

That could change.

Some organizations might be waiting to announce their festivities at a date closer to the convention. Celebrities, for their part, are notoriously fickle, and Hollywood stars could decide to jet to Charlotte at the last minute. The convention committee has yet to release its official schedule too.

But, when contacted by The Hill, several organizations that have held events in the past either didn’t respond or are putting on less-grand gatherings than four years ago.

Vanity Fair, which co-hosted the must-attend party of 2008, is not holding an event this year, a spokesman for the magazine said.

In 2008, the magazine, along with Google, hosted a star-studded party at the Denver’s Exdo Event Center after Obama became his party’s nominee.

Susan Sarandon, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm were among the famous faces mingling with Democratic operatives that night.

This year Sarandon is not scheduled to be in Charlotte, though her spokesman noted that could change.

Foxx hasn’t decided whether to attend, according to a spokesman for the actor. A representative for Hamm indicated he would not be attending, while a representative for Hathaway did not respond to inquiries.

And George Clooney, a prominent Obama supporter, will not attend the convention, a spokesman for the actor said, although Clooney didn’t attend in 2008 either.

All of this suggests a sharp contrast with Denver, where delegates could choose from a host of events every night of the convention — from those honoring then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and -Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to a screening of a Charlize Theron movie or a concert with Kanye West.

Passers-by would do double takes as stars like Sarandon or Hathaway walked the streets, stood in security lines and waited for cabs.

There are a number of reasons to expect a change from Denver.

The nomination of the first African-American to lead a major political party into the fall campaign was a historic moment, and Obama at the time was a fresh political star. It’s natural that the convention to re-nominate him for another four years is a less exciting affair.

“A reelection campaign is always a little bit different from the first one,” said Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

The economy also could be partly to blame, as organizations are reluctant to put on lavish events while people are out of work.

While the economy was far from rosy in August 2008, it would be weeks before AIG and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went under, necessitating the $700 billion government bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Package, or TARP.

McMahon, who said he’s been to more conventions then he cares to admit, agreed the economy has a “sobering” effect, but added, “I’m sure it’ll be a raucous, fun convention like all others.”

None of this means there won’t be stars and celebrations in Charlotte.

Actress Eva Longoria, another prominent Obama supporter, plans to attend the convention. And actress Ashley Judd is a delegate.

Google will be hosting a party Thursday night at its convention space to celebrate American innovation, according to a spokesman for the company.

And there will be some famous faces watching Obama give his convention speech. Actor Kal Penn, who worked in the Obama administration, is scheduled to attend, as are Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama and Russell Simmons.

Actress Jessica Alba and her husband, Cash Warren, are scheduled to host Super-O-Rama, a closing-night party where Pitbull and the Scissor Sisters are scheduled to perform.

On Wednesday, the B-52s are set to perform at a Creative Coalition Gala Benefit Concert, while the Foo Fighters will perform at an event hosted by Rock the Vote.


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