By Betsy Rothstein - 08/22/08 01:26 PM EDT
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) may find himself competing for star power at his own convention against a glittering lineup of famous faces.
Convention goers can expect to see actors Jennifer Lopez, Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Warren Beatty and wife, Annette Bening, plus film directors Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino.
Other celebrities on the A-list include actress Scarlett Johansson, a longtime Obama fan, and actors Edward Norton, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker. Comedian Jon Stewart will host “The Daily Show” from the University of Denver.
Talk show host and longtime Obama supporter Oprah Winfrey will be at Invesco field Thursday night to see her state’s senator accept the presidential nomination.
“Oprah has not been asked to introduce him, is not expecting to be asked to introduce him, and I would doubt that she would want to introduce him,” her longtime friend Gayle King told “Entertainment Tonight.” “She thinks this is his moment. I know that she is planning to be there.”
To help the delegates primp, nationally renowned makeup artist Bobbi Brown will lead a master class from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Nordstrom, Cherry Creek. She plans to make her team of makeup artists available to any delegation wishing to take advantage of their skills.
This may be the most celebrities Denver has ever seen at one time, as the last presidential convention here was held in 1908. “We’re celebrity-starved,” remarked Penny Parker, gossip columnist for the Rocky Mountain News. “I’m trying to get an interview with Ben Affleck, and I’ve had to go through his people’s people. Now I think I’m at the third level, talking to his person’s person’s person.”
Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for the arts and often brings celebrities to political events, says Obama will probably hold his own against the stars. “He seems to be able to,” she says.
Bronk would not comment on where the famous ones will be staying except to say that it was “somewhere in Denver.” She said the cast is the perfect mix of old and new. “I love our lineup,” she says. “I love our boot-camp delegates. We have seasoned vets from entertainment and politics and we also have the next generation well-represented.”
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, among the best-known establishments in the city, is not expected to house the stars, but rather Obama’s big financial donors. “We have not been getting the impression that we’ll be getting the stars,” said Shannon Dexheimer, director of public relations for Brown Palace.
The hotel has six restaurants. One of them, the Ship Tavern, will serve a turkey chili from a recipe that Obama has been making since college, and a banana cream pie known to be a favorite of former President Bill Clinton’s.
The hotel has renamed the Eisenhower suite the Barack Obama suite and has filled it with Obama memorabilia, including the books he has written.
Bill Husted, a gossip columnist for The Denver Post, said stars typically gravitate towards other parts of Colorado, such as Telluride, home to actor Tom Cruise, and Aspen. Husted said with names like singers James Taylor and Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) showing up, Obama could find himself being overshadowed.
“I just think we don’t know what is going to happen here,” he said. “The whole celebrity quotient in politics is rising, so maybe [it will challenge Obama’s star power]. Those are pretty heady names to be hanging around Denver, or any city, really.”
Other stars on the Creative Coalition’s roster include Matthew Modine, Susan Sarandon, Kerry Washington, Rachel Leigh Cook, Ellen Burstyn and Dana Delaney. The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday hosts singers Melissa Etheridge and Cyndi Lauper at its Rock to Win event. Throughout the week, Red Rocks Amphitheater hosts a range of artists including Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow.
The Starz Green Room, across the street from the Pepsi Center, will bring celebrities to discuss the intersection of Hollywood and politics. On Tuesday at 3 p.m., actress Charlize Theron will be there to promote her film “Battle in Seattle.” On Thursday at 2:30 p.m., there will be a panel on “Cause Celeb: High-Profile Activists,” featuring actresses Rosario Dawson and Kerry Washington.
On Monday night, actors Ashley Judd, Aisha Tyler, Alan Cumming and Emme will host a “Sex, Politics and Cocktails” reception sponsored by Planned Parenthood.
Kanye West will perform at a Wednesday night concert sponsored by the ONE campaign and the Recording Industry Association of America. The Black Eyed Peas will play at a rival concert that night hosted by the Creative Coalition and Target.
Others artists who plan to perform include Pharrell Williams, his rap/rock fusion band N.E.R.D., the Temptations and Usher. On Wednesday, Hot Tuna, comprised of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (formerly of the Jefferson Airplane), are scheduled to perform at Tamayo Restaurant in Larimer Square. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons also plans to fly in this week to perform for the Yoga Health Foundation’s Festival.
Emily Goodin contributed to this article.