| 16.5°C Dublin

'Starmageddon' dinner for Obama

AS he put the finishing touches to his dinner party preparations, one could have forgiven George Clooney for being a little nervous. After all, it's not every day the president pops by for a bite to eat.

Fortunately he had 150 close friends, including Barbra Streisand, Robert Downey Jr, Tobey Maguire, Eddie Murphy and Salma Hayek, on hand to keep the conversation flowing. And celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, who caters for the Oscars, agreed to whip up some Peking-style roasted duckling.

The result was "Starmageddon", the dinner party to end all dinner parties, as the elites of Washington and Hollywood came together to swell US President Barack Obama's re-election campaign coffers by $15m (€11.5m), a new record for a presidential fund-raising event.

The setting was Mr Clooney's multi-million dollar mock Tudor six-bedroom home in a hillside enclave of Los Angeles.

Mr Obama turned up with 30 motorcycle outriders, the Secret Service, helicopters, bomb-sniffing dogs, and a counter-terrorism unit in tow.

The great and good of Tinseltown, each paying $40,000 (€31,000) for the privilege, arrived in a fleet of black limousines, Bentleys and Porsches.

Mr Clooney joked about the roles played by Mr Downey Jr, Mr Maguire and himself. He said: "We have Iron Man, Spider-Man and Batman in the room. We should let the Secret Service take the night off."

Dinner was served on the private basketball court where 14 round tables were placed under a tent with a transparent roof lit with white paper lanterns.

The host sat with his girlfriend, Stacy Kiebler, at a table in the middle, while he was lauded for his largesse by the commander-in-chief in a gushing tribute

Mr Obama said: "I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court. We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me, they love him. And rightfully so. He seems to occupy a constant state of grace, and uses his extraordinary talents on behalf of something truly important."

He was applauded as he spoke about his decision to endorse gay marriage earlier in the week. He said: "It was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be."

The dinner raised $6m (€4.5m) from ticket sales and another $9m (€7m) from an online sweepstake offering two pairs of seats for "dinner with Barack and George." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent