Play It Again: People Who Need People's Money

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"Welcome to Gridlock 2000!" That's how Shirley MacLaine greeted the 1,000 or so guests gathered at an estate near Brentwood last Saturday to raise money for Hillary Clinton's New York Senate campaign. So long and thick was the line of cars waiting for the valet that actor Johnathon Schaech and his date abandoned their limo and hoofed it up the hill, following the lead of an MTV executive and a couple of Hillary's press representatives. The event itself began with a lot of head-turning. There's Brad and Jennifer! There's John Travolta! There's Carol Burnett! There's Muhammad Ali! And there, on stage, were an array of stars lending their talents to entertain Hillary, Bill and Chelsea.

Though the evening's purpose was primarily to raise money for Hillary, it was also designed as a tribute to Bill. Mary Steenburgen reminisced about her early years in Arkansas with the fading President. Whoopi Goldberg thanked the President for allowing her into the White House (and not checking inside her bag on her way out). Cher sang — or at least lip-synced — "Believe." Then, as an apology after admitting to not voting for him, she gave a nice rendition of "If I Could Turn Back Time." Diana Ross took the stage in a big yellow feathery coat and grouched at the band for not being loud enough. She was not alone in her grouching.

Before the event, there was grumbling among Democratic ranks that the Brentwood party for Hillary's campaign and a brunch 24 hours later at Barbra Streisand's house to benefit the Clinton presidential library were taking liberal Hollywood dollars away from the Al Gore presidential campaign. Indeed, the partygoers in Brentwood paid $1,000 for the concert; $25,000 for the concert and supper afterward. Was it worth it? Only if Hillary's Senate campaign was near and dear to your heart. The concert took place on the lawn, where big trees blocked donors' views. And there was some understandable discomfort among the faithful when Michael Bolton serenaded the First Family with "When a Man Loves a Woman."

Perhaps the finest moment was Bill's speech at the end, in which he thanked his family (including his brother and his sister-in-law, who were in attendance) for taking the heat that went along with being associated with him these past four years. He said that even the bad days were great days, and somehow that was reassuring. For this was a Democratic contingent made richer during the booming prosperity of the Clinton era. They had enjoyed the eight-year intersection of Hollywood and politics. They seemed glad that it was good for him, too.