The upcoming political conventions will play host to scores of delegates, journalists and politicians, but they also seem destined to be social events à la New York Fashion Week or the Oscar derby. Scores of celebrities have already confirmed their attendance, though it seems the vast majority will be in Denver next week with the Democrats. Among those expected there are Quentin Tarantino, Ben Affleck, Ed Norton, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, Barry Levinson and Annette Bening.
This story first appeared in the August 19, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Concerts during the week include a Kanye West show with the Recording Industry Association of America on Aug. 27, a Human Rights Campaign benefit with Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright and Cyndi Lauper on Aug. 26, and the Creative Coalition’s gala featuring the Black Eyed Peas which will apparently be competing with the West show for an audience.
The rock band Rage Against the Machine, on the other hand, is going AC/DC this season. They’ll hit the Denver Coliseum during the day on Aug. 27, and the Target Center in Minneapolis for the Republicans on Sept. 3.
As parties go, there will be scores. No doubt, Vanity Fair’s success with the Oscar party contributed to Google’s decision to cohost its events this year with the magazine. They’re throwing bashes on the last night of both conventions. In Denver, it will be at the Exdo Event Center, while in Minneapolis, the bash will be held at the Walker Art Museum.
Other publications doubling at the Democratic and Republican conventions will be GQ and Politico (whose Denver event is being cohosted with the Glover Park Group, a Democratic lobbying firm).
For Denver, the left wing Huffington Post is doing a lunch at the Brown Palace Hotel on Aug. 26, and it will also have a “Huffington Post Oasis” nearby, with yoga, massage and aromatherapy for the weary delegates.
The Republican Convention will kick off with a Beach Boys concert. How much action there will be after that is a matter of some debate. For one, the GOP gathering is just a week after the Democrats’ powwow, where in years past the two events were separated by about a month. Second, there is a Republican president whose popularity has waned because of the war in Iraq and trouble with the economy at home.
Some say the lack of star wattage and the inevitability of being the second event has created something of an issue for those organizing parties. “If you’re a mainstream news outlet, you can’t really host an event at one and not the other,” said a person organizing several events, pointing out that otherwise the media organization would appear biased. “At the same time, who’s actually going to the Republican convention?”
(In this case, this does not mean the media elite — they’ll be at both — but boldfacers, though there are rumors Kid Rock, Gary Sinise and Patricia Heaton will march with the Elephants.) Sammy Hagar and Ron Silver, two rare Republican celebs not currently in a state of hiding, are also expected.