It’s quiet — too quiet — on D.C.’s celebvocate scene this week. The dearth of Stars Who Care can only mean one thing: It’s time for the Clinton Global Initiative lovefest in New York.
Why lobby Congress when you can hang with Bill Clinton, the ultimate international rock star? The three-day meeting kicked off Tuesday with deep-pocket donors, world leaders, and a handful of influential celebrities: This year’s line-up includes Sting and his wife Trudie Styler, Barbra Streisand, Ben Stiller and Jeff Gordon. And, oh yeah, President Obama.
What started out as a serious, Davos-style gathering to hook up philanthropists and needy causes has morphed into something like the Super Bowl or Sundance, with a cavalcade of A-listers showing up for a blessing from Clinton.
“If you’re a celebrity and have an international cause, you have to be here,” said Joel Brand, a “cause-related” PR exec attending a number of CGI-related events this week.
Which is why Julia Ormond is talking about human slavery, and K’naan weighs in on disaster preparedness. Mandy Moore will tackle global health, Martha Stewart sustainable food systems, Geena Davis economic empowerment, Forest Whitaker reducing violence through the arts, and “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts on “Sports as a Tool for Social Good.”
No freebies, either. Unlike most celebrity appearances, the majority of these stars have to pony up the standard $20,000 fee to attend, according to a rep for the organization. (Sting doesn’t have to pay this year, since he’s being honored and performing.) Each of the 1,200 attendees has to be invited and pledge to donate money or time — or they don’t get invited back.
The place is teeming with CEOs and others almost begging to give money. (One of the panelists this year: The richest man in the world, Carlos Slim Helu, worth $74 billion.) “It’s a fantastic matchmaking opportunity,” said Brand. “It’s almost like speed dating.”
The annual gathering has almost become bigger than Clinton himself, although his presence is still a huge draw. (Hillary and Chelsea will both be there, too.)
Still need more stars? Clinton will celebrate a decade of his foundation next month with a charity concert at the Hollywood Bowl with Lady Gaga, Bono and Usher, among others.