With both parties upping the ante as the presidential race advances, President Obama may have found an indirect form of competition vying against him at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in September: Hollywood.
Obama will accept his party’s nomination on September 6 in North Carolina, and accordingly will be forced to contend with the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, airing the same day.
While adjustments have been made to avoid direct conflict between the two, some are saying celebrity interest in the overall convention is being affected by the popular variety show, and those planning festivities leading up to the president’s speech are similarly struggling.
Beyond the awards, the timing of the DNC falls right after Labor Day weekend in Charlotte, a city not as uptown savvy, perhaps, as is preferable. Coupled with lackluster fundraising efforts and stricter monetary regulations, the buzz on the celebration remains quiet as of now.
“I think [the issue] stems from two things, to be quite honest with you,” LeeAnn Petersen, a partner at Conventions2012 and consultant who’s handled events for the DNC since 1996, tells theGrio. “The first is that folks are having trouble narrowing down talent because that’s Labor Day week, and they’re booked in other parts of country…But the biggest problem is fundraising.”
This year, along with coordinating nightly variety shows at the convention, Petersen has joined forces with Creative Coalition, a nonprofit organization that will host its own event during the gathering.
Like nearly everyone else planning events, she says they haven’t given her any indication of who they are booking for the gig.
“I have a hunch they are having a difficult time raising the money to pull in these acts,” she remarks, noting other groups like the ONE Campaign and the Auto Alliance also haven’t released the names of their entertainment.
“Four years ago, you had Kanye West and The Black Eyed Peas; that’s where you got the higher ticket prices, and those are the levels necessary to pay and fly them in, and to cover hotels. Hotels are also a big issue in Charlotte. Not only are there not a lot available, the ones you do get are several miles away so the logistics in getting big acts is daunting for people.”
For MTV’s part, the network recognized the overlap early on and altered the time slot for the VMAs.
“We are airing the show on Thursday, September 6th from 8-10pm as opposed to our traditional 9-11pm time-slot to avoid conflict with the Democratic National Convention proceedings that evening,” Melissa Barreto, an MTV spokesperson, said in a statement to theGrio.
At the moment, there’s doesn’t seem to be a huge discrepancy between the two functions, as MTV has only announced Pink, One Direction, and Alicia Keys as performers so far, and the DNC, who declined to comment, will be releasing their line-up in coming weeks.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Flo Rida will be performing at a military event during the convention, but otherwise, the biggest act being promoted so far is The Roots, who will perform at the event “StartUp RockOn” presented by EventFarm, Fighter Interactive, and HyperVocal.
The initiative is an opportunity to bring entrepreneurs and Internet start-ups into the eyes of politicians, subsequently strengthening the relationship between the government and tech worlds. The way Kwasi Asare, CEO of Fighter Interactive and former manager at Bad Boy Entertainment, sees it, fears over celebrity support of the DNC are unmerited.