BY NICK POWELL DNC CORRESPONDENT On an otherwise slow day here at the DNC, I had my first official “Convention-celebrity experience” at the Movies With A Message brunch at Earl’s Restaurant in downtown Denver. While shadowing a reporter at the party, I mingled with the smiling Dems, took in the music of a small R&B band, and munched on the semi-mediocre breakfast spread. All was quiet, until suddenly … there’s Civil Rights Activist Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) … and Anne Hathaway … and Pras … and Al Sharpton. The celebrities came pouring in, and for a second I was completely star-struck. I managed to gather my thoughts, and worked up the courage to ask Spike Lee for a brief interview. To my surprise, he was more than happy to speak with me, and quickly ushered me outside, away from the noise. As the cameras flashed, and the spectators crowded the area, I first asked Spike what he thought about Michelle Obama’s speech from the previous night.
“She did a superb job, really got people at ease,” said the Oscar-nominated filmmaker, “She’s a patriotic woman, an American, a mother, a wife. Last night, having her daughters on stage, seeing Barack on remote, it was amazing.” I then asked a more substantive question about Lee’s thoughts on the perceived negative impact that hip-hop has had on Senator Obama’s campaign as well as what he thought about some Hillary Clinton supporters declaring their support for John McCain. On hip-hop: “We can’t dance in the end zone yet. I’m confident that McCain and his boys will be pulling out the kitchen sink, the sauna, the tub, and Jacuzzi on Barack. People in power don’t give up without a fight. I know they’re excited. This is one of the most historic moments in American politics. It’s just not a done deal.”
On Clinton supporters: “I hope Senator Clinton put the word out to her peoples to do the right thing. If they really believe in her, how can they vote for McCain in November? For me, growing up in Brooklyn, it’s like the kid who has a football, but won’t let the other kids play with it because he can’t be quarterback. It’s time to look at the big picture.” I also posed the hip-hop question to Pras, the former Fugees member, who shared Spike’s view that the genre can hurt Obama’s campaign, but also shed a positive light on its impact for new voters. “Obviously, he can’t associate himself with the misogynistic and derogatory lyrics. It’s up to the artists to support him in a more discreet way. It’s more important for rappers to get people to go out and register to vote. “If someone like Jay-Z can mobilize his constituents and get them to go vote it represents a social conscience for the genre.” So on a day when the focus is squarely on Hillary and ten guys named Mo, I managed to infiltrate the celebrity world of the Democratic Party and got more than I bargained for.
[Photos by NICK POWELL]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Astute readers will remember the precocious yeoman-like political coverage provided by intern-to-the-stars Nick Powell. The New York Times did and they asked him to go to Denver with his dad, who covers the presidential campaign for the Grey Lady. Basically they said, ‘How’d you like to go to Denver with your pop, work for us as a news assistant and during your down time you can post to your cute little blog thingee?’ And so he shall. All next week, Nick will be providing Phawker readers with Live & Direct dispatches from the Democratic National Convention. You lucky ducks!