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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Very Hollywood Advice for Joe Biden

WASHINGTON—In advising President Biden, Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg has suggested that the president should embrace his age, citing Harrison Ford and Mick Jagger as examples of older individuals who continue to thrive in their respective fields. Katzenberg emphasizes that Biden should view his longevity as an asset, demonstrating wisdom, experience, and a sense of humor about his age. He has become an influential outside adviser for Biden, bringing business expertise, Hollywood storytelling credentials, and a network of contacts in the entertainment and tech industries to the president’s inner circle.


WASHINGTON—Encouraging President Biden to embrace his age, movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg has offered advice to “own” his seniority and transform it into an asset, according to sources familiar with the discussions. Katzenberg suggests that if 80-year-old Harrison Ford can star in a new Indiana Jones film and Mick Jagger can rock the stage at 80, then Biden should leverage his longevity as a symbol of wisdom and experience, while maintaining a lighthearted attitude about it.

In recent months, Katzenberg has emerged as an influential external adviser to Biden, bringing valuable business experience, Hollywood storytelling expertise, and a network of contacts in California’s entertainment and tech industries to the president’s inner circle, which has traditionally been dominated by Washington insiders.

Renowned actor George Clooney attested to Katzenberg’s determination and expressed his willingness to support the upcoming campaign. However, the key question remains whether the 72-year-old entertainment mogul, with limited hands-on campaign experience, can address Biden’s deeper challenges, such as low approval ratings and a lack of enthusiasm among young and working-class voters.

Clooney emphasized the need for Democrats to effectively communicate their agenda, acknowledging the value of Katzenberg’s insights, including discussions about Biden’s age. Clooney believes that politicians should tap into Hollywood’s storytelling prowess and praised Katzenberg’s tenacity and storytelling abilities.

Known for his confidence and strong leadership, Katzenberg has amassed years of experience as a top executive in the film industry. He firmly believes that Donald Trump will likely be the Republican nominee in 2024 and that Biden is well-positioned to defeat him.

During late April, just before launching his re-election campaign, Biden met with Katzenberg at the White House to discuss a role that would provide a fresh perspective beyond the confines of Washington. The following day, Katzenberg was announced as one of seven national co-chairs for Biden’s 2024 campaign, despite not holding elected office.

While Katzenberg’s exact role is still evolving, he is expected to contribute in various areas, including fundraising with a goal of raising up to $2 billion. Additionally, he will work on connecting the campaign with top minds in technology, social media, and messaging strategies.

Despite the failure of his recent venture, the video-streaming service Quibi, which targeted younger audiences through social media, Katzenberg has reinvented himself as an investor specializing in technology startups. He positions himself as an elder statesman offering advice to entrepreneurs and has maintained his status as an influential figure in Hollywood, engaging in frequent meetings and acting as an informal adviser to studio heads.

Having been a longtime donor to Democrats, Katzenberg has known Biden since the 1980s and formed a close relationship during Biden’s tenure as vice president under President Barack Obama. He supported Obama early on, becoming a prominent fundraiser for him, and also backed Hillary Clinton in 2016. However, after Trump’s election, Katzenberg encouraged Biden to consider running, viewing him as a strong counterweight to Trump.

Maintaining close ties with the president, Katzenberg has remained in regular contact with Biden’s senior team and recently met with key White House aides, including Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and Steve Ricchetti, during a visit to Washington. He also met with campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez.

One of Katzenberg’s main responsibilities will be fundraising, which poses an initial challenge for the president. Biden has already engaged in fundraising events in the San Francisco Bay Area and has more scheduled in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Chicago, and New York before the end of the quarter on June 30. The campaign’s first fundraising report, due in mid-July, will be closely scrutinized for insights into Biden’s appeal to grassroots fundraisers and traditional donors, who helped him raise $1.7 billion during the 2020 race.

The fundraising process has faced obstacles, including Biden’s avoidance of fundraisers during the standoff with House Republicans over the debt ceiling. Furthermore, the campaign refrained from scheduling fundraisers in Los Angeles due to the ongoing strike involving the Writers Guild of America.

Unlike previous fundraising czars from both parties, Katzenberg has indicated that he has no interest in serving as an ambassador or in an appointed position. Those who know him well believe that his commitment to Biden goes beyond typical return on investment motivations, and his long-standing relationship with the president allows for a unique level of communication.

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