LOS ANGELES - President Obama kicked off a hiatus from Washington politics and policy making Wednesday night with two star-studded fundraisers at the sprawling Holmby Hills estate of soap opera producer Bradley Bell and his wife Colleen, a bundler for Obama's re-election campaign.
More than 1,000 guests, each forking over $500 for the Obama Victory Fund, huddled before a concert stage in the Bell's backyard lined by lit palm and eucalyptus trees. The Grammy Award-winning Foo Fighters played a set for the crowd before Obama arrived.
"Love the Foo Fighters!" Obama said, drawing applause after taking the stage. "They were so tired of winning so many awards so they said, 'Let's do something else tonight.'"
The group performed hits "Learn to Fly," "Hero," "Walk," and "Everlong," among others, according to a campaign official at the event.
Actors Jack Black and Rashida Jones - both high-profile Obama supporters - were also in attendance and spoke to donors before reporters arrived. Los Angeles mayor and newly-appointed chairman of the Democratic National Convention Antonio Villaraigosa and Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx were also in the crowd.
"The main message I've got for you tonight is it's not going to be easier this time, it's going to be harder this time," Obama told supporters of the escalating campaign. "I'm going to need you. You're going to carry this thing like you did in 2008.
"If you are ready for one more round, if you're ready for one more fight … if you're still saying there's change out there we can believe in," he said, "I promise you there is nothing that can stop the United States of America."
Later, Obama spoke to an intimate group of 80 donors, which included actors George Clooney and Jim Belushi, at a dinner inside the luxurious Bell home. To dine with Obama, supporters cut a check for $35,800 apiece.
"I think people beneath all the pain and hurt they feel still want to believe change is possible," Obama said. "Our job over next year is to make sure they can channel that optimism and come together to create the kind of country we want for our kids and grandkids."
Comedian Will Ferrell, who was listed as a co-host on the invitation for the event, could not attend because he was filming in New Orleans, a campaign official said.
Obama will spend the entire day in California fundraising on Thursday. He will attend and speak at four events in Los Angeles and San Francisco.