Clooney's Obama fundraiser in Geneva a sellout

GENEVA – George Clooney has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama by headlining an exclusive event for Americans in Geneva, one of the world's most affluent cities.

The Hollywood actor and director, fresh from the world premiere of the Coen brothers’ comedy "Burn After Reading" in Venice, slipped without fanfare into the Swiss city on Tuesday for his first appearance on behalf of the Democratic nominee.

Some 170 contributors have paid $1,000 a head to attend a cocktail party with Clooney at a museum in Geneva’s Old Town on Tuesday evening.

And 75 high-rolling supporters have spent $10,000 each to attend "an intimate seated dinner" with the 47-year-old star which follows at the organizer’s nearby apartment, according to the American lawyer who organized the twin "private" events.

"It is fully subscribed," organizer Charles Adams said on local morning radio. "Actually most of our guests for dinner are coming from elsewhere — people are flying in from Los Angeles, Prague, London, Zurich and so on."

Clooney, approached several months ago through a mutual friend, responded "quickly and positively" to the idea of holding an overseas event, according to Adams, who serves on Obama’s National Finance Committee and recently attended the Democratic Convention in Denver.

"I personally assured George Clooney that Geneva is a city where reserve is a way of life, that he won’t be attacked by fans trying to tear off his shirt," he told the daily Le Temps.

The scenic city along Lake Geneva featured in Clooney’s 2005 film "Syriana" co-starring Matt Damon.

The two events could infuse more than $900,000 into the Democratic war chest ahead of the November 4 election which pits the Illinois senator against Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is due to be formally nominated on Wednesday.

In keeping with U.S. laws, only American citizens were allowed to buy tickets to the fundraiser which has had the normally sober Swiss city buzzing.

"It is the most anticipated ‘people’ event of the year, but also the most discreet," Geneva daily Le Temps said.

Hollywood has long had a strong connection with U.S. politics. Actors Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both elected Republican governors of California, and Reagan went on to become the 40th U.S. president.

Gwyneth Paltrow currently appears in a film ad on YouTube for Democrats Abroad, encouraging American expatriates to register and cast their ballots.

Nearly 6 million Americans live abroad, including some 16,400 in Switzerland. Some 4,463 of them reside in Geneva, known for its high-end jewelers and watchmakers, as well as its private banks catering to the very rich. Reuters