by Judy Kurtz | Tue., Sep. 27, 2016 3:00 AM
Pop & Politics contributor Judy Kurtz is the "In the Know" columnist for The Hill
From Beyoncé to Larry David to John Legend, the Obamas have made some very high-profile friends during their nearly eight years living at the White House. But as President Barack Obama's time in office winds down, the question is whether he and Michelle Obama's celebrity pals are likely to remain their BFFs after they leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Sometimes I think that the way you measure it is, are they inviting some of these celebrities over to the private residence? Are they going out of their way to spend with them? Things that they normally wouldn't have to do," Ted Johnson, a senior editor at Variety who covers politics, says when asked whether the first couple's friendships with Hollywood heavyweights are more than just temporary acquaintances.
And as it turns out, there are plenty of stars who fit that bill.
For instance, Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David has become one of POTUS' go-to golf buddies. Teeing off on Martha's Vineyard during the Obamas' annual vacation has turned into a sort of tradition at this point, the president and David having hit the course three of the last four summers.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Obama has also called Beyoncé and Jay-Z his "good friends," saying in a 2012 radio interview, "I've gotten to know these guys over the first several years. They're good people. Beyoncé could not be sweeter to Michelle and the girls." Obama added, "We talk about the same things I talk about with all my friends."
The famed pair have been at the Obamas' side countless times at both personal and political events, hosting fundraisers, visiting the White House and performing at various functions, including the 2013 inauguration and at the first lady's 50th birthday party in 2014.
"I think someone like Beyoncé, for example—when [Obama] does have young daughters, or someone that he thinks could be a good role model for them—certainly I think will be in his life and he will stay friends with," Kim Serafin, an entertainment reporter and former deputy press secretary for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, tells E! News. "In addition to Beyoncé and Jay-Z supporting them politically, it sounds like they have a true friendship there," she says.
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"Oprah, I think, would be someone they continue to have a friendship and relationship with," Serafin surmises. Michelle Obama, 52, engaged in a friendly battle last year on Ellen with host Ellen DeGeneres about who was a better friend with Oprah Winfrey.
DeGeneres boasted she had hung out with Winfrey more recently than the first lady had, but Michelle fired back, "I was still on her magazine cover first."
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
In terms of who will remain in the Obamas' inner circle post-White House, "Oprah is pretty obvious," says Johnson. Michelle Obama even had a ladies' getaway with Winfrey in 2014, partying it up at the OWN creator's Hawaii estate.
The president and his wife also could stay tight with a former Desperate Housewives star. "I think Eva Longoria would make sense because she's politically involved in so many ways," says Serafin. The actress and longtime activist has been a vocal supporter of Obama, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and again this year. Longoria was reportedly among a super-exclusive group of high-profile guests invited to a dinner at the White House last year to help Obama plot his post-presidency plans.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
In August, the president reportedly hosted a star-studded—and extremely private—bash at the White House to celebrate his 55th birthday. A long list of celeb pals are said to have attended the VIP shindig, including Nick Jonas, Samuel L. Jackson, George Lucas, Sarah Jessica Parker, Magic Johnson and DeGeneres, among many others.
Oprah must have been busy that night.
While the friendships may be genuine, Johnson, who also hosts PopPolitics on SiriusXM, says they can be mutually convenient as well.
"I think a lot of [celebrities] do like being close to power," Johnson says. "Their day-to-day lives when it comes to publicity tends to be their latest movie— something a lot more superficial. It gives them a little more cache I think to say, 'Hey, I was hanging out with the president.'"
Many celebs "like what they can get accomplished if they have a relationship with somebody in the political world," Serafin says. "When you can get an endorsement from President Obama or just the proximity to President Obama, a friendship in some way with him and Michelle, it helps their own cause. It gives them some credibility to their own charitable efforts."
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
It can work both ways. "A lot of these celebrities have their own foundations," says Johnson, "and as we saw with the Clintons, that can be pretty powerful."
Former President Clinton had a "very close relationship with Hollywood," says Serafin. It's one that he and Hillary Clinton, parlayed into a wealth of celebrity support for the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, and more recently for Hillary Clinton's own presidential campaign.
Friendships with the stars could help the Obamas with their own eponymous foundation and the future causes they aim to promote.
"I can see [Michelle Obama] using some of these celebrities to help out, whether it's Beyonce, or Eva Longoria or Kerry Washington, or certainly Oprah—they've got a long friendship and relationship with Oprah," Serafin says. "I think Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker, I can see them, in whatever they decide to do especially when it's their charitable issues that they're involved in, to kind of recruit these celebrities to help them. And I think all of these celebrities absolutely would line up to help them in whatever they wanted to do."
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