A wealthy campaign donor whose wife was an ambassador under former President Barack Obama was the driving force behind a megabucks deal the Obamas scored with Netflix, according to a new report.
Last week, Barack and Michelle Obama signed a deal with Netflix to produce content for the global entertainment giant. The New York Post said the deal could net the couple $50 million.
“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos in a statement announcing the deal, according to Variety. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”
What Sarando didn’t mention was that during the 2012 presidential campaign, he and his wife, Nicole Avant, bundled nearly $600,000 in contributions in support of Obama, the Post reported.
Avant was Obama’s ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009 to 2011. The Post reported that her father, Clarence, bundled $450,000 for Obama’s campaigns.
In fact, their connection to Obama was such that they were profiled in 2012 by the Hollywood Reporter as “Obama’s $500,000 Power Couple.”
At the time, Sarandos sought to dispel the notion that serving as ambassador to the Bahamas was a joyride for his wife.
“It wasn’t like we were there because it was this cushy, glamorous post. Nicole went through some real soul-searching about whether to accept the appointment, and my advice to her was, ‘When the president of the United States asks you to do something, you say yes,'” he said.
According to The New York Times, Netflix said the Obamas were hired to produce “scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features” highlighting the themes Obama focused upon as president.
The Times quoted what it called associates of Obama whom its did not name as saying the former president will not use the opportunity to battle President Donald Trump or take on conservative media outlets such as Fox News, which he bitterly fought during his presidency.
However, as reported by Breitbart, Obama said his focus will be to continue his efforts to promote his legacy.
“We want to tell stories. This becomes a platform. We are interested in lifting people up and identifying people doing amazing work,” the former president told a technology conference. “We did this in the White House.”
Obama said his Netflix projects will be designed to “set up institutions based on rule of law and a sense of principals and the dignity and worth of every individual.”
His goal, he said, is “training the next generation of leaders here in the United States and around the world so they can start sharing their stories and cooperating.”
The deal continues a series of major post-White House deals for the couple.
The Obamas signed a multi-book deal with Penguin Random House estimated to be worth $65 million. The first of that deal, a memoir by Michelle Obama, is due out in November.
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