While Republican candidates for his former position engaged in a debate at the Reagan Library, Barack Obama was in Los Angeles pursuing higher ground. The 44th President of the United States visited CAA on the west side of LA for a meeting with the agents representing his and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Obama met with his film, TV, and non-scripted team to discuss projects for Higher Ground. The meeting, held in one of CAA’s spacious conference rooms, was as casual as possible given the presence of the former leader of the free world.
Michelle Obama did not accompany her husband to the meeting, but Higher Ground president Vinnie Malhotra, Joe Paulson, Tanya Davis, and other members of the production company’s team were reportedly present.
While the specifics of the discussion at CAA were not disclosed, considering Higher Ground’s track record of producing acclaimed projects like the Oscar-winning “American Factory,” Oscar-nominated “Crip Camp,” and the Emmy-winning “Our Great National Parks,” among others, it’s safe to assume the quality of projects under discussion was high.
Witnesses noted the noticeable Secret Service presence outside and inside CAA’s Avenue of the Stars headquarters during Obama’s visit. His appearance reportedly created a buzz of excitement among onlookers, and one observer remarked, “A lightning bolt went through the floor when we heard he was here.”
CAA declined to comment on President Obama’s visit and meetings at their offices. Higher Ground signed a deal with CAA for film and television just over a year ago. While CAA does not represent Barack or Michelle Obama individually, their personal involvement in Higher Ground projects is evident.
Director Sam Esmail recently revealed that the former President provided notes on the upcoming film “Leave The World Behind,” produced by Higher Ground and set to debut in theaters on November 22, followed by a Netflix premiere on December 8.
The film, starring Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke, is based on Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel and follows a couple on a Long Island vacation just before an apocalyptic event. Esmail praised Obama’s input, noting his passion for movies and his desire to see a compelling film.
Higher Ground Productions, launched in May 2018 by the former First Couple, began with a multi-year deal with Netflix. The company has also been active in podcasting, with shows hosted by Michelle Obama and a podcast by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen called “Fatherhood.” Vinnie Malhotra, formerly of Showtime, was named President of Higher Ground in April.