Daphna Ziman, Hollywood Networker for Hillary

Daphna Ziman has the best seat in the Polo Lounge, and she’s not afraid to use it.

From her vantage point at a table-for-two on a recent afternoon, Ziman watches the lunch crowd with interest at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s iconic restaurant. She can see everyone who comes through the door, and she has a full view of the sunlit courtyard, where the elite make their way to secluded tables on a tree-shaded terrace.

Today she’s got an eye for more than faces — it’s wallets and purses that capture her interest. The 2008 presidential campaign is on and Ziman, a former model who heads her own film and television production company, is one of political Hollywood’s top fundraisers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

It’s a battle for every cent and endorsement.

“Hillary Clinton is the right candidate,” Ziman explains. “The nation is in deep need for a mother figure who will lead the people out of a violent world and back into caring for the poor and the disabled, mostly caring for our children, our future.”

As she talks, she spots a familiar face, a commercial real estate developer. She whispers: “He’s worth millions.”

She waves and summons him to the table. “Can I talk to you about Hillary?” she asks.

He looks at her as if she’s just exited a spaceship.

“I’m a Republican,” he says.

A Republican? In Hollywood? Sounds stranger than science fiction.

Ziman is undeterred. His party registration just makes him that much more challenging — a potential convert.