Clinton, Hanks, Martin help NRDC benefit raise $1.6 mil

The Saggy Bottom Boys, a bluegrass outfit comprising Tom Hanks, Steve Martin and Christopher Guest, strummed their way across the stage of Brentwood’s Wadsworth Theater Friday at “Earth to L.A.,” a free-wheeling, foot-stomping benefit for the National Resource Defense Council.

The hootenanny, which raised close to $1.6 million for the NRDC, was jammed with industryites, blending sober environmental policy talk with music, comedy sketches and short films. Evening culminated with a rousing performance of “This Land Is Your Land” by Mar Vista’s Grand View Elementary School Chorus, following a keynote address by former President Bill Clinton.

Keeping with the giddy spirit onstage, Clinton told the roughly 1,200-person crowd he was just there to meet Forrest Gump, prompting Hanks to break into character. At one point, Hanks, who hosted the event with Jamie Lee Curtis, asked Martin why he gave up the banjo to become an actor. “Because of the one sentence that’s never been uttered in the English language,” Martin replied. ” ‘Oh, look! It’s the banjo player’s Porsche.’ ”

Other highlights included an episode of Martin Short’s “Jiminy Glick Show” featuring NRDC supporter Rob Reiner, and a short film in which Ben Stiller was throttled by various neighbors after chastising them for such things as not recycling and driving an SUV.

On hand were Dustin Hoffman, Leonardo DiCaprio, NRDC senior attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Carole King, Larry David, Albert Brooks, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Joel Silver, Christina Applegate, Owen Wilson, Ted Danson, Diane Keaton, Christine Lahti, Rob Minkoff, Aaron Sorkin, David Duchovny, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and California Gov. Gray Davis.

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