John honored at event which raised $1.7 mil for cancer project

HOLLYWOOD — Elton John was the honoree at Tuesday’s “An Unforgettable Evening” fund-raiser, but emcee Dennis Miller did most of the performing.

Before a black-tie crowd at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, Miller’s Vegas-style perf touched on Veep Dick Cheney (“This guy’s heart skips more than Richard Simmons on the way to an ‘N Sync concert”); Branson, Mo.’s lowbrow allure (“When they ran the Olympic torch through there, guys were trying to light farts off it”); and Enron’s Ken Lay (“He’s about to go to a place where his name is going from name to nickname.”)

Other perfs came from Natalie Cole (accompanied by David Foster on piano) singing “Unforgettable”; and a three-song set from John Mellencamp that wrapped the evening.

The evening’s honorary co-chairs were Kate Capshaw (who announced the sixth annual dinner raised $1.7 million for Cedars-Sinai’s Research For Women’s Cancer project); and Rita Wilson, who along with husband Tom Hanks presented the award to Sir Elton for this AIDS foundation work.

“This is what I do, basically,” said the honoree. “I’m a whore. I go around the world and I say: ‘Cough up.’ I might not be able to sell the body but the mind still works.”

Among those attending the dinner dedicated to the late Renette Ezralow and underwritten by Saks Fifth Avenue were org founders Marion Laurie, Jamie Tisch, Kelly Chapman Meyer, Margie Peterson and Sandra Krause (Anne Douglas was in New York); Saks execs Brad Martin and George Jones; plus guests Steven Spielberg, Barbara and Marvin Davis, Terry Barnes, Lilly Tartikoff, Jim Wiatt, Michael Milken, Lisa Kudrow, David Dinerstein, Brad Ball, George Schlatter and Peter Guber.

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