United Friends of Children find wealth of supporters

HOLLYWOOD — Early during the live auction Thursday for the United Friends of the Children at the BevHilton came a telling moment. As bidders inched up by $500 and $1,000 on a culinary feast prepared by five top chefs including Wolfgang Puck and Joachim Splichal, Haim Saban ended it by calling $50,000. That was the highest price among seven items on the auction, which ranged from an Ed Ruscha painting to a two-week trip to Paris.

The Brass Ring Awards Dinner, which the live auction preceded, honored Warner Bros. topper Barry Meyer and wifeDr. Wendy Smith Meyer for their work with the org, co-founded 25 years ago by Nancy Daly Riordan to help prepare foster children for the future.

Event was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, who said she was mystified when told the evening was to raise money for UFC. “Why are they raising money for the Ultimate Fighting Championship?” she asked.

Barry Meyer was given his award by former WB co-toppers Bob Daly and Terry Semel, who were dinner co-chairs with their respective wives, Carole Bayer Sager and Jane Semel.

Daly invoked the late Lew Wasserman, saying there were four musts for a fund-raiser: “A good charity, we have that; good honorees, we have that; raise a lot of money, we have that; be over by 10 o’clock, and we’re going to have that.”

Meyer opted to go first, saying twice that he was not nervous. “It’s the first time I’ve talked to a crowd this big and not talked about piracy,” he said. “I’ve promised the kids not to say the word Grokster.”

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