Manhattan went black-tie all the way Thursday night as celebs had to choose among three major galas in the city.
NYU’s Tisch Gala at the Marriott Marquis showcased the next generation of young stars and celebrated 20 years of leadership under its dean, Mary Schmidt Campbell. In attendance were many alums, including Alec Baldwin, Tony Kushner, Spike Lee, Bill Paxton and Martin Scorsese.
Kushner said when they asked him to speak he replied, “Anything to avoid working on a play!” The scribe then launched into a comedic, rapid-fire rant on the state of the world and how after 20 years “the world still sucks” and how things have changed. He received a standing ovation.
Baldwin began, “I just want to say I knew that if I was patient, I knew that if I hung in there, I knew my association with NYU was going to pay off in a big way.” He then added, “If I get my hands on some of that ginkgo biloba, methamphetamine Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart blood transfusion that Tony Kushner is on tonight, I’m going to make so much god-damned money you’re going to be changing the name of this school. You understand what I’m saying?”
At the end of the gala, Campbell took to the stage and declared, “I am one lucky dean!”
Over at the Asia Society, Vanessa Redgrave put her best Meryl Streep face, all in support of the human rights organization Equality Now.
Reading a speech prepared by Streep, who serves on the Equality Now board, Redgrave told the crowd that she had opted for sheets of paper over the two projector panels in front of her, frankly, because she’s never used them before. “What Meryl was going to say to you, is what I’ve got in my hands. So I can’t be pretending I know it by heart … I’m here because I’m a friend of Meryl’s and I’m a huge fan of Meryl’s and because she asked me to come. So of course I came,” added Redgrave, a last-minute replacement for Streep.
Redgrave, along with Leonard Nimoy, Meg Ryan, Donna Karan and Equality Now co-founder Jessica Neuwirth, were all on hand to celebrate the org’s 20th anniversary.
The evening’s festivities were produced by Joss Whedon, who recruited Laura Linney, Eliza Dushku, Debra Winger, Natalie Haynes and Sarah Jones for a series of readings, skits and video presentations. Guests were also treated to three acoustic songs from Natalie Merchant.
Daphne Zuniga, who spoke near the end of the evening, was joined by an evil robot “from the future” (Neil Casey), who wanted nothing more than an autographed “Spaceballs” DVD. Zuniga obliged, long after complaining that Linney got to talk about “FGM (female genital mutilation), and I got this bit?”
A few blocks downtown, Gotham’s media elite crowded the St. Regis ballroom to honor Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, Univision’s Randy Falco and George Kaufman of Kaufman Astoria Studios. Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped by the gala dinner, presented by Museum of the Moving Image, to sing the praises of New York film and television, which pours $5 billion into the city each year. Tony Bennett didn’t sing. But host John Oliver did have the crowd guffawing with cracks about the number of chandeliers overhead and how Americans should stop uploading videos onto the Internet, noting, “You’re leaving way too much evidence for future generations of what you are really like.”
(Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.)