Out of the ball park

Night Before party raises $5 mil for Motion Picture & Television Fund

Saturday’s 10th annual Night Before party followed two traditions: wall-to-wall showbiz heavyhitters in a high-energy mood, and an evening of impressive fund-raising. The fete at the Beverly Hills Hotel raised $5.5 million for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, adding to more than $50 million raised at the past nine events.

MPTF’s Ken Scherer saluted Jeffrey Katzenberg for all that he’s done, including his idea for the event a decade ago. “It’s really Jeffrey’s vision for this kind of party,” said Scherer.

After the first event in 2003, Katzenberg said, “I think we hit a home run.”

And the home runs continued Saturday with an all-star team in attendance. Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider ushered in the Reliance group including Anil Ambani. J.J. Abrams chatted with George Lucas, while Meryl Streep huddled with Ron Meyer. Elton John literally bumped into Taye Diggs.

Wendi Deng took out her iPhone — complete with a Hello Kitty case — to take a picture of George Clooney, Stacy Keibler and Li Bingbing, but Katzenberg gallantly took the iPhone and snapped the photo so Deng could join the group.

Among the many representing the exec branch were Jim Gianopulos, Ryan Kavanaugh, Leslie Moonves, Rob Moore, Jeff Robinov, Rich Ross, Tom Rothman, Jeff Small, Howard Stringer and Harvey Weinstein.

Also mingling were Chris Columbus, Christopher Dodd, Sam Gores, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes, and Rick Nicita and Paula Wagner. The thesp continent was large and included Leonardo DiCaprio, Gary Oldman, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Max von Sydow.

MPTF’s Bob Beitcher commented, “All the studios, the stars, film, television, independent producers, studio executives are here. It’s the one event where they can come, they know there’s no paparazzi, they’re totally protected, they can talk to each other pretty freely.”

Looking to the next 10 years, Beitcher said, “Who knows? But we have to keep reinventing ourselves.” Indeed, the MPTF recently announced the goal of raising $350 million for the fund.

As is now tradition, Night Before partygoers had themselves photographed with the Target dog, although Chris Rock announced, “I’m a Walmart man.”

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