The traffic snarls on June 6 in L.A. weren’t all President Obama’s fault. Four big fundraising galas marked the date.
LGBT Democrats held the fundraisers for Obama at the BevWilshire, an audience which was long on G and short on L, except for emcee Ellen DeGeneres, who said that after having gotten rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the president can “focus on a constitutional amendment to ban socks with sandals.” She went on to list his accomplishments, noting that “he still found time to visit a daytime talkshow. So he’s not perfect.”
Of course, the reception for the president was tumultuous. “Thank you, y’all make me blush!” Obama began, and went on to reveal that DeGeneres and Michelle Obama have engaged in exercise pushup contests, “but she claims Michelle doesn’t go all the way down.” Obama looked genuinely confused at the aud’s reaction.
Darren Criss performed, and there to cheer on the president were Les Moonves, Cher, Chaz Bono, Barbara Boxer, Lance Dustin Black, Jesse Tyler Ferugson and Alan Poul.
Over at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the UCLA Longevity Center honored Jane and Terry Semel with an Icon Award. Semel remarked that he approaches health issues affecting the baby boomer population by saying, “Screw it, we can do it. And we have to do it now. ”
Later, Morgan Freeman called Icon honoree Sidney Poitier an “inspiration to me and the world as an actor and a human being,” then joked, “that’s called a ‘clap trap.’ ”
The Sundance Institute held its benefit at Soho House to celebrate its inaugural Vanguard Awards.
Helmer Benh Zeitlin was honored along with Sundance Institute trustee George Gund, who recalled, “I showed up at Sundance with this tangled ball of wool that I called a script that made no sense at all. Sundance was this education where they cut your heart out and smear it around on a table in front of you, and they say, ‘Look at this mess. Study this mess and figure out what it is that you’re trying to say.’ ”
Each dining table at the gala had its own artist in residence, several of whom gave brief speeches about their experiences, including Scott Frank, Lisa Cholodenko and Rory Kennedy.
At the Hollywood and Highland ballroom, Jimmy Kimmel brought laughs to the USC Shoah Foundation event, which honored Robert Iger. The comic joked about Iger’s choice to choose him over Jon Stewart to host a latenight talkshow. “What is now known as the single dumbest decision in American TV history,” Kimmel deadpanned.
The Disney topper shot back, “I never characterized (choosing Kimmel) as one of my biggest mistakes … let’s just call it a work in progress.”
Robert Hofler and Jeff Sneider contributed to this report.