It’s not your typical industry charity gala that takes place at Jesse Lasky’s palatial estate, built in 1919 in the Hollywood Hills. Nor is it typical that your guest speakers are four teens from Cambodia, raised in garbage dumps who now plan to go to college thanks to Scott Neeson’s Cambodian Children’s Fund.
The event, held June 15 at Roland Emmerich’s home, marked a homecoming for Neeson, who’d been a senior exec at both Fox and Sony before starting the fund in 2004 and devoting his life since then to helping kids on the other side of the world get an education.
“From a garbage dump to this is total culture shock,” Neeson told the crowd, seated over Emmerich’s vast pool and patio. “After 10 years at Fox, I thought I’d seen the worst of humanity,” he quipped.
Neeson was joking, of course. Tom Rothman turned into one of the evening’s big donors. And in addition to Emmerich, the night’s hosts included Amy Pascal, Bryan Lourd and Mark Gordon, who proved to be a most determined auctioneer. After he and Rothman paid $60,000 for eight days on Emmerich’s yacht in Thailand, Gordon exclaimed with mock horror, “We’ve got to pay for our own airfare?”
It was that kind of a high-roller night.
“What is this for?” asked Harald Kloser after Gordon secured a bid of $35,000 from the producer-composer for three nights on Song Sea Island.
Gordon estimated that Emmerich, who’d underwritten the night, was also out about half a million dollars because he’d promised to double every auction bid.
“These Germans don’t fuck around,” said Gordon, who told the night’s big spender, “You’re going to have to make another picture to cover this. None of these small ones.”