Before it even began, the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball had already broken an all-time record, raising over $1.4 million to support the org’s mission of assisting those plagued by poverty and homelessness and helping them gain employment.
The 13th annual event, held Saturday evening at the private Mandeville Canyon estate of Susan Harris and Chrysalis board chairman Hayward Kaiser, drew supporters including event co-chair Rebecca Gayheart-Dane and husband Eric Dane, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and this year’s Butterfly Ball honorees: UTA managing director Jay Sures, Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Jim Berk and Chrysalis client Darius Coffey.
“New Girl” actor Max Greenfield served as the evening’s MC and kicked things off by noting the impressiveness of the venue. “We’re at like a Disney house. I don’t even understand this house,” he said of the sprawling estate.
Kaiser followed up by telling the audience, “As I look over my backyard tonight, to tell you the truth, it’s a little nerve-wracking because in all the excitement I just hope someone remembered to turn off the sprinklers.”
“Modern Family” creator Steve Levitan then took the stage to introduce (and roast) Sures, his agent of 22 years, as the night’s first honoree.
“A year into my first TV job, I got a call from a pushy woman who said that she wanted to represent me. That woman turned out to be Jay Sures,” Levitan joked before introducing a video tribute in which industry notables including DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts all poked fun at Sures.
When he took the stage to accept his award, Sures got the last laugh as he teased that it must be difficult for Levitan to present an award rather than receive one.
“I just picked up the phone and sent a few threatening emails,” Sures said of his contribution to the event’s success. “The men and women of Chrysalis prove to us that you don’t need to be famous to make an impact in charity. These are simply ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Following an acoustic set by rocker Gavin Rossdale, Coffey was presented with the John Dillon award and shared his Chrysalis success story.
Gore, who teamed up with Participant to create his Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” then discussed the impact of Skoll and Berk’s work to promote not only films, but also their accompanying social action campaigns.
“It really is quite amazing to me that someone who made such a huge success is business…would devote his life to trying to make the world a better place in the unique way that he does,” Gore said of Skoll. “If we had just a few more like Jeff and Jim, this world really would be a better place.”
Skoll explained that Participant first partnered with Chrysalis back in 2007 while working on “The Soloist,” a film about homelessness.
“My goal was to create a global media company focused on the public interest. In our first 10 years, we’ve produced over 50 films all aimed at the biggest issues in the world – hunger, nuclear weapons, pandemics, women’s rights, education, amongst others,” Skoll told guests before teasing, “We’re working on male pattern baldness.”
Berk, who began his career a music teacher, also shared that he recently received an email from a former student who told him that his family had been helped by Chrysalis.
“I had no idea,” Berk said. “As a young teacher who assumed every kid had a house, every kid had a roof, every kid had two parents because that’s what I had, I assumed that’s what that student had, and that student was living in a car…If anybody questions the power of this organization to create lasting social impact, it’s very, very clear.”
Musical duo Karmin then closed out the night with a performance of their hits including “Acapella” and “Brokenhearted.”
As attendees filed out, the driveway was filled with tasty treats from Dylan’s Candy Bar, Sprinkles Cupcakes, The Habit Burger Grill and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
Other guests in attendance included Diane Kruger, “Fast and Furious” actress Jordana Brewster, James Van Der Beek, Ben Fedlman, Ben McKenzie, Katharine McPhee, Vanna White, Soleil Moon Frye and Balthazar Getty.