Noted animal lover Paul McCartney brought down the house at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ 35th Anniversary Celebration at the Hollywood Palladium Wednesday night.
Macca took the stage for a rollicking hourlong set, which included Beatles hits like “Let It Be” and “Blackbird” as well as Wings cuts and his animal rights anthem, “Looking for Changes.”
Beck joined the legend onstage for high-energy renditions of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Drive My Car,” eliciting a huge response from the crowd.
“When I first heard the name, that’s what appealed to me, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” McCartney said during his set. “I thought that was really a very dignified, very cool title. They’ve got 35 years of saving so many animals. And we love them.”
PETA doled out awards to some of its most vocal celeb supporters, including Bill Maher, Alicia Silverstone, Jason Biggs and Tommy Lee. RZA and Maggie Q were also honored for their promotion of the vegan lifestyle.
“PETA and I have the same motto, actually: If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” Lee said during his acceptance speech.
Silverstone stayed true to her gentle persona during her speech. “It has been my life’s mission to help end animal suffering,” she said. “Since I was 16, I’ve worked with animal rights organizations in the hope that I could make one ounce of difference in the world. It’s why I choose to live a kind, animal-cruelty-free lifestyle, because my perfect world is one where all animals are free and there is no more suffering. Luckily, I’m not alone in that vision.”
Emcees Anjelica Houston and Pamela Anderson kept the awards show mostly light and positive despite the included screenings of hard-to-stomach videos portraying animal abuse. Much of the evening’s discussion focused on taking down SeaWorld, freeing animals from circuses and laboratories and the virtues of going vegan.
Joaquin Phoenix and his family presented the inaugural River Phoenix Humanitarian Award to filmmaker Shaun Monson for his enviro-friendly doc “Earthlings.”
Other notables who showed their PETA support included Kesha, William H. Macy, Nat Wolff, Seth Green, George Lopez and Tig Notaro.
Bill Maher’s address, one of the evening’s highlights, took aim at the hunting industry. The political comedian called the recently slain Cecil the lion “a martyr” before tearing down those who hunt for sport.
“These people call themselves sportsmen,” Maher said. “I think that’s generous. They flatter themselves that what they’re doing is brave. You point at something, you push a button, and it dies. Please. Shooting a lion is like shooting porn — any a–hole can do it. And sportsmen — is it really a sport if one team doesn’t know the game is going on, and the other team has all of the equipment? “
PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk expressed her gratitude for her famous supporters before the show got rolling.
“To have the support of someone like Paul McCartney and his family over these years is just extremely heartening… We now find celebrities are more willing to do things that they hadn’t even thought of when we started. For example, Joaquin Phoenix speaks out against the use of wool because of the cruelty that we have shown of sheep being beaten up in the shearing shed…. We’ve got celebrities who don’t just think of cruelty to animals as ‘you beat the dog, you starve the horse,’ they think of it as an all-encompassing lifestyle and they’re happy to be vegan.”
Pictured above: Anjelica Houston and Pamela Anderson host PETA’s 35th Anniversary Celebration.