Turns out, New Yorkers don’t have to travel very far to see Edie Falco wearing a couture gown and cuddling a rescue puppy pit bull, or Hilary Swank holding up a cat mask and taking selfies. Both of these somewhat anomalous events happened on Thursday night at the Plaza Hotel at the 18th annual ASPCA Bergh Ball, hosted this year by Isaac Mizrahi and Lake Bell.
Falco and Swank were this year’s ASPCA honorees; Falco received the Voice for Animals Award, and Swank scored the Compassion Award.
Swank recently founded her own charity, the Hilaroo Foundation, which aims to bring together abandoned animals and disadvantaged youth, and she told reporters that starting this charity was one of the bravest things she’s ever done. “This comes from my love of animals and kids and the innocent souls that don’t have a voice,” Swank said. “I think we need to speak for them and all stand together and do what we can to help them.”
Swank has two rescue dogs of her own. “I give them special treatment every day, because I love them so much,” she said. “I’m lucky I get to travel with them and they get to go to work with me.”
Falco, who owns a Brussels Griffon, said it was nice to be at an event with other animal lovers. “It’s nice to hang with like-minded people,” she told Variety. “I go to a lot of these fundraisers, and they’re all worthy causes, but to be with people who care about something as much as I do is a nice way to spend an evening.”
Noting that she’s wrapping up the final season of her show “Nurse Jackie,” Falco told reporters that it was hard to say goodbye to the people on the show. “You say goodbye, and you promise to stay in touch, but I’ve been around for a while and it doesn’t always happen that way,” she said truthfully. “There were a lot of wrap parties. Christmas was right around then, so we had a lot of crying.”
Falco said she’s currently reading a lot to find her next project, but “it’s going to be a while.” She added, “Thus far nothing really exciting has come up, so we’ll see. I’m enjoying hanging with my kids. I really miss them when I work like I do.”
Lake Bell, who was co-hosting the event for the first time, said she enjoyed “any event that allows large canines into the Plaza,” alluding to the several foster dogs that were gamely facing up to the photographer’s flashbulbs as the guests took turns posing with them. “I’m like, where’s the biggest slobberiest one? I want him!” she said.
Bell told reporters there was a bit of a family history prompting her involvement with the ASPCA; her mother and godmother have been deeply involved in the past. “I figured this year I would help Isaac out and just wing-woman for him a little bit,” she said.
Bell herself has two rescue dogs in addition to her baby daughter, and gamely joked, “It’s a lot of people to feed, but I do it with a smile on my face!”
Mizrahi has been the host of the gala for “so long, I can’t even remember!” he joked. “It’s like five or seven years I’ve been emceeing the event.” He added: “It’s my greatest pleasure. I have two shelter dogs and they changed my life so immeasurably.”
Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of a certain former New York mayor and newly minted member of the ASPCA board of directors, told Variety she hopes tonight’s gala will change at least someone’s mind about adopting versus buying, and that it’s been a huge honor to begin serving on the ASPCA board.
On the rumors recently circulating about father Michael considering a run for Mayor of London, Bloomberg the younger said that she knew nothing about it. But if he does run, she noted, “I think he’d be amazing at it.”
The main event at the gala was an auction featuring several works of art, a trip to Paris and a custom designed Christian Siriano gown. Upon announcing the Siriano gown auction, the Sotheby’s auctioneer asked Swank to stand and model her own turquoise Siriano number that the designer, in attendance, had created for the star. Swank did a small loop around the dance floor with great panache.
Other guests at the event included “America’s Next Top Model’s” Jay Manuel, Star Jones, “Person of Interest’s” Amy Acker and “Good Morning America’s” Ginger Zee and Sara Haines.