Anyone who’s been to the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s benefits knows that they’re pretty much all gay-and-lesbian affairs. That dynamic, however, changed more than a little at the March 21 gala honoring Sony’s Amy Pascal as tout Hollywood, gay as well as straight, showed up to fill the ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire.
For example, take Seth Rogen, who appeared on stage in white bathrobe and slipper to kick things off. “I happened to be staying here at the hotel, and she’s my boss and I could help her out,” he said of Pascal. “I’ve had a lot of ups and down lately. I’ll wing it. Most of my movies are improvised.” He went on to thank Pascal for “my car and my house – and my wife, if you think about it. Thank you, Amy, for everything, but mostly my house.”
Before Pascal took the stage, Julie Bowen intro’d one of the night’s other honorees. “For those who don’t know Ralph Rucci,” she began, then turned around to shake her rear, covered in a black ruffles. “I just had sex with myself wearing this dress!”
Aaron Sorkin intro’d a video about the center’s homeless-youth services. He began by joking about his young daughter “who knows my love for her is dependent entirely on her grades at school,” then quickly got serious to talk about the “insanity” of parents who throws their own children out on the street because they’re gay.
Finally, it was Pascal’s moment. Roland Emmerich did the honors, recalling how he recently returned to the Sony lot in Culver City to find a big rainbow sign there. “Shit,” he said, “I was working for a gay friendly studio. I’m the only gay director. Maybe they did it for me!” Disappointed, he learned the sign was an art project that had nothing to do with LGBT. But, “Did you know that Judy Garland recorded ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ just a few doors from Amy’s office? Come on, that can’t be a coincidence!”
Pascal dedicated her speech to the media and what they teach LGBT youth, noting that Hollywood can’t control what people hear. “But there’s a helluva lot we can do about what we see.” She then spoke about the images that impacted her life: Marlo Thomas’ Ann Marie (“a career girl who didn’t want to get married”), Gidget (“like me, a Jewish girl who lived near the beach and preferred the surfing culture”), Margo Channing (“wearing a black mink”) and Faye Dunaway (“I wanted her desk from ‘Network’. I wanted a big desk. Now I have one!”).
As a young girl, Pascal said she liked female characters who weren’t defined by being “ a daughter, a wife or a mother…and just because I liked boys it didn’t mean I was a slut.”
Pascal then segued to LGBT characters that too often ended up being “murdered or committing suicide or dying unhappily,” noting that “TV has been a lot more progressive…. Now movies have to catch up.”
She recalled Sidney Poitier movies in which his characters were defined by race. “Forty years later, Will Smith is saving the world and he just happens to be black,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to wait another 40 years for a character to save the world who just happens to be gay?”