One of show business’s most difficult — if not impossible — accomplishments is motivating an emphatically over-30 crowd at a hotel ballroom charity fund-raiser to stand up and move like under-30s at a concert venue.
But getting an enthusiastic rise out of the crowd is exactly what Donna Summer and then Stevie Wonder pulled off Friday during the Race Against MS dinner at the Century Plaza.
“Whenever I sing, you can party,” Summer called out to the dancing throng halfway through her set. “I hope you party.”
Though Summer seemed the embodiment of the phrase “a tough act to follow,” the 1,300 audience members were back on their feet after Cher intro’d Wonder (“Without him I don’t know what music would be like”) for his 30-minute set.
The perfs capped an event co-chaired by Nancy Davis, VH1’s John Sykes and Tommy Hilfiger that raised $2.6 million for multiple sclerosis research. Also participating were Montel Williams, Nelly Furtado, Brian McKnight, Bill Maher, Tony Danza, Tom Arnold and comic Billy Connolly, who said that “when I took this gig I didn’t know it was a race to erase multiple sclerosis. I thought it was about erasing Ms., that feminist crap. I hate political correctness.”
Among those on hand were Thora Birch, Tommy Davidson, Marvin and Barbara Davis, David Foster, Teri Garr, Dustin Hoffman, Anjelica Huston, Bai Ling, Mo Ostin, Jessica Pilch, Denise Rich, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Tilly and Steve Tisch.