Ron Meyer was able to get back home to Malibu, grab a tie and arrive on time at the Beverly Hilton, but wife Kelly remained at the house in case of a flare-up. Police chief William Bratton took a break from overseeing his department’s fire control operations to be on hand at the hotel with wife Rikki Klieman. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also broke away from the fires for a congratulatory appearance at the gala for the 30th anniversary of the Fulfillment Fund. I’d never seen the ballroom as SRO’d. Wall-to-wall tables stretched from the doorway entrance down to the stage. The reason — to honor Cherna and Gary Gitnick with the inaugural Visionary Award and Universal Pictures Chairman Marc Shmuger with the Stars 2007 Award. Seth Rogen served as the event’s hilarious emcee, and to round out the emotional evening, Jamie Foxx generously rocked the room and Vince Vaughn made a serio-comic presentation to Shmuger while Tom Sherak and Sinbad conducted a live auction. And to offer an example of the Fund’s achievements, alumna Claudia Bonilla explained what it meant to be tucked in bed for the first time in her life — by a mentor. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when other alums were brought on stage by Sidney Poitier, who made the presentation to the Gitnicks, who received a standing ovation. The event raised $2.7 million and Sidney urged the captive audience to “strive to wake up every morning a better person than you were the day before.”
The performers were all alumni of Shmuger’s Universal films: Jamie Foxx, Oscar-winner for “Ray,” also appeared in “The Kingdom,” “Miami Vice” and “Jarhead,” while Seth Rogen starred in the studio’s “Knocked Up” and Vince Vaughn — who also assembled Shmuger’s amusing bio-reel — starred in “The Break-Up” with Jennifer Aniston. Fulfillment Fund CEO Andrea Cockrum congratulated Universal on setting an example for others with its internship program. It was a feel-good evening.
I’ll be back in Hollywood November 4 when we get back an hour’s sleep.