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Backstage at the Geffen is front and center

Charity event honors Julie Andrews

The 9th Backstage at the Geffen fundraiser Monday night brought out Tom Hanks, Gary Oldman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but notably absent was CAA president Richard Lovett, who was supposed to accept the theater’s Distinction in Service Award for the agency.

“Maybe he’s off scouting locations for ‘The Hangover 3’ in Tanganyika or something,” joked Hanks.

Julie Andrews, who received the Distinction in Theater Award, was present and accounted for.

Introducing Andrews was her “chum” of 50 years, Carol Burnett. At a dinner at Ninethirty and Whiskey Blue in the W Los Angeles – Westwood hotel before the event began, Andrews admitted that she expected Burnett to say, at the very least, “something irreverent.”

The comedienne didn’t disappoint. The event was all about performers sharing stories from backstage, and Burnett told the tale of how she and Andrews tried to play a joke on Mike Nichols. The two wanted to make Nichols think they were kissing outside an elevator at a hotel, but instead of Nichols stepping off the elevator, it was Lady Bird Johnson who spotted them in an embrace.

Performers cracked up the crowd all night, including host Gil Cates, who opened the evening with, “Let me apologize for the absence of my co-host, James Franco.”