×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ali’s Fight Night Dazzles with Steve Martin & Jennifer Lopez

 It’s a tough crowd in Phoenix, but when they like you, they really, really like you.

And they showered their love onto Reba McEntire and Rita Wilson (along with Tom Hanks via telephone) during the extended live auction section of Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night XIX held on March 23 at the J. W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort. At the champ’s annual fundraiser that supports his Parkinson Center and a host of other charities, the deep-pocketed crowd bid $400,000 — twice — to have dinner with them at Reba’s Beverly Hills manse.

Two thousand people packed the ballroom, vying to throw money at the cause after being treated to the bluegrass pickings of Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and witnessing the 71-year-old Ali walking across the stage, aided by wife Lonnie. That sight brought tears and cheers, especially from the fighter’s “Little Brother,” comedian Billy Crystal, who always makes this scene. Ali, who does not speak in public, watched as Crystal handed Martin his Celebrity Fight Night Award, which is, of course, shaped like a boxing ring.

“I like getting a trophy,” Martin cracked. “It’s so much better than a plaque. Think about it: so many producers in Hollywood have a trophy wife, but not one has a plaque wife!”

Jennifer Lopez brought boyfriend Casper Smart to the party; she, too, took home an award, proffered up by the not-related Mario Lopez. Billionaire businessman Dennis Washington was also honored; he’s had the same wife for almost 50 years, but Phoenix certainly has its share of trophy wives, too, and every one of them was dripping in diamonds and on display at the bash. But it was mostly the men who did the big-bucks bidding, being well-lubricated as the Moet bubbly and Belvedere vodka flowed. And Go Daddy owner (and another billionaire) Bob Parsons led the charge.

He threw down $175K to party at JLo’s next movie premiere; $500K to have dinner with Crystal, Martin and Robin Williams; and $550K to visit singer Andrea Bocelli at his Tuscan home. And the cash kept flowing from other sources, too, as a golf day with Phil Mickelson went for $325K, a Paul McCartney meet-and-greet for $70K and a private dinner with Halle Berry a trifling $50K.

Guests ranging from Joe Manganiello to Evander Holyfield were treated to a crazy mix of musical guests presented by maestro David Foster, from “American Idol” alums Haley Reinhart and Michael Johns belting out pop tunes to Tate Stevens and Billy Ray Cyrus doing country, immediately followed by Bocelli singing “Ave Maria.”

“I would have swum across the ocean to be here with Muhammad Ali,” proclaimed Bocelli, who’d flown in from Abu Dhabi that morning.

The night ended with the extravaganza that is JLo on tour: multiple costume changes, 12 backup dancers, wind machine blowing her hair back, extravagant canned music – and in one real moment, a Spanish duet with Bocelli that reminded the happy crowd of what she sounds like when she actually sings live.

All in all, $7.2 million was raised. Not bad for one single star-studded night in the desert.

More Scene

  • Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones'On the

    Why Armie Hammer Cooked for the Cast of 'On the Basis of Sex'

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to her hometown on Sunday for the New York premiere of “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic starring Felicity Jones tells the Supreme Court justice’s origin story. The 85-year-old Brooklynite received a standing ovation when she entered the Walter Reade Theater — a testament to the Notorious RBG’s rock-star status. Ginsburg [...]

  • Nicole KidmanWarner Bros. Pictures World Premiere

    How James Wan Convinced Nicole Kidman to Star in 'Aquaman'

    While some actors dream of playing a superhero, that wasn’t the case for the cast of “Aquaman.” “I knew nothing about this,” Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the James Wan-directed action film, told Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere. “I knew nothing about comic books in general. I didn’t know anything about this [...]

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Magic [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

  • John CenaSports Illustrated Sportsperson of the

    John Cena on WWE's Acceptance by Hollywood and the Professional Sports World

    John Cena says the WWE is finally getting the attention it deserves by Hollywood and the professional sports world. “I’m just glad that no longer are we looked down upon, not only by the sport industry, but by the performing arts industry,” Cena told Variety on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content