Stars including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and B.J. Novak gathered for a live storytelling charity event on Tuesday at the Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club to benefit educational non-profit 826LA’s 10th anniversary.
The Dave Eggers co-founded charity offers writing support to high school students, inspiring them to learn and grow with personal attention to their education.
The foundation partnered with a series popularized in the U.K. called Live Letters in which celebrities read humorous and inspiring letters written by notable subjects from throughout history. Tuesday’s event marked the first U.S. Live Letters event. The series was founded in part by some star power of its own — Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company, SunnyMarch.
Louis-Dreyfus exuded charisma reading what must be one of the most elegantly penned thank you letters called “The Matchbox sent from Sylvia Townsend Warner to fellow writer Alyse Gregory.” Novak read aloud two letters: one titled “We All Feel Like That Now and Then” and the other a bombastic tirade from Robert Crumb to Mats Gustafsson titled “Torturing the Saxophone.” He also put himself up for auction at the event — bidders could purchase him to entertain at their child’s birthday party.
“South Park” co-creator Matt Stone did a dramatic reading of a highly profane memo he penned about removing — or not removing — inappropriate content from the franchise’s movie “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” in 1999. Other performers included J.J. Abrams, LeVar Burton, Brad Hall who read a letter by E.B. White, and Thandie Newton and Miranda July, who read two letters apiece.
“I just can’t think of a better cause than helping children think in words, and read, and be creative, and feel like they have a worthwhile story to tell,” July said about 826LA’s mission. “A good teacher — even just an encouraging person — is everything.”
As host, Jimmy Kimmel not only facilitated the letter-reading, but also ushered in musical performances by Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini, a two-song acoustic set from Aimee Mann and a cake presentation by Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes” acclaim.
(Pictured: J.J. Abrams and Jimmy Kimmel at 826LA’s 10th Anniversary Gala)