Celebrities and execs gathered at the Beverly Hilton Monday evening to honor Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and United Talent Agency founding partner Peter Benedek at the Saban Community Clinic’s 50th Anniversary Dinner Gala.
Founded in 1967, the Saban Community Clinic was built on the principle that health care is a right, not merely a privilege — a sentiment that was heavily echoed by the evening’s attendees. The Mamas and the Papas singer Michelle Phillips began the evening by drawing a parallel between the clinic’s fundamental beliefs and the nation’s present-day political climate.
“I’d like to state the absolute obvious— health care is a human right,” Phillips began, with an eruption of applause from the audience. “I’ll say it again, especially in light of the current state of our nation, health care is a human right,” she continued. “For 50 years — yeah my friends, 50 years — the clinic has cared for hundreds and thousands of people who many times found themselves with nowhere else to turn.”
Sarandos was bestowed with the Friends of the Saban Community Clinic Leadership award by “Stranger Things” star Winona Ryder, and Benedek was presented with the Lenny Somberg Award by United Talent Agency co-presidents Jay Sures and David Kramer, with both awards given for their tremendous support of the clinic.
Sarandos expressed gratitude for the evening’s cause in the wake of the recent influx of Hollywood scandals. “I can’t tell you how much it means to be here tonight, especially after the past two weeks and all the headlines about what’s going on in the industry, but tonight we celebrate the best part of the industry,” he said. “This is the Hollywood that I know, this is the community of friends, family, and colleagues coming together for something greater than them.”
Rapper and “NCIS” star LL Cool J was also in attendance to share the story of Sean Flanary, a 47-year-old man who was forced into a life on the streets at a very young age, having been shot multiple times by the age of 14. LL Cool J related Flanary’s life to friends he had growing up, many whom he saw shot and even killed.
After walking into the clinic for a hot shower, Flanary found a home among the warm and benevolent staff at the clinic, rescuing him from living on a Hollywood bench. They helped him get the treatment he needed as well as suitable housing, and the tools needed for a trajectory toward a brighter future. “The clinic has shown me another side of life, they picked me up off the ground and they said if you want to help yourself, we’ll help you,” Flanary said. “And that’s what we need, helping hands.”
Haim and Cheryl Saban matched the $4.6 million raised for the clinic at last night’s gala.
Comedian Jeff Garlin provided much of the laughter for the evening, joking that he committed “Curb Your Enthusiasm” co-star Larry David to match the Saban’s gift.
Legendary singer Tony Bennett ended the night by serenading the audience with “They All Laughed,” “Love Is Here to Stay,” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”