There were so many big smiles at the Operation Smile gala, starting with Selma Blair, whose sweet smile was the perfect adornment for her splended strapless yellow evening dress with black lace accents. Arriving on the red carpet Selma was asked about everything from playing Kris Jenner in the upcoming FX series American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson (“amazing,” she said), to chances of doing another Hellboy movie for Guillermo del Toro (she’d love it).
But as one of Operation Smile’s honorees, Selma really wanted to talk about the worthwhile organization and the work they do. She said being a mother to son Arthur has given “a new perspective to life and hope for world humanity.” So along with her dedication to several children’s charities, she is looking forward to helping Operation Smile raise awareness for kids born with cleft lips and palates, and give them a better future.
“Changing lives one smile at a time,” said co-founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee, “That’s what Operation Smile has done since 1982.” It is an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgical procedures for children born with cleft lip and other facial deformities. Helping the cause was Henry Nguyen who was honored with the “John Connor Humanitarian Award,” and the inspirational Kim and Steve Rodosky and their family who received the “Founders Circle Award.”
When she accepted the “Universal Smile Award,” Selma quieted the applause and passionately said, “None of this is about me. It’s about the children. With their long history of helping, Operation Smile is a blessing. Has there ever been a time when more smiles were needed?”
A gathering of gal-pals at the gala generated a lot of smiles. Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl Kate Upton hung out with a fun crowd that included Nasim Pedrad, Busy Philipps, and Whitney Cummings. They were all smitten with a little French Bull Dog named Lentil Bean. Lentil’s plus-one Lindsay Condefer reported he was a cleft palate puppy so he was named Operation Smile’s “Ambassa-dog.”
Smile Ambassador and host for the gala was lovely Brooke Burke Charvet, who had her husband, actor David Charvet cheering along with the rest of the crowd when she said, “Tonight is all about creating smiles, and we know how to make it happen.”
Also on hand were mega-producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank, and Emmy winner for The Voice), and his Touch By An Angel wife Roma Downey. They were the Smile Gala’s event co-chairs (along with Kevin Beggs, plus Jennifer and Henry Salke). Burnett has been helping the organization since his Eco-Challenge days, and Downey supported the cause long before she met Mark. The devoted couple who did the top-rated Bible miniseries also produced the film Woodlawn starring Sean Astin and Jon Voight, about high school football, tackling theaters October 16. It’s a faith-based drama, and Roma said, “We want to put our focus on the goodness of God.”
Mark Wahlberg (The Departed Oscar-nominee) attended with wife Rhea and daughter Ella, and was asked about meeting Pope Francis, and about apologizing for the Ted movies. Ironically, Teddy Bears that looked a lot like Wahlberg’s costar Ted (albeit better behaved) were given out to the generous Operation Smile supporters.
More happy faces at the gala were seen on Mel B (America’s Got Talent judge/Scary Spice) with hubby Stephen Belafonte, Adrienne Bailon, Ashley Greene, Frank Mottek, Sharif Atkins, Gavin Rossdale (solo since split with Gwen Stefani), Rosario Dawson, and DJ Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys.
Performing at the Beverly Wilshire’s ballroom in Beverly Hills was inspiring ballet dancer Jim Nowakowski (So You Think You Can Dance), and terrific pop singer Eric Hutchinson. Crowd-pleasing Natasha Bedingfield closed with an acoustic version of her hit “Unwritten,” and a heartfelt rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s classic heartbreaking “Smile,” song that was so right for the gala night. #