Star-studded Events Around Hollywood
Voices for Wildlife, Icon Honors Jane Fonda & Songwriters in Spotlight
A lot of wildlife was on hand in Beverly Hills for the “Voice for Wildlife,” National Wildlife Federation’s 75th anniversary gala. The furry, feathered and scaly creatures the NWF works to protect gathered in the ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel along with celebrities and other animal lovers.
Among the critters were a porcupine, armadillo, owl, cougar, and Spike the alligator, brought in by world-renowned animal expert Jack Hanna (Into the Wild). Hanna explained how some species have come back from the brink of extinction with the help of the NWF.
Jack Hanna (Left)
One lucky survivor is the bald eagle, which Hanna had swooping over the guests in the ballroom. And he told the folks to remain in their seats when he had Shiloh the grey wolf come in from the back of the room. They are still wild animals, but they were not able to be in the wild because of rehabilitation. So it was an opportunity for supporters to get really up-close with them.
Foxy actress Frances Fisher (Titanic) looked very comfortable caressing a beautiful red fox named Shadow. Spike was my favorite. I’ve had a fondness for the reptile ever since I was in the movie-thriller Alligator in 1980 (under my maiden name Margie Platt).
It was important to show the animals to supporters at the Wildlife gala, explained Larry J. Schweiger, president of the NWF, “To inspire a love of wildlife, and to reinvigorate our commitment to protect them.” Every guest got a copy of Schweiger’s new powerful book “Last Chance, Preserving Life on Earth.”
Among the other celebrities at the event: Rachel Hunter (Gravity), Amber Lancaster (The Hard times of RJ Berger), and veteran performer Jane Withers (Bright Eyes, Giant) who was in awe of the collection of polar bear photographs lining the ballroom. They were from the acclaimed nature photographer Howard Ruby, who received a well-deserve Wildlife Hero honor.
The event was emceed by comic actress and activist Annabelle Gurwitch who handed out awards, along with Chevy Chase who surprised Jack Hanna with a special Wildlife award.
Annabelle Gurwitch (Left)
Also honored was film producer Lawrence Bender, who made a splash in Hollywood with the cult-classic Reservoir Dogs, and produces Quentin Tarantino’s films. Bender was honor as a Wildlife Hero because he produced the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He talked about the impact of turning Al Gore’s environmental slideshow into a movie to spread awareness of climate change.
Following the film’s success, Bender noted, “I was able to see firsthand with An Inconvenient Truth, how much a movie can educate and start a movement.”
Jane Fonda Gets Icon Award Presented by Jennifer Lopez
At the 20th Anniversary Icon Awards gala, Jane Fonda became the latest icon to be honored by the prestigious UCLA Longevity Center. The crowd in the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel was also thrilled to see super-hot Jennifer Lopez make the presentation to her Monster-In-Law co-star. “She’s not a monster, she’s a great friend,” J.Lo said.
It was an evening dedicated to enjoying the quality of life as the years roll along. Humor is a big part of that mindset, so the sharp comedy from emcee Jason Alexander was really appreciated. He offered a “joys of aging” comedy monolog. “The way we look as we get older, I’m thinking maybe cataracts aren’t such a bad idea,” Alexander jokes.
Of course an exception is honoree Jane Fonda, who at 73 looked like she could still fit into her iconic Barbarella costume. Clips from Barbarella and other films from Fonda’s stellar career were shown.
From her Oscar-winning role in Klute to her outrageous comedy in 9 to 5 and Fun With Dick and Jane, with George Segal who was on hand for the event. But the most touching clip was the heartfelt moment with her father Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond. “I’m so proud of that,” she said.
At a cocktail reception before the awards, we chatted with Jane, who revealed that she is writing another book, to follow up her previous best-seller “My Life So Far.” She said this one will be about aging, and focus on the third act of her life.
“I am very honored by this award, because I’m old, and I’m an icon, and I’ve studied longevity,” said Jane, who revolutionized the fitness industry with her Jane Fonda Workout videos in the ’80s.
Last year she released a new set of fitness DVDs. More DVDs are coming, aimed at the Boomer generation. Upcoming are two film projects, the indie film Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, and a French comedy.
Also getting awards for their work in the longevity field were Dr. Bradley Straatsma, who got the Distinguished Scholar in Science and Medicine honor; and James Collins, winner of the Art Linkletter Lifetime Achievement Award, for his philanthropic work that has benefited the Longevity Center.
More entertainment came from the UCLA Gospel Choir and American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke. Among those seen the red carpet were Jane’s brother Peter Fonda, George Segal, Joan Van Ark, and from Glee Iqbal Theba and Josh Sussman.
On hand to present the award named for her father was Sharon Linkletter, the daughter of Art Linkletter who co-founded the Center 20 years ago. The event also served as the formal dedication of the center’s change in name from UCLA Center on Aging, to UCLA Longevity Center. By any name, its mantra is “Living better longer.”
“Songs of Our Lives” Concert By the Songwriters
The annual “The Songs of Our Lives Volume IV” concert had the composers themselves stepped up to the microphone to sing their most memorable tunes. All were undeniably world-class songwriters who have enriched our lives with their work.
The nostalgic musical event was held at the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angels with Tony Danza as the enthusiastic host for the evening. Charles Fox (“Happy Days,” “Killing Me Softly With His Song”), Norman Gimbel (“Girl From Ipanema”), Steve Dorff (“Through the Years”), Felix Cavaliere (“People Got to Be Free”), Alee Willis (“Boogie Wonderland”), Jeff Barry (“Doo Wah Ditty”), David Pack (“Biggest Part of Me”), and Richard Marx (“Now and Forever”) sang a litany of their best known songs.
Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel
The big treat was hearing the stories about what inspired them to write the tunes. Some admitted dumb luck played a part in their success, and some of the most popular tunes never were supposed to see the light of day.
The concert raised money for the Fulfillment Fund, which empowers youth through education, with Andrea Cockrum as the dedicated CEO of the organization. Joan and Charles Fox are supporters of the cause and produced the three-hour concert, directed by Jules Aaron.
Supporting the Fulfillment Fund from the audience was Mac Davis, Fred Willard, Kate Linder, and Romi Dames, among other celebrities.
Fox also serves as a mentor for the Fulfillment Fund, and encouraged his fellow songwriters to do the same. “It truly makes a difference and changes the lives of promising young people,” he said. The Fund serves more than 1,700 students annually, both in college and in high school.
Tony Danza thanked everyone for helping the kids, and revealed, “I wish I was a musician. But I just turned 60, I’m over the speed limit now, and I’m too old to change careers.” He said it was a thrill for him to come on board as the host, because “I’m surrounded by my heroes.”
Danza was seen singing in the wings, but was thrilled to come out on stage and sing “Watch What Happens” from the classic Umbrellas of Cherbourg, alongside Norman Gimbel who put English lyrics to Michel Legrand’s music. Danza, strumming on a ukulele, was joined by renown Bossa Nova composer Oscar Castro-Neves playing classical guitar. Danza beamed, “How cool is this?”