Shirley MacLaine came to the last-minute rescue at Saturday's Carousel of Hope Ball when she stood in for Carl Reiner, who she said was “all right but not coming,” to present the Brass Ring award to George Clooney. The honoree noted that Reiner was feeling under the weather and said his Ocean’s Thirteen co-star “is everything I want to be in my life, except 90.”
Dinner chair Barbara Davis said that Reiner had started feeling poorly the day before and his doctors recommend he rest. MacLaine was already on the guest list and agreed to stand in when the word came that Reiner was staying home.
The presentation came at the end of the black-tie affair that began with a two-hour-long silent auction and reception that drew 1,200 guests, including Brad Grey, Sidney Poitier, Sherry Lansing, Jim Gianopulos, Bob Daly and Carole Bayer Sager, Jane Fonda, Jackie and Joan Collins, Mike Medavoy, Ron Burkle and Jerry Bruckheimer, who said, “It’s Barbara Davis’ life force that makes this happen.”
Davis has chaired 26 balls over the last 34 years (the first honoree was Lucille Ball in 1978), with the proceeds going to the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Aurora, Colo. Saturday's dinner raised more than $2.5 million. In her remarks, she noted that “one in three babies born today will develop diabetes during their lifetime. This is an epidemic.”
The event was emceed by Jay Leno, who had to talk over the crowd noise and began by saying, “Welcome, rich people who are eating.” Part of Leno’s duties were to host the live auction, and when the bidding on a luxury package to Bora Bora began at $10,000, Leno said, “Are you kidding? You can’t even get a hooker in Bora Bora for $10,000.” (The trip eventually went for $65,000.)
David Foster, Quincy Jones and Clive Davis arranged the night’s entertainment, which included Fernando Varela, American Idol’s Jessica Sanchez, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Neil Diamond. The show was produced by George Schlatter.
When making the award presentation to Clooney, MacLaine mentioned that she had a small part in the original Ocean’s 11 “as the drunk hooker,” and said Clooney was the “most generous, sweetest, charming human being I know.”
In his acceptance, Clooney spoke of his work in Darfur and said, “You can’t make people do the right things, but you can make it harder for them to do the wrong things.”