Sarah Jessica Parker Presents Award to HBO's Michael Lombardo at amfAR Inspiration Gala

The Josh Duhamel-hosted NYC event for AIDS research also honored Calvin Klein Collection's Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli, and the HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Lombardo
Getty Images

The fifth annual amfAR inspiration gala raised more than $1.2 million for AIDS research on Tuesday night at The Plaza in New York City, thanks to generous donations at an event that included a lively auction, an elaborately accessorized menswear fashion show (closed by Tyson Beckford) and a dinner of short ribs and snap peas to honor a handful of amfAR's supporters.

"I hope you enjoyed the fashion show -- it gave me some ideas for my fall collection," joked host Josh Duhamel, telling the audience that his wife Fergie introduced him to amfAR: "All the money raised here tonight and all over he world actually goes to finding a cute for HIV and AIDS, and I think that's fantastic." He also joked that he "had limited fashion role models growing up in North Dakota: Monopoly Man or Mr. Peanut Head ... last week, somebody wore [my outfit] before I got a chance," then showing a photo of Rihanna's naked CFDA look, with his face cropped into the image. "That bitch stole my look!"

PHOTOS: Sarah Jessica Parker, Matt Bomer, Laverne Cox Step Out for amfAR Inspiration Gala

With Orange Is the New Black's Laverne CoxKarolina Kurkova, Alan Cumming, Joseph Altuzarra, Thom Browne and Zac Posen, seated in the Grand Ballroom, among others, Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani presented an award to the HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. "She's always been really a true inspiration for me and all of us," she said. "She is never scared to find out the truth ... for her, this is only natural, because she sees everybody as equal ... she sees the people behind the diagnoses." After a long hug with "one of her closest friends," the princess dedicated the award to her friends in Malawi, sex workers in Nicaragua, the gay communities in major cities, health workers that "don't wear gloves when they wipe their patients tears," and victims all around the world. "They are my inspiration they should've been here with me tonight, and this award truly belongs to them."

Chairman Kenneth Cole then took the podium, happy "to exploit [Duhamel] and Fergie that much more for a very worthwhile cause," thanked the board and fellow trustees, and shed light on amfAR's efforts, including the three cases of a clinical cure to date. He noted the organization's goal to find a cure by the year 2020, and "close our doors because our work is done" -- the same goal when he joined the board in 1987, "when I was six!" he joked, followed by his now-classic amfAR pun about the organization's progress.

Sarah Jessica Parker then took to the podium honored HBO and its programming president, Michael Lombardo. "With the introduction of groundbreaking shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Sex and the City, TV was finally allowed to be risqué, complex, daring and find thoughtful and creative new ways to address adult issues and controversial topics," she said, listing And the Band Played On, Angels in America, The Normal Heart and the documentary The Battle of amfAR to exemplify some of HBO's AIDS-related programming throughout the years. "On a more personal note, I have known Michael for, oh I don't know, heavens, easily fifteen years," she said candidly. "He was business affairs. He was the gentleman my attorney called to negotiate contracts and despite the land mines -- I had written this myself, alright?! -- despite the land mines that typically exist in these encounters, I recall that Michael was always fair ... he proved to be a great example for me of how one shoudl and can conduct business, no matter how complex."

PHOTOS: 40 Years of HBO

Lombardo told the guests of how he first came to New York City, "like many young gay men hoping to live life honestly," and found himself a job "with a name that oddly sounded like an office supply company! A company that I'm proud to say has been my home ever since. I discovered at HBO a company that defied all of my preconceptions about corporate America ... I discovered myself working amongst a group of men and women who felt passionately our programming should aspire to do more than just entertain, that should aspire to enlighten and challenge and move people." He noted of the time period outlined in The Normal Heart, "It's easy to forget the moral judgment and indifference that HIV-infected men and women experienced thirty years ago, and felt that the entire straight world turned its back and heaved a collective shrug of indifference ... AIDS was a disease that demanded a medical, not a moral, response," and closed with his thanks for his HBO colleagues, amfAR and Parker.

Long after a live auction conducted by Paddle 8’s Alexander Gilkes and the dessert course, Matt Bomer and Fergie -- who repeatedly sang the word "biotches" after listing an accomplishment -- presented an award to Calvin Klein Collection's creative directors, Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli. Fergie also joked that Costa "took me to my first Met Ball in 2008, and you know what they say: you always remember your first!"

Before the two shared a couple of kisses onstage, Costa joked that he feels like he's at the Oscars, but also noted that he lost three friends to AIDS: "It was quite scary ... I like to thank the people who actually started this organization, and give this beam of light." Then, Zucchelli reflected that "The Normal Heart made me think about a lot of things -- how things have changed ... a lot has changed because of amfAR."

While New Order took the Plaza Grand Ballroom stage to perform "Bizarre Love Triangle," "Your Silent Face" and "Blue Monday," Zachary Quinto was spotted hitting the Atlas Social Club just before midnight.

The evening was presented by M·A·C Viva Glam, and the event’s official partners included Microsoft, Calvin Klein Collection, HBO, FIJI Water, The Plaza and Gloria Ferrer.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee