Since it was inaugurated last year, LACMA's Art + Film Gala -- co-chaired by Leonardo DiCaprio and museum board member Eva Chow -- has now proven its staying power as a draw for both Hollywood power brokers and celebrities in support of the arts insitution. On Saturday night, a crowd of 550 guests in black-tie gathered for cocktails in the central courtyard of the museum before moving into a specially constructed temporary building for dinner, where the seats ran $5,000 a plate minimum. The deep bench of industry executives in attendance included Warner Bros' Jeff Robinov, Sue Kroll, Dan Fellman and Kevin Tsujihara, CBS' Les Moonves with wife Julie Chen, Jerry Bruckheimer, CAA’s Bryan Lourd (a museum trustee), Thao Nguyen and Hylda Queally, trustees Brian Grazer, Casey Wasserman and Steve Tisch, Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, Disney’s Alan Horn and Robert Iger, with wife Willow Bay, Paramount's Brad Grey and Joel Silver. At the end of the cocktail hour, Evan Rachel Wood was a surprise performer, singing a clutch of jazzy standards. DiCaprio, who is shooting Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street in New York, wasn't able to attend.
Images of honoree Ed Ruscha's artwork appeared on screens throughout the evening. To start off the proceedings, LACMA board co-chair Terry Semel — who oversaw production of honoree Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut when he was chairman of Warner Bros. — got on stage and asked some of the stars of Kubrick's movies who were in attendance to say a few impromptu words about working with the film legend. Handed a microphone, Ryan O'Neal, star of Barry Lyndon, recalled Kubrick, who was a notorious guardian of his own privacy, saying to him, "If you ever come upon a time that people ask about me, you can tell them, 'Don’t.' " When the actor protested, "I'll be kind," Kubrick simply repeated "Don’t." The proceedings continued around the room with The Shining star Jack Nicholson remembering the day in 1999 when Kubrick died ("My very first thought was ‘F***, I’ll never work with him again") and Full Metal Jacket's Matthew Modine echoing how private the director was. "I can't tell you how many times I've been asked what Stanley was like. It's none of your goddamn business.” A Clockwork Orange star Malcolm McDowell escaped notice during this portion of the evening.
Tom Hanks introduced Steven Spielberg who in turn paid tribute to Kubrick. Said Hanks: "Were it not for the guy I'm going to introduce and the guy he's going to talk about, many of us would not be here because we would not be as enthralled in the storytelling process that cinema is. We might not be artists, we might not be part of the business, we might actually be a fire marshall who is aghast at how many people are crowded into this very room."
Spielberg, the director of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which had originally been developed by Kubrick, recalled that the two had met when he was preparing Raiders of the Lost Ark and Kubrick was preparing The Shining. "When I found out that Stanley Kubrick was on the same lot a hundred yards away from my production office some very nice person who has never identified him or herself knew some very nice person who was part of Kubrick's team and called me up and said, 'Do you want to come over and meet Stanley and I did. I walked over to the soundstage and I was terrified. For me, Kubrick was all four of the Beatles" Five hours later, Spielberg was having dinner at Kubrick's house, the beginning of a 19-year friendship. "He may be the only director who denies you the right to leave in the middle of one of his films," added Spielberg.
The large celebrity contingent included Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Barkin, Annette Bening and Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, John Krasinski, Jennifer Morrison, PSY, Sean Penn and Jeremy Renner. The night ended with Drew Barrymore introducing a four-song set by Florence and the Machine.
The gala funds LACMA's initiatives to make film a bigger part of its programming, including its movie series with Film Independent, and the museum's broader mission. Both Kubrick and Ruscha are the subject of shows at the museum, with Ed Ruscha: Standard on exhibit until January 21, 2013 and Stanley Kubrick, a traveling show which originated in Frankfurt, Germany in 2004, opens November 1 and runs through June 30, 2013.
LACMA's gala came on the heels of the Oct. 18 announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is moving forward with its plans to open a new $250 million movie museum, having reached an initial fund-raising goal of $100 million. The museum will be housed on the LACMA campus in the old May Co. building at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.