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Viacom and CBS executive chairman Sumner Redstone pledged $3 million toward cancer research Wednesday as he was honored along with Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann by USC’s Center for Applied Molecular Medicine at its inaugural Rebels with a Cause charity benefit.
Redstone previously has given about $30 million to support USC’s research of emerging cancer treatments.
The event, held at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, also raised money for the school’s Westside Cancer Center. The cause is important to Redstone, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a decade ago and received treatment at USC. His doctor, David B. Agus, was one of the organizers of the event and announced Redstone’s $3 million donation. Agus said he met the media mogul via their friend Michael Milkin and admired his resolve in fighting the disease.
“I’d be scared to death to be the cancer if Sumner Redstone were there,” Agus told an intimate crowd of 150 philanthropists, doctors and Hollywood execs including Paramount’s Brad Grey.
Redstone, 89, walked to his seat with help but did not ascend to the podium to accept the award. He remained in his chair while lauding the treatment he received at USC.
“Without that care I would not be here tonight,” Redstone told the crowd in accepting the award, adding, “All of the proceeds raised tonight will go toward cancer treatment.”
The inaugural event, emceed by comedienne Tracey Ullman, drew a crowd of about 150 to hear a three-song set from Neil Young and a longer performance from Tony Bennett, a friend of Redstone’s who lauded the mogul for helping rejuvenate his career.
“Sumner Resdtone put me on MTV at a time when people said ‘What are you doing?'” Bennett said. “I was the only old timer.”
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