If there was one underlying theme to Friday’s Race to Erase MS at the Beverly Hilton it was: If you’re giving money to charity, you should get some cool stuff in exchange.
In keeping with this concept, the evening began with a massive, multiroom silent auction that opened at 6:30 p.m., giving guests two hours to decide if they wanted a Curb Your Enthusiasm walk-on role (snapped up for $16,000), two nights at the Four Seasons Beijing (a bargain at $500), yoga classes and even something for the proletariat: gift coupons for Pink’s hot dog stand ($25).
Race founder Nancy Davis said she wanted this year’s event to be an especially big blowout because it was the organization’s 25th anniversary and there is plenty to celebrate. “During that time, 15 MS drugs have been put on the market,” Davis said. “When we started, there was nothing, zilch. Now we’re going to find a cure.”
While there would be other, even more expensive stuff to bid on later in the evening, at 8:30 p.m. guests entered the ballroom and heard remarks from HQ Trivia game host Scott Rogowsky and Davis. Then came a full-blown fashion presentation with dozens of models showing off the Alice + Olivia collection. Seated beside the runway were Jane and Michael Eisner, who had a unique interest in the show: The clothing company’s CEO-founder, Stacey Bendet, is married to their son Eric. The former Disney CEO pronounced the show “an Academy Award-level performance.”
It was at about this moment that Joan Collins exited the room. It turns out there was shrimp in her salad and the British actress has a terrible allergy to shellfish. “It could kill me,” she said as she left the table where she’d been seated with Nancy’s mother, Barbara Davis.
Unfortunately, that meant Collins couldn’t bid on the live auction (that came right after a three-song performance by Elle King) where the actress could have acquired a Pomeranian puppy for $9,000 or had dinner with Sharon, Ozzy, Kelly and Jack Osbourne at Sharon’s L.A. home (Collins would easily have passed the one requirement for buying this item: “All guests must complete a background check prior to the dinner”.) In addition, the $15,000 final bid for the Osbourne meal would have been small change to the former Dynasty star. And while Byron Allen said the Ferrari Portofino that went for $250,000 no longer fit with his lifestyle (“I’ve got three kids; I’m an SUV guy now”), Collins was made to have Italian wheels like that.
After the live auction, the auctioneer asked in a voice that modulated between shrill and eardrum splitting for 100 members of the audience to each donate $1,000 so an additional $100,000 could be raised. This portion of the event seemed to go on for longer than the Oscars, but eventually the money was raised.
When Siedah Garrett, who wrote Michael Jackson’s megahit “Man in the Mirror,” came out and sang her song accompanied by a trio of backup singers, it was like a calming salve.
The night ended with a six-song set by dance rapper Flo Rida. Among those on hand were Jack and Kelly Osbourne, Avril Lavigne, Aaron Paul, Randy Jackson, Anne Heche, Victoria Justice and LaToya Jackson. The event raised $1.6 million.