U.N. Labor Agency Makes Hollywood Debut

Hans Zimmer Ron Howard - P 2013
Charley Gallay

Ron Howard and Hans Zimmer host an Oscar week party for the International Labor Organization, which is tapping Hollywood to help create "green" jobs for workers around the world.

If there’s anything Hollywood likes almost as much as Oscars week, it’s a new cause.

Thursday night it got a combination of both at the exclusive West Hollywood restaurant Cecconi’s, where a pair of Academy Award winners -- director Ron Howard and composer Hans Zimmer -- teamed with Vanity Fair and Fiat to host a benefit for the International Labor Organization’s green jobs program. For the magazine, the party was one in an annual weeklong series of fundraisers it helps stage leading to Oscars night.

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The ILO is a United Nations agency concerned with the interests of working people around the globe, but particularly with those in underdeveloped nations. Its green jobs program offers research, guidance and practical tools to help governments, businesses and employees make the transition to a green economy. Fiat took the occasion to roll out its new electric car, which guests — many of whom arrived in the requisite hybrids — found cute. Zimmer also debuted a track from the score he composed for Howard's new film Rush.

Celebrities who attended included Alyssa Milano, Adrien Brody, Michael Moore, Lake Bell, Kathleen Robertson and Analeigh Tipton. Bonnie Abaunza, one of the entertainment industry's leading social action organizers, put the event together.

"The ILO has been around since 1910 dealing with labor issues," Howard said. "Now they have turned their focus to youth initiatives. Let's create jobs for entrepreneurs, for workers -- the next generation who are struggling to find work. Let's put that emphasis on new industry. Let's let a new, important, vital industry be nurtured and be propelled by new, vibrant workers who want to make a mark."

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Zimmer added: "The one thing we have in Hollywood is ideas on how to get the word out. We love being used for the right causes. We have children. We want to make the world a better place."

The evening was officially titled “Una Notte Verde,” and just to stay in character, the invitation not only came on 100% recycled paper but included flower, herb and vegetable seeds that could be planted after the event.

Marcia Poole, the ILO's director of communication and public information, said that while the agency specializes in the "work of of work" and includes governments, employers and workers' associations, it doesn't have the same name recognition as UNICEF or other UN umbrella agencies.

"This was our coming-out party," Poole said. "So many people came up to me during the party and said, 'I really want to help; how do I get involved?' There was so much generosity and curiosity. Now the real work begins."

Leave it to Hollywood’s greens to come up with a sustainable benefit.