Latest goings-on in philanthropic Hollywood


Here are the latest goings-on in philanthropic Hollywood.

Party for a Cause

Forget Pizzeria Mozza and Parc. This summer (through Sept. 1), the hottest place to be seen is partying on Malibu's LaCosta Beach with Hollywood glitterati at the various French Connection on the Beach events. Following a trend that began last year with the Polaroid Beach House, sponsors such as Sony and furniture line Brocade Home are ponying up the big bucks to outfit a beachfront property -- the doors of which have been thrown open to the hippest and most celebrity-studded soirees in town -- with the latest in technology and luxury home furnishings. But the house isn't just a comprehensive brand experience, it's a haven of social consciousness. Benefiting the Art of Elysium, a 9-year-old nonprofit that offers support to seriously ill children through art, music and performance (Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and Joaquin Phoenix are among its ardent supporters), invited guests are asked to donate art supplies in strategically placed bins throughout the house. The nonprofit will also host two events there, a photography exhibit on July 21 and a hands-on art experience on Aug. 15, with a portion of the proceeds going to Elysium. Finally, at the end of the summer, the home's contents -- plasma TVs, plush sofas and all -- will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the charity.

Power in Numbers

"One can't help but be influenced by the generosity of his or her peers," says Marc Pollick, president and founder of the 10-year-old Giving Back Fund. If that's true, it's no wonder Pollick recently released the Giving Back 30, an inaugural ranking of the celebrities who made the largest personal public donations to nonprofits in 2006. After all, the Giving Back Fund is all about cultivating philanthropists and role models within the worlds of sports and entertainment. And who doesn't like to see how magnanimous other people are with their money?

Not surprisingly, Oprah Winfrey tops the list with a record $58.3 million. Rounding out the top 10 are, in order, the estates of the late designer Geoffrey Beene ($44 million) and actor Jack Lord ("Hawaii Five-O") and his wife, Marie ($40 million); Barbra Streisand ($11.8 million); Tiger Woods ($9.5 million); Rosie O'Donnell ($5.7 million); Martha Stewart ($5 million); Denver Nuggets basketball player Carmelo Anthony ($4.3 million); Pat and Shirley Boone ($3 million); and artist LeRoy Neiman ($3 million). Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie came in at No. 11 with $2.4 million.

Animal Friendly

When Jan Caputo yells "Cut!" movie directors listen. As one of 10 full-time animal safety representatives from American Humane's Film & Television Unit (which was established in 1940 and currently works on about 1,000 productions a year), it's Caputo's job to monitor the animal action on film, TV and commercial sets before a production can earn the nonprofit's coveted "no animals were harmed" seal of approval. And if Caputo sees something that's not quite right, she's more than ready to halt the action.

For the past seven years, Caputo's work has taken her to England, where she has been working almost exclusively on the sets of Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter" films, including "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which opens tomorrow.

Much of Caputo's work is done before the cameras even roll. "The responsibility of an American Humane rep is to look forward, checking the environment and all the variables," she says.

Whether it's "Potter" owls, cats or rats, all have been under Caputo's watchful eye. Even insects are under her purview.

"If we're using a rare insect from Africa, I check to see where it's going to be housed and how it's going to be handled," she says. "I need to know everything about that insect from what its life expectancy is to what temperature it needs to be living in ... Each spider has to be counted in and out (before and after a scene)."

Marketing Strategy

Talk about a two-for-one: Customers who subscribe to the gay television network here! have the opportunity not only to get the cable channel but to give back to the community at the same time. Change Starts here!, a national cause-marketing initiative that just launched this week, supports national and local charitable organizations such as the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Frameline and Outfest, among others. For each new subscriber to the channel, here! Networks will donate $10 to a participating organization of the subscriber's choice.

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