Hollywood's Green A-List Raises $500K for UCLA Environmental Institute

Lawrence Bender Owen Wilson - P 2012

Lawrence Bender Owen Wilson - P 2012

A benefit at Tony and Jeanne Pritzker's mansion, attended by Owen Wilson and Lana del Rey, brings in more than half a million dollars for the university's five-year-old think tank.

A glittering gathering of green Los Angeles’ A-list at Tony and Jeanne Pritzker’s sprawling modernist mansion in Beverly Hills has raised more than $500,000 for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, the five-year old educational think tank that has emerged as a power house of cutting-edge science.

The Thursday reception and dinner honored real estate mogul and Santa Monica Baykeeper founder Dan A. Emmett and the Southern California Edison for its corporate responsibility. Emmy Award-winning actor Jerry Penacoli emceed the evening and singer/songwriter Vicci Martinez provided the entertainment. Tony Pritzker and Tina Quinn co-chaired the evening.

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Producer Lawrence Bender, who is on the institute’s board and served as another of the benefit’s co-chairs, described the party as the school’s “coming out party. It’s our first big fundraiser. When I made ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ a few years ago I spent an entire year with Al Gore. Environmentalism and the climate crisis have been  strong passions of mine every since. We didn’t have a school of the environment here in Southern California until this institute came along. Five years ago there were no students and now we have almost 300.

 “We’re turning out incredible minds to help solve the problems involved with the environment and the climate crisis.  It’s all happening right here in our backyard. There are so many people in Hollywood who are environmentally conscious and, for me, this cause is a slam dunk I plan to stay involved and to bring more of Hollywood in to help the institute. This is just the beginning”

Luanne Wells, the of widow of former Disney president Frank Wells, was another of the attendees. “Anytime there’s anything to do with the environment, I’m always involved,” said Wells, who also was a founder of Santa Monica Baykeeper.

The setting, with its dramatic views and flowing indoor-outdoor spaces seemed matched to the event—or at least the global scale of the institute’s ambitions. Aside from the screening room, bowling alley, gym and contemporary art collection featuring works by Jenny Holzer and Doug Aitken, the mansion features a stunning multi-story entry that served as a gathering place. As one of the heirs to the Hyatt Hotel fortunate, Tony Pritzker tapped architect Edward Tuttle, who designed Milan’s Park Hyatt and the Park Hyatt Paris, to design his Beverly Hills residence.

Fresh from an American idol taping, singer Lana del Rey arrived on back of Dole heir Justin Murdock’s motorcycle wearing a fur jacket with black leggings and sneakers. Del Rey and Murdock were seated at Bender’s table, along with Quincy Jones, Owen Wilson, and The Kids Are All Right producer Gary Gilbert.