Roland Emmerich, Jane Lynch Help Raise $2.9M at L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Benefit

Angela Weiss/Getty Images for The LA Gay & Lesbian Center
From left: Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, actor Dan Bucatinsky, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, and actress Jane Lynch

The event, also hosted by Dustin Lance Black, Alan Hergott, Bryan Lourd, Lisa Vanderpump, Mark Gordon and Russell Simmons, drew attention to the plight of homeless LGBT youth.

With same-sex marriage increasingly common, and a profusion of gay and lesbian characters in television and film, it’s easy to forget that despite all of the progress for LGBT causes, significant challenges remain.

One of the most important was highlighted Saturday night at a gala hosted by director Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) at his home: the plight of homeless LGBT youth, many of whom end up on the streets after being rejected by their families. About $2.9 million was raised at "An Evening Under the Stars" to benefit the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which says it provides the nation's "largest and most comprehensive range of services for homeless LGBT and questioning youth."

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"The number of youth that has been coming to us for help has been skyrocketing," the center's CEO, Lorri L. Jean, said in her remarks at the event, which began with a cocktail reception and concluded with dinner and a celebrity auction. “It’s as if the progress that we’re making in this society — especially with the visibility with film and television — is translating into kids coming out earlier, and younger, but in families that are not ready to support them, tolerate them or accept them.”

Jean told the crowd -- which included Emmerich's fellow hosts, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (J. Edgar, Milk), entertainment lawyer Alan Hergott, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Glee’s Jane Lynch, Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump, producer Mark Gordon and mogul Russell Simmons -- that recently 134 young people had come to the center’s facilities for help in a single day – a vast increase over the 35 or so youth who typically turned up every day before.

“We had 30 beds, and now, thanks to Roland, we have 50,” Jean said. “But it’s not enough. … We turn away kids at the end of the night. We have got to do something to take care of more of our kids.”

She announced the beginning of that “something” to the crowd: Part of the proceeds of the evening’s haul will go to dramatically expanding the center’s youth services with the construction of a new facility that will triple the number of beds to 150 and also help provide affordable housing. The $28 million project is expected to break ground in 2015 and open in 2017, Jean said in an interview.

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A new PSA created by Trent Kendrick and Michael Fossat for the center, “Any Given Tuesday,” premiered at the dinner.

Some of the funds were raised by an auction presided over by Gordon, who good-naturedly needled the crowd, which also included Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, HBO’s Michael Lombardo and director Ryan Murphy, into bidding on various items, including a limited-edition Elton John watch (John's husband, David Furnish, addressed the dinner guests) and a stay at Emmerich’s London estate.

Director Bryan Singer, Gordon announced, should “buy a whole box of watches because he didn’t buy a table.” Singer, he said, was “going to pay, buddy boy.”

Urging Fox production president Emma Watts to step up, Gordon had this to say: “You fired Tony Sella, saved some money there.” News of the departure of Sella, the longtime 20th Century Fox domestic marketing president, after a dramatic restructuring at the studio, emerged Saturday before the event.