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Scene & Heard: Harold Pump Foundation celebrity fundraiser

Also, LA Art House's 'Contemporary Impressionism' opening

By Ellen Olivier

Special to the Los Angeles Times

August 22, 2010

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A crowd rich in sports legends, Academy Award winners and recording stars packed the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza for the Harold Pump Foundation's anniversary celebration.

The honorees at the Aug. 12 event were Denzel Washington, Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Kansas businessman Joseph Brandmeyer. Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg and Cedric the Entertainer teamed up to present Washington's award. "If I hadn't played God," Freeman said, "I'd be jealous of the fact that he got to play an angel," referring to the two-time Academy Award winner's role in "The Preacher's Wife."

Washington's enthusiasm was stoked by the aggregation of superstar athletes. In addressing the 1,500 guests, he said he loves actors, but with athletes, he just starts "acting like a little kid."

Sports greats Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Mark Spitz, Julius Erving, Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Ernie Banks and Rafer Johnson spoke for Aaron and Ali. Even the big names were impressed by the talent in the room and spent much of the night greeting each other.

Serena Williams, Rosey Grier, Rollie Fingers, Gary Payton, Michael Strahan and Eddie Murray also came to mingle. Some sports stars, such as 7-foot-2 basketball great Artis Gilmore, proved easy to spot.

David and Dana Pump are sports consultants specializing in basketball. Boston Celtic Paul Pierce said he participated in their youth programs. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith noted, "They must have the world's biggest Rolodex in sports." They also have special recruiting skills, according to emcee Greg Anthony. "They don't really touch you. They kind of like reach out and grab you."

The brothers estimated that nearly $1 million will go to the foundation, named for their father, which funds cancer care at the Northridge Hospital. Included were hefty proceeds from auction prizes that money can't otherwise buy, such as dinner with Denzel Washington and a private concert with Brian McKnight, each selling for $25,000, and a private jet trip to Pebble Beach with De La Hoya and George Lopez, for which two couples agreed to pay $20,000 each.

On accepting the award for her husband, Lonnie Ali said, "We need to take notes from these guys."

LA Art House

Artists and collectors filled the LA Art House in West Hollywood on Aug. 12 for the opening of "Contemporary Impressionism: Light, Color, Form, Time."

In keeping with the gallery's philosophy of showcasing new talent, Lauren McCaffrey said she chose artists at varying stages of their careers. McCaffrey co-curated the exhibition with Thalassa Balanis.

Songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, an Art House contributing partner, said artist Ed Ruscha also will curate a show in the coming months. The gallery's approach, she said, benefits both young artists and the Hammer Museum, which receives all profits from sales. "There's more chance to give more money to the Hammer," she said.

Owner Margie Perenchio welcomed more than 100 guests, including artists Tina Hejtmanek, Alexandra Wiesenfeld, Fritz Chestnut and Rob Reynolds, along with fashion designer Mark Zunino, Yvette Mimieux Ruby and LACMA Chief Executive Michael Govan.

ellen.olivier@society-news.com