Heavy Hitters Ready to Push War on AIDS at May 31 Event

The social omens are clear this week--that Washington and especially the White House are getting ready to gear up for the AIDS crisis.

Longtime advocates in the AIDS fight see the change this way: The appearance at the May 31 American Foundation for AIDS Research dinner by the First Reagans plus the heavy-hitter list of dinner co-chairs means that after two years of efforts by the medical and gay community, the catastrophic disease finally has the attention of the Adminstration and Capitol Hill.

D.C. political operatives Robert Strauss and Nancy Reynolds are the dinner committee co-chairs, and the committee includes the likes of former HEW Secretary Joseph Califano, Jack Valenti, attorney Lester Hyman, lobbyist Timothy Boggs and publisher Bill Regardie, plus another two dozen heavy hitters. Add that to the list of dinner co-chairs and vice chairs (hey, it's Washington--titles for everyone) that includes Elizabeth Taylor, New York Life Insurance Co. Chairman Donald K. Ross (New York Life is underwriting the dinner), Edie Wasserman, Abigail Van Buren, Charlene and Sally Engelhard, Hoffmann-LaRouche's Irwin Lerner and Warner Communications' Steven J. Ross.

The dinner, at Potomac-on-the-River, will be preceded by three swank and private receptions--one on a yacht. That, combined with the fact that the tables are $10,000 each, means that AIDS indeed has captured at least the private sector's attention in that public-sector city.

KATZ MEOW--Assemblyman Richard Katz and his bride, Gini, wanted to make sure that their political friends felt perfectly at home at their recent wedding. So, on the reply card, were two sure signs of a politician's life style--a union "bug," showing that the invites had been printed in a union shop, and a variation on an oft-quoted line: "Not printed or mailed or married at taxpayer's expense."

The tickets were $250 a person, but once in, it was free, free, free.

So fancy-dancy Rodeo Drive was a nosher's paradise Sunday as the Concern Foundation closed the boutique-brimming street for its annual block party--this year netting close to $500,000 for cancer research. The thin-and-sometimes-beautiful folks forgot calories, and lined up for hot dogs, lobsters, chicken from The Grill, and frozen-yogurt sundaes. Wandering by in a crowd of 2,500-plus were David and Irene Karney, Vicki Reynolds, Ellen and Bernie Byrens, and Dr. Rex Kennamer, talking with Lynne Wasserman about his role in getting the first Concern block party off the ground.

The auctioned Jaguar went for $45,000, Pierre Cossette put on an extravaganza with Bobby Vinton, and, with the Concern folks still counting, the gross was somewhere around $800,000 (an expected net of more than $500,000) and kudos to the committee headed by Jan Somers and Jean E. Gold Friedman.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS--PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) hosts a special luncheon and auction Thursday celebrating their third year. Ken Kragen and Cathy Worthington are underwriting the event at the Four Seasons Hotel, with Sooky Goldman chairing the event. . . . The American Red Cross does a benefit screening of "Dancing Lady," the film classic starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable on June 4 at Lorimar Pictures. . . . Leonard Bernstein will be honored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Southern California on Sept. 13 at the Century Plaza. Frank and Catherine Price kick off the event with a cocktail party June 27. . . . The Mannequins of the Assistance League of Southern California hold a "high tea" Thursday honoring this year's "Eve Award" winners, including Candy Spelling.

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