Tonight's fund-raiser for AIDS Project Los Angeles is expected to draw a huge outpouring of support from celebrities, executives and the arts community, generating an estimated $1 million for APLA's activities to help persons with the disease and its related symptoms.
The fourth "Commitment to Life" program at the Wiltern Theatre, honors Madonna, David Hockney, Ian McKellen and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-L.A.) for their efforts in the fight against AIDS. Rod Stewart will headline the show.
The event has become something of a Hollywood staple since the first "Commitment to Life" in September, 1985, chaired by Elizabeth Taylor. The drama that evening was heightened by the knowledge of Rock Hudson's serious condition as a result of AIDS; he died a month later.
In a statement from Mathilde Krim, the founding co-chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, Madonna was credited with "tireless efforts to raise awareness about AIDS." Krim said one Madonna concert netted more than $425,000 for AmFAR.
Hockney, in an interview, was clearly uncomfortable addressing his generosity towards AIDS and APLA. "All I've done is give paintings to sales and things," he said. "They don't need to thank me. I've lost a lot of friends to AIDS. I do it for them. I couldn't not do it."
McKellen is being honored for his one-man show, "Acting Shakespeare," on the London stage, which raised about $1 million for AIDS causes. McKellen said his award may have "something to do with having come out as a gay man . . . maybe the organizers feel it sends a message" to the entertainment community.
Waxman, who has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on AIDS issues, said in a statement Thursday, that he "must share the honor . . . with members of Congress who joined in the effort finally to provide something approaching adequate funding for AIDS research and treatment."
Among the many "star ushers" for the show are Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston, Christine Lahti, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Swayze, Elizabeth Montgomery, James Woods and Melanie Griffith.
Times staff writer Barbara Isenberg contributed to this article.