The Buddy System
Drawn by a visiting Kennedy, or the hip-to-the-minute environs, or maybe an old-fashioned philanthropic pang, 280 young and beautiful types crowded Zeppa restaurant in Fashion Island on Sunday night. The $75-per-person benefit raised an estimated $25,000 for Best Buddies, a national program that pairs college students with mentally retarded youths for friendship and mutual growth. The organization was founded three years ago by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, younger brother of talking head Maria Shriver and son of Eunice and Sargent Shriver, who started the Special Olympics for the mentally handicapped.
The Publicity Machine
Before the party, restaurateur Mark Zigner--son of local p.r. queen Gloria Zigner--promised there would be a glittery crop of guests, including not only Maria Shriver and her he-man hubby Arnold Schwarzenegger, but also: comedian Martin Mull, actress Heather Locklear, superjock Bruce Jenner, and Ollie North’s ex-secretary, Fawn Hall.
Sure they’ll all be there, Mark?
“Absolutely!” Zigner said, when reached by phone several days before the bash. “There’s never been a party like this in Orange County before. This will be the first party to bring L.A. down to O.C.!”
(Actually, one of the first and best in that category was organized by Zigner’s mommy--an all-star romp in a tent where Sports Club Irvine now sits.)
As it turned out, the only Hollywood wattage at the fund-raiser Sunday was provided by Dick Sargent, a very pleasant and approachable man known to fans of the classic Sixties sitcom “Bewitched” as “Darrin.”
Cause & Celeb
Drawing the most attention was Anthony Shriver, a gangly, curly-topped 24-year-old with the family’s strong jawline and quick wits. Shriver posed for endless pictures and described his foundation to an endless stream of guests. Of the party, he remarked, “To be perfectly honest, this is the best local (fund-raiser) we’ve had so far. Generally we’re glad to get 100 (guests)--and we’ve never had auction items or things like that before. This is great.”
Later, addressing the crowd with a microphone, Shriver joked, “This is the first time a Democrat has been in a room full of Republicans and actually gotten money out of them. . . . I’m going home and tell my 29 cousins that people out here are very generous.”
This from Andrew McGough, director of the West Coast region of Best Buddies, which includes a program at UC Irvine:
One client in Oklahoma, a mildly retarded man named Earl who had been institutionalized from the age of 5 until he was 20, became a Best Buddy a couple years ago. One day, while speaking to a group of college kids in Tulsa, Earl mentioned that he had never received a letter in all the years he was in an institution. Hearing that, Earl’s social worker wrote him a letter as soon as she got home. When she visited him the next week, she asked if he’d gotten her letter.
“He ran upstairs and came back down with the letter, which hadn’t been opened,” McGough said. “The social worker asked why he hadn’t read the letter, and Earl said, ‘Well, you know, I may never get another letter again.’
“That’s the kind of thing I tell the (college) students when I go to campuses,” McGough said. “It’s powerful stuff.”
Where are all the celebrities?” wondered Brenda Graham of Laguna Beach, who came to the party with her friend Tosca Komoroczy. “ Darrin is all we get?”