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The Charity Set Stars at El Rescate Benefit

TIMES SOCIETY WRITER

Amid the paparazzi’s flashbulbs, sequined gowns and overly long thank-you speeches that are the stuff of Oscar night, Hollywood still found time to be charitable.

El Rescate’s fourth annual Academy Awards bash and consciousness-raising event took place at Maple Drive restaurant in Beverly Hills, one of many Oscar-themed fund-raisers around town.

A (mostly) young, hiply dressed and socially aware crowd of about 250 actors, publicists and industry sorts paid $150 a person to take in the Oscar show on TV monitors and chow down on chili, grilled chicken, grilled salmon, shrimp, roast beef and asparagus.

“I think this night is becoming a tradition for us because while the entertainment community comes together to celebrate the achievements in their industry, they’re also making an essential contribution to El Rescate,” said Guillermo Rodezno, executive director of the organization, which provides legal, social and educational services to Central American refugees in the Los Angeles area.

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The party was considerably scaled down from last year, when 1,200 people attended. According to Rodezno, the city of Beverly Hills limited the party space this year. Profits were estimated at $75,000, including a $25,000 contribution from Reebok, the party’s underwriter, and $50,000 from ticket sales and other sponsors.

After the show, guests listened to live performances from Stephen Stills, Melissa Etheridge, Lowen and Navarro, and Strunz and Farah, ate more and watched as celebs filtered in. Singer Peter Gabriel came. After watching the show at a friend’s house, he donned a tux for this outing.

Also making appearances were Billy Zane, Wesley Snipes, Renny Harlin, a bearded Leif Garrett, Donovan Leitch, David Clennon, Julie Carmen, Rafer Johnson, Billy Idol, Christopher Reeve and event chair Patrick Lippert.

Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins arrived later, after sitting through the hourslong show at the Shrine. Said Robbins: “The show was OK; it was all right. I don’t know. I thought Madonna was good. But I never can get into those dance numbers. But everyone looks nice, and some good people won. As for the show . . . I’d much rather see Brecht.”

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Other Oscar-themed fund-raisers included the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s second annual Academy Awards celebration at the Director’s Guild, the Young Hearts of Variety Children’s Charities party at Twenty/20 and Childrens Hospital’s fete at Le Mondrian to benefit the hospital’s Childrens AIDS Center.

Snarled traffic on Sunset Boulevard didn’t keep guests from packing Le Mondrian. Among celebrities attending were Anjelica Huston, Herbie Hancock, Christian Slater, Estelle Getty and Edward James Olmos.

The food was one of the party’s main attractions. Some of the city’s top restaurants, including Eureka, Atlas Bar and Grill, Gaylord, Noa Noa, Kaktus and Robin Rose ice cream, donated varied cuisines much appreciated by guests with sophisticated palates.

Said one uniformed security guard to another: “You know, the quality of this crab is really good.”

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