First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg will be the recipients of the seventh “Commitment to Life” awards given by AIDS Project Los Angeles to recognize work in the fight against the disease.
The awards will be presented at a star-studded event at the Universal Amphitheatre on Jan. 27.
The annual show has attracted some of the entertainment world’s biggest names since it was conceived in 1985 by Elizabeth Taylor as an entertainment industry response to AIDS following the death of actor Rock Hudson. Since then, it has become one of the largest single AIDS fund-raisers anywhere. Last year’s event recognizing Barbra Streisand and industry mogul David Geffen raised $3.9 million for the AIDS service organization.
“We are delighted to be recognizing two individuals who have both played key roles in the ongoing crusade against AIDS,” said Geffen, this year’s event co-chairman, in a prepared statement.
The APLA chairman, TV and film producer Steve Tisch, said the choice of the First Lady was to “make this a special event. David Geffen and Barry Diller personally went after Mrs. Clinton and David called last week to say she had accepted and will be present.”
Tisch cited Mrs. Clinton’s health care reform proposals, “which are sensitive to AIDS issues,” as the reason behind the award.
Tisch said Katzenberg is on the APLA governing board and has been “extremely supportive over the years, both personally and via Disney. He has made a substantial financial commitment to APLA and to date he has not allowed himself to be honored. It’s time that the business honor him.”
For the January event, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman will co-direct the entertainment in a program themed “Heaven Can Wait,” which will honor the legacies of many celebrities lost to AIDS. In addition to Diller and Geffen, the event is also chaired by Ron Meyer of the Creative Artists Agency and Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner.
Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster.