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They Schmoozed to Beat the Band

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: The Music and Entertainment Chapter of the City of Hope’s “Spirit of Life” dinner Wednesday at Universal City. Honored was Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen, who said when first agreeing to be honoree, “I thought they could hold this in a phone booth. It’s humbling that 1,200 people would come.”

Who Was There: Rosen, who came with his wife, Rikki, and his mother, Hannah; chapter President Bruce Resnikoff; chairman Zach Horowitz; dinner co-chairs Doug Morris, Tom Ross and Claire Rothman; City of Hope President Sanford Shapero, plus what one guest called “the power base of the $6-billion music industry.” Among the mighty were Polygram’s Alain Levy; Warner Bros.’ Bob Morgado; MCA’s Al Teller; Virgin’s Phil Quartararo; Capitol’s Gary Gersh; Giant’s Irving Azoff and A&M;'s Al Cafaro. Steve Tisch said he came because, “I’m trying to get tickets to the Rolling Stones in Las Vegas.”

The Setting: A 22,000-square-foot free-span tent erected near Universal’s CityWalk. The three-sided canopy featured a sumptuous decor in ivory tones, 16 chandeliers and two 40-foot light-encrusted trees. It somehow managed to combine the best of Versailles and the hangar where the Goodyear blimp is parked.

Entertainment: Though there was a dazzling performance by Garry Shandling, the main attraction was the unrelenting socializing. As MCA’s Teller commented: “Schmoozing is to the record industry what oxygen is to the average human being.”

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Triumphs: Acting as combination emcee/drill sergeant (“Hey, siddown! Be quiet! Let’s get this thing going!”), Joe Smith propelled the proceedings along to a 10:30 p.m. closing. One observer said he thought “the goal was to do this faster than the Grammys.”

Money Matters: With tables priced from $5,000 to $35,000, more than $3 million was raised for the hospital’s research and treatment facilities. Rosen said the secret of amassing this much money is to “be honest, say why it’s important and tell them it’s easier to give the money now than to keep getting these calls.”

Chow: Patina catered the impossible: an epicurean dinner for 1,200. It began with a layered cake with artichokes and Dungeness crab, a main course of roasted salmon with fried leeks and ended with a chocolate pecan tart topped with root beer ice cream.

Overheard: Just before dinner, Rosen and the record company presidents were brought together for a photo. “I love the forced camaraderie,” said one label chief as he eyed his competitors. “It’s like being trapped together on a nuclear submarine.”

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