The Scene: There was a screen showing music videos for every sight line at the celebrity-rich, pre-Grammy party at the Palace in Hollywood on Tuesday evening. The occasion was MTV's annual benefit for Rock the Vote, an independent, nonprofit organization whose purpose is to motivate the nation's youth to become involved in the political process. The fete also functioned as a presentation ceremony for the Patrick Lippert Award, which went to musical artists Queen Latifah and Pearl Jam. Lippert was executive director of Rock the Vote from 1991 until his death from AIDS in 1993.
Who Was There: The room was elbow to elbow with music biz heavies, including Atlantic Records President Danny Goldberg and MTV President Judy McGrath. Holding up the talent end were award winner Queen Latifah (Pearl Jam was out of the country) and award presenters Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge, as well as former Nirvana drummer Krist Novoselic; David Crosby; Peter Gabriel; Lisa Loeb, members of Soundgarden, L7 and the B-52s; plus actors Adam Sandler, Rosanna Arquette and Julia Sweeney.
The Buzz: The big issue of the evening seemed to be the so-called Motor Voter Bill, which allows voters to be automatically registered when they apply for a driver's license. Hisses went out to the State of California for not adopting it and "The Flat Tire Award" (an actual flat tire) was presented in absentia to Gov. Pete Wilson for his efforts to block the legislation.
Chow: A buffet of pizza, pasta and salads. Waiters roamed the crowd with such bizarre concoctions as Brie and papaya quesadillas and coconut balls with Parmesan cheese.
Political Savvy 101: "Right now, with the Congress being swung to the right, my generation is in a lot of trouble," said rapper Queen Latifah, 24. "We have a lot of people making decisions for us who couldn't care less about us. So it's even more important that we get out there and fight. If we don't make the connection between voting and the problems that we have in our society and how one can change the other, then we're not going to succeed. We need to empower my generation."
Advanced Political Savvy: "I see American politics as being influenced by cash," said Novoselic, who started a music industry PAC called JAMMPAC (Joint Artists & Music Promotion Political Action Committee). "If you make a campaign contribution, the person who gets elected wants to be obliged to your constituency, because they were elected because your constituency made an effort to support them. There's pay-back. That's the American political system."
Money Matters: 1,000 tickets were sold at $150 each. Altogether (tickets plus donations), $250,000 was collected.