It Was First-Rate All the Way


The Scene: President Clinton was in attendance for Monday night's Concert of Hope at the Pantages Theatre featuring Tony Bennett. The event raised more than $1 million to benefit Columbia University's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), and will be televised on CBS on Dec. 1. The President was honored for his contribution to the fight against substance abuse as were Bennett, the late Disney chief Frank Wells and former First Lady Betty Ford. Joining Bennett to perform duets from his album "Here's to the Ladies" were Liza Minnelli, Patti LaBelle, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Roseanne and Brandy. Tony Danza, Kelsey Grammer and John Larroquette acted as hosts.

Who Was There: Among guests at the pre-concert VIP reception were CASA founder Joseph A. Califano Jr. and his wife, Hilary, former President Gerald Ford and wife Betty, Marvin and Barbara Davis, Michael Eisner, Wells' widow, Luanne, Sherry Lansing, Teri Hatcher, Gabrielle Carteris, Kirk Cameron, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob and Dolores Hope, Ed McMahon, Judith Light, George Hamilton, Peggy Lee and Christian Slater.

The Cause: Califano said, "This is the best of the entertainment industry tonight, using their talents to really do something about the biggest problem this country has. They get beat up for portraying sex, drugs and violence, but this is music to get kids to stay drug-free. This is the entertainment industry at its most noble."

Quoted: "I've been in show business for 20 years," Jamie Lee Curtis said, "married to it and born into it, and ultimately, I've seen a lot of alcohol and drug abuse. Besides AIDS research, I think substance abuse is a rampant epidemic that certainly needs our attention."

When There's Hope: "A little thing happened to me," Bob Hope said when he was asked what brought him out for the evening. "I found Tony Bennett in Greenwich Village. He was just sensational. He's like Bing. You can never hear enough about Bing, and Tony Bennett is that way." Bennett told the same story when he took the stage, crediting Hope for discovering him early in his career.

Presidential Fare: The food catered by LaCuisine was multicultural, including carpaccio, lox, curry, pot stickers and quesadillas. And as for the meats, let's say no creature went unroasted. Whatever one's gustatory politics, there was on hand a protein to match.

Presidential Wear: Many of the ladies turned out in smart little Jackie O. Shantung suits that would make Oleg Cassini weep for joy, while many more showed up in Nancy Reagan red suit dresses. And just to prove that it's never too soon for retro, actress Carteris sported a Hillary hair band a la campaign '92.

Overheard: Lots of after-party guests seemed to need to talk out their Clinton handshakes. One woman debriefed thus to a group of sympathizers. "I shook his hand and said, 'Hi, there.' Can you believe that?"

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