What’s in a name?
If the names are Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, there is enough star power to attract 500 people to the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel and gross $1.7 million to benefit the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund.
The two couples co-founded the charity, along with Kelly Chapman Meyer, Anne Douglas, Quinn Ezralow, Marion Laurie and Jamie Tisch, to help find more effective approaches to the early detection of women’s cancers. The Wednesday event included a presentation of the 2010 Nat King Cole Award to Christina Applegate and the 2010 Courage Award to Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Taylor Swift flew in from Nashville to perform.
Following her first number, Swift thanked the Hankses and Spielbergs not only for the invitation, but also for “the opportunity to say the words, ‘I would like to thank the Hankses and Spielbergs.’ ”
As the night’s emcee, Hanks welcomed the audience, prevailing upon them to greet WCRF’s founders with more than the standard ovation. “We’re going to give them wolf whistles,” he said, adding: “We are not going to hold our applause until they are all introduced. We are going to go nuts with every name.”
Hanks also relayed the good news that progress has been made in the charity’s Biomarker Discovery Project for early detection of breast cancer. He also noted that the audience included astronaut Buzz Aldrin and said that if we can put a man on the moon, we can find a biomarker.
“So many of our lives have been touched by cancer,” singer Hill said. In the case of Hill and husband McGraw, the encounter was a close one. McGraw’s father, baseball player Tug McGraw, died of brain cancer in early 2004.
“There is,” Hill said, “still so much to do.”
‘Pee-wee Herman’ opening
The moment Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, caught sight of all the familiar faces at his Jan. 20 opening night party, he got swept up in emotion. “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” which premiered that night at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, was his first appearance as the kid in the red bow tie in nearly 20 years, and 500 people stuck around to celebrate.
“I am so overwhelmed I cannot talk,” Reubens said, tears welling up in his eyes. “This is awesome -- all the people out of my past, my first agent, everyone who has been responsible for my career. They’re all here. I am totally overwhelmed.” The show, which runs through Feb. 7, is a new version of an old stage play that eventually brought him a TV show, movies and fame.
David Arquette dressed Pee-wee-style, in gray suit and red tie, naming Reubens “one of my best friends in the world” and noting their special connection. “We were both in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ” he said. “He turned me into a vampire. When that happens, you have a bond for eternity.”
“He’s timeless,” said Seth Meyers, news anchor at “Saturday Night Live’s” Weekend Update, “as arch and old-fashioned as when we watched his show as kids.”
As servers passed onion rings at the Club Nokia after-party, recalling Herman’s cooking skills (or lack thereof) in the show, there was no missing John Paragon, who played the genie, still in full makeup.
“It takes two hours every day to put the makeup on,” he said.
Josh Meyers, the show’s firefighter and brother of Seth, said that at first he had fears about working with such a comedic icon, but he soon saw that Reubens was “sweet and kind, and willing to listen to suggestions.”
Also greeting Reubens were Debi Mazar, Jon Heder, Patricia Arquette, David Hasselhoff, Marisa Tomei, Cheri Oteri, Ellen Page and Drew Pinsky.