Rebels With a Cause gala draws Hollywood bigwigs to fight cancer

The event: Rebels With a Cause at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood on Thursday honored Oracle Corp. co-founder and Chief Executive Larry Ellison, raising $9 million to benefit the medical research of Dr. David Agus, director of the USC Westside Cancer Center and the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine.

The news: Paramount CEO Brad Grey announced plans to build a new cancer institute in Los Angeles. He said it's envisioned to be "a life-changing and life-saving facility, dedicated to providing the most cutting edge and groundbreaking medicine available."


The show: Pharrell Williams bounded from onstage into the audience, singing his Oscar-nominated tune "Happy" as guests rose up to dance along, some of them, such as January Jones, snapping close-ups.

Jonah Hill and Anna Kendrick read grateful letters from patients treated by Agus, and as a finale, Barry Manilow sang three numbers, ending with “One Voice,” as, one by one, the 62 voices of the USC Choir joined in.

The crowd: Honorary event co-chairs Grey, his wife, Cassandra Grey, and Dr. Carmen Puliafito, dean of USC's Keck School of Medicine, drew from the entertainment, business and medical communities for the guest list. It included actors Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher, Molly Shannon, B.J. Novak, Bob Saget, John Stamos, Alice Eve; model Helen Lasichanh; Japanese recording star Yoshiki; songwriter Carole Bayer Sager and Robert Daly; writer-director Christopher Nolan; producer Jerry Bruckheimer and philanthropist-financier Michael Milken. Lynne Benioff and Marc Benioff, chief executive of, served as co-presenting sponsors, with David Foster as musical director and Don Mischer as event producer.

The honoree: In remarks, the 16-time Grammy-winning Foster praised Ellison for, among other qualities, his complexity, comprehensive knowledge, world-changing technology, love for life, good manners, America's Cup win, "superb and overlooked Oscar-worthy acting performance in 'Iron Man 2'" and his generosity, which the honoree later proved by announcing that he would match the gala's up-to-then $4.5 million in proceeds, doubling the night's total haul.

Quotes of note:  Said the night's emcee, Jimmy Kimmel, "[Ellison] has been very, very generous and if God forbid he ever dies of anything, Dr. Agus is in deep, deep [trouble]."

More numbers: Tickets started at $1,000 each with tables for the more than 500 guests ranging to more than to $100,000.

Ellen Olivier is founder of Society News LA.