Never mind that some guests at Saturday’s Carousel of Hope Ball shouted to Robert De Niro, the night’s honoree, to repeat his bleeped-for-television anti-President Trump remark from this year’s Tony Awards. He wasn’t giving in — well, not exactly.
“I haven’t had many occasions to speak publicly since the Tony Awards,” the two-time Oscar winner joked from the podium. “It’s very brave of you, Barbara [Davis], to give me this opportunity... Don’t worry. I won’t do it this time. I’m not going to say it, not tonight anyway, though I might be thinking it right now … pretty much every waking moment.”
The Carousel of Hope Ball, hosted by Jay Leno, raised more than $1.9 million for the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.
In an earlier conversation during cocktail hour, De Niro said he might say “a few things” about politics but he didn’t want to distract from the night’s importance. True to his word, after his jokes onstage about his Tony remarks, he went on to praise Davis, the event’s chair and founder, for her work on behalf of diabetes.
“Barbara isn’t satisfied with just helping. She’s in it to make a real difference,” he said. “She’s going for the brass ring, the cure. It’s in her sights. She’ll get there and bring us all with her.”
Then, just before leaving the stage, he turned to the audience. “One reminder — the drinks, wine and beer are flowing,” he quipped. “But be careful if you have too much, you may end up on the Supreme Court.”
With Clive Davis and Quincy Jones as music co-chairs, the black-tie affair featured a bonanza of musical talent, including multiple Grammy winners Gladys Knight, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and David Foster, who showcased singers Pia Toscano, Shelea Frazier and Fernando Varela.
Guests mingled during a two-hour cocktail reception as they placed their bids in a silent auction of hundreds of items on hotel stays, restaurant certificates, VIP tickets to concerts, TV shows and sporting events, autographed sports memorabilia and musical instruments, children’s toys, artwork, jewelry and more.
Current events figured into more than a few conversations when guests weren’t busy bidding in the silent auction. Relaxing on a sofa inside a separate photo room, Beverly Johnson said, “After [Bill] Cosby and [Brett] Kavanaugh, going to a three-hour, fairy-tale ball sounded like a good idea.” (The supermodel was an accuser of actor-comedian Bill Cosby, who was convicted of sexually assaulting another woman and recently sentenced to a prison term.)
Instead of wearing a gown to the affair, actress Frances Fisher opted for a “notorious RBG” T-shirt bearing the words “I’ll fight.” She wore the tee, she said, among other reasons, in honor of a song by composer, friend and fellow guest Diane Warren. The song was written for the documentary, “RBG,” about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Silver Linings Playbook” director David O. Russell introduced De Niro to an audience that included business leaders such as L.A. Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and wife Michele B. Chan, entertainment VIPs and actors Katharine McPhee, Joan Collins, Debbie Allen, Loretta Devine, Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, Lea Thompson, George Hamilton and Brigitte Nielsen.
Tickets for the 870 guests began at $1,250 and tables ranged to $50,000. Originally founded in 1977 — after Dana Davis, a daughter of Barbara Davis and her husband, Marvin Davis, former owner of 20th Century Fox, developed diabetes — the balls have raised more than $100 million over the years.
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