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Saving the Children at a Modern-Day Xanadu...while Gerard Butler avoids feeling like a dork (blog)

Category: Misc./General Career News
Article Date: January 14, 2011 | Publication: New York Times - The Carpetbagger Blog | Author: MELENA RYZIK
Source: New York Times - The Carpetbagger Blog

Posted by: admin


LOS ANGELES— Whoever thought politics made for strange bedfellows has never visited the intersection of charity and celebrity.

On Thursday night the Bagger and our posse attended a benefit for Save the Children and Artists United for Peace and Justice, thrown by the luxury goods company Bulgari at the home of Ron Burkle, the supermarket magnate and Friend of Bill.

Well, ‘home’ is kind of an understatement. Mr. Burkle’s residence is a Beverly Hills estate called Green Acres; it was built in 1927 by Harold Lloyd, an early Hollywood star, who did “a really cool thing,” Mr. Burkle told us. “There’s this great children’s yard out in the back yard. He built the children’s yard before he built the house, so his kids would have fun coming here. It has a carousel and it has a slide and all this fun stuff.” (Imagine: the Bagger didn’t even know there was such a thing as a children’s yard.)

Lloyd lived there until his death in 1972, and Mr. Burkle has owned the estate for 18 years. He entertains often. Among the guests enjoying bacon-wrapped dates and pulled pork with radishes in his courtyard: the writer and director Paul Haggis (“Crash”), who was honored for his charitable work in Haiti; Simon Fuller, a producer of “American Idol,” also an honoree; Sharon Osbourne; Malin Ackerman; Demi Moore, svelte beyond compare; Paz Vega (ditto); Adrien Brody, in a tux and slightly askew black tie (though it was not a formal affair); Kirsten Dunst; Josh Brolin; and Niecy Nash, an actress from “Reno 911.” By the bar, Ashton Kutcher, in baggy jeans, chewed gum and spent a long time talking to Tom Hooper, the director of “The King’s Speech.” Gerard Butler made his usual rounds. “He’ll be hitting on you right now,” Mr. Haggis said, introducing him to his friend Frederique, a comely woman in a strapless dress.

Despite the actor-heavy guest list, and despite the fact that he is hosting a party at his home for “Black Swan” tonight, Mr. Burkle is not a member of the Academy nor is he in “the business” in this company town, he said.

“I swore when I moved to L.A. 18 years ago, that if I ever did anything in the movie industry, I would deny it, and if I ever backed a film, I would never put my name on it,” he said. “So I would not qualify for anything. The only time I wish I had a different policy is, I’d like easier access to screeners. That’s all I would do for it.”

Seriously? Even he craves getting those freebies?

“Easier,” he underscored. “I can get them. I just said easier.”

After the cocktail hour – when guests like Jared Leto, Cheryl Tiegs, Julia Ormond and Gina Gershon crept in – the dinner was held in an adjacent tent. Well, ‘tent’ is kind of an understatement. It was a black-carpeted structure, with a ceiling lined in fabric and walls made to look like a trompe l’oeil children’s library. The tables were black glass with quilted, leather-like legs. (Bulgari is known for its accessories.) The menu was created by the celebrity chef Suzanne Goin, of Lucques fame, and thoroughly enjoyed by the Bagger’s tablemate, Bleona Qereti, an Albanian pop star — “the Madonna of Albania,” according to her Web site — who said she was working on her first English-language album with the producer Timbaland. “It took me a year to get him to talk to me,” she confided, pressing a card in our hand.

Anyway, where were we?

Oh yes: the charity. Mark Shriver – brother of Maria and vice president of Save the Children – spoke, as did Mr. Haggis and Mr. Fuller. Mr. Haggis helped conduct a slightly foul-mouthed auction which raised hundreds of thousands for the organizations. Then Ricky Martin performed.

“Um, there are dancers and a fog machine,” the Bagger’s pal and illustrious producer Jeremy Beiler whispered to us, as the stage was set up. There sure were. Backed by a full band, Mr. Martin played a handful of songs, to a mostly enthusiastic crowd, led by Maria Bello, dancing in a sparkly mini-dress, and Milla Jovovich, swaying in a long gown. Mr. Leto, a musician himself (30 Seconds to Mars), just watched. At one point Mr. Martin jumped off the stage to plant a big kiss on Ms. Osbourne.

Afterward, the Bagger caught up with Mr. Butler, who had been cutting a swath of preemptive jealousy all night. (“You’re sitting close to my wife,” a Frenchman at his table told him, “so behave.”)

Does he always inspire that kind of fear in men?

“I think that’s something you’re just making up because it’s good journalism,” he said.

Actually, that would be the opposite of good journalism.

“Tell me, from the bottom of your heart, did you really notice that?” he asked the Bagger, and we said, resoundingly, yes.

O.K., he copped to it.

“I do think it’s sometimes something that I have to be sensitive of.” he said, “If a guy’s girlfriend or wife comes up and they both come up together, I always try to make the guy feel completely comfortable and not threatened. You know, if the wife’s a bit of a fan. Because I’ve had similar situations, and I feel like a total dork. So I try and be conscious of that.”

Then everybody went down the steep hill of the driveway to wait for the valets to return their cars, Ms. Bello with her shoes off.

 


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