As a freak thunder and lighting storm struck Los Angeles on Thursday night, knocking out power in some neighborhoods, you would never have known it inside the Dolby Theatre.
The home of the Oscars was soundproof to the outside world, proving that the Dolby DNA reaches deeper into the theatre’s bones than just the cosmetic naming rights might suggest.
The acoustics allowed guests to hear from the ill children of the late Paul Newman’s network of camps and their celebrity camp counselors for the night, a group that included Renee Zellweger, Jamie Foxx, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston, Carole King and more.
Child artists who attend camps for children living with serious illnesses and their families, The SeriousFun Children’s Network, bookended a night of music and comedy with renditions of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” In the 70 minutes in between, the “counselors” took over the mics.
Emcee Jamie Foxx had just been on the same Dolby stage just 24 hours earlier for the “American Idol” finale and managed to sneak in a group outing to Dave and Buster’s night with the honored kids.
Anjelica Huston called Newman a “private and passionate philanthropist.” Huston is already an Oscar winner. The sight of Keaton, who referenced “Birdman” in his remarks, on stage at the Dolby brought back memories of last awards season.
He co-starred with Newman in his final film, with both voicing roles in Disney’s “Cars.”
“It’s a little bit of a stretch, but I can say I was in a movie with that guy,” Keaton said. “(Newman) got to know campers in a way two actors who pass in the hall outside of a recording studio never can.”
More film history came out via Burt Bacharach. Bacharach revealed that 20th Century Fox initially wanted to cut “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The song went on to win an Oscar.
Jay Leno raided the video vault to screen clips of his go-kart race loss to Newman around the halls of the old NBC lot in Burbank.
“Competitive eating is a sport, but somehow we can’t just accept soccer,” Leno joked as part of his set.
“I’m not Paul Newman,” Danny Devito said when he first appearaed on stage. DeVito led similar festivities two weeks ago on the East Coast for the New York edition of this gala.
Natalie Cole put in a three-song set with a glittery mic, including hit “This Will Be.”
After singing three songs earlier in the night, including “Beautiful,” Carole King returned to the stage to lead an all-star closing number of “You’ve Got a Friend” with all of the talent joinging the campers. The audience rose to join in the ultimate summer camp sing-along, complete with some swaying.
Although the lighting rig, band placement and screen looked similar, the production crew said that they pulled a Serious Not-Fun all-night turnaround to load-out the “American Idol” set and load-in the new show after the singing competition’s Wednesday night finale.