The stars were out Saturday night for a good cause — the Carousel of Hope Ball — Barbara Davis’ juvenile diabetes fundraiser gala. And enough power players from the music industry filled the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom for the every-other-year bash, to launch any career.
Clive Davis, Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, David Foster, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Jimmy Jam and Rod Stewart were at the head table. Diane Warren and Nigel Lythgoe sat nearby.
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As for the actual performances, Jennifer Hudson slayed the industry crowd with a cover of “Hallelujah” along with “And I’m Telling You.” Her wouldn’t-want-to-follow-that performance came after Josh Groban’s three songs and a closing acoustic set from Babyface, all under the direction of Foster. Jay Leno hosted.
Formally, it is called the Mercedes-Benz Carousel of Hope Ball, founded by Barbara and the late Marvin Davis, the one-time owner of both 20th Century Fox Studios and the Beverly Hills Hotel.
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But none of the proceeds from that property windfall in the 1980s were returned to the embattled pink hotel on Sunset Boulevard.
Instead, the Beverly Hilton looked much like another Davis affair in the International Ballroom, Clive Davis’ annual Pre-Grammy party.
Clive Davis (no relation to host Barbara Davis) was attached to the host’s side all night, from the happy hour inner circle cocktails in one of the smaller ballrooms that is best known as a press room on Golden Globes night.
Behind two additional layers of security in that Santa Monica ballroom, there was Alan Thicke blowing a kiss across the room, as Kathy Griffin approached Larry King to stir the pot and tell him that Suzanne Somers (next to her) was saying mean things about him.
“This is Jimmy Jam,” a handler said while introducing the producer, as the Collins sisters (Jackie and Joan) posed with Gordy. Everybody wanted a photo with Johnny Mathis.
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Barry Manilow crossed paths with party-friendly former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in this inner sanctum of flashbulbs and wine.
Jerry and Linda Bruckheimer strolled nearby in the auction area, where bidding was active on signed James Taylor and Tommy Petty guitars, dinners at Craig’s and Nobu, and a starting $1,500 bid for two tickets to next year’s HBO Emmy party.
Diane Keaton‘s big black hat gave her away across the room, where Natalie Cole mixed with Raquel Welch and Carousel regular Vanna White.
Admittedly, this is not the crowd that will ever be after-partying at the Warwick or 1Oak. The social media presence was noticeably light.
However, the pockets are not light. This crowd delivers money – $75 million to date.
Paid tables filled the ballroom almost all the way to the doors, the closest I’ve seen to the Golden Globes’ “every inch full capacity” saturation.
Once the program started, Jay Leno showed some rust. He fumbled the front end of a joke about alleged child abusing football player “Andre” Peterson. His name is actually Adrian Peterson.
“No kid deserves to be beat like that … except Justin Bieber,” Leno quipped, his best laugh line of the night.
Over a din of people chomping shrimp salads, it was odd to see him so thoroughly ignored, and David Foster was not having it. Foster interrupted Leno’s monologue to come on stage and basically tell the crowd to shut up.
Leno would return the favor later while the crowd who may not have been that familiar with Groban talked over his first two songs. Leno tried a barter: “There’s this din (in the room),” Leno scolded. “It’s such a beautiful song. Talk when I’m on (stage).”
One duo commanded eyeballs naturally, even if it allowed this former Celtic fan to relive the agony of the “Showtime” Lakers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a surprise appearance) passed off to Magic Johnson, the lone honoree of the night.
“The proceeds from tonight go to making sure that people can live a healthy life, a good life, and a long life,” Johnson told the crowd, speaking for six minutes without notes or a teleprompter.
“I understand that probably better than anybody in this room because for 23 years now I’ve been living with HIV, so what you can do for people is so important.”
Johnson also apologized for the Dodgers’ demise in the playoffs. “We are sorry for what happened last week and that we disappointed all of you like I disappointed myself,” the Dodgers co-owner said. “I will promise you this: We will be better next season. I want to tell (Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw), don’t worry about a thing. He’ll bounce back and lead us to a World Series.”
“We’ve sat shiva,” Shawn King told me of how she and rabid Dodgers husband Larry King acknowledge the loss.
King, who himself has type 2 diabetes, has been a surrogate leading up to the event appearing on “The Doctors” and talking about the cause.
The Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes is in Denver, and this event has drawn George Clooney, Halle Berry, and a last minute cancellation from then-sitting President Bill Clinton since they first threw this Carousel of Hope in 1977. The center treats 7,000 children and adults with diabetes.
Others on the credit roll Saturday night included producer George Schlatter, Guess, Patron, and American Airlines.