Mega-style back-yard benefit for earth's sake...
Sting said it was always his ambition to assemble "the most expensive garage band in history."
He did that Monday night when the phenomenal line-up of Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Don Henley, Bruce Hornsby, Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Paulino, Danny Kortchmar and Danny Quatrochi assembled in a back-yard tent for a benefit performance to end all benefit performances.
Producer Ted Field and wife Susie hosted the celebrity and entertainment industry-studded 'Evening in Brazil.' The hottest ticket in town, the fund-raiser at their Beverly Hills mega-mansion raised more than $1 million for the Environmental Media Assn. and the Rainforest Foundation. The former is to raise awareness within the entertainment community about environmental problems, the latter to preserve the Amazon rain forest. The top table went for $50,000; individual tickets were $1,000.
The impressive entertainment and the fact that the environment is the charity cause du jour brought out nearly all Hollywood: Tom and Jillie Selleck, Jeff and Susan Bridges, Don Johnson, Grant Tinker, Peter Guber, Jane and Michael Eisner, Barbara and Marvin Davis, Wendy and Leonard Goldberg, Lakers forward A.C. Green, Bonnie Raitt, Allee Willis, Mike Medavoy, Jayni and Chevy Chase, Casey and Ted Danson, Lilly and Brandon Tartikoff, Goldie Hawn, Gil Friesen, Billy Crystal (the show's emcee); politicos Kathleen Brown, former governor Jerry Brown, Gray Davis, and gubernatorial candidates John Van de Kamp and Dianne Feinstein and Lyn and Norman Lear. The Lears, along with the Fields, were among the founders of the Environmental Media Assn.
Ed Begley Jr., an environmental activist from way back, came to the party via the RTD. "Oh yeah," he said, producing his well-worn bus pass. "Bicycle by day, bus by night. The only way we're going to change is by personal action."
It was the only party in recent memory that seemed to end too early. The brief musical set, casual and friendly, seemed to just be revving up by the time the performers called it quits. The set started with Sting singing 'Fragile', 'My Funny Valentine' and 'Ain't No Sunshine.'
Springsteen sang 'The River,' Henley 'The End of the Innocence.' The whole group did 'You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone.' Simon sang 'Slip Slidin' Away' and Sting and company 'Every Breath You Take.'
American Indian Red Crow performed an Indian song, and film clips showed the devastation of the rain forests.
"Sting told me this was going to be like a big cookout," Springsteen said as the audience laughed. "And I said, 'Sting, what if it rains?' And he said, 'We'll pitch a tent.'"
Some tent. The powers that be may want to preserve the environment, but they're aware that L.A.'s elite are used to livin' large. The crowd, shouting to be heard over the live jazz combo, was served cocktails under a clear plastic tent decorated with tiny lights and chiffon streamers. Guests made their way through the Fields' house (catching a glimpse of a Tintoretto on the way) to the dinner tent. Rococo's catered dinner (paella, black beans, chicken) was served family-style to cut down on waste, and the centrepieces were politically correct live plants, no cut flowers. A line in the ad book assured guests that "the papers used to create this journal support the preservation of the environment." Party favours were copies of "Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Help Clean Up the Earth."
Not everyone got off scot free. Don Henley told the audience, "Sting and I were in the coatroom and saw about a quarter of a million dollars worth of dead animals down there. Sting said we should burn 'em. The security guard must have heard us because we went back and they had moved them. So your coats are safe."
"We've raised over $1 million from this," said Lyn Lear, "and I don't know what we're going to do next year."
© The Los Angeles Times by Jeaninne Stein