Safari attire adorned bodies this steamy summer night when The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) raised more than $1.2 million for wildlife conservation. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning actress Betty White, nearly 1,000 guests casually perused the park and visited with furry friends. "Animal walkabouts" allowed guests to get up close and personal with a diversity of creatures and participate in feedings of the zoo's beautiful-but-beastly giraffes, tigers, bears and hippos. Nickelodeon executives were honored for creating the popular preschool show "Go, Diego, Go!" about children who engage in scientific thinking and investigative strategy to help animals in trouble.
Actor/comedian Albert Brooks and his wife Kimberly Brooks have recently become active in the organization, thanks to the encouragement of GLAZA trustee Angela Janklow, a sometime writer for Vanity Fair and currently in the employ of the Dolce & Gabbana company.
Kimberly Brooks' hand-painted "Randa's World," a portrait of the zoo's own rhinoceros, was donated to the live auction. Now that's beastly-licious!
And Justice For All
This was not Cinderella's ball. For one, there were more pedestrians than carriages -- roughly 4,000 scenesters -- and the red carpet was really a stairwell through the garage, but it opened onto the sprawling studioscape of The Lot in Hollywood. There was little couture but ample California chic; no classically contained Mozart but the shimmering riffs of The Violent Femmes; no celebrities but the sexiest press in town (Los Angeles magazine called it one of the "top ten coolest thing to do in July"). In other words, if you weren't at The Justice Ball on July 28, where were you?
Those who attended can congratulate themselves on helping to raise more than half a million dollars for Bet Tzedek, "The House of Justice," a brand-name nonprofit that provides free legal services to more than 10,000 Angelenos in need, regardless of their religious or ethnic background.
"It was spectacular," Matthew Scelza, director of marketing and development said. "It's grown into a full-blown festival -- it's not just a concert, there's a karaoke lounge, a VIP section and casino tables and 3,000 people dancing in front of the stage."
Many people danced so hard, their feet hurt. By the time the Violent Femmes finished singing their smash "Blister in the Sun," piles of designer shoes had accumulated beside the dance floor, and although the pumpkin hour was set for 1 a.m., at that point guests were just getting started.
The Justice Ball is the second-largest fundraiser of the year for Bet Tzedek -- their annual dinner gala in January trumping the ball as the primary giving event, yet this much hyped-and-headlined event is lucrative to the organization for other reasons. Not only does it fundraise a significant portion of their yearly operating costs, but it has become the premier means of gaining exposure with young, talented attorneys. Bet Tzedek is always on the lookout for new benevolent blood and this event has helped generate buzz for brand-building. Working there does not pay the starting salary a Harvard law-school grad could procure from a snazzy corporate firm, but accruing professional experience at a prestigious nonprofit is both unusual and distinguished. The ball also generates countless volunteers who dedicate themselves to continued involvement.
Of the almost $550,000 solicited thorough this event, approximately 40 percent will defray vendor costs for the event, primarily disbursed for use of the venue, band, non-kosher food and lighting. But not to worry -- Scelza promises Bet Tzedek received "sweetheart deals" from contributing vendors and sponsors that significantly reduced the overall expense of an event many people are quite passionate in supporting. Hopefully next year, they'll be able to afford a few pareve items for the buffet.
Scene and Heard ...
- Real-estate development king Jerry H. Snyder, best known for The Water Garden project in Santa Monica and The Crescent in Beverly Hills, was honored by the American Jewish Committee at a swanky Beverly Wilshire Hotel event with special guests Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Councilmember Tom LaBonge.
- The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute thinks art is the most profound catalyst for social change and thus created a glossy 16-month planner featuring the work of 16 feminist artists, including Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro, as well as international rising stars, Swiss Israeli Ariane Littman-Cohen and Indian Jewish Siona Benjamin, artists who work in a variety of media (from corten steel sculpture and needlework to sprayed acrylic on canvas to public art made with recyclable materials). Beverly Naidus designed a quilt image for the cover titled, "Half-Jewish." The calendar "Creating Art, Promoting Change: Works by Jewish Women" is available for purchase at http://www.brandeis.edu/hbi or by calling (781) 736-8114.
- What do forestry activist Tzeporah Berman and superstar Leonardo DiCaprio have in common? He's the producer of a new documentary film featuring Berman, titled "The 11th Hour," which screened Aug. 9 at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Hollywood. The film describes how Canadian forests are essential for staving off global warming; Berman, founder of ForestEthics, said Canada's forests are major carbon storehouses that are threatened by Canada's logging industry.
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