Eva Longoria and Melanie Griffith at the 'Help Haiti Home' gala (Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images)Julia, Leo, Reese, Eva, Bradley… the event to be at Saturday night was Sean Penn’s pre-Golden Globes “Help Haiti Home” gala fundraiser at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, to benefit his non-profit JP/HRO (Haitian Relief Organization).
It was a veritable who’s who in Hollywood, complete with a live auction that supplied enough drama to win its own Golden Globe! The event, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper (who has been one of the world’s leading journalists in bringing attention to Haiti), took place three years from the day that the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the already impoverished nation. Cooper and Penn both struck a serious yet playful tone, as Hollywood opened its pocketbook to help the important cause. The event concluded with a special four-song performance from Eddie Vedder, with Samantha Ronson DJ’ing the after party.
In addition to the aforementioned Roberts and her husband Danny Moder, Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth, Longoria, and Bradley Cooper, other attendees included Julia’s niece Emma Roberts, Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea Hurley, Mel Gibson, Melissa McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone, Kiefer Sutherland, Pamela Anderson, Richard Gere, beautiful couple Chris Evans and Minka Kelly, Kerry Washington (looking radiant in bright orange), Eva Chow seated with guest Psy (who took pics with several teenage girls there with their parents), Tim Robbins, Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith (who was inseparable from Longoria all night), Kyle McLaughlin (who came over to Longoria’s table at one point to give his former “Desperate Housewives” co-star a huge hug), Minnie Driver, Rainn Wilson, Kevin Connolly, Balthazar Getty, Eric Dane and wife Rebecca Gayheart, Kristin Davis, Roberta Armani, David Spade … plus media moguls including Barry Diller, CAA’s Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, Harvey Weinstein, and Jeff Robinov.
Following the sit down dinner, Penn took to the stage to deliver an impassioned about why supporting Haiti remains a cause close to his heart. He acknowledged several people who had made a huge difference in supporting JP/HRO over the years, including quite a few folks who were in attendance, including Cooper, Soleil Moon Frye, Pamela Anderson, and former Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. He gave especially high praise to the U.S. State Department (especially Hillary Clinton) and the U.S. military for their work in helping to make a difference in Haiti.
At one point, Penn recalled a story about the first time he brought Oprah Winfrey to Haiti (who was not at Saturday night’s event). Upon getting out of the van, he recalled how the smell was overwhelming for the talk show queen. “Do you ever get used to it?” she asked the actor. “When I’m away from it for too long, I miss it,” he replied.
Cooper later brought the comic relief for the night. After Penn swore incessantly during his speech, the CNN anchor took to the stage after to say, “I didn’t know we were allowed to say ‘F—k,’” sending the crowd into an uproar of laughter. “I would have said ‘F—k’ so much more.” He then poked fun at the “Mystic River” actor’s propensity for using colorful language.
Leonardo DiCaprio embraces Bradley Cooper (Getty Images)The real fun took place during the live auction, which raised over $2 million for the cause. Penn announced that an anonymous donor who wasn’t present called him during the auction to donate another $1 million. The auction started off with DiCaprio bidding against another woman for the chance to spend a day with President Bill Clinton. They both ended up winning the item, paying $200,000 each. But the unknown woman was the real winner – she now gets to spend the day with Clinton and DiCaprio! For the second auction item, DiCaprio was bidding again – this time on a tour of Bhutan – but the “Django Unchained” actor lost out! After he was done bidding, Leo took a break, giving a huge hug to Bradley Cooper as he was walking out of the room.
The next item saw Diller bidding against Lourd for a set of Haitian art work, which eventually went to Diller for $90,000. The fourth lot for auction was a trip to Italy for Fashion Week to hang backstage at the Armani show with elusive head designer Giorgio Armani. Witherspoon got in a bidding war with Huvane. When both hit the $125,000 mark in their bidding, Huvane shouted out, “We’ll each pay $125,000 and we’ll go together.” They both won!
The fun concluded with a “Rock n’ Roll” package that also gave the top bidder a chance to hang backstage with Bruce Springsteen! Eva Longoria was running around the room trying to get the bidders to one up each other, but the item eventually went to funnyman David Spade, who joked that he was raising his hand, “just trying to figure out whether or not my show is cancelled.” He ended up paying double for two versions of the prize package.
Julia Roberts and Melissa McCarthy at the 'Help Haiti Home' gala (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)
Vedder than took the stage for his performance, and recalled a story about how he was on a surfing trip with Penn and noticed that his actor friend’s arms looked particularly ripped. “Then I realized he was so big from removing all of that rubble (in Haiti),” the Pearl Jam lead singer joked. Vedder began his set solo on a mandolin and ended with a performance of his cover of Springsteen’s “My City of Ruins.”
When it was time for everyone to leave, Ronson continued to spin her tunes. Longoria hopped in a car to head off with Griffith while Roberts (looking ravishing while paring her dress with a JP/HRO baseball cap) and Moder waited patiently for their silver Prius to be delivered by valet.
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