Southern California's Top Benefits 2010

The Concern Foundation's Block Party
The Concern Foundation's Block Party
Photo: Barry E. Levine

1. Carousel of Hope
Every other year in October, this ball—with help from corporate sponsors and entertainment industry partners—raises millions in support of treatment and research programs at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. Davis’s fund-raiser is known for attracting big names, and big bucks too. This year’s Carousel is scheduled for October 25 at the Beverly Hilton.

2. Race to Erase MS

Hollywood blue blood Nancy Davis co-chairs this multimillion-dollar benefit with Tommy Hilfiger. The 2010 gala took to the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 7 and brought in $2 million with the help of a maltese puppy and a Lamborghini on the auction block.

3. Los Angeles Philharmonic Gala
The L.A. Philharmonic’s new music director, Gustavo Dudamel, has summoned a palpable buzz in town. The orchestra welcomed the incoming Dudamel for his inaugural concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in October and surrounded the festivities with lavish receptions and a gala that highlighted Dudamel’s native Venezuela.

4. California Science Center Ball
Longtime guests of the museum’s Discovery Ball found an even grander gala in its place on March 20. Organizers, led by Christina Sion, put together an event to serve as the grand opening for the museum’s new wing and “Ecosystems” exhibit. (The event will return next year to its long-running name.) The gala grossed more than $1 million.

5. Entertainment Industry Foundation’s An Unforgettable Evening
The 13th annual event benefiting the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund raised $1.7 million on January 27 at the Beverly Wilshire. The event included a performance from Taylor Swift, who went on to take the top Grammy award days later. Christina Applegate, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill were the honorees.

6. U.C.L.A. Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Taste for a Cure
This food-centric fund-raiser for cancer research took to the Beverly Wilshire on April 30, raising $475,000. Comcast president and C.E.O. Ted Harbert received the 2010 Gil Nickel Humanitarian award, and Ryan Seacrest served as honorary co-chair. The event celebrated the wines of Stags Leap district and offered dishes from downtown restaurants.

7. Chrysalis Butterfly Ball
The ninth annual ball for this poverty and homelessness support organization was set to honor Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, Glee creator Ryan Murphy, and director Brett Ratner at a private Mandeville Canyon estate on June 5, with a live performance by the cast of Glee. The June 2009 ball drew Hollywood types and raised more than $550,000—down from more than $1 million the previous year.

8. HollyRod Foundation’s DesignCare Benefit
A 2010 date had not yet been set by press time, but in July 2009, the stars came out to support DesignCare, which benefits people battling debilitating disease and circumstances; the take was more than $350,000. Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete host the 11-year-old event, which includes a fashion show, musical performance, and auctions.

9. Concern Foundation’s Block Party

The next annual block party benefit for the Concern Foundation for cancer research is set to take over the Studios at Paramount on July 10. The foundation exceeded its goal in 2009, raising $1.3 million.

10. Los Angeles Opera Season Opening Celebration

At the L.A. opera’s season-opening celebration on September 12, guests moved from a performance of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love in the opera house to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, which had been transformed by gala chair Mary Hayley. The season-opening program planned for September will celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary.

11. Scripter Award Gala
The U.S.C. Libraries Scripter Award honors writers for adapting books into film. The 22nd annual event took place on February 6. Screenwriter Steven Zaillian presented the Literary Achievement Award to screenwriter Eric Roth at the gala at Doheny Memorial Library. Proceeds benefit the library’s Preservation Fund.

12. Starlight Foundation Gala
The 2010 gala took place on March 19 at the Century Plaza Hyatt. The fund-raiser included a performance by Dionne Warwick and honored entertainment industry leaders and humanitarians who have helped seriously ill children and their families.

13. Fulfillment Fund’s Stars Benefit
The Fulfillment Fund Stars 2009 benefit honoring Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann took to the Beverly Hills Hotel on October 26. Jonah Hill and Jason Segel served as M.C.s, and John Mayer was on hand for a musical performance.

14. Backstage at the Geffen
This gala on March 22 honored Barry Meyer and Kristin Chenoweth. Alan and Cindy Horn and John and Marilyn Wells co-chaired the event, which Gil Cates hosted. The benefit enabled the group to serve disadvantaged youth, seniors, and veterans through its education and outreach programs. The same night, restaurant NineThirty at the nearby W Los Angeles Westwood welcomed the gala’s host committee dinner.

15. Art of Elysium Ball
This nonprofit group hosted its annual black-tie gala on January 16 at the Wiltern Theater. About 450 guests came for cocktails, a seated dinner, a fashion show, and live musical performances. Shepard Fairey helped create the look, and Kirsten Dunst received the Spirit of Elysium award. Best Events produces the gala.

16. Pasadena Showcase House of Design for the Arts
This decades-old Pasadena benefit supports a variety of music programs and draws close to 40,000 visitors to tour a Pasadena home that has been decorated by select designers. About 25 vendors participate in the Shops at Showcase, with sales of nearly $2 million. The showcase ran April 18 to May 16. 

17. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s Dinosaur Ball
This is an off year for the museum’s black-tie biannual fund-raiser. Look out for the gala to return in 2011 with what should be a big event tied to the opening of “Dino Mysteries,” one of the museum’s most anticipated galleries.

18. The Justice Ball
Now in its 14th year, this fund-raiser benefits Bet Tzedek, a nonprofit firm that provides free legal services in the fields of consumer rights, housing, workers’ rights, and more. This year’s event at the Hollywood Palladium on June 26 featured live sets by Dave Navarro and DJ Skribble.

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