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R S V P : Tough Competition for Institute's Benefit

October 05, 1994|DAVID J. FOX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, a Washington-based civil rights advocacy group, raised more than $200,000 at its fourth annual Hollywood benefit dinner Sunday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

Despite their financial support, many upper-echelon entertainment executives did not attend--but it had been a busy weekend what with Whoopi Goldberg's wedding and the Weizmann Institute dinner honoring Steven Spielberg.

The evening's chairmen were Alan Hergott of Bloom, Dekom, Hergott & Cook; Arnold Stiefel of Stiefel Phillips Entertainment/Gasoline Alley Music, and producer Barry Krost. The host committee numbered 80 gay individuals working in show business.

Among the guests: Disney's Tom Schumacher, Rick Nicita, Paula Wagner, Goldie Hawn, Bryan Loud, Ralph Fiennes, Sandy Gallin, MCA's Skip Paul, Nina Jacobson, Jane Berliner, ICM's George Freeman, TriStar's Chris Lee, Amblin's Bruce Cohen, Jennifer Lewis, Richard Massur and Bea Arthur.

Much of the evening's buzz centered around whether the entertainer, musical theater star Patti LuPone, would say anything about the rift between her and "Sunset Boulevard" composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The composer selected Glenn Close to take the show to New York instead of LuPone, who had a contract for the Broadway gig.

Onstage, LuPone traced her musical theater career from "The Baker's Wife" to "Evita" to "Sunset Boulevard." She closed with "As if We Never Said Goodbye" from "Sunset Boulevard."

"Boy, could I tell stories," she yelled out after her first mention of the song, which she announced as " one of the things from that experience that I liked."

When musical director John McDaniel played the song's introduction in the key it was transposed to for Close, LuPone stopped him and said, "No, in the original key."

The efforts of the task force were underscored by the evening's guest of honor, Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn). A former teacher, Wellstone has been in the forefront of human rights issues and challenged proposals that would withhold federal funds from school districts that teach homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle.

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