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INTO THE NIGHT

RSVP : A Sound Stage Dressed for a Big Success

October 17, 1994|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Saturday's Aesculapians Ball on the 20th Century Fox lot. The benefit for UCLA's School of Medicine was immensely lucrative and extravagantly elegant. Louis XIV would have approved. "When Hollywood decides to help a charity, it's very impressive," said a guest. "It's like Bush deciding to help Kuwait."

The Setting: One magazine writer described the stunningly transformed 35,000-square-foot sound stage as "the set Barbra Streisand wanted for her concert." Done by Along Came Mary, the vast room was freshly carpeted and hung with 30 mission-style wrought iron chandeliers. Its 45-foot-high walls were covered in cream-colored fabric and Gothic tapestries. Two dozen Italianate pillars covered in autumn greenery lined the room. Subtle lighting suffused the space in an amber glow. Dustin Hoffman said this could have been the setting for "one of those 1940s, high bosom-low neckline, Linda Darnell movies."

Who Was There: Most of the 1,750 guests came from the medical profession; the money and glitz came from show biz. On hand were dinner chairs Mike Ovitz, Bob Daly, Barry Diller, Ron Burkle, Paul Junger Witt and Susan Harris; plus Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Warren Beatty and Annette Benning, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Marvin and Barbara Davis, Dustin Hoffman, Rob Reiner and Danny DeVito.

Overheard: As she watched the talent agents mingle among the doctors, one woman said: "What they've got in common is they both know where the jugular is."

Entertainment: Introduced by emcee Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld was a major success with the crowd of doctors ("I wanted to have a waiting room so you could sit out there for 20 minutes with some old magazines before we started the show.") The evening peaked with a rousing eight-song mini-concert by Rod Stewart, backed by a nine-piece rock band, string section and three back-up singers.

Money Matters: More than $3 million was netted for research and equipment not covered in the budget. (The sizable dinner expenses were underwritten by Guess's Maurice, Armand and Paul Marciano.) "Most donors give to specific targets," said Dr. Gerald Levey, the med school's dean. "This is the only source of discretionary funds I have."

Quoted: "This is a gem in the middle of Los Angeles," said Ovitz of UCLA's School of Medicine. "You're treated by teaching doctors who have the benefit of current research right at their fingertips. From top to bottom, these are truly selfless people."

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