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Seeing Red

July 07, 2002|AN CONWAY

Daring trapeze artists, squealing cancan dancers and huge bouquets of scarlet roses set the mood for the "Moulin Rouge"-themed cocktail party preceding the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Gala and Concert.

Partying alfresco on the Bowl grounds, guests were handed ruffled garters as they swept along a red carpet taking them to a scene where a streamer-festooned gazebo framed the bar and French-inspired appetizers included mussels, escargots, mashed potatoes with salt cod and petit croques monsieur.

And that was just the beginning for the hundreds who paid $1,000 and up to join regular Bowl patrons for the tribute to Bernadette Peters, Kathleen Battle, Randy Newman and the late George Harrison while helping raise about $500,000 for Music Matters, the children's education arm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn.

The gala season opener also included primo seating in Bowl boxes--decorated with red paper roses--where guests sipped fine wines and dined on sirloin of lamb and chocolate tarts. Not to mention the opportunity to enjoy music under the stars by the L.A. Philharmonic. Welcoming the crowd, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen noted that the third annual event had become a tradition. "In my experience in Los Angeles, when things happen twice, they are traditions," he quipped.

Dubbing the 80-year-old Bowl "nature's concert hall--a tonic for the senses," gala emcee Anthony Hopkins explained that the hall of fame honorees were artists whose work "embodies the spirit of the Bowl .... who have given unforgettable performances here."

Pop diva Janet Jackson inducted opera star Battle, resplendent in a black gown, multitiered ruffled cape and gardenias in her hair. "Her voice is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard," Jackson said.

"Toy Story" creator John Lasseter inducted Newman, who recalled his first visit to the Bowl: "I watched my uncle Alfred [Newman] do a night of Gershwin," said the singer-composer. "It was a tremendously moving experience. I'm deeply honored to be here, and yes, music does matter--if it didn't, I'd be threading a pipe or driving a cab."

Spouting the irreverent one-liners that characterized his Monty Python days, Eric Idle paid tribute to his good friend Harrison at the June 28 extravaganza: Upon learning that Harrison was to receive the award, Idle told the guests, "My first thought was, 'I bet he won't show up.'

"He really wasn't into honors," Idle said. "George was one of those people who believed that life is more important than show biz, which I know is heresy in Hollywood. I can hear him saying, 'Oh, this is very nice and useful, but where am I going to put it?' "

Finally, performer Joel Grey introduced his close friend Peters with an a cappella version of "Give My Regards to Broadway"--a tribute to her glittering success there--saying all of her performances have been "total truth onstage."

Peters, stunning in a Bob Mackie lavender sheath with black lace overlay, said that every time she visits the Bowl, her pulse starts to race. "From the bottom of my fluttering heart, I thank you."

*

Thanks, She Says

Celebrating men who celebrate women, the Highlight Awards recognized actors Edward James Olmos and Dennis Weaver and film producer Daniel Melnick during a luncheon for 225 guests at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Each received kudos from a woman who has played a significant role in their lives: Paramount Chairwoman Sherry Lansing made the presentation to good friend Melnick, chairman of IndieProd Co.; actor Valerie Harper recognized longtime pal Weaver; and Olmos received the nod from his mother, Eleanor Romo Olmos.

Sponsored by the Women of Los Angeles and Pasadena, the awards are handed out annually to men who have demonstrated "support for women and the issues that are important to them," said organization founder Gail Berendzen.

"Eddie has a big heart," Olmos, 76, said of her son, an Academy Award nominee ("Stand and Deliver") and producer of the anti-domestic violence documentary "It Ain't Love." "He was always willing to give help in school--especially to the girls."

Taking the spotlight at the June 25 event, Olmos, 55, turned the tables on his mother, a longtime community activist, saying she deserved an award of her own. "I stand here in your shadow," he said.

Melnick, 70, is a mentor who encouraged her progression in the studio system, Lansing said of the producer of films such as "All That Jazz," "Altered States" and "Roxanne."

Early on, he learned to "respect, fear and listen to women," Melnick told the crowd. "I was raised by my mother and older sister."

Harper and Weaver are pals who share a common goal: feeding the hungry. They founded a food distribution program that provided thousands of meals to the underserved in Los Angeles in the '70s and '80s.

"Dennis is one of the great human beings of this world--an artist whose work has touched our hearts," Harper said. "He has validated me not only as a woman, but a person."

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