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What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Qiana?

June 02, 2002|MARK EHRMAN

Invited to: "Peace and Love to Erase MS" benefit gala at the Century Plaza Hotel, hosted by Sela Ward and Jay Mohr, with performances by Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Smokey Robinson and Donna Summer.

The theme police: "I thought about where we are in the world right now and what could be a better theme than peace and love?" asks Nancy Davis of this groovy twist on her ninth annual celebrity-filled fund-raiser. (Davis, scion of the billion-dollar Marvin Davis empire, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991.) In a room lousy with Davises, Tisches and Spellings (given his status as the sultan of '70s TV, Aaron's wide-collar Qiana shirt seems superfluous), Angela Bassett redefines the word "bigwig" by sporting a galaxy-sized 'fro. Others miss the mark on the '70s dress code. "I got confused, I got conservative and I got it wrong," worries "Friend" Lisa Kudrow in charcoal-with-white-pinstripe Armani, her closest sartorial hint at the '70s being the heart-shaped peace sign dangling from her neck. Ironically, "That '70s Show's" Ashton Kutcher and Kiss' Paul Stanley show up in civvies. Still, it's not like everyone doesn't know why we're here. Along with the $1,000-a-plate buy-in, the crowd bids its way through a silent auction that has everything from the sublime (jewelry and vacation packages) to the ridiculous (autographed pair of Tom Arnold's jeans, anyone?), ultimately raising $2.5 mil for the cause.

Love, American style: "We can come up with $3,000 in hairpieces alone," announces actor-comedian Jay Mohr, explaining that this is the portion of the show where he's "supposed to ad-lib and be funny." Following a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show (featuring Montel Williams, actress Holly Robinson Peete and a few ex-"Charlie's Angels"), comes a live auction presided over by "the Three Stooges," as Tony Danza calls the trio composed of himself, Bill Maher and Tom Arnold. Comedian Jon Lovitz walks away with a $21,000 LeRoy Neiman, Montel Williams buys a trip to Olympic luge camp for $16K, while Ray Romano coughs up $21,000 to throw "The Ultimate Hollywood Party" at home for himself and 49 of his nearest and dearest with everything from Wolfgang Puck catering to Chuck's parking service included.

Next comes the real entertainment. "We were competitors in the '70s, but now we're good friends," says Don Henley, introducing the next act, Stevie Nicks. But Smokey smokes 'em all with a velvety "Tracks of my Tears" and an unpretentious, low-key call to arms against MS. The stage is left to Donna Summer, who gets the crowd discoing to "Hot Stuff." Others can't resist the hot stuff outside, and with duffel-sized goody bags slung over their shoulders, they gamely try to beat the valet bottleneck.

Celeb Quotient: *** Even the where-are-they-nows add to the retro cachet.

Wow Factor: ** Thematically fuzzy, but wasn't everything back then?

Grazing Level: *** Sit-down, three-course surf 'n' turf dinner. Now, there's some righteous munchies.

Rating Scale: *=ho-hum ****=yowza

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