Star-studded gala raises $6.7 million for AIDSCAP D'ANTIBES, France (AP) — Superstar Jennifer Lopez tempted. Uber-designer Karl Lagerfeld exhorted. Comic Chris Tucker mouthed off, and heavyweight producer Harvey Weinstein cajoled — all in the name of charity.
By: Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press Writer, Superior Telegram
CAP D'ANTIBES, France (AP) — Superstar Jennifer Lopez tempted. Uber-designer Karl Lagerfeld exhorted. Comic Chris Tucker mouthed off, and heavyweight producer Harvey Weinstein cajoled — all in the name of charity.
As hosts at a swanky charity event held on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, the A-listers' mission was to drive up the bids on about 10 luxury lots, including a gold-plated bottle of champagne and a monkey-shaped pendant in diamonds and gemstones.
And the celebrity coaxing worked: The Cinema Against AIDS benefit, held Thursday at a luxury hotel in the French Riviera town of Cap d'Antibes, raised $6.7 million (€5.36 million) for AIDS research.
Guests at the star-studded event, where it seemed that nearly everyone was famous and those that weren't were at least thin, included actress Naomi Watts, socialite Paris Hilton, perma-tanned Italian designer Giorgio Armani, model Naomi Campbell and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.
The evening's entertainment was provided by punk icon Patti Smith and R&B singer Mary J. Blige, who captivated the crowd with her acapella rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
Sharon Stone usually emcees the annual event, but her shooting schedule prevented her from attending this year's gala, so other celebrities took turns revving up the crowd. "Gladiator" star Russell Crowe and designer-cum-movie director Tom Ford were among those who took to helped lead the auction.
A feeling of insider camaraderie permeated the event — where a single seat cost $6,000 — and sometimes the teasing got a bit ribald.
Following a confusing technical description of the 6-liter bottle of Dom Perignon, Michele Williams told the crowd: "If you know what that word is, you're rich enough to buy it."
And someone was: The champagne fetched $80,000.
Other high-fetching lots included a day with former President Bill Clinton, which went for $220,000, and a flight in a fighter jet, which reached $170,000.
Proceeds from the event go to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), a nonprofit organization that supports HIV/AIDS research, and the emcees emphasized that the economic crisis has made their bids more crucial than even. Last year, the event brought in just $4.5 million — roughly half the money raised in 2008.
"It's a hard economy out there and it's nice to remember that we have to give back," Weinstein said.