Tuesday April 03 02:13 AM EDT
Clinton, Ford top Family Celebration
By Borys Kit
LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) — Presidents FORD and CLINTON, ‘N Sync, SYLVESTER STALLONE and the cast of Fox‘s “Ally McBeal” were all honored for their charity work Sunday night at the second annual A Family Celebration awards dinner and benefit concert.
“Whether you’re in politics or business or the entertainment industry, one quickly discovers that the true measure of a well-lived life is not the legislation that you pass, the stock options that you exercise … the weekly boxoffice receipts or even the Academy Awards that fill your resume,” FORD said. “Rather, it’s the family you love and the family that you are excited to live with.”
Held in the ballroom of the Regent Beverly Wilshire, the evening raised almost $1.5 million for various charities and honored people for giving to their communities.
FORD, who was presented the Special Giving Award from CNN‘s LARRY KING, received two standing ovations. His speech struck an emotional chord with the audience that numbered more than 700. FORD recounted how his mother left his abusive father and was remarried to a paint salesman. He said he learned that while his family was financially poor, it was emotionally very wealthy — something he has carried with him all his life.
“A household does not need fancy clothes or elegant furnishings to be successful,” FORD said. “Aristocracy is of the soul, not of the cloth. On the other hand, a household lacking in love and moral instruction can never be judged a success.”
The television drama award went to the cast of “Ally McBeal,” the creative achievement award was presented to SYLVESTER STALLONE and the lifetime achievement award was given to BOB NEWHART, who did a quick, updated version of his beloved phone comedy routine.
The Heart of Giving Award went to producer LOREEN ARBUS, while JEFFREY BONFORTE of i-drive.com received the Internet Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The Humanitarian Award was given to entrepreneur-philanthropist ROBERT LORSCH.
In receiving the Award of Merit presented by ELIZABETH TAYLOR, CLINTON pointed out that caring people can and should do more than government institutions.
“What I want you know is that the great strength of this country is not always primarily in its leaders or its government, but in its people,” he said. “In their minds, their hearts, their words and what they believe is important. The older I get — and these days that seems to be an irreversible process — the more I become convinced that the way your life turns out pretty much depends on what you think is important. I came here tonight to say thank you for believing that this is important and to ask you not to forget how important it is and what a precious gift it is to be in a position in life where you can give. Because everybody who can really give always comes out ahead in the end.”
An informal popularity contest was waged between CLINTON and ‘N Sync, whose members received the Harmony and Spirit Award. CLINTON, who received two standing ovations, scored big points when he joined legendary bluesman B.B. KING onstage and played the saxophone to a screaming audience.
‘N Sync had the support of shrieking girls, some of whom rushed onstage and danced with the band during their final song.
During ‘N Sync‘s performance, LINDA THOMPSON, wife of the evening’s musical director DAVID FOSTER, had her cell phone on so her children at home could listen to the pop group sing, while actor JAMES MARSDEN sneaked to the stage with a small camera to snap a photo.
Other performers included MARC ANTHONY, RAY CHARLES, DAVID FOSTER, DWIGHT YOAKAM and singers JOHN GROBAN and NIA WHITAKER. Presenters included WHOOPI GOLDBERG, SUZANNE PLESHETTE and TOM POSTON. Philanthropist and underwriter of the night’s dinner was CYNTHIA GERSHMAN. The host was MTV’s CARSON DALY. Guests included MICHELLE PFEIFFER and DAVID E. KELLY, BRITANY SPEARS, SUGAR RAY LEONARD, and FLORENCE HENDERSON.
Proceeds the benefit go to Alzheimer’s Lakeway Program, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Challenge for the Children, Locks of Love, Starlight Children’s Foundation and Wildlife Waystation, among others.