Best of the Best Parties in Los Angeles

Gisele Bundchen and PRISM Celebrate Mario Testino at Fleur de Lys with Equipment and Dom Perignon
2013: A Great Year for Los Angeles Social Events

Miley Cyrus: an Early Standout, Kim Kardashian’s 15-Carat Rock, Oprah’s Remarks, The Big Bang Theory’s ‘Rocky Horror Show’ and More  



PRISM Gallery Opening 

Even before she twerked her way into international consciousness at the MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus stood out in a crowd.

Never mind that Hollywood stars and supermodels packed the PRISM Gallery’s Opening for Mario Testino’s photography show, one of the best parties in Los Angeles 2013. In her body-hugging, midriff-baring duds, Miley Cyrus proved the one to watch on the dance floor. She had that much presence.


And More

Other parties, too, offered memorable moments this past year. Just check out the photos and notes on this page for a glimpse at some of the top social events in Los Angeles 2013. For a full report on any of the events, just click on the links.


Essence ‘Black Women in Hollywood’ & The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Power 100’ Women in Entertainment

In a world where gala honorees can often put you to sleep with their acceptance speeches, Oprah Winfrey gave not one, but two of the best talks I’ve ever witnessed – first at Essence Magazine’s “Black Women in Hollywood” luncheon and then, just this past month at The Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100 Women In Entertainment” breakfast.

And after years of covering events for the Los Angeles Times, and previously for the Orange County Register, I can assure readers that I’ve witnessed a lot of talks. In this case, her words struck such a chord that I’ve repeated them several times to others. (To get an idea of what she said, click on the above links for the event stories.)

6th Annual GO GO Gala
Making The Hollywood Reporter’s event more special still: another great speaker – Maria Shriver – presented Oprah’s award, while my favorite talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, welcomed what he called the “sea of perfect blowouts” that was the audience.

Further, Kimmel doled out a warning to Kanye West,  there with Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner “Don’t even think about taking this award away from Oprah,” Kimmel said.


Crystal + Lucy Awards

The Crystal + Lucy Awards, benefiting Women In Film, honored Laura Linney, Halle Steinfeld, George Lucas, Sofia Coppola, cinematographer Rachel Morrison and the entire cast of “Mad Men:”  Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Kiernan Shipka and Jessica Pare, (Christina Hendricks couldn’t come).

Jenna Elfman emceed the affair which brought in among many others, Stana Katic of TV’s “Castle” (looking especially gorgeous in a sleek, figure-flattering jumpsuit); Debra Messing, Amy Brenneman, Diahann Carroll, reality star Francesca Eastwood; and Academy Award winner Holly Hunter.


Variety’s ‘Power of Women’

Variety also paid tribute to Hollywood’s VIP females at its spectacular Power of Women luncheon, which this year honored Jennifer Hudson, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Amy Pascal and Nicole Kidman. Each spoke passionately, and often through tears, about her own special charity.

Regaining her composure, Poehler ended the event with a laugh: “If you take one thing from this event, please remember that giving to charity is good for your skin and it makes your ass smaller,” she said.


LA Phil Gala

Always one of L.A.’s most elegant affairs, the LA Phil Gala traditionally brings together celebrities, business leaders, elected officials and yet more VIPs. In 2013, in commemoration of Walt Disney Concert Hall’s 10th anniversary, the party paid tribute to architect Frank Gehry.

City Year 3-001

Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel called the hall “an amazing miracle” and Jane Fonda described Gehry as “the bravest, most visionary architect since Gaudi.”


Go Campaign’s Go Go Gala

Robert Pattinson didn’t merely show up at the Go Go Gala to benefit the Go Campaign‘s devotion to worldwide children’s causes. The generous high-bidder at the night’s live auction, the “Twilight” star shelled out $5,600 for a cello made from materials found in a landfill.


City Year Spring Break: Destination Education

The always-fabulous, carnival-style Spring Break: Destination Education, benefiting City Year Los Angeles, had three of the super-handsome Hemsworth brothers – Liam Hemsworth, Chris Hemsworth and Luke Hemsworth – greeting guests, along with four “American Idol” contenders,  stars of “GLEE,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Help,” “Desperate Housewives.”

Following up last year’s performance by Robin Thicke, this year Skylar Grey and DJ Skyblu of LMFAO put on the show.

Mayim Bialik, Simon Heldberg, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch


A Night at Sardi’s 

Who knew the cast of The Big Bang Theory could burn up the stage with singing talent?

Such a surprise is the joy of A Night at Sardi’s, as the gala gives actors – who are not necessarily known for their melodic voices – the chance to belt out Broadway tunes. So in full “Rocky Horror Show” getups, Mayim Bialik, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons and Melissa Rauch outdid themselves in the finale to this year’s gala.

A benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association, Ron Howard introduced Brian Grazer, who gave a touching speech. Also on the bill: Beth Behrs, Emmy Rossum, Nita Whitaker, Sharon Lawrence, Zachary Levi, Jason Alexander, Colin Donnell, Barret Foa, Norm Lewis, Christine Ebersole, Leslie Odom, Jr., Keltie Colleen and Rob Morrow.

Then again, not everyone came to sing. Said host Jason Bateman, “I don’t even sing in the shower.”


NHM’s Grand Centennial Celebration

Informally called “the party of the century,” the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles commemorated its 100th anniversary with more than the usual degree of party pizzazz.

Bruno Mars

Beginning with cocktails in the new Nature Gardens and original 1913 rotunda, the “Grand Centennial Celebration” continued with dinner beneath the towering dinosaurs or beside the mammals. (I had the great pleasure of dining amid the gorillas, elephants and ostriches.)

A spectacular sound and light show then revealed the new Otis Booth Pavilion, showcasing the museum’s new entrance and famous fin whale in style.


An Unforgettable Evening

Host Chelsea Handler said “good times are about to begin.”

And she was right. Two stunning women, Carolina Herrera and Kylie Minogue, picked up awards.

Finally, one of the today’s top performers, Bruno Mars gave a powerhouse of a performance  at An Unforgettable Evening to benefit the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund.


Los Angeles Dance Project Gala

Under a nearly full super moon, the Los Angeles Dance Project held its Inaugural Gala. Accompanied by his beautiful wife, Natalie Portman, the dance collective’s founder Benjamin Millepied bid farewell to Los Angeles, but promised he would continue to oversee the organization’s programming.

Held at Sutton Stracke and Christian Stracke’s Bel-Air home, the affair attracted an enthusiastic crowd of dance supporters, including Reese Witherspoon, “The Social Nework” writer Aaron Sorkin, and SONY chief executive Michael Lynton, among others.



Young Literati Summer Party

The recording artist Moby joined Colin Hanks, Mark Z. Danielewski and others to read excerpts from “Moby Dick” at the Summer Party for the Young Literati support group for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. A descendant of Herman Melville, the classic novel’s author, Moby told the crowd he was nicknamed for the whale.

“My dad gave me the name 10 minutes after I was born,” said Moby, whose real name is Richard Melville Hall. “I don’t think that either of my parents thought that 47 years later, I would still be saddled with my infant joke nickname.”


ASCAP Pop Music Awards

Honored at the 2012 ASCAP Pop Music Awards for having five #1 hit singles from the same album, (tying a record only held by Michael Jackson), in 2013 Katy Perry spoke at ASCAP’s “I Create Music Expo,” which followed the this year’s ASCAP Pop Music Awards.  On hand this year were pop stars Ne-Yo, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Dr. Luke, aka Lucasz Gottwald, Diplo, Big Sean and Max Martin.

Dream For Future Africa Foundation Inaugural Gala Honoring Franca Sozzani Of VOGUE Italia


Dream for Future Africa Gala

As the honoree at the “Dream for Future Africa Gala,” Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani called giving back “the new luxury.” Not to ignore other luxuries completely, Sozzani also prompted Kim Kardashian to show off the uber-dazzling, 15-carat cushion-cut bauble on her ring finger, symbolizing her then-new engagement to fiancé Kanye West.

Benefiting the Dream for Future Africa Foundation, charity founder Gelila Assefa Puck and superchef Wolfgang Puck hosted the dinner at Spago in Beverly Hills.


Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Gala

The Grand Opening Gala for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills drew a galaxy of A-list stars with people-watching a great part of the pleasure, as so many women wore Oscar-worth gowns. Joining co-chairs Wallis Annenberg and Jamie Tisch were Joe Jonas, Kevin Spacey, Charlize Theron, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Demi Moore, Nicole Richie, Jodie Foster, Amy Adams, Freida Pinto, Dita Von Teese, Courtney Cox and Evangeline Lilly.

Josh Duhamel came solo, but that was because, as his wife Fergie told me at a subsequent event, “I had mommy duty.”

Also absent were co-chairs Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, neatly explained away by Tisch. “Brad is fighting zombies somewhere and Robert is lost at sea,” she said, cleverly referring to their latest movies.


Galactic Gala

A chance to dine beneath the wings of the Endeavour – need I say more? The California Science Center‘s 2013 Discovery Ball afforded an unprecedented opportunity to see the 1,700 space shuttle up close, as video projections of the stars streamed by.

Among the year’s best – and most elaborate affairs – the“Galactic Gala” also offered an extraordinary cocktail party, an after-dinner dance party and a late-night screening of “Hubble 3D” at the IMAX Theater.

BVLGARI Celebrates Elizabeth Taylor's Magnificent Collection Of BVLGARI Jewelry - Inside



The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, outdid itself by choosing a marijuana theme for “YESSSSS!” a glitzy affair that followed the opening of an Urs Fischer show, so huge and comprehensive that the exhibition spanned both MOCA Grand Avenue and the Geffen Contemporary.


Bulgari Celebration of Jewels

Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels drew Kristen Dunst, Drew Barrymore, Naomi Watts, Kate Walsh and others to one of the year’s grandest soirees, this one a Bulgari Celebration  on Rodeo Drive.  If the 60.5 carat emerald necklace seemed absent from the exhibition, that’s because Julianne Moore chose to accessorize her ensemble with the multi-million dollar trinket.


Hermes Grand ReOpening

Rodeo Drive also saw the Grand ReOpening of the Hermes boutique, an extravaganza, which began with acrobats rappelling down the newly redesigned facade.

Later, at an over-the-top off-site shindig, guests passed over a boardwalk, posed in vintage cars and watched as Fred and Ginger-style ballroom dancers twirled across a movie set and bathing beauties burst onto the scene in swimcaps to tap dance across a faux swimming pool.

Joining the party were Jessica Alba, enjoying a simulated joy ride, and Jennifer Tilly, posing amid the bathing beauties.



An annual Gala as unique as the experimental arts REDCAT supports, the 2013 affair featured Jack Black as emcee.

Telling me he had a scoop, Black spoke of his future plans to give up films in favor of a life in the arts, specifically “interpretative dance.” The night’s other highlights included Cynthia Hopkins, who asked the audience to supply bird call accompaniment to her song and Tim Allen’s amusing, but sorry-to-say, mostly unrepeatable remarks.

15th Annual DesignCare


HollyRod’s DesignCare

Ne-Yo gave one of the year’s best gala performances, keeping guests on their feet at the DesignCare Gala. Benefiting the HollyRod Foundation, the song set and fashion show took place at Tamara Gustavson and Eric Gustavson‘s spectacular Malibu estate.

A standout as a host in her eye-popping, stunning pink frock, Holly Robinson Peete said, “I decided to wear something low key tonight, quiet and blend in.”

The A-list crowd also included basketball legend Magic Johnson.


Race to Erase MS

The “Love to Erase MS” Gala benefiting the Race to Erase MS never fails to have over-the-top entertainment, in previous years showcasing Stevie Wonder, Dave Cook, country star Clay Walker, and rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

This year’s headliner: Sir Elton John in a nearly hour-long concert, at a shindig honoring Jack Osbourne and his mom, Sharon Osbourne.


The Hammer Museum Gala

Will Ferrell posed as absent Gala co-chair Tom Hanks at the Hammer Museum‘s 2013 fundraiser, as he hyped “Captain Phillips” and planted a kiss on “his wife” Rita Wilson, while the two engaged in quick-witted banter.

Taking place at long tables in the museum’s courtyard, k.d. lang serenaded Diane Kruger, Dana Delany, Annabeth Gish, Danai Gurira, Nyambi Nyambi, Maria Bello, Jodie Foster, Jena Malone and more in the A-list crowd.

The affair paid tribute to artist Robert Gober and playwright Tony Kushner, who said, “It’s so nice to fly to Los Angeles for an award I’m 100% certain I’m going to win.”



Saying she adored him for his amazing talent, unique ability, fearlessness and refusal to be anything but what he is: unique, bold, daring, stunning, Paula Abdul introduced Adam Lambert at the Trevor Project‘s TrevorLIVE LA benefit. Lambert then mesmerized the more than 1,200 guests with his rendition of “Whattaya Want From Me.”

"TrevorLIVE LA" Honoring Jane Lynch And Toyota For The Trevor Project - Show
Kathy Griffin served as emcee, Jennifer Coolidge presented the Trevor Hero Award to Jane Lynch and 14 members of GLEE’s cast recounted their favorite Lynch insults to them, in her role as Sue Sylvester.

Chris Colfer didn’t complain much, however, as he said he took pride in her calling him “Twinkle Tush.”

Cast members on scene: Darren Criss, Naya Rivera, Amber Riley, Dot-Marie Jones, Harry Shum, Jr., Alex Newell, Melissa Benoist, Becca Tobin, Jenna Ushkowitz, Blake Jenner, Jacob Artist, Kevin McHale and  Mark Sailing.


PS Arts Express Yourself

At the year’s best event for children, Express Yourself, which benefits PS Arts I particularly enjoyed taking a selfie – now an internationally famous activity – with Jason Bateman.

Completely lining the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica with fun food and activity booths, the day of creative crafts attracted numerous stars and their families. To name a few: Dan Bucatinsky, Lisa Kudrow, Julie Bowen, Jessica Capshaw, Heidi Klum, Amanda Righetti.


To see more photos and details of the above events, just click on the links for the full reports. 


Top photo: Miley Cyrus, a standout on the dance floor, way back in February at the party for Mario Testino’s photo exhibition at the PRISM Gallery, among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013  (photo: David X. Prutting)

Second photo: Robert Pattinson bought a recycled cello, as the high bidder at the Go Go Gala, among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo: Jason Merritt/ Getty Images for Go Campaign)

Third photo: Liam Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games,” Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” and Luke Hemsworth of “Neighbours” join in festivities at City Year Los Angeles Spring Break, among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo: Chelsea Lauren/ Getty Images)

Women In Film's 2013 Crystal + Lucy Awards - Arrivals
Fourth photo: From left,  Mayim Bialik, Simon Heldberg, Jim Parsons and Melissa Rauch showed off their singing talents, performing the “Rocky Horror Show” at “A Night at Sardi’s,” among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo: Alex J Berliner/ABImages)

Fifth photo: Bruno Mars performed at “An Unforgettable Evening” benefiting the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund, among the Best Parties Los Angeles 2013 (photo, Alex J. Berliner/ ABImages, courtesy of the Women’s Cancer Research Fund)

Sixth photo: Oprah Winfrey, accepting her award at Essence Magazine’s “Black Women In Hollywood” luncheon, among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo:

Seventh photo: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian at the “Dream for Future Africa” Gala, among the Best Parties Los Angeles 2013 (photo: Michael Buckner/ WireImage, courtesy of Dream for Future Africa Foundation)

Eighth photo: Julianne Moore wore Elizabeth Taylor’s emeralds to dinner at the Bulgari celebration, which launched the exhibition of Taylor’s jewelry collection, among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013. (photo, Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Bulgari)

Ninth photo: DesignCare’s headliner, Ne-Yo, with host, Holly Robinson Peete, in a traffic-stopping pink frock at one of the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013  (photo: Tiffany Rose/ WireImage, courtesy of the HollyRod Foundation)

Tenth photo: Adam Lambert sang “Whattaya Want From Me” at the “TrevorLIVE LA” Gala, among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo, Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images for Trevor Project)

Eleventh photo: Looking elegant in a sleek and simple jumpsuit, Stana Katic was among the glamorous guests at Women In Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards, one of the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo, Mark Davis/ Getty Images for Women In Film)

Twelfth photo: Officially the year’s newest word: a selfie, of Jason Bateman and this website’s author, Ellen Olivier, at “PS Arts Express Yourself,” among the Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013 (photo: “ourselfies” at



Virginia Madsen, Nia Vardalos, Lilakoi Moon Boost Wreath Sales for Children’s Action Network

Top Actors, Reality Stars and Entertainment VIPs Honor Oprah at The Hollywood Reporter’s Power 100 Breakfast

TrevorLIVE Attracts a Universe of Stars to Present, Perform and Support a Great Cause

Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, Conan O’Brien, Jeff Garlin, J.J. Abrams Salute Students Who “Beat the Odds” 

“Rivals United for a Kure” Gala Honors Legendary USC and UCLA Coaches John Robinson and Terry Donahue

Holiday Treasures at the de Grisogono Luncheon – All For a Good Cause

Kate Burton Stars as Frankenstein’s Author, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, in a Brilliant Reading of “Shadows Round the Moon”

Dance Aficionados Join Matthew Bourne For His Inventive New Time Traveling, Vampire Laden Sleeping Beauty 

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Best Parties in Los Angeles 2013

Published Dec. 31, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA