Rape Foundation Brunch
The Rape Foundation recognized Judd Apatow, Albert Brooks and Eric McCormack at its annual brunch Sept. 29 as three dads – who happen to have impeccable comedy credentials – with plans to help educate other men about the importance of the cause.
Yet the subject is serious and the situation is grim. Rape is an all too common occurrence, as we’re continuing to learn as more women are talking about their experiences: Witness Madonna’s revelation in her essay for the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar that when she was young, she was raped at knifepoint.
Quite the impressive guest list…
Hosted by Emily Deschanel of “Bones” and Josh Radnor of “How I Met Your Mother,” the fundraiser drew a healthy mix from Hollywood, politics and business. Among guests were Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men;” Geoffrey Arend of “Body of Proof;” Tamara Taylor of “Bones;” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck; District Attorney Jackie Lacey; Bob Gersh of The Gersh Agency; and Ron Meyer, vice chair of NBC Universal, and many, many more RTC supporters. (Hendricks – who is beautiful close-up – and Arend said they are regulars at this brunch.)
Also present was Cheryl Saban, who is co-chairing with Viola Davis (not present) a $15 million capital campaign to design and build a new, larger facility for Stuart House at the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and provide an endowment for the organization’s programs.
The spectacular setting…
Taking place at Greenacres in Beverly Hills, in total the Rape Foundation Brunch attracted more than 800 guests to mingle amid the rose bushes, grassy lawns and towering cypress trees on the magnificent private estate. Originally built by silent film star Harold Lloyd, the property is currently owned by private equity investor Ron Burkle.
A serious message, effectively sent with a light touch …
On taking the stage, emcee David Schwimmer promised he’d keep the laughs down to less than five minutes. Last year, he joked, there were complaints because his welcoming remarks prompted enough laughter to add 20 minutes to the program.
During his turn at the podium, Apatow said he wondered – considering the seriousness of the cause – if the choice of comedians as honorees was an “elaborate practical joke.”
Apatow then thanked guests for coming, given that the brunch date coincided with the finale of TV’s “Breaking Bad.” “I know a lot of you could be home making snacks for your ‘Breaking Bad’ parties right now,” he said.
Up next, Brooks started with a shout-out to his brother, RTC supporter Cliff Einstein, noting that his birth name had been Albert Einstein. He recalled asking his parents if they knew his namesake figured out the universe, saying to them, “Was Jesus Christ taken?”
McCormack, the last speaker, noted that he’d always feared following Brooks.
In the end, like Schwimmer, the trio curtailed the humor, in this case to deliver their real message — the importance of teaching boys respect and of modeling appropriate behavior. They pointed to today’s problems involving sexual abuse, which are now compounded by social media.
“My wife and I sat down and we talked with our son,” McCormack said. “We told him that in the years to come, if he ever saw or was aware of these kinds of behaviors and did nothing, he wouldn’t be just a witness. He would be an accomplice.”
Following two women who spoke of their positive experiences with Stuart House, RTC founder Gail Abarbanel finally answered the question, “Why comedians?”
She did so by way of introducing Norman Lear, who took the stage to help raise funds for RTC’s new facility. Lear is the legendary producer of such 1970s sitcoms as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “Maude” and more.
“There’s no one in this world or in my life who has better used comedy and humor to change the nation’s consciousness about rape and many other social issues and that’s Norman Lear,” Abarbanel said. “Comedians often have insights and I think making people laugh opens them up to look at their feelings and attitudes and beliefs.”
She concluded, “I think I made a good choice.”
I doubt anyone in the audience would have disagreed.
Proceeds from the brunch benefited the Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and the new capital campaign.
Thanks to ticket sales, Lear’s onstage fundraising expertise and the generosity of the guests, more than $750,000 was raised.
Top photo: From left, Geoffrey Arend and Christina Hendricks pose with honoree Eric McCormack at the Rape Foundation Brunch at Greenacres in Beverly Hills (photo, Michael Buckner/ Getty Images for the Rape Treatment Center)
Second photo: Honoree Judd Apatow, left, with Norman Lear at the Rape Foundation Brunch at Greenacres in Beverly Hills (photo, Michael Buckner/ Getty Images for the Rape Treatment Center)
Third photo: From left, hosts Josh Radnor and Emily Deschanel with Christina Hendricks at the Rape Foundation Brunch at Greenacres in Beverly Hills (photo, Michael Buckner/ Getty Images for the Rape Treatment Center)
Fourth photo: From left, artist Kimberly Brooks, honoree Albert Brooks and Rape Treatment Center found and director Gail Abarbanel at the Rape Foundation Brunch at Greenacres in Beverly Hills (photo, Michael Buckner/ Getty Images for the Rape Treatment Center)
Fifth photo: Cheryl Saban, co-chair of the $15 million capital campaign at the Rape Foundation Brunch at Greenacres in Beverly Hills (photo, Michael Buckner/ Getty Images for the Rape Treatment Center)
ALSO IN SOCIETY NEWS L.A.:
Rape Foundation Brunch
Published Sept. 30, 2013, updated Oct. 5, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA