Rebels With A Cause Gala

David Agus, Cassandra Grey, Brad Grey, Larry Ellison
Rebels With A Cause Gala Honors Larry Ellison, Rakes in $9 Million and Showcases Barry Manilow, Pharrell Williams, Anna Kendrick and Jonah Hill



As the night’s honoree, Larry Ellison gave guests at the Rebel With A Cause Gala a beyond-pleasant surprise. In accepting his award, he announced that he’d match the affair’s already bountiful proceeds of $4.5 million.

This brought the total take to $9 million, which would go towards the medical research of Dr. David B. Agus, director of USC’s Westside Cancer Center and the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine.  

As he closed the show, Barry Manilow called Ellison, “the most generous man on the planet.” 

Ellison is co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp. and according to Forbes Magazine, America’s third wealthiest person. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, the event’s emcee, placed him “just behind Jesus Christ and Donald Trump.” 

Barry Manilow
Click here to read my story about the gala in the Los Angeles Times online here, (and if you’ve already seen it and are one of the 3,000 people who shared and recommended that story — a big thank you!)

Here now are a few details and lots more photos. 


The basics… 

Cassandra Grey, Paramount CEO Brad Grey and Dr. Carmen Puliafito, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC served as honorary co-chairs for the Mar. 20 gala, held at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood, on a soundstage transformed into a supper club with blue suede banquettes, contemporary crystal chandeliers and bouquets of white roses.

There, Anna Kendrick and Jonah Hill read letters from Agus’ patients, Pharrell Williams sang “Happy” and Barry Manilow provided the finale with “I Made It Through the Rain,” “Copacabana” and “One Voice.” 

The more than 500 guests included Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher, Chris Pine, Molly Shannon, B.J. Novak, Bob Saget, John Stamos, Alice Eve, model Helen Lasichanh, the legendary game show host Monty Hall, Japanese recording star Yoshiki, Carole Bayer Sager and Robert Daly; producers David Ellison, Jerry Bruckheimer, Emma Thomas, Guy Oseary and Robert Evans; writer/ director Christopher Nolan; CAA’s Bryan Lourd; and philanthropist/financiers Haim Saban and Michael Milken. Lynne Benioff and Marc Benioff, CEO of, served as co-presenting sponsors, with David Foster as musical director and Don Mischer as event producer. 

Jimmy Kimmel, Pharrell Williams


More thoughts about Ellison… 

“Larry has made extraordinary contributions to this cause,” said Kimmel. “He has been very, very generous and if God forbid he ever dies of anything, Dr. Agus is in deep, deep ****.” (Jimmy, FYI, this is necessary censorship.)

“How do you sum up an incredibly complex human being in a short amount of time?” asked David Foster, before summing up an impressive list of Ellison’s achievements and notable qualities, including one I particularly appreciated hearing in this techno-overloaded world, as follows…

“He’s the only human being I know,” said Foster, “who is never, ever on a cell phone or any electronic device while in the company of others,” adding, “How ironic from the man that changed the way the world does electronic business.”


A few words from headliners Pharrell Williams and Barry Manilow…  

After starting the show with his cheery, Oscar-nominated tune, “Happy,” Williams said, “I can tell you right now what’s bigger than religion, what’s even bigger than love… It’s happiness.”

Alice Eve, Chris Pine
Happy perhaps, but an apparent love skeptic, Williams also inserted a few words about love being “questionable at times.” He then wrapped up his remarks by congratulating the audience for investing in something to change lives.  

Manilow began his 3-song set with “I Made It Through the Rain,” saying to the audience, “I sing this song with the hope that with all of your help, one day I’ll be able to sing it because we did make it through.” 


A few words from Dr. David Agus…

In a conversation during the reception, Agus said death certificates haven’t listed “old age” as the cause of death since 1953, the phrase replaced instead by heart disease, cancer or other illnesses. “I want to go back to dying of old age,” he said.  

Later, in his formal remarks, he recalled President Nixon’s declaration of war on cancer in 1971, because more American lives had been lost to cancer than to World War II.

“That was 43 years ago and I am here today to tell you, along with millions of patients, that we’re still losing that war,” Agus said, before adding that the time has now come for major change. “We’re at a tipping point where technology will allow us to make quantum leaps in treating this horrible disease.”

January Jones, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mike White, Molly Shannon


Brad Grey’s announcement… 

“Tonight, I am so proud to announce we will build a new transformational cancer institute here in Los Angeles,” said Grey. “It will be a life changing and life saving facility, dedicated to providing the most cutting edge and groundbreaking medicine available. It will give cancer patients around the world the chance they need and the chance that they deserve.”


Ellison’s acceptance and the happy, generous ending… 

“The technology has never been more promising,” said Ellison in accepting his award. “Our understanding of the fundamentals of disease is growing exponentially because of people like David Agus, who have devoted their lives to helping others through the advancement of science and technology and medicine, and because of the people like you who are here tonight.”

Ellison then thanked the audience and asked Grey for the amount raised. “Four and a half (million)?” he asked. “OK, I’d like to match that.” 

Jonah Hill, Anna Kendrick

Manilow then sang and Kimmel proclaimed, “Cancer is cured.”


Top photo: From left, Dr. David Agus, honorary event co-chairs Cassandra Grey and Paramount CEO Brad Grey and honoree Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp., at the Rebels With A Cause Gala (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Second photo: Barry Manilow sang three numbers at the Rebels With A Cause Gala in Hollywood (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Third photo: Emcee Jimmy Kimmel, left, with Pharrell Williams, who opened the show with “Happy” at the Rebels With A Cause Gala (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Fourth photo: Alice Eve and Chris Pine at the Rebels with A Cause Gala in Hollywood (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)  

Fifth photo: From left, January Jones, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mike White and Molly Shannon, enjoying a moment together at the Rebels With A Cause Gala (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages) 

Michael Milken,Carmen Puliafito

Sixth photo: Jonah Hill and Anna Kendrick read letters from grateful cancer patients at the Rebels with A Cause Gala  (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages) 

Seventh photo: Michael Milken, left, and honorary event co-chair Dr. Carmen Puliafito at the Rebels with A Cause Gala (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Eighth photo: Honoree Larry Ellison, Oracle co-founder and CEO, and Nikita Kahn at the Rebels with A Cause Gala (Alex J. Berliner / ABImages) 



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Rebels With a Cause Gala

Published Mar. 22, 2014 – Ellen Olivier, Society News Los Angeles