Russell Brand, Friendly House LA Man of the Year
On accepting the Man of the Year Award from Friendly House LA, a women’s recovery home in Los Angeles for alcohol and drug addiction, actor/comedian Russell Brand, of “Arthur” and “Get Him to the Greek,” kneeled onstage before the audience.
“I have always been only too happy to worship on my knees at the altar of femininity,” said Brand, declaring, “I am under no illusions as to the power of femininity, the role femininity plays in our culture, because I’m married now and I’m essentially a hostage.” (Although Brand’s wife Katy Perry was not present, her father joined guests at the affair.)
More than 700 attended the Oct. 29 luncheon, which doubled as a 60th birthday party for Friendly House LA, as evidenced by the parade of waiters carrying Baked Alaska, topped with “60” in chocolate, across the stage and into the audience, which included philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, honorees Brand, Aloma Ichinose and Karl B. McMillen; actors Katey Segal of “Married with Children,” Sally Kellerman of “MASH,” Seth Grabel of “America’s Got Talent,” Barbara Alyn Woods, of “One Tree Hill;” Jess Walton, Diana Barton and Kate Linder of “The Young and the Restless,” Natalie Alyn Lind, of “Blood Done Sign My Name,” Emily Alyn Lind of “Enter the Void,” Eric Matheny of “Freedom for Joe,” and Anne Jeffreys of the TV classic, “Topper;” Ethlie Ann Vare, author of “Love Addict,” luncheon chairs Kathleen Silver and Michael Hollingsworth and the charity’s president Bill Cunningham.
In his monologue: partly a rant reminiscent of his comedy routines and partly a serious statement of purpose, Brand praised the recovery home for “the evident alchemy that they perform, taking people’s pain and misery and misfortune and being able to create from that these wonderful beautiful women,” referring to the women the charity has helped. He also paid tribute to executive director Peggy Albrecht, “who somehow through the force of her charisma, her magnetism, her sheer personality can take darkness, disappointment, sadness, the lingering hollowness that addicts carry within them and turn it into positivity.”
Brand, too, gave his thoughts on the importance of a higher power, of giving service and of changing the world for the positive. “It’s time for all of us now to pick a side,” he said. “I want to be on the side of righteousness – that’s why I’m happy to be honored here today.”
Pat O’Brien, host of FOX Sports’ “Loose Cannons,” acted as emcee, while Malik Pointer and Christina Simos opened ceremonies by singing “That’s What Friends Are For.” A video of congratulations from William Shatner followed.
Wallis Annenberg ascended the stage to present the Excellence in Service award to Aloma Ichinose, lauding the photographer, artist and activist for her commitment to helping those who struggle with addiction. Annenberg summed up, by saying “Aloma really ought to be a word in some foreign language meaning the very best that’s within us.”
The event grossed more than $250,000, helped in no small way by Karl McMillen, who accepted the charity’s Humanitarian Award with his two grandchildren by his side. Chairman of the McMillen Family Foundation, he expressed his gratitude for the award and then announced his generous gift of $100,0000.
Russell Brand Friendly House LA Man of the Year follows a list of distinguished honorees including Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Carol Burnett, Betty Ford, Barbara Sinatra, Anne Douglas, Candy Spelling, Marianne Williamson and Ginny Mancini.
And for all his ranting on stage, Brand is charming up close, taking my hand in his when we spoke. A good man to have on the righteousness.
Photos, from top: Russell Brand Friendly House LA Man of the Year accepts a gift with visible appreciation; Wallis Annenberg presented the Excellence in Service Award; award recipient Aloma Ichinose with Christopher Kennedy Lawford.
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Published Oct. 30, 2011 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA