UNICEF Ball Los Angeles

Michael Douglas, Ghada Irani and a Surprised Matt Damon Honored at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles



Just days after Michael Douglas won out over Matt Damon at the Golden Globes for his performance as Liberace in “Behind the Candelabra,” Damon – his love interest in the film – joined producer Jerry Weintraub at the Jan. 14 UNICEF Ball Los Angeles to honor Douglas yet again.

As the night’s emcees, Damon and Weintraub hosted the affair at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and at evening’s end, presented Douglas with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Peace Award for his commitment to the well-being of the world’s children.

Also honored was Ghada Irani, board chair of the US Fund for UNICEF Southern California.  An affair not just for VIPs, but for V-VIPs, former Secretary of State James Baker delivered the tribute to Irani, who received the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award. (Click here for photos of Irani on a recent UNICEF trip to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.)

And like all good Hollywood tales, there was a surprise ending.


At the podium, after Damon praised Douglas for his versatility in playing the hero, anti-hero, tough guy, tender guy and his own romantic opposite in abundant sequins, Douglas accepted his award and then returned the favor. He teamed up with Weintraub to give the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award to Damon, too, for his work in bringing clean water to those in need.


More than just awards presentations, “Dancing With the Stars” duo Cheryl Burke and Val Chmerkovskiy opened the show with a dance performance.

The night’s headliner, Emmy and Tony Award-winning Kristin Chenoweth, sang to the crowd, but not until after the legendary Paul Anka ventured into the audience to serenade the honorees.

Singing a new version of “My Way,” Anka tailored the lyrics to each recipient, having Irani’s husband join in, too. Ray Irani, former chair of Occidental Petroleum – rose to add the line, “We did things her way.”

In addition those onstage, celebrities filled the ballroom as well, and included Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, Suzanne Somers, Toni Trucks, LaToya Jackson, Laura Marano, Michael Sheen of “Masters of Sex,” Don Cheadle of “House of Lies,” Sasha Alexander of “Rizzoli & Isles,” Leah Remini of “King of Queens,” and UNICEF Ambassadors Tea Leoni of “The Smell of Success” and Alyssa Milano of “Charmed.” 

On arriving at the event, I had the pleasure of talking with James Marsden of “X-Men” about his film, “Enchanted,” one of my favorites. In the film, Marsden plays a fairy tale prince, lost in Manhattan seeking his princess.

“The first week of shooting, I found myself on top of a bus in tights,” he said. “I’m just glad it all worked out OK.”

Speaking to Anna Kendrick of “Up in the Air” – and complimenting her for her clever “cups” song in the film, “Pitch Perfect” – I learned the song’s immense popularity continues to surprise her. By now, she said, the song has gone multi- platinum with 2 million sales.  

Among other guests were NBC Universal’s vice chair Ron Meyer, lead benefactors Tamar and Bob Manoukian, event chairs Lori Milken, Susie Ekins, Sandra Lee, Jamie McCourt, Keck Foundation chair Robert Day, Sharon Davis and former Gov. Gray Davis; plus CW president John Maata, Wendy Goldberg and “Blue Blood” producer Leonard Goldberg, Edythe and Eli Broad, Julia and George Argyros, singer/composer/record producer David Foster, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Linda Thompson, Candy Spelling and UNICEF chief executive Caryl Stern.

Click here for my story in the L.A. Times about the UNICEF Ball and click here to read more about UNICEF.


Top photo: Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, stars of “Behind the Candelabra,” hamming it up at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014 (photo, courtesy of UNICEF)

Second photo: Anna Kendrick of “Up in the Air” and “Pitch Perfect,” among celebrity guests at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014 (photo, courtesy of UNICEF)

Third photo: Michael Douglas, left, and Matt Damon, holding their Danny Kaye Humanitarian Awards at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014 (photo, courtesy of UNICEF)

Fourth photo: Paul Anka sang his version of “My Way” to Ghada Irani, recipient of the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014 (photo, SocietyNewsLA.com)

Fifth photo: Emmy and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth headlined the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014, (photo, SocietyNewsLA.com)

 Sixth photo: The night’s emcees Jerry Weintraub, left, and Matt Damon at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014 (photo, courtesy of UNICEF)

Seventh photo: Couple Luciana Barroso and Matt Damon at the UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014 (photo, courtesy of UNICEF)



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UNICEF Ball Los Angeles 2014

Published Feb. 2, 2014 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA