Host committee pals Christina Hendricks and Freida Pinto sit next to each other during dinner at the Gala for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability honoring Paul G. Allen and Toyota on Monday in Beverly Hills. (Michael Underwood / Vince Bucci)
In a conversation during dinner at Monday’s Gala for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Christina Hendricks said her awareness of environmental issues came early in life through her father’s career in the U.S. Forest Service.
“There was a scene in ‘Mad Men’ early on where there’s a picnic and everyone throws their garbage out. I was literally sick to my stomach,” said Hendricks, a six-time Emmy-nominated actress, about the AMC show. “It was instilled in me at such a young age never ever to litter in your life that it was like watching a horror movie for me.” She then added that now “I’m the girl who makes sure there is recycling on the set.”
The festive evening honored Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and event sponsor Toyota, which was represented by Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota Motor North America, as “Innovators for a Healthy Planet,” the night’s theme.
A standout in the crowd at 6-foot-11, former NBA star John Salley acted as host for the affair, which featured a performance by Jackson Browne and a celebrity-filled audience including Courteney Cox (“Friends”), Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”), James Marsden (“Westworld”), Madelaine Petsch (“Riverdale”), Pollyanna McIntosh (“The Walking Dead”), Nigel Lythgoe (“So You Think You Can Dance”), telenovela actress Eiza Gonzalez, model Angela Lindvall and recording artist Moby.
Salley began by thanking Jeanne and Tony Pritzker for providing the “lovely bungalow that they live in” as the venue. Actually, it’s an expansive art-filled estate, high atop Beverly Hills, where guests earlier enjoyed cocktails, marveled at the panoramic views of Los Angeles and lined up for photos holding signs emblazoned with such slogans as “Environmental justice for all” and “Science trumps rhetoric.”
“Republican or Democrat,” said Pritzker, addressing the 350-plus guests, “what I have been encouraged about is the activism that people have put in in the last couple of months. You might not have liked the way things turned out, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stay involved in making this the greatest country in the world.”
Following an introduction by musician Robbie Robertson, Allen talked of his projects to “substantially move the needle on some of the big problems facing humanity and our planet,” naming among them the vanishing savanna elephants, illegal fishing and climate change. “Trying to call for preventative action now, for too large a segment of our population, is a bit like a doctor trying to make them take unpleasant medicine now for an ailment that won’t set in significantly for years,” Allen said.
Allen then thanked organizers for the honor and for “whoever put me before Jackson Browne, one of my favorite artists. He would be a very tough act to follow.”
More than $1 million was raised from tickets beginning at $1,500, tables ranging to $100,000 and a live auction, for which two sets of tickets for two to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s gala in St. Tropez sold for $20,000 each. Producers Lawrence Bender and Alexandria Jackson served as co-chairs.
Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.
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