Friday, March 30, 2007

SF Social Diary

Downtown San Francisco - just 1 mile away from UCSF Mission Bay.
by Jeanne Lawrence

Bette Bedazzles Benefit

A full moon shone on a rare performance by singer, actress, and comedian Bette Midler as she headlined, “Raising Hope,” the biennial benefit for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Comprehensive Cancer Center presented at UCSF Mission Bay.

The hottest ticket in town brought over 750 supporters to watch Bette, aka “The Divine Miss M” joke, sing and strut her stuff.

The multi Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award winner – she just missed an Oscar with 2 nominations - can charge what she wants but the Divine One generously donated her performance for the evening, thanks in no small part to her friend, Ned Topham.

Again this year, the team of Nanci and Gary Fredkin and Cathy and MikePodell co-chaired the black-tie benefit, which raised an unbelievable $3.75 mil. “Raising Hope” has raised over $21 million to datefor the UCSF Cancer Center and lots of attendees took $100K and $50K tables.

Straightaway the guests were ready for a big splash, seeing spotlights marking the way to two gigantic tents dominating the new UCSF Mission Bay campus.

They dashed in for cocktails with hors d’oeuvres aplenty:  mounds of Mexican morsels, guacamole, shrimp, and savory Swedish meatballs.
Laura Arrillaga and Marc Andreesen
Barbara and Richard Pivnicka
Pam and Stephen Mittel
UCSF honchos included: UCSF Chancellor and Nobel Laureate J. Michael Bishop with his wife Kathryn, CEO of UCSF Medical Center Mark Laret with wife Jan, UCSF Cancer Center Director Frank McCormick with Lauri Goda, UCSF Foundation Chairman Richard Rosenberg and his wife Barbara, who just celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in Hawaii with tons of friends.

Movers and shakers in the crowd: Barbara and Gerson Bakar, benefactors Helen and Chuck Schwab, Gap founders Doris and Don Fisher, and their daughter-in-law Randi Fisher.  I didn’t see her husband Robert Fisher;perhaps he was at the office as he is interim CEO of the Gap.

Among the UCSF Cancer Council members there: Dr. Marilyn Rosenwein with husband Dr. Howard Cohen,Jeanne Robertson and Sandy Robertson, Mary and Howard Lester (CEO of Williams-Sonoma) who brought founder Chuck Williams; Jan and Peter Harris, at one time CEO of FAO Schwartz and the San Francisco 49ers.

Beatrix Lazard Seidenberg, first-born daughter of author Danielle Steel, wouldn’t miss the event; she’s an angel who counsels critically ill pediatric cancer patients and their family.  I first met Beatrix in New York when she was a student at Columbia, and now she’s back home and married to Michael Seidenberg.  

Dinner was announced and guests filed into a second tent, a Las Vegas-like cabaret, done up in red, red, red:  red carpet, red lights, red velvet draping the walls and ceiling. Designer Stanlee Gatti outdid himself.

“With this red lighting I can’t tell if I have lipstick on or not,” laughed Ann Fisher.

While partiers supped on the first course, an energetic violinist bowed red-hot gypsy music, wearing red, of course.

Bette Midler burst on stage, “San Francisco…let’s raise some hell,” she yelled.

Backed by three sexy singers (the Harlettes) and a sensational big band and dressed in a white rhinestone encrusted floor-length sheath, no red for her, Bette teased, “I never wore this dress before…had it made just for you.”
Arrival at a red hot party for UCSF Comprehensive Cancer
A full bar
“Songs and dirty jokes…put my daughter (Sophie) through private school,” she bragged.  One repeatable joke was “With Governorslike Reagan and Schwarzenegger, Californiacan’t seem to get an Oscar winner in that office…but Nancy Pelosi (referring SF Congresswoman and Speaker of the House) looked good at the State of Union.  She deserves an Oscar for listening to that speech by President Bush…and she didn’t even roll her eyes once - now that’s acting.”

“Who hails from these parts? Steve Jobs not here, but Chuck Schwab is here” and the chorus chanted “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck.”

“Where’s cute Mayor Gavin Newsom, no such thing as bad press, only bad press agents.” Little did Bette know that next morning the newspapers highlighted the Mayor’s lapses in judgment in a City Hall sex scandal. But he seems to be as possible as ever.

Midler sang a varied repertory of her songs including “the song that started it all” Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, made popular by the Andrews Sisters in 1942. Then there was Fever - “what a lovely way to burn” - Peggy Lee’s hot hit from the 50’s, and songs by Rosemary Clooney, better known these days as George Clooney’s aunt,  from her songbook albums of both women.

Along with a discography that boasts Barry Manilow asher original producer, Bette’s film career reads like a Best Comedy roundup: The First Wives Club, Ruthless People, For the Boys, and Stepford Wives and some serious roles like The Rose, Gypsy as well as a myriad of television and Broadway appearances (Fiddler on the Roof – for one).   

Out of breath after running around the stage, the petite dynamo exclaimed, “Three songs and I need CPR…that’s what happens when you turn 40,” and the audience roared.

In closing, Midler thanked the audience. “That was fun.  I’m delighted to be involved with this extraordinary campus,” she said.  “A cure for cancer coming out of this place, I have a funny feeling about that. There’s the will and the money.  You’re going to do it.  I applaud you.”  Let’s hope she’s right!
Mayor Gavin Newsom and Cathy Podell
Erik Nickel and Beth Nickel (Nickel Winery) and friends
For her finale, she sang the 1990 Grammy winning “Song of the Year,” Wind Beneath My Wings - “Did I ever tell you you’re my hero? You are the wind beneath my wings…my inspirations,” for which Miss Midler received a standing ovation.

“On a scale of 10, this was a 20, over the top,” Marsha Monro Wright proclaimed, wearing a luscious chocolate brown Vera Wang gown. “The audience could have stayed all night.  I was sorry it was over.” 

 The main course was then served: a scrumptious grilled filet and short rib hash with sunchoke/potato mousseline and espresso creme brulée for dessert.

Among the ravenous guests were Phyllis and Stuart Moldaw; President of Koret Foundation Tad Taube; Ute and Bill Bowes of Amgen; Steve and Pam Mittel; artist Cynthia Schuman Banks with Dan Banks; and beauty guru Sherlee Rhine.

An exclusive auction - just a few big-ticket items that everyone coveted especially a pass to the final American Idol of 2007 and VIP after-party – produced a veritable feeding frenzy of bids.

Midler herself is a generous philanthropist, not only to San Francisco and the Cancer research; she was devastated when her mother, Ruth Midler, who was her greatest inspiration, died tragically of liver cancer.  Bette’s also committed to the New York Restoration Project, preserving the public spaces we so desperately need and revitalizing our parks. Thank you Miss M! You are truly divine.
Red, Red, Red
Eve and Ross Jaffe
Cathy Podell, Bette Midler, Nanci Fredkin, and Stanlee Gatti
Bloomingdales NY, Ann Keating and Drew Becher of NY Restoration Project
Red hot curtain warmer
It's Showtime
Co-chairs Mike and Cathy Podell
Former NYer Jan Harris
Jeanne and Sandy Robertson
Bette Midler and Ned Topham
Dr. Marilyn Rosenwein with husband Dr. Howard Cohen
Howard and Mary Lester, Frances Bowes, Chuck Williams, and Linda Howell
Sandra Farris and Richard Goldman
Lisa and Doug Goldman
Co-Chairs Gary and Nanci Fredkin with Peter and Beth Van
Tad Taube, Pres of Koret Foundation
Beatrice Lazard Seidenberg, daughter of author Danielle Steele
Diane Morris
Leigh Matthes, Mark and Jan Laret, and Ali Walecka
Marcia and John Goldman
Ted and Pamala Deikel
Gail Glasser, Dagmar and Ray Dolby, and Jeanne Lawrence
Enjoying the night
Artist Cynthia Schuman Banks
Ubiquitous photographer Tom Gibbons
Megan Barton and Ali Walecka
Pam and Larry Baer of SF 49ers
Leigh Wasson, Mike Dorsey, and Susan Ford Dorsey
Brenda Jewett, Kelley O'Brien, and Martha Ryan
Michael Koskie and Meg Goodman
Edwin and Marcia Shonfeld
Eric and Carmel Greenberg
Gail de Martini and Tom Kravis
Teri Mino and John Capizzi
New Mission Bay Development Brings Biotech Capital to San Francisco

You might ask what the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Mission Bay is anyway.   Well, it’s a $1.5- billion investment in a new 60-acre campus for teaching, research, and health.

Mission Bay, a former wasteland of warehouses and old rail yards, is being developed into an entire new city, located 1 mile south of San Francisco’s financial district.  The project is being touted as San Francisco’s largest urban development since the building of Golden Gate Park.

Already completed on the campus are buildings with familiar names such Genentech Hall, Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Hall, Koret Quad, and the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3). Public art works feature artists like Richard Serra.

 A recent groundbreaking was held for the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building made possible by a gift of $35 million, one of the largest donations ever given to UCSF for cancer research.

The Campus Community Center opened in 2005, designed by the award winning architects Ricardo Legorreta and Victor Legorreta, in signature strong colors incorporating natural light.

This $69 million building hubs campus activities and houses a fitness complex with rooftop and indoor swimming pools, conference center, assembly rooms, student activity center, library, pub and more.

So much is going on that San Francisco is emerging as the country’s biotechnology capital with more than 600 bioscience companies already here and more on the way!
UCSF Community Center designed by Mexican architects Legorreta and Legorreta
Donor Wall at Mission Bay
University of California San Francisco Mission Bay
Laughter of healthy children fills the Community Center
Even the walls are art
View of Koret Quad
Reads like a philanthropy Who's Who
Ballast, by American sculptor Richard Serra
Everything for total health - swimming pools and gym
$35 mil donation for future Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building

Photographs by Tom Gibson, Jeanne Lawrence, and Scotty Morris