Jeffrey R. Immelt was politely preoccupied.
Asked about the prospects for Dartmouth’s football team, for which he played right tackle years ago, Immelt replied, “How are you?”
He has other fish to fry, of course. Immelt is the chairman and chief executive of General Electric Co. (GE) and chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
And last night he was guest of honor at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s 2011 Humanitarian Award Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan.
Also facing a roast chicken dinner, his tablemates included Nelson Peltz, chief executive and founding partner of Trian Fund Management LP, and Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Immelt took the stage after dessert and gave a 10-minute address that paid tribute to capitalism, innovation and investment.
“Business is good,” Immelt said. He noted that his mother would have been pleased to know he was receiving an award that Elizabeth Taylor had also received.
He urged dinner guest Larry Mizel, chairman and chief executive of home builder MDC Holdings Inc. (MDC) and a generous supporter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to “please keep enough money to buy more GE appliances and products.”
Earlier in the evening the center presented its Medal of Valor to Winston Churchill, Hiram Bingham IV and Pope John Paul II.
The mission of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is to promote tolerance. It operates museums in Los Angeles and New York and is building a museum in Jerusalem. With Peltz as dinner chairman, the event raised $1.6 million. Table purchasers included Peltz’s deal-making cohorts Michael Milken and Ken Moelis.
Downtown, at the rooftop bar of the James hotel, actress Michelle Williams mingled in a cream-colored Chanel frock and Ferragamo heels as waitresses passed around Appleton Estate cocktails and lemon meringue petit-fours.
The bar is called Jimmy and the film Williams was hawking is called “Meek’s Cutoff,” out on April 8. Recounting a painful journey westward in 19th-century America, it allows Williams to wear a bonnet and travel in a Conestoga wagon.
Life looked considerably easier with Jimmy’s 360-degree views of the city and its outdoor pool. The only frontier fashion statement came from guest Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who wore a cowboy hat from Texas.
Also attending the Cinema Society event: The film’s co- stars Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, and an eclectic group of musicians: Courtney Love (coming from a reunion of her band, Hole, at the Museum of Modern Art), Joshua Bell, and Sheryl Crow. Alan Cumming played debonair for poolside photos.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.