It was like summer camp for grownups in the rustic theater at Ronald Perelman’s East Hampton estate Saturday night -- except for the air conditioning, megastars and billionaires.
Perelman’s third annual fundraiser for the Apollo Theater drew 260 guests including Len Blavatnik, owner of Warner Music Group; Robert Kraft, chairman and chief executive of the New England Patriots; Aryeh Bourkoff, founder of LionTree LLC; and Randy Slifka, managing principal of Slifka Asset Management. Perelman himself is chairman and chief executive officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.
The entertainment business brought Brad Grey, head of Paramount Pictures Corp.; Matthew Blank, head of Showtime Networks Inc.; and Matthew Hiltzik, a communications strategist who works with celebrities and media companies.
Pharrell Williams, the rapper, producer and entrepreneur who curated the evening, wore jean shorts with a jumbo key chain that included refurbished fishing lures hanging from a belt loop. He also wore a wide-brimmed brown hat that Perelman tried on for just a moment.
Perelman wore jeans, a button-down and a baseball cap, while his wife, Anna Chapman, wore a white dress.
Richard Parsons, chairman of the Apollo and former chairman of Citigroup Inc., circulated in khakis talking about the revitalization of Harlem, the Apollo’s home.
For dinner, the guests helped themselves to chicken and waffles and quinoa salad from a buffet set up next to an outdoor fireplace. Multiple bars offered Pimm’s Cup, sangria and Pellegrino.
The music, like the setting, summoned earlier eras.
Paul McCartney joined the Isley Brothers on stage for “Twist and Shout,” a song the brothers and the Beatles covered.
Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora delivered “Dead or Alive” along with memories of 1986.
Just the sight of Barry Manilow and Penny Marshall in the audience conjured the ’70s.
The program reflected the Apollo’s rich musical past and role as showcase for contemporary and new talent.
“It never gets tired, it never gets old, the magic, the magic of the Apollo,” Usher said on stage. “I really have to say that I wouldn’t be the artist I am today if I didn’t have that point of reference, watching amateurs go up there, nervous as day one.”
Usher performed hits and a new song, “Twisted,” which has a retro sound and raps by Williams.
Williams recounted attending last year’s event, where he first told L.A. Reid, chairman and CEO of Epic Records, about a new talent, Leah Labelle. Then Labelle (no relation to Patti LaBelle, by the way) performed the buoyant R&B single “Sexify” recently released by her record label Epic.
Jennifer Hudson, looking thin and pretty in pink, was the one who got the crowd on its feet, leaving the stage to wind her way through the theater.
The event, with a $5,000 ticket, raised more than $2 million, making it one of the Apollo’s largest fundraisers of the year, said the theater’s president and CEO, Jonelle Procope.
Around the tables decorated with lemons and wildflowers were actresses Anjelica Huston, Mariska Hargitay, Leelee Sobieski and Lorraine Bracco, who introduced Bon Jovi to her daughter. Also in attendance were Apollo Global Management’s W. Anthony Edson, Tracy Maitland of Advent Capital Management LLC, and Troy Dixon of Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
Guests gave “Happy Birthday” greetings to Raymond Perelman, father of Ronald, who blew out all six candles on his chocolate birthday cake. He turned 95 this year and looked to be sipping from the fountain of youth. At his son’s estate, that means Georgica Pond or the reflecting pool in front of the house, around which Porsches and BMWs pulled up to take guests home.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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