Scene Last Night: Swizz Beatz, Michael Moore, Estelle

Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund
Estelle salutes while singing "American Boy." Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

When Estelle performed “American Boy” last night at the 27th annual gala of the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, she had salutes for the men in uniform.

Those with a front-row view at the Park Avenue Armory included honoree Bob Benmosche, chief executive of American International Group Inc.

“This organization is an icon of what Americans can do when they have the freedom to act,” Benmosche said. “That’s what the people who serve our country and know they may lose their lives count on, that you’ll be here for their families.”

The event raised more than $2.2 million with help from Mark Messier, a special assistant to the president and general manager of the New York Rangers, who donated items in a live auction. A fishing trip at Runaway Hill Inn on Harbour Island in the Bahamas went for $15,000, while a night in “exclusive Suite 200” at Madison Square Garden to watch a Rangers game went for $12,000.


When you’re at a gala at the Plaza Hotel and the rapper DMC hands you a postcard about a song of his, you hold on to it and look it up.

In “Attention Please,” available on YouTube, he rhymes, “I know that life is full of sorrow, set a good example for the kids to follow.” Pauley Perrette, an actress on the television show “NCIS,” sings beside him.

“We wanted to bring attention to the most important thing, which is making sure everyone in the world is OK,” DMC, also known as Darryl McDaniels, said.

McDaniels was on hand to emcee a gala for Children’s Rights, a nonprofit that deploys legal resources to reform child welfare systems in the U.S.

“For children in foster care who are abused, this organization fights for them the way a mother and father should fight for their own,” McDaniels said.

A few minutes later, Nick Cannon arrived without his wife, Mariah Carey.

“Children teach us,” Cannon, a chairman of the gala, said after an embrace from the rapper Bow Wow (Shad Gregory Moss). “Especially with my own children, you see yourself, you see the purity.”

The entrepreneur, artist, and producer Swizz Beatz also attended without his wife, Alicia Keys. Instead his companion as he accepted an award was a 4-year-old named Rocco, with whom he recorded a YouTube video to promote the benefit.

His advice for Rocco: “The sky is not the limit, it’s just the view,” he said. “Reach high and never give up.”

“I love you,” Rocco replied.

Film Finders

The inner workings of the New York Film Festival were revealed on Oct. 10 at a tribute to its departing director of 25 years, Richard Pena.

In Cannes, Pena summoned members of the selection committee for 6:45 a.m. breakfast meetings, said writer and editor Joan Juliet Buck, who served on the committee.

By crunch time in August, Buck recalled, they would gather in the frigid Walter Reade Theater for six hours of film viewing, fueled only by the sweets at the concession stand. Then they’d go to Pena’s office to watch six more hours of videotapes, after which they’d be sent home with a movie to watch overnight.

“The effect of this was that your dreams were not your own,” Buck said.

Documentarian Michael Moore recalled driving from Flint, Michigan, to New York to drop off his first film, “Roger and Me” with the selection committee.

“When I came back to pick up the film, they were very friendly,” Moore said. Soon he learned the film would play in the festival. “It changed my life,” Moore said. “I got to have a career.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater, Richard Vines on dining.

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