Ron Perelman Gathers Usher, Stefani, Richie, J.Lo for Apollo Benefitby
Apollo raises $5 million as Lionel Richie leads sing-alongs
Chris Rock, Bill de Blasio, Schwarzman, Tepper, Kravis attend
Ron Perelman, on the stage of what he called his “little barn in the Hamptons” Saturday night, promised "I’m not going to get political," and guests including Henry Kravis, Steve Schwarzman and David Tepper issued a collective sigh of relief.
After all, the Apollo in the Hamptons fundraiser is supposed to be a night of distractions. This edition, the seventh, included standing in line for the buffet behind Chris Rock and Jennifer Lopez and live music by Lionel Richie, The Roots, Gwen Stefani and Joe Walsh.
The billionaire’s stump speech for the historic Harlem venue came after dinner (fried chicken, salmon, watermelon salad, brisket, corn), at settings decorated with rattan fans and napkins in West African prints purchased for the occasion.
“We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman said. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts. I think the arts breaks the barrier quicker than anything else. And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with."
At which point, Pharrell Williams chimed in with some election-season humor. “Man, you don’t have a teleprompter!” The crowd roared.
The event raised about $5 million for the Apollo’s arts education programs, which Perelman said prepare children to grow up and make the world a better place. The artists “paid their own way coming here,” so every dollar would go to the Apollo, Perelman said.
There was no protesting. Across the room, Perelman had managed to spread a sense of gratitude and appreciation for being able to take part in such an evening.
Schwarzman got to sit across from Rock for the meal. Lopez from her seat near Brown University President Christina Paxson and Governor Andrew Cuomo, took selfies showing the performances.
Marie-Josee Kravis did a snap and clap combination for “Hollaback Girl” (dirty version) by Stefani, and Rock seemed to know all the words. Lionel Richie led sing-alongs on "Hello" and "All Night Long."
Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, started the evening with a quiet moment on the edge of Georgica Pond with the dock to themselves. During cocktails they chatted with the Schwarzmans, and for dinner were seated with the painter John Alexander and the writer Fran Lebowitz, who said she supports de Blasio’s run for a second term.
"I gave him a few ideas," Lebowitz said. Such as? "No tourists!" she said.
Jon Bon Jovi, a Hillary Clinton supporter, performed “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone before telling the crowd, “I have to go and wash the dishes for Ronald now and serve dessert.”
That was brownies, chocolate chip cookies and a selection of fruit pies.