Election Therapy With Michael J. Fox Draws Lee Fixel, Dan Loebby
Dave Matthews performs at Parkinson’s research benefit
Comedians Susie Essman, Jerrod Carmichael bring the laughs
Michael J. Fox reminded about a thousand guests Saturday night that he shares a middle initial with Donald J. Trump.
It’s not much, but can’t blame the guy for trying to find common ground with the president-elect.
Fox has advocated for federal funding of stem-cell research for almost two decades, and while it remains to be seen what Trump’s position will be on the matter, the actor turned research-funding hero, who has lived with Parkinson’s disease for 25 years, isn’t backing down.
The event in New York raised about $6 million for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, adding to the hundreds of millions the foundation has collected since Fox founded it in 2000 -- the same year he became a U.S. citizen.
The annual gathering, dubbed “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s," was just what the doctor ordered a few days after the election. Comedians Susie Essman, Tom Papa, Dan Naturman and Jerrod Carmichael performed and Dave Matthews -- with Fox joining on guitar for a song -- closed out the evening.
So there was Lee Fixel of Tiger Global Management, dancing and singing right in front of the stage of the Waldorf Astoria ballroom. Dan Loeb of Third Point, Marc Lipschultz of Owl Rock Capital Partners, and Barry Rosenstein of Jana Partners were close by, and Julianna Margulies, Blythe Danner and Willie Geist, whose father has Parkinson’s, were also in the room.
Matthews addressed the election outcome in an interview early in the evening, noting that while he’s touring outside the country in 2017, he won’t be away for long.
“When things are going in the wrong direction, I like to pull in the other direction,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to run and hide, I like a fight. Don’t duck.”
Carmichael, who’s black and grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, devoted much of his set to the election.
“I’ve never seen this many white people cry before,” Carmichael said. “It really is like white Hurricane Katrina. Now all my friends feel about America like I’ve always felt. Every president is kind of Trump to me, except Obama.”
Tiffany Dufu, a guest and author of the forthcoming book “Drop the Ball," about women’s work-life juggles, said the evening was “thoroughly inspiring" and “a much needed refresher from my divisive Facebook feed."
During dessert, a pair of Nike Mags were auctioned off for $200,000. Originally made for “Back to the Future 2," the sneakers were produced in a limited number to support the foundation (an idea hatched at the first movie’s 30th anniversary). This was the final pair sold, though one of its coolest features, auto-lacing, will be available in Nike’s HyperAdapt 1.0 on sale later this month.
As for getting Trump’s attention, Fox might remind the president-elect that he rose to fame in the ’80s, too -- playing young Republican Alex P. Keaton, spawn of hippie parents, on the sitcom “Family Ties."