Milan Fashion Week came to a close and the City of Sunny gets its bulbs brightened for its own moment, New Yorkers put on their stylish snow boots to celebrate the Thoughtful Fun Children’s Network gala at Lincoln Center. The group, founded by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, focuses its efforts on providing camps and programs for children with serious illnesses. “It’s about fitting and being included,” said Tom Hanks, who starred opposite Newman in Road to Perdition.
“It’s about feeling authorized and confident about the future,” he added, before introducing singer Aloe Blacc, who achieved one song and got the crowd moving. But the evening, which renowned the legacy of the legendary actor, provided moments of cheerfulness including David Letterman who joked about fellow attendee George Clooney (“I saw George Clooney backstage and he’s not that handsome”) before joining Paul Shaffer in reciting the Top 10 songs in Newman’s films.
In contrast to this, soprano Renée Fleming’s rendition of Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” was just as moving as the kids’ stories. Actor Danny DeVito followed on stage with a gaggle of campers and sang “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” made famous for appearing in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (It won the Oscars for Best Song and Best Original Score.)
And then the moment the audience waited for the arrival of Mr. Clooney. While wife Amal wasn’t there even in the audience her Oscar-winning husband did her proud after a fleeting stumble when explaining how many countries vacationers come from.
“Five hundred countries would be too many,” joked Clooney after appreciating that he meant to say fifty, adding, “my wife’s the smart one.” After a raucous amount of laughter and applause, Clooney turned serious saying that Newman, “is the best version of us. And I don’t mean actors. I mean humans.” Following Clooney’s touching speech, Natalie Cole performed with a sparkling microphone to match her dazzling performance of “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love).” The evening concluded with campers and celebrities joining together on stage as Carole King and Aloe Blacc closed the night. It was an undeniably fun evening to benefit a seriously worthy cause.
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