Throughout the weekend writer Ray Lemoine and others will be contributing short bits of coverage to Defamer from the front lines of the Golden Globes party scene. This dispatch comes from Lindsay MaHarry.
Walking into to Sean Penn's Haiti benefit at the Montage Hotel Beverly Hills on Saturday night, I immediately ran into Pamela Anderson and told her we have the same barbed wire tattoo. "I'm getting mine removed," she said. It was an auspicious beginning, and my luck rarely changed after that.
Just past an unusually lax entrance, there stood Paris Hilton, looking like a bubble-gum nightmare in pink Valentino. She feigned a regal sweetness when colleague, Ray Lemoine, discussed with her a recent incident involving him and her brother's clobbering in Miami. She giggled, patted his shoulder, and, after consuming a fair amount of champagne, glided away to go to "Jessica's house."
Over at the bar, Bette Midler, who was double-fisting champagne flutes, found things "lovely." I followed her into the dining room. The ballroom had been transformed into what you'd see at a swing-state campaign stop. A banner screaming "HELP HAITI HOME" hung above some of the most elite people in Hollywood and Washington, D.C.
America's Ambassador to Haiti, Pamela White, gave a speech in which she revealed the terms of her first meeting with Sean Penn: She instructed her staff to pour double the amount of vodka in Penn's glass as her own. "Ambassador, I love you!" Penn screamed at her.
Next up was Hillary Clinton, who appeared on monitors throughout the ballroom to speak of Haiti's plight as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. During the speech, attendees picked at a duet of filet mignon and Chilean sea bass.
The charity auction was last and, of course, the most jovial event of the evening. A guitar that once belonged to Bruce Springsteen fetched $40,000. "A day with President Clinton" ended in a split—two buyers, two days, $400,000 total. Sean Penn auctioned off his vintage Chevy. As people bid on some other random shit, Oliver Stone stumbled by me, drunk, in a powder blue suit. Sean Penn breezily lit up a cigarette.
Bidding on one of the ugliest pieces of art I'd ever seen, a heart shaped Banksy painting, started at $100,000, and Coldplay's Chris Martin quickly got into a battle with one of the men who had just spent $200,000 to spend a day with Bill Clinton.
The room rose to its feet to cheer the men on. In the end, Gwyneth Paltrow's husband walked away the proud owner of a $650,000 monstrosity.
The last lot was preempted by the final of Penn's nine inebriated speeches throughout the night. In this last one he admitted, "I'm fucking hammered." Other memorable quotes from the host included: "Where's [Piers] Morgan? Did you hack my phone?"; "We used to put ketamine in cats to make people think they were dead in Haiti"; and, more seriously, "The cure to poverty is the empowerment of women." Penn also touched on the fact that he'd recently given up all his guns to appease his new South African girlfriend, Charlize Theron, who has spoken openly about the need for tighter gun control in America and her home country. "How the fuck was it that a fucking foreigner stood up for the killing of our children?" Penn asked.
Penn is giving his 50-plus guns to artist Jeff Koons, who will use the weapons to construct a piece called "Decommissioned/Commission." This future work was the final lot of the night, and it also precipitated the most furious bidding of the evening. In the end it came down to dueling CNN hosts: Anderson Cooper vs. Piers Morgan. Piers looked to have won the future sculpture with a bid of $1.3 million, but, at the urging of CAA's Bryan Lourd, Cooper one-upped him with a bid of $1.4 million at the last second.
After his victory, Cooper took the stage and announced, "I just texted my boyfriend and told him we spent $1.4 million dollars. He said, 'Are you fucking kidding me?' The funny part is, there's actually no piece yet."
In the bathroom, I and Sarah Silverman, dressed like a nihilistic cheerleader in a West Memphis Three t-shirt and knee socks, pontificated about who would be the "mindblowing surprise" guest Penn had hyped earlier in the evening. As she tightened her ponytail, we reached a consensus: Bono.
And we were right. At the end of the night, U2 took the stage to play three songs, their first performance in four years. The room erupted into a dance party. Penn and Theron held hands and swayed. Paltrow and Martin followed suit.
Samantha Ronson, the only person not smiling, spun the reception in the lobby, where I approached David Spade. "I was going to bid on stuff," said the Joe Dirt star. "I thought I was rich until the bidding began."
Our night ended with a chat with Piers Morgan, who asked, "Who are you with?"
"Defamer," we replied.
"Fuck Nick Denton," he said.
Asked about losing the Koons bidding war to Cooper, Morgan quipped, "Losing to Anderson in the ratings is one thing, but losing a bid on a sculpture is simply unacceptable." He then added, "Seriously, fuck Nick Denton!"
The party favors were monogrammed trucker hats. The evening raised $6 million.