Elton John and David Furnish threw their annual AIDS fundraiser in New York Tuesday, with Sir Elton sitting down at the piano and playing his hits for the well-heeled, formal-clad crowd at Cipriani Wall Street. (UPDATE: They raised $3.7 million.)
The audience was more star studded than usual: Alec Baldwin with wife Hilaria, Mike Myers and his wife Kelly, Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, Matt Lauer, Cynthia McFadden, even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his lady friend, famous cook book author and lifestyle personality Sandra Lee was there. I ran into famed director Baz Luhrmann and his multiple Oscar wining wife Cahterine Martin as well.
Anderson Cooper was the emcee, as usual. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is a huge EJAF supporter. Other guests included Padma Lakshmi of “Top Chef,” Tommy Hilfiger, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tony winner Judith Light with actor husband Robert Desiderio.
Sir Elton spoke passionately about ending AIDS in his lifetime to the point that the EJAF could cease to exist. And he had high praise for the Vatican. “Pope Francis my hero,” he said, praising the Pontiff lavishly for his efforts to educate about AIDS and change international attitudes. The Pope should be doing the Crocodile Rock this morning after hearing so many compliments !
“He is a compassionate, loving man who wants everybody to be included in the love of God,” Sir Elton said of the pope. “It is formidable what he is trying to do against many, many people in the church that opposes. He is courageous and he is fearless, and that’s what we need in the world today.” He added: “Make him a saint already, ok?”
Elton and David are true mensches. Their charity is one of the most effective in the world when it comes to raising money and disbursing it for AIDS research and programs. They are far more frugal with their administrative money than some other more publicized groups, that’s for sure.