Monday, June 17, 2024

NY Like the Old Days: Leonardo and Tobey Show Up, Mary J. Blige Performs, Mayor Adams Gives Rousing Speech at Star Studded Angel Ball


It did seem like the “before times” on Monday night at Denise Rich‘s 25th annual Angel Ball.

So much was going on at Cipriani Wall Street besides glamorous people in formal attire raising millions for cancer research.

Denise, who’s made the Angel Ball an incredible tribute her late daughter Gabrielle, wrangled up quite a crowd.

Of all people, Leonardo DiCaprio — baseball cap tightly affixed to his head — showed up with Tobey Maguire to support their pal, restaurateur Richie Akiva, one of the honorees. I had a nice chat with them but began it like this: “We can’t talk about movies.” Yes, they both laughed.

Music mogul Clive Davis packed a table with friends including famed singer Michael Bolton and Heather Kerzner, Tik Tok star and legendary entrepreneur Nikki Haskell, :Madame Secretary” actor (and top event producer) Eric Bergen, Ralph Lauren Polo restaurant maven Nelly Moudime, real estate star Greg Schriefer, and more. Clive also welcomed Monte Lipman, head of Republic Records, and his wife, Angelique.

My own table, which was Clive adjacent, featured two Tony Award winners: Myles Frost of “MJ The Musical” with his mom, and “Memphis” star Montego Glover with her powerhouse Broadway publicist, Lisa Goldberg — plus designer Tommy Hilfiger and his beautiful wife, Dee.

Mayor Eric Adams arrived during dinner and turned the place upside down with everyone trying to meet him. He literally drew all the attention way from Leo and Tobey, and then gave one of his best speeches ever, about racism and his support of Israel.

Did I mention that Mary J. Blige gave a knockout performance on two songs? Jermaine Dupri performed after. Newcomer Chloe Jane sang first and could be the next Olivia Rodrigo she was so good. There were also presentations from Tamron Hall, Star Jones, and Beyonce’s mom, Tina Knowles.

And of course, there were plenty of NY socialites, philanthropists, and moguls including Peter Thomas Roth, Jean Shafiroff (in a heart stopping gown that was also a piece of art), and Lizzie Asher. Jeweler to the stars Lorraine Schwartz, one of the night’s sponsors. saw some of her incredible baubles auctioned off.

Oh yeah, so what about Leo and Tobey? Why were they there? “Richie is our friend and we came to support him,” Leo said before security people starting eyeing me like I was Ghostface from the next “Scream” movie. I said, “We can’t discuss movies, and you know this from Cannes, but ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is phenomenal.”

Tobey interjected; “But I can say it, can’t I?”

Leo laughed and we both said simultaneously: “No!”

The first Angel Ball was in 1998 and was an instant hit. But I believe it was the 2nd one, in 1999, when 1,500 celebrities showed up at the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue to find the computer seating program was down. No one had a table assignment. Geraldo Rivera went on stage and said, “Sit down wherever you are. Just sit. You’ll make new friends.”

Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation had a complicated start, but eventually settled in as a huge fundraiser for cancer research. They’re a huge developer of new drugs that helped an untold number of people. Most people would lost interest over time, but Denise has persisted and never given up. Bravo!

PS Was I there? Thanks to the partygoer who inadvertently took this picture.  I never felt more like Zelig:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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