By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
L.A. Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling is known for giving big to local charity. No surprise, then, when ads appeared in the L.A. Timeslast month congratulating him on receiving the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Dennis Day Memorial Award. Signed by such bigwigs as KCAL’s general manager and the L.A. City Council president, the ads saluted Sterling "for his generosity to the MDA." But would a responsible charity really expend its resources touting a supporter?
Of course not. Says MDA director Joan Rovegno: "We never pay for advertising." Instead, it turns out, Sterling himself — along with various supporters — picked up the tab.
A real estate magnate and one of L.A.’s richest residents, Sterling has never been shy about promoting his own plaudits; in recent years he’s advertised honors received from Vista del Mar Orphanage and the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. The bulk of the recent Timesdisplay — more than a dozen ads, up to a quarter-page each and purchased at the $233-per-column-inch charity rate — was taken up by Sterling’s name and/or likeness. Several ads boast a mug of Sterling twice the size of an accompanying snapshot of MDA spokesman Jerry Lewis.
If the MDA fund-raising dinner where Sterling picked up his prize is any indication, his faith in his own star power is at least somewhat reality-based. Well-wishers included District Attorney Gil Garcetti, Police Chief Bernard Parks and City Council President John Ferraro. And Sterling supporters at the Friars Club of California (Sterling’s a member), the MGM Grand and the L.A. Kings are all claiming credit for footing the Times bill. Sterling declined to talk to OffBeat, but his assistant assures us that "he ran those ads."
Whatever the funding source, the jolly good fellow got a bit carried away in his latest media blitz. Several of the ads name Sterling the MDA Humanitarian of the Year, an award that actually went to philanthropist Robert H. Lorsch. And while the UCLA Medical Center is said to "honor" Sterling, OffBeat couldn’t find anyone, including the center’s spokesman, who had even heard of his award.
One thing is certain: The MDA is grateful for the $350,000 that Sterling’s bash brought in. It’s just that the blast from his trumpet won’t go away. The ads, Rovegno says, "were a bit overwhelming."—Greg Brouwer
People were wearing so much black a priest would have gone unnoticed. From a religious viewpoint, the conversation was a little impoverished, of course, but then you couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying. Too many people. Too many tongues wagging at the same time in a limited space throbbing to the bass ’n’ drum. And what couldone say? "You look beautiful"? The answer to that could only be, "But of course I look beautiful, darling, we alllook beautiful. That’s why we’re here!"
They were the People of the Look, and they were gathered together in their mourning clothes at the Fahey Klein art gallery to view Peter Lindbergh’s photographs of Kristin Scott Thomas, Marion Jones, Monica Seles, Franziska van Almsick and Helena Bonham Carter while simultaneously celebrating the First Coming of "Alter Ego," Tag Heuer’s new sports watch for women (price $1,295). It was an ad campaign in an art gallery, and who could say whether the ad was in the art or vice versa? It didn’t seem to matter. People weren’t looking at the photos. They were looking at each other or at Tag Heuer spokesperson Helena Bonham Carter, spiky and hard in a dark, very beautiful dress. She obviously hadn’t been eating much, and she didn’t smile. But she was wearing the watch.
A waiter, clothed from head to toe in black, edged through the crowd bearing a tray of canapés only slightly larger than communion wafers. Another waiter followed, offering crimson cosmopolitans that shimmered in a dazzle of white klieg lights. OffBeat stood to one side of the gallery, taking notes.
"Are you done with that?" a waiter asked, pointing at OffBeat’s pale-green apple liqueur, at the bottom of which a bloated raspberry lay dead.
"Uh, no, I’m not."
"Oh, you want to keep nosing it?"
"Yeah, I guess I do," OffBeat replied, after a moment’s hesitation. Nosing it?
"Isn’t that a fountain pen?" someone asked, pointing a manicured digit at OffBeat’s throwaway writing instrument.
"Uh, yes it is."
"Don’t see too many of those these days."
"No, I guess you don’t."
And that was about it for conversation. Obviously, you were supposed to come with friends. There was little to do but study the photographs and ponder the mystery of why publicists and actors should go round dressed like scholars or rabbis or dark, brooding poets who’d happily go blind if it would fix the last two lines of their sestina. And of course there was the watch, on view at various small shrines around the room. OffBeat made sure to pay homage.
But now the president of Tag Heuer was inviting Helena Bonham Carter to join her on the podium. "If anyone’s listening!" Helena began, straining to make herself heard above the jabbering crowd. No one was. "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" she ordered, leaning into the microphone. Half the people present stopped talking. Then the star of Wings of the Dovelaunched into her little speech. "All I can say is I’m very happy to be wearing this beautiful watch. Now my friends won’t be complaining that I’m never on time . . ." Blah blah blah . . . "Thank you very much."