“A giant cocktail party.” That’s how some folks described the City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Gala honoring Creative Artists Agency’s head of music and managing partner Rob Light.
Instead of a formal sit-down dinner in a ballroom, the benefit was held under a tent erected on the Hercules Campus in Playa Vista (L.A.), Calif. (where neighbors include YouTube). Greeted by waitstaff outside bearing trays of cocktails, guests walked inside to small round tables and seating areas with comfortable sofas stationed throughout the area. Ringing the perimeter were larger seating areas hosted by such companies as Loeb & Loeb, MSG and EIF. The intimate setting underscored the evening’s tag line: “A celebration with cocktails, conversation and gourmet cuisine.”
Four of Light’s five children presented his award, which contributed to the evening's refreshingly loose feel. The presentation followed a video tribute (with everyone from Miley Cyrus and the NBA’s Chris Paul to James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen) and comments by Universal Music Enterprises president Bruce Resnikoff, “American Idol”’s Randy Jackson and actor Tim Robbins. Noting it was the 100th anniversary of the City of Hope and the 40th anniversary of the organization’s affiliation with the music industry, Resnikoff added that Light’s Summer of Hope campaign this year had raised “in excess of $6 million.”
An emotional Light thanked family, friends and industry colleagues for their support. The music industry is marked by “passionate, tenacious and smart individuals,” said Light, “and I’m proud to be a part of it. You’ve made an impact on the City of Hope and a bigger impact on my life.” The evening ended with an intimate performance by Stevie Wonder, accompanied only by a percussionist. Selections included “My Cherie Amour,” “Sir Duke,” “Superstition” and a jazzy take on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”
Among those spotted at the gala: MSG’s Irving Azoff, Warner Chappell’s Jon Platt, Capitol’s Greg Thompson and Ron Fair, Live Nation’s Michael Rapino and Kathy Willard, Sony ATV’s Jody Gerson, Nederlander’s Alex Hodges, “Tonight Show” MD Rickey Minor, UMG’s Lucian Grainge, AEG’s Randy Phillips, The Collective’s Michael Green and Marcus Grant, the Recording Academy’s Neil Portnow, music industry veteran Mark Shimmel, Loeb & Loeb’s John Frankenheimer and UMPG/Motown executive Ethiopia Habtemariam.