Michael J. Fox, Famous Friends Support Parkinson's Foundation at Annual Benefit
Michael J. Fox's famous friends dressed up and stepped out for a good cause Saturday night, supporting his Parkinson's foundation at its annual benefit at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.
The Denis Leary-hosted event featured a performance from Coldplay's Chris Martin, accompanied by Fox on guitar, and was attended by Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Julianna Margulies, Joan Jett, Mario Batali, Seth Meyers, Tina Fey and rival morning-show anchors George Stephanopoulos, of Good Morning America, and Today's Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist.
Both Reynolds' and Geist's fathers are battling the disease, with Geist, whose father has had it for 20 years, noting that "it's definitely a personal issue for me."
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Reynolds told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet that despite his personal connection to Parkinson's, he was impressed by the scope of the foundation. (His wife, Lively, posed for photos but didn't talk to the press.)
"You meet the people who work with this foundation, and so many of them have absolutely no affiliation with the disease whatsoever other than their job, and they were brought to it by a common denominator, which is Michael, and he's so inspiring. And you just see the people who work with this foundation and how tirelessly they give everything they have to it, and you start to forget that you're only here because someone you care about has Parkinson's," he said. "I was really blown away by the whole operation."
Others were there to support Fox and the work that he's done.
Stephanopoulos, who was accompanied by his wife, Ali Wentworth, told THR, "We love Michael and we're in awe of what he's done with this foundation and the difference he's made. … And you see every year the advances that have been made in Parkinson's research, and it's thrilling."
"We're also here 'cause the food is good," Wentworth joked, explaining that of all the events they go to, the spread at Fox's benefit is particularly tasty. "They always have a good meat," she pointed out.
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Jett explained that her involvement was due to her close friendship with Fox.
"Michael J. Fox is a good friend of mine, and once I found out that he had this and he was doing something about it, I wanted to do whatever I could to help. And if me coming here helps, I'll be here every year," she said.
The stars in attendance said they thought Hollywood's support has helped with advances in finding a cure for the disease.
"When you raise awareness, you raise money," Margulies said. "I mean, it's the brutal truth."
Mad Men's John Slattery added: "We're trying to find a cure. Research is expensive, and the more people know about it, that's everything, so that's what he's doing."
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"Hollywood is fantastic at whoring themselves out for a good cause and more power to them," Reynolds told THR. "I mean, it's a really excellent thing that you can get this many talented, wonderful people together for whatever reason it is and have people donate money and see a great show tonight."
But Guthrie said star-studded support doesn't just help from a financial perspective.
"Whenever you have high-profile people who are living with this condition -- number one, I think it does help with fundraising, and number two, I think it helps with acceptance and understanding and a desire to do something about it," she said.
Geist argued that Fox's public battle with the disease made a huge difference.
"It was a below-the-radar disease, and most people probably couldn't identify it before he came along and dedicated his life to it," he said. "We owe it all to him."