You might say it was a Family Guy affair Wednesday evening when Santa Barbara came to Santa Monica to show off it’s best chefs and finest wines – all to benefit the non-profit Direct Relief. The event saw Family Guy castmembers and industry execs attend a $5,000-a-table dinner at the home of Gary Newman, chairman of 20th Century Fox Television, and his attorney wife, Jeanne.
The event raised $150,000 for Direct Relief, a non-profit that provides assistance after disasters, civil uprisings and trains and equips midwives to counter 250,000 mostly preventable childbirth deaths each year worldwide. According to president and CEO Thomas Tighe, the Santa Barbara County-based group has provided more than $1.4 billion in aide since 2000.
What made it a Family Guy affair was the presence of actress and comedienne Alex Borstein (who voices Lois Griffin on the show). She acted as mistress of ceremonies with funny, salty patter that would have made even Peter Griffin blush if he had been there.
Though show creator (and the voice of Peter Griffin) Seth MacFarlane was away in New Mexico shooting his A Million Ways To Die In The West, the MacFarlane family was represented at The Best of Santa Barbara In Los Angeles event. Rachael MacFarlane, Seth MacFarlane’s younger sister and Family Guy co-star, was on hand for some comic relief.
She sang three songs accompanied by pianist David Arnay and closed the evening doing a duet of a potty-mouthed parody with Borstein (which they wrote) to the music of Adele’s Someone Like You.
Borstein, who also has been a writer on Family Guy, opened by talking about being the mother of an eight-month-old (her second child) and living in a house paid for by her earnings from the Fox animated series. She quipped that she was there because, “Jeanne is my lawyer and Gary is my boss.”
Jeanne Newman, who is a partner in the Hollywood-connected law firm Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman, is on the board of Direct Relief. She spoke about her involvement alongside another board member, Dante Di Loreto, producing partner of Ryan Murphy, and executive producer on Glee, American Horror Story, The New Normal and other shows.
Lots of executives turned out to support Direct Relief and enjoy a gourmet dinner on the Newman’s tennis court, which was converted into an elegant dining area. The chefs who came from Santa Barbara were Brandon Hughes of Wine, Cask & Intermezzo; Greg Murphy of Bouchon; Rosie Gerard, pastry chef at Wine Cask; and Frank Ostini of The Hitching Post II.
The executive corps on hand included Dana Walden, co-president of Twentieth Century Fox with Newman; NBC’s president of entertainment Jennifer Salke and her husband Bert Salke, president of Fox21; filmmaker RJ Cutler; actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) with boyfriend, Jayson Blair (star of MTV’s now canceled The Hard Times of RJ Berger, who was “auctioned” off for a date by Borstein); UTA's Peter Benedek; and CAA co-heads of television Joe Cohen and Adam Berkowitz.
Direct Relief chairman Thomas Cusack, a former insurance industry executive, said the organization turned to Hollywood not just for money but to increase awareness: “When you get people out-front who are passionate about our organization and familiar to people, people will follow.”