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Benefits

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At Billy Joel Hamptons Gig, David Blaine Steals the Show

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The $3,000-a-ticket Billy Joel show in the Hamptons Saturday was billed as "the ultimate rock 'n' roll fantasy," and it was — if your idea of rock and roll begins and ends with wretched excess. Upon arrival, guests were whisked to a quasi-secret location in a fleet of chartered buses that came so often they practically formed a train; once inside the perimeter, they had to contend with troupes of caterers, candy girls, cigar-toting Davidoff reps, and the like. We weren't too surprised to find megamagician David Blaine, bulkier than we remembered him, moodily walking around, but our hearts sank a bit once we realized the guy had been hired as pre-show entertainment. Because Blaine is mostly famous for very public acts of endurance, we inquired how long, in his estimation, he'd be able to continuously listen to Billy Joel. "Ha-ha," said the magician. "Seriously, he's awesome." (Actually, later, Billy Joel would prove to be, well, Billy Joel.)

Giuliani Backs Hillary — and He Matches

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Rudy Giuliani is supporting Hillary Clinton — at least in her mini-feud with Barack Obama over whether the two Democratic presidential candidates would meet with the leaders of hostile foreign countries. (Obama said he would; Clinton said she'd be reluctant.) "I’d say don’t count on Fidel Castro being invited to the White House if I’m president," Giuliani told us at the Super Saturday shopping benefit for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund over the weekend. "As I understood [Obama's] statement, he’s either going to invite to Washington or meet somewhere else the head of Cuba, who would be Castro, and the head of Iran, who is Ahmadinejad. That’s quite a crew. I don’t know that I would want to meet with them. Some people you just don’t meet with if they’re going to use that to propagate their own propaganda. I thought Hillary Clinton was on the right side of that." Giuliani was at the Water Mill event with his wife, Judi, who he said was the shopper in the family. "I shop for limited items: golf clubs, books," he said. Fashion is his wife's department. "She tells me if the colors work or the shirt looks nice," he explained. So do the colors work, Judi? "He doesn’t make any mistakes," she said, campaigningly. "He’s Rudy Giuliani!" —Jada Yuan Kelly Ripa, Donna Karan and Mandy Moore were also at Super Saturday. For complete pictures and quotes, read Party Lines.

At Joe Torre Golf Benefit, Billy Crystal's the Star

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The Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation's 2007 Golf Classic — an annual fund-raiser for the Yankee manager's domestic- violence-awareness program — teed off at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester this morning, and, well, it just seemed like a couple of guys getting together to shoot eighteen. Except that these guys are rich, famous, pretty powerful — oh, and were served a catered BBQ lunch at the sixth hole. Torre, Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump, and Billy Crystal made up the lead foursome, and, surprisingly, the comic was the best golfer. "I wasn’t a great athlete, and I’m just a terrible golfer," Torre said before they got started. "Billy Crystal, believe it or not, will be the most serious golfer in the group." ("Serious and good are two different things," Crystal later clarified.) Bloomberg seemed to be pretty serious, too. “No mulligans, no gimmes, no laterals,” he said before they started. While we hoofed it down to the first tee, we were nearly run down by The Donald — shiny with sunscreen — driving his own cart. The foursome was bickering about who'd shoot first. “How about the mayor starts it off in honor of the city?” Trump suggested. So Bloomberg swung, then Torre, then Trump and Crystal. There were some oohs and ahhs at nice drives, and also some fist bumps. They were, after all, just a few guys playing golf. —Jocelyn Guest

Strippers, Socialites, Animals, and Art at Watermill Benefit

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Robert Wilson's Watermill Center is kind of like a summer camp for young artists, and its annual benefit is perhaps the most amazingly odd party we attend. Saturday night was no exception. We walked into cocktails to find a naked and rather chunky woman blindfolded and covered in fake blood; as the evening went on she occasionally broke glasses of milk on the ground. The woods nearby were filled with plasma television screens showing Wilson's video portraits of various animals — a toad, a porcupine, a shaggy dog — and as you walked along the path, people dressed as incredibly stylish animals would scatter or approach at your every step, until you ended your walk at a group of Tibetan drummers. (At cocktail hour last year, there were people in skintight black and white spandex suits with giant globes attached to their heads and limbs.)

Park Avenue, Buckingham Palace Love 50 Cent

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50 Cent played Cipriani Wall Street, the latest installment in the restaurant's benefit concert series, this one supporting his G-Unity Foundation and the Duchess of York's Sarah Ferguson Foundation. It was one of the first times, we suspect, the famously nine-times-shot rapper performed for a crowd of fortysomethings in evening gowns and suits, but he was comfortable with it, he said. "The size of the audience changes, but not the actual demographic of people who will be here." The crowd was clearly comfortable with it, too; the I-bankers and socialites stood and danced for most of the hour-long set, fists in the air, and sang along with every song. Apparently his music is popular on Park Avenue: They all knew the words. Fergie, too, was excited. "I'm 47, I'm a mom," she said. "It doesn't matter what age you are, you can still get out there and have a good time." Another reporter asked her a follow-up about "Fifty Cent," but the Duchess made a quick correction. "No. No, no, no," she said. "Fitty." Henry Higgins would be proud. —Bennett Marcus

Liza Raps

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It was not particularly surprising to find Liza Minnelli at last night's amfAR Honoring With Pride benefit. It was entirely surprising, however, when Liza broke into a rap on her way into the Rainbow Room. "There's always a man that you love," Liza quasi-rapped for us. "There's always a man that you didn't love. There's always a man that you love to love, and a man that you love too much." She's working on a new album inspired by her godmother, Kay Thompson, and the rap will be on it. "She was the first rapper," Liza told us, proudly, of Thompson. Um, okay. If you say so. —Brett Amelkin CORRECTION, June 7: Minnelli is work on an album of songs associated with Thompson. She is not working on an album with Thompson, who died in 1998, as that item initially stated.

At ‘Queen Mary’ Party, the Ship Is the Star

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Must-see TV might be gone for the summer, but last night's Britannia Ball aboard the Queen Mary 2 was 20,000 leagues headier and more surreal than any Scrubs rerun. A New York City Opera–BAM benefit on the world's biggest, most magnificent cruise ship, the gala was attended by stars — okay, admittedly sort of B-list stars — like Chevy Chase, Cynthia Nixon, Jill Hennessy, Carson Kressley, Lost's Michael Emerson, and Patti LuPone, who performed torch songs in between cocktails and dinner in the ship's Off Broadway–size theater. But the biggest star was the ship: almost incomprehensibly tall, long, and fancy, with dozens of restaurants and bar, six pools, a Canyon Ranch Spa, a planetarium (a planetarium!), and a mini-mall of luxe stores like Hermès, Chopard, and H. Stern. "I think I could shop my way through QM2," Carson Kressley said over a cocktail.

At Kitchen Gala, Seeking Baking Supplies

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The Kitchen is a forward- thinking arts center in Chelsea, and yet it somehow manages each year to wrangle avant- garde musicians, performance artists, and all manner of downtown freak to a stately, 10021-style benefit gala. At this year's installment, held this week, the main honoree was experimental-music star Laurie Anderson (it's her 60th birthday), and serenading her from the stage were several next- generation stars not terribly accustomed to playing over the sound of scraping knives and clinking glasses. Each coped in his own way.

Party Reporting on a Sunday Night, or How We Fell for Oprah

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We saw Oprah Winfrey in person for the second time in our life last night at the gala for Elie Wiesel's Foundation for Humanity at the Waldorf- Astoria and determined though we were to be our usual bitter, jaded selves, we couldn't help falling in love with her all over again. It wasn't just the way she held her hands to her face and closed her eyes and unabashedly sang along with the national anthem. It wasn't just how she gripped Wiesel's arm tightly as photographers descended upon them. It wasn't just her admission that she'd cribbed moves from Barbara Walters to land her first job in television, particularly Walters's technique of asking a question, then looking up, then down, and waiting for the answer. And it wasn't even how she gave an impassioned speech about how we must live to serve and save other people while still admitting she was pretty happy for the things she's got. ("I like the shoes," she said. "And I really like the plane.") No, it was the moment she looked out at the crowd — people who'd arrived at 6 p.m. but had to wait until 11 p.m. before she spoke — and said, "I know what it means to get dressed and come out on a Sunday night. I get it. You're busy people. You've got work tomorrow. And it's The Sopranos. We'd all rather be sitting at home in our PJs." Amen. —Jada Yuan

Skating With Mariska, Carson, Johnny, and the Kids

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At last, an upside to this inconveniently truthy weather: an outdoor ice-skating party in April that felt as frigid as an ice-skating party ought to. “Skating With the Stars Under the Stars," held at Central Park's Wollman Rink last night, wasn't a competition; it was a free-skate night benefiting Figure Skating in Harlem, a skating and educational program for girls, many of whom were on hand in snazzy ensembles to skate and get celeb autographs. The celeb contingent included lots of skaters — plus, of course, Mariska Hargitay. But the quotes of the night belonged to Carson Kressley and Johnny Weir; they're after the jump.

Lewis Black Lost It for Charity

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Poor Lewis Black. It's his shtick to be irritated, yes. But usually it's because he wants to be irritated. At Jon Bon Jovi and Kenneth Cole's R.S.V.P to HELP benefit last night, the Tribeca Rooftop crowd was so noisy Black couldn't get a word in — and he wasn't pleased. The comic launched his act with a tirade about the long Christmas season — and we can't imagine why that bit didn't grab the crowd in late January — before growing frustrated with the noise. He first tried to just laugh it off, telling people go ahead and talk, it's not like anyone's onstage or anything. But partygoers — who seemed so unfamiliar with the benefit scene that one gal bid $50,000 on a Harley only to rescind it seconds later — took the joke as direction and turned up the volume of their chitchat.

Condé Nast Balls for Africa

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Last night was "The Black Ball," Condé Nast's curiously named benefit gala for African AIDS charity Keep a Child Alive, and the arrivals line at Hammerstein Ballroom looked like a high-society version of that bit in Legally Blonde when the Harvard snobs tell Elle Woods to come to the party in costume but they're totally lying. White person after white person — Elijah Woods, Sophie Dahl, Tinsley Mortimer, Garavani Valentino (whose skin, admittedly, more closely resembles orange) — showed up in head to toe black, as Iman in bright red and Gayle King in yellow sauntered by, laughing away. We imagined joke invitations and meetings on subterfuge strategies, but, thankfully, the gala was not a room divided. Here, some touching moments of togetherness …

24-Hour Party People, on Broadway

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At The 24-Hour Plays Monday night, a starry group of actors, playwrights, and other show people — Jennifer Aniston, David Cross, Adam Rapp, Elizabeth Berkeley, Wallace Shawn — got together to write, direct, rehearse, and perform six plays in just one day's time. It was a benefit for Working Playground, which brings arts programs to underserved New York City schools, and in addition to raising money, it gave its audience a night of unpolished but riveting entertainment. Some highlights …

The Approval Matrix Meets Comedy Central's Autism Benefit

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We were at the Comedy Central autism benefit the other night — pardon us, the "Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Research," which raised more than $2 million — minding our own reportorial business on the red carpet, when Will "Gob Bluth" Arnett, came bounding over to talk to us. Why? Because it seems he's an Approval Matrix fan. "I'm just trying to stay on the highbrow-brilliant side of things," he told us. "Although maybe asking to get on the Matrix is considered lowbrow-despicable. I'll let the people decide. I don't mind being despicable. All I care is that I'm highbrow, either way." We'd actually say asking to be on the Matrix is more lowbrow than despicable, but, still, Arnett will always be highbrow to us. With his inspiration, a quasi-Matrixy look at the event.