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Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an appearance at a Huffington Post dinner in SoHo, and protestors aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement caused a minor fracas when they rallied at the door. There was no such demonstration for the governor’s appearance at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s “An Enduring Vision” benefit on Wednesday night, which was actually held on Wall Street at Cipriani.
The healthy police presence and metal barricades in the Financial District these days probably had something to with the protestors’ absence, but with the tent city only a few blocks away, it seemed appropriate to ask some of the party’s attendees if they had stopped by.
Sarah Ferguson had just got in from Los Angeles and actually changed into her Alexander McQueen gown at the banquet hall, so she was a scratch. Steve Stoute said he had seen enough coverage on TV. Alec Baldwin, however, had visited the week before.
“I wanted to see it before they got dispersed,” the actor said from his dinner seat. “There’s probably no shortage of lawyers right now trying to figure out how to get them out of there.…I just wanted to see for myself and hear myself what they were saying. I think that those groups — and I don’t mean this as a pejorative — those groups are no different than any other groups. A third of them are passionate and informed. A third of them are passionate. And a third of them are very fringe proponents of something.”
He vowed to visit again.
The dinner, in its 10th year, saw John and David Furnish hand out awards to friends of the charity for helping its work in AIDS relief and prevention. The couple honored photographer Gregg Gorman, benefactors Bob and Tamar Manoukian and the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. group president John Demsey (who took the chance to reveal a $150,000 grant to the foundation). Other attendees included a press shy Jon Bon Jovi, Sky Ferreira, Tamara Mellon, Gina Gershon and Smokey Robinson, who closed the evening with a short set.
During the cocktail hour before the program, the governor’s companion, Food Network host Sandra Lee, discussed her recently aired Halloween special, an annual tradition that involves many costume changes — eight or nine this year, she said.
“I’m not doing it again,” she continued with a smile. “It takes so much of my life force to do that special. I can’t; it’s too much work.”
She turned to greet a friend, and the chance to broach Occupy Wall Street was lost.