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BEING GOOD SPORTS: Naomi Watts, Sienna Miller and Erin Heatherton were among those who turned up Tuesday night for the first Up2Us benefit. Long gone before the salad course was served, they made cameos for their favorite dermatologist David Colbert, an Up2Us board member. Philip Seymour Hoffman also made an appearance (his first post-treatment public outing). Halfway through dinner, the Academy Award-winning actor ambled in and pulled up a chair with Miller’s parents. Jo and Edwin Hoffman said high school sports inadvertently led him to acting. “I played a lot of sports growing up. When I was about 15, I injured my neck wrestling. The doctor recommended that I not do that anymore. I was in a back brace for a while,” he said. “Then I tried out for a play — ‘The Crucible.’ I’m pretty sure I played the loyal drunken jailer in town.”
The gala’s emcee, Sandra Bernhard, seemed to be on her best behavior with the kid-friendly crowd — until bidding slowed for the auction of a Mick Jagger-autographed guitar. The comedian offered to throw in a few ounces of cocaine, not to mention a few choice words.
Presenting the Up2Us Legacy Award to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wynton Marsalis also gave the crowd an earful. During the racially-divided Sixties, Jabbar’s respectful relationship with UCLA coach John Wooden resonated with Marsalis and his friends, the musician said. “I was living in the South. We were almost completely segregated. What Kareem represented to me, even all these years later, it is impossible to find the words that have the depth and clarity to explain the type of respect that I have for this man. It was like he was who we all wanted to be not because of his game but because of who he was and is as a man.”
In thanks, Marsalis surprised Sean Avery, NBA-er David Lee, the venture capital-focused Winklevoss twins and the rest of the crowd by breaking out his trumpet to play King Bolden’s “Buddy Bolden Blues.” As it turned out, Jabbar cited the Eisenhower-challenging Louis Armstrong as his own inspiration. “Louis had some heart and he didn’t care. Within two or three years, Louis was touring as a cultural ambassador, which I have followed in his footsteps. So I have to thank Satchmo and I want to thank Wynton. That was awesome, and I hope I stop smiling before tomorrow night.”