amfAR Honors Ryan Murphy, Raises $3.1M at Star-Studded Inspiration Gala

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Lady Gaga plays and pays at amfAR gala honoring Ryan Murphy in Los Angeles.

Ryan Murphy is a storyteller. The event: Anyone interested in A-list stargazing on Thursday needed to venture no further than Milk Studios in Hollywood, where Gwyneth Paltrow hosted the amfAR Inspiration Gala honoring TV powerhouse Ryan Murphy, the creator or co-creator of blockbuster shows including “Glee,” “Nip/Tuck” and “American Horror Story.” The luminous affair climaxed with a set by Lady Gaga and raised a jaw-dropping $3.1 million for AIDS research programs. And as the night’s sole honoree at amfAR’s 6th annual Inspiration Gala Los Angeles at Milk Studios on Oct. 29, the multi-hyphenate took the opportunity to share a few anecdotes from his past as part of what he called “the speech of my life.” True to Murphy’s typical form, the stories were honest, riveting and peppered with punch lines, all relating back to his experiences of life as a gay man who has faced down the difficult road paved by the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The scene: “It’s auction time,” said Paltrow onstage, “and you know what that means, millionaires and billionaires.” She brought Andrea Fiuczynski of Sotheby’s to the stage, along with celebrity auctioneer Sharon Stone, to coax big numbers from the bidding audience. After thanking Julia Roberts, who presented him with the Inspiration Award, and joking that he was being honored as “amfAR’s big gay of the year,” Murphy detailed how his fear and panic during the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis served as his drive. “Recently, in the media, whenever articles are written about me and my career, there is one word that is used over and over to define me, to describe me and the work that I do, and that word is prolific,” Murphy said. “I do too much, I attempt too much.” “When it’s engrained in you as a young person that you don’t think you have a tomorrow, you wring every last drop out of today because you may not get another one,” he said. “I was in my 20s, and all my friends were getting sick around me and dying, many of them refusing to admit what was happening to them because of the stigma and the shame.” He went on to say that in a 10-year span, he did more 60 blood draw tests: “I know so many of you in this room can relate to this. The goods included, among other things, a safari to the Serengeti, a customized Fiat 500 Cabrio and a selfie with Gaga, a major buyer herself, as was philanthropist Aileen Getty — each forked over $200,000 for Timothy White photos of amfAR co-founder Elizabeth Taylor flipping a double bird. To assist in upping the numbers, Jaime King modeled diamond earrings by Harry Winston, while Cuba Gooding Jr. rose from his seat to shout an impromptu “Show me the money” to a nearby bidder. Recalling when he and longtime friend Nina Jacobson started Out There, a support group for gay people working in entertainment, Murphy remembers agonizing over whether he should wear a bracelet to a network meeting or if that was “too much.” Now, after many years of success in the business, Murphy reaffirmed, “I feel lucky to be here and to have the right to marry, which I never thought I’d have.

So did Angela Bassett and Cheyenne Jackson, who encouraged the audience to help launch a social media campaign to end AIDS by posting videos of themselves singing “That’s What Friends Are For,” originally written in 1985 to benefit amfAR. “All you need to do is grab your phone and film yourself singing your rendition of the song,” said Bassett. “Then share it on social media, or tag a friend or group of friends that you know that you can always count on, and include hashtag #SingForAIDS.” The entertainment: Gaga — dressed in a soft pink, ladylike gown, draped and flowing into floor-length sleeves — crooned standards including “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and “Little Coquette.” She declared her love for Murphy before noting, “There are a lot of gentlemen here, but nobody’s offered me a glass of Champagne.” The crowd: Celebrities and power players included Lea Michele, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sarah Paulson, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson, Chloe Sevigny, Emma Roberts, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Sarah Hyland, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Donaldson, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lisa Kudrow, Zendaya Coleman, Dylan Penn, Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller, Dana Walden, Bryan Lourd and Nina Jacobson. And I would wait for the eventual death that I knew was coming my way.” “I would say, ‘Dear God, please let me be okay, and I’ll start working at an HIV hotline,’ which I did. And this is a room that literally can, and has, changed the world in my estimation. … This is the room that can help to find a cure for HIV/AIDS by 2020.” Murphy, who said the AIDS crisis would go on to give birth to “the dream of equality” in his life – something he said he never thought he would see – acknowledged the epidemic affected himself and others “as a community in so many ways.” “I can remember first getting involved in the entertainment industry in 1996 and asking myself: ‘Is it okay to be me?

The event raised north of $3.1 million, and Stone, as always, had a lot to do with that on a night like this. “Here’s the thing: 78 million have contracted HIV and we’ve lost 39 million of them. And we’re still doing this for the people who need us so desperately because we don’t have a cure, we don’t have a vaccine.” The auction featured winning bids from Gaga and Aileen Getty who threw down $200,000 each for a Timothy White photograph of amfAR’s founding international chairman, Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Right out of the gate, Roberts relayed the difficulty of standing on stage presenting words she had to put on paper herself. “Ordinarily in a situation where I need a speech — one that is clever and touching and personal and on all levels fabulous — I would call my brilliant writer friend, Ryan Murphy, to write it for me. As a friend, he is just the most incredible. … He is a lovely blend of a good listener, excellent counsel, as well as being very free with any and all manner of fashion advice.

He’s devoted not only to entertaining audiences but educating them.” Sincere for sure, but then Roberts lightened the mood by faking offense that Paltrow is the godmother to his two sons with partner David Miller. “I wrote a bunch of really insightful fascinating things and then I got distracted that Gwyneth Paltrow is the godmother to his son and I then I lost the pages I was writing about how brilliant and fabulous he is. Honestly, he does have two sons.” She closed her mini tribute by looping in the cause. “amfAR and Ryan Murphy are a perfect because Ryan is as a person very much like this organization — tireless in the pursuit of learning, healing, of correctness, connection and equality.

You could give him an orange cone in the middle of the road for best parking, in my opinion.” Murphy’s husband, wearing Tom Ford, also told The Hollywood Reporter on the carpet how nice it was to see his partner honored in this way. I love putting together groups of people … and that’s one of the triumphs of my life that I can get these groups of people that shouldn’t be together, together.

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