Stars shine at breast cancer benefit
The Les Girls cabaret — an annual National Breast Cancer Coalition fundraising event — draws big stars and raises big money in hopes of eradicating the disease.
Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Photo: ZUMA Press
Celebrities from TV, Broadway and film lent their voices and support to the National Breast Cancer Coalition's 11th annual Les Girls benefit, which raised $450,000 from ticket sales, donations and a silent auction that will help the NBCC further its goal to end breast cancer by 2020. "I don't know anyone who hasn't been touched by breast cancer, either directly or one or two people removed, but we all know someone. It's time to end this," said host Julie Bowen.
Directed by Jason Alexander, the ribald revue with a "Love Boat" theme showcased celebs performing songs ranging in tone and subject from playfully titillating to downright raunchy. Alexander's "She's Got A," about the dreamgirl with something extra (Sarah Chalke, sporting an orange appendage) and Sharon Lawrence's "Zip" striptease fit the former category, while Bryan Batt and Steven Weber's numbers "My Future Wife" and "Blow Me (A Kiss From Across the Room)" were on the bluer end of the spectrum.
"It's the most filthy words that I've ever sung," declared "Mad Men" alumnus Batt, who wrote the book "She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother" as a tribute to his mom, a 25-year breast cancer survivor who died this year from lung cancer. The New Orleans native's newest book is "Big Easy Style," which reflects his passion for reusing and recycling objects and materials. "I love taking architectural fragments and finding different uses for them," said Batt, who has "columns from a demolition" in his home and turned an armoire into a bar.
Having performed in nine of the 11 Les Girls cabarets, the newly bearded Weber said cancer "has been in my life for years. My sister passed away from cancer. The sad thing is if you're around long enough almost every single disease affects you or your family." Now on view in "The Big Year," he recently shot "Duke" for Hallmark Channel, playing a homeless Iraq War vet, and hopes to do a comedy series next. He's in the market for a new car, since he has to replace the Prius his mother-in-law totaled in an accident. He's not sure what he'll get, "but I never buy first generation," he said, "I want to see how they do."
Host Bowen, who's driving "the same old tattered Prius," noted that "the greenest thing about me is I don't buy much," offering the Temperley dress she wore as an example. "It's a loaner. It has a library card in the back!" The "Modern Family" star was excited about this week's episode (Oct. 19), in which she meets a hot guy played by Gilles Marini on an evening out with Mitchell and Cam. "He's so sweet and not hard to look at," said Bowen, also revealing that Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly will play a couple in an upcoming episode. The Emmy winner ("My son broke it. It's on a high shelf in the kitchen now") has completed two independent movies, including "Knife Fight," in which she plays "a reporter who fools around with Rob Lowe," on whom she had a teenage crush. "I wanted to call my 14-year-old self and tell her," she said.
Les Girls first-timer Gina Torres traded her "Suits" business suit for a flirty bustier outfit to sing a "naughty blues tune" called "Slow Rollin' Mama," putting her trained voice to use. "That was my bread and butter for many years," said Torres of singing. She lost her mother to cancer and several close friends have had breast cancer. "It's very scary disease and we have to continue to raise awareness," she said. On a break from "Suits" until spring, she does her green part by recycling at home and carrying her own aluminum water bottle.
Also an avid recycler who totes her own shopping bags and downsized from an SUV to a smaller Camaro, Laura Bell Bundy did dead-on impersonations of Julie Andrews, Celine Dion, Tina Turner and Judy Garland in her show-stopping medley. "My mom suffered with breast cancer and so did a lot of people I'm very close to in my life. Anything for this cause," said the actress and country singer, who recently completed her second album for Mercury with an eye toward releasing a single in January and CD in the spring, touring after that. She's been cast in the ambitious Civil War miniseries "To Appomattox" as a southern belle who falls for a Union soldier. Far less seriously, she shows off her comedy side, playing multiple roles at CooterCounty.com, a site she co-created.
Honoring a good friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer, Broadway veteran Katie Finneran segued from the set of her upcoming Fox comedy series "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" (Nov. 30) to the Les Girls stage to sing one of the revue's tamer numbers, "The Boy From," about a woman who has no idea that the object of her affections is gay. Before the show, she shared a tree-saving idea: "Use a handkerchief instead of a tissue," she suggested.
"I'm looking at green cars. I'm still deciding," said Barrett Foa, who performed "Inflatable You," a romantic ode to a blow-up doll. "I have it in my family and pretty recently too, so it's closer than ever," noted the "NCIS: Los Angeles" star in honor of the event's theme, who's excited that his character Eric will be getting out of the computer room to go on an undercover mission. Co-star Daniela Ruah, on hand to support him, said we'll learn more about her character Kensi's father, "why he was murdered, why her mother is never mentioned, why she joined NCIS. A lot of the past comes up." She does her green part by recycling, turning off the water when brushing her teeth and taking shorter showers. "I'm looking to move right now and solar panels are a big deal," she added — she's looking for a place that has them or where they could be installed easily.
Marcia Strassman had neck surgery that prevented her from participating for the last two years, so she was glad to take part this year, singing "The Apology Song." "I don't know what it means not to recycle," said the actress, who has driven a Prius for nine years and figures, "I've wiped out my carbon footprint entirely."
"I'm thrilled to be working with this organization and I love that they set a deadline," said Scott Porter about NBCC's 2020 goal before singing abstinence anthem "Something About You" from "Altar Boys," a show in which he'd starred off-Broadway. With "Hart of Dixie" picked up for the whole season on the CW ("We never had any doubt that we had something special"), he said his lawyer character, George Tucker, will be "trying to help people who were defrauded during the Gulf oil spill." He asked us to check out a funny "Give a Shirt" PSA spoof that co-star Wilson Bethel made that showcases CW male stars' bare torsos, "cutting wasteful wardrobe" in the name of "confronting climate change head on." See it here.