The annual What a Pair! benefit concert for best cancer research and education at Cedars Sinai was spectacular fun, aptly featuring 16 Broadway musical duet numbers of many moods and styles. Highlights included Lea Thompson and her daughter Madelyn's show-opening "Louder Than Words," Loretta Devine and Naturi Naughton's disco divalicious "It's Raining Men" and "Last Dance," Rosa Blasi and Lisa Ann Walter's hilarious "Guys and Dolls" medley with new lyrics about single moms, Taylor Dayne and Joely Fisher's fab take on "Take Me Or Leave Me," and Mary Birdsong and Kate Flannery's cool mash-up of "Get Happy" and "Happy Days."
Flannery ("The Office") compared performing live to "jumping out of an airplane," which she admits she hasn't done but would like to do someday, adding that she was thrilled to take part. So was Katie Lowes ("Scandal," pictured right), who sang "Falling Slowly" with her friend Samantha Shelton (as she often does around L.A.). No one in her family has had breast cancer, but family friends have. "I'm so happy to be here, supporting this," she said. Also involved with The Lollipop Network, which helps kids with cancer, and Team True Beauty, which empowers women and girls and promotes self-esteem, she's gratified that she's in a position to use her celebrity for good. While unable to give details, she promised that the series' May 16 season finale will be "huge. You're going to be blown out of the park."
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Jean Smart (pictured left) confides that she's diligent about separating her trash. "I annoy my family with 'Why are you throwing that out!? You can recycle that!' I try to buy organic food, mostly for my children's health, but I like to support those farmers because it's a tougher thing to keep going. I don't use any pesticides in my yard. I have a vegetable garden. My daughter and I just planted our latest crop," says the mom of a 4-year-old, Bonnie. "We've got tomatoes and basil, corn, sugar snap peas, strawberries. We'll see what comes up. The squirrels do eat most of it, but it's fun for us to do."
Smart is part of the ensemble cast of "Call Me Crazy: A Five Film," an anthology of short films about mental illness premiering on Lifetime on April 20. She plays the mother of a young woman (Brittany Snow) who comes home after being hospitalized for schizophrenia. She was drawn to the project because the "subject matter is not dealt with that often, and I like that she's a regular mom dealing with something extraordinary." The film also stars Jennifer Hudson, Melissa Leo, Octavia Spencer, Sarah Hyland, Chelsea Handler, Lea Thompson and Sofia Vassilieva, with direction by Laura Dern, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bonnie Hunt and Ashley Judd.
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If a movie has animals in it, chances are you'll see the phrase "No animals were harmed" in the credits. That's because the American Humane Association's Film & TV unit had a representative on set to make sure that all creatures were treated well. Director of Communications Jone Bouman, accompanied by a retired movie dog named Oscar, was at Secret Room Events' gift lounge in honor of the MTV Movie Awards, where the AHS was the designated charity. "The Unit works on more than 2,000 productions a year," noted Bouman, citing "War Horse," "Django Unchained," the forthcoming "Iron Man 3" and soon-to-start "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" as examples. "There's a giraffe in 'Hangover 3,'" noted Bouman.
Eco-friendly items on offer included the skin care line Adore, made from essential oils and organic plant extracts; Cultures For Health's kits for making homemade yogurt, sourdough and kombucha tea; additive-free baby food from Ella's Kitchen, and natural argan oil hair treatment from Agadir. We also liked the jewelry from Sue Sensi and the beads from Swell Caroline.
Ryan Ochoa ("Pair of Kings") and his brothers Robbie, Raymond and Rick (pictured right) were partial to the Aquaswiss watches and sunglasses from Aquaswiss and the Flips headphones that convert to speakers. The brothers sing together as the Ochoa Boyz.
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Starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron (pictured below), "At Any Price" is a father-son story with secrets, lies, conflicts and elements of Greek tragedy set in the world of struggling Iowa corn farmers. The monopoly on genetically modified seeds (GMOs) figures importantly in the plot of the film, which opens in limited release on April 26.
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Tune in: There are many endangered species in the world, but naturalist Sir Richard Attenborough has a top 10 list of creatures he'd like to save. He presents that list in "Attenborough's Ark," which premieres on Nat Geo Wild on April 21.
Man's inhumanity to pachyderms is depicted in the film "An Apology to Elephants," narrated by Lily Tomlin and premiering on HBO on April 22.
You'll think your mind is playing tricks on you as you play along with the experiments and optical illusions in "Brain Games," an interactive series premiering on Nat Geo on April 22.
Photos: Alex J. Berliner/©ABImages (Lowes); Brian Bowen Smith/Lifetime (Smart); JC Olivera (Ochoa); Matt Dinerstein/Sony Pictures Classics (Efron & Quaid)