On September 11, 2010 my husband Oleg Vidov and I attended a posh Beverly Hills evening hosted by the Brent Shapiro Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Awareness. We applaud the Foundation’s work, especially its commitment to support “new and extensive research, in the hopes of identifying a genetic basis for this disease and developing methods of early identification, prevention and treatment.” This is entirely in sync with the existing Malibu Beach Recovery System for Treating Addiction, and our vision of the future.
Those invited to the Foundation’s “Summer Spectacular” event, elegantly dressed in “black & white cocktail attire” as mandated by the invitation, were shuttled from downtown Beverly Hills up a winding road to a glittering, stately mansion which boasts a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. Robert Shapiro and his wife greeted most of the guests personally. For the first part of the evening everyone mingled at the entrance to the house, which was big enough for a real Ferris wheel, several non-alcoholic bars and seating areas, a disc jockey, a catering unit and a black carpet for arriving film, television, and music stars, still photographers and news crews.
After several rounds of pizza slices and tuna tartar hors d’oeuvres we moved to the back of the house for a sit-down dinner. A long runway, later used for a swank fashion show, covered most of the pool area. On each side were approximately one hundred tables. While waiting to be served, guests heard from Larry King and the Shapiro family who spoke eloquently about a just and important cause, and the nature of an incurable disease. Foundation Board member Gary Richmond, a prominent addiction counselor, showed off “Somo” a very cute plush monkey and “Somo Says No,” a book about drug awareness just created by the Foundation for young children around the world. Comedian Sarge told jokes about being a half-Jewish half-black addict in recovery. Bob Shapiro auctioned off everything from African safaris to haute couture gowns.
There were a lot of tears and emotion, especially when the family presented their friend -- and Brent’s friend – Kelly Osborne with an award honoring the sobriety she achieved during her fourth stint in rehab. Two years ago Kelly, 25, was a prescription pill addict, taking 50 vicodin a day. Now she is svelte, glamorous and sober.
Surprisingly most of the guests were not familiar faces from the recovery community. They were the well-heeled and wealthy of Los Angeles, people who donate to good causes. Among those we knew were international TV distributor Michael Solomon and his lovely actress wife Luciana Paluzzi (a former "Bond Girl"), financier Russell Armstrong and his super-smart wife Taylor who stars in the new reality show "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
This was the fanciest "addiction" event we've ever attended. It was right up there with the $25,000/plate gatherings which raise money for presidential hopefuls, and the post-premiere dinners for big new Hollywood movies. Personally I hope the Foundation made a lot of money and will continue its outreach because as Gary Richmond told the crowd: "We are in a battle to stop an epidemic, and at the moment, we are losing."