Celebs show philanthropic side at Haiti benefit

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Updated Sunday, Jan 12 at 10:07 AM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — While many stars are awash in the gifts and parties of Golden Globes weekend, a few used their privilege to benefit the people of Haiti — and they were rewarded with an intimate performance by U2.

Bette Midler, Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Piers Morgan, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Idris Elba and Kathryn Bigelow were among the guests Saturday at Sean Penn's third annual Help Haiti Home benefit, which raised nearly $6 million for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The dinner party at the Montage Hotel included a surprise performance by U2— the band's first in four years.

The J/P Haitian Relief Organization has been working since the 2010 earthquake to provide emergency care and sustainable shelter and education to the people of Haiti. But Penn says he hopes his organization is obsolete within 10 years.

He said progress in the Caribbean nation has been miraculous despite corruption and "inaccurate, bad Journalism."

"I'm not satisfied. I want more," he said. "But this couldn't have happened in the United States: This amount of clean up, this amount of resilience."

He expects all of the people displaced by the earthquake to find permanent housing within the next two years. Nearly two million have already moved out of the emergency camps and into homes.

Besides lending his time and his fame to the cause, Penn also gave his vintage El Camino to benefit his organization. It sold for $100,000 at auction Saturday.

The earth is such a tiny speck in the universe that the only thing that makes sense is to take care of those on the planet with us, he said. He promised to reward those who participated in the auction.

Midler, Paltrow and Kevin Bacon cast bids. Paltrow's husband, Coldplay front man Chris Martin, won an exclusive art piece from Banksy for $650,000. Anderson Cooper, the evening's host, gave the biggest donation: His auction bid of $1.4 million won a sculpture to be made from Penn's 65 discarded firearms.

U2's three-song performance — stunning in a hotel ballroom — followed a tender, acoustic performance earlier in the evening with Bono, guitarist The Edge and Haitian singer Anaelle Jean-Pierre.

Emma Thompson noted the contrast between the Help Haiti event and other pre-awards-show parties.

"I'm here for awards season," she said, "and this is the first night I've been having a good time."

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy.

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Online:

www.jphro.org

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