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Thursday, December 01, 2022

LL Cool J and Rob Lowe Turn Up to Honor Richard and Demi Weitz at Alliance for Children’s Rights Dinner

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The last time the Alliance for Children’s Rights hosted an in-person fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton, John Legend performed for an audience that included Anthony Anderson, Willie Garson, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Taran Killam and a long list of industry power players.

The date: March 5, 2020. Days later, the world would come to a grinding halt in an effort to stop the spread of a fast-moving virus as the COVID-19 pandemic crushed nearly all aspects of “normal life.” Millions across the globe hunkered down at home, including the Weitz family. Richard, an indefatigable partner at WME, suddenly found his social calendar wide open aside from daughter Demi’s looming 17th birthday.

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As the story goes, in an effort to celebrate Demi and entertain her friends, Richard blasted out a link to close friends for an impromptu hang on Zoom (before it was a household name) with music as the main attraction. Though it took a few days for the format to take off, it did just that and then some when Demi suggested to her father that they make philanthropy a focus and raise money while Richard opened up his Rolodex to invite a parade of famous musicians to entertain the invite-only online audience.

That’s the nutshell version of the birth of RWQuarantunes, a pandemic phenomenon that featured hundreds of performers who helped raise $30 million over the course of two years for dozens of charity partners. One installment centered the work of the Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for thousands of clients a year including abused, neglected and vulnerable children and teens in foster care, runaway and emancipating youth and the families who care for them.

So, it was a fitting decision that the Alliance would select the father-daughter duo to honor as the org and its most devoted industry supporters returned to the Beverly Hilton for the first in-person fundraiser since that night in March 2020. The Weitzes were in good company at the 30th anniversary Champions for Children event: Charlie Puth performed a set of songs including his new single “Light Switch,” Rob Lowe served as host and LL Cool J delivered a passionate plea to support the Alliance before handing Richard and Demi their trophies.

Once again, there were many power players in the crowd, too, with Disney’s Dana Walden; 20th Television’s Karey Burke; Paramount’s Nicole Clemens; WME’s Rick Rosen; producers Richard Suckle, Orly Adelson and Melvin Mar; legendary producer Jimmy Jam; executive turned producer Warren Littlefield; and others. Richard’s wife, Candie, their son Aidan, his brother Andrew Weitz (a stylist and founder of the Weitz Effect), their parents and friends like Amos Lee, Jarrett Harper and photographer Alex Berliner turned up to show their support as well.

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“Rich is my man,” legendary rapper, actor, producer and performer LL Cool J told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that they’ve been friends since they were teenagers. “What he’s doing for this organization is unbelievable. He took me to the courthouse a couple of years ago to see children being adopted. I saw tears falling as parents were approved by the court, and when you look at the work the Alliance has done — helping grandparents with their grandchildren, helping parents or helping people looking to adopt — it’s really important. That’s why Rich is such a good human being. This is what life is about, right? It’s about giving love.”

And when Richard is around, it can sometimes be about good-natured ribbing. “The notion that Richard Weitz could focus on something for more than 90 seconds, let alone a year and a half, really speaks to the depth of his wanting to give something back to the community,” joked longtime client and friend Lowe from the podium . Then he got serious: “I’m so proud of you, I love you and am glad to have you in my life.”

Rob Lowe Attended The Event With His Son, John Owen Lowe.  - Credit: Courtesy Of Alex J. Berliner/Abimages

Rob Lowe attended the event with his son, John Owen Lowe. – Credit: Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Earlier on the carpet, he told THR that Richard is the only person in town who could mobilize the masses in the way that he did: “He’s the only person who could think of it, he’s the only person who could do it, he is the only person who could grind people into participating it. And he’s got such a tremendous amount of goodwill across his many relationships in the community that everybody just loves to support him. And the fact that he did it with his beautiful, smart daughter, who’s going to Stanford, is amazing.”

WME colleague Rick Rosen who, with wife Orly Adelson, is also a longtime supporter of the cause, provided a loving recap of what Richard and Demi created with RWQuarantunes, “The success of Quarantunes during the pandemic became a had-to-be-there event and raised the spirits of all of us who were suffering at the beginning of quarantine,” he detailed while sharing a stage with attorney Cliff Gilbert-Lurie. “You raised $30 million in our community and truly made philanthropic history. You are a great partner and a very dear friend.”

To Demi, Rosen said, “I’ve known you, literally, since the day you were born. I can only marvel at the incredible young woman that you have become. The enormous success of Quarantunes is every bit attributable to you as it is your dad. Your enthusiasm and poise is truly something to behold. Orly and I talk about it at every Quarantunes event. We are all so enormously proud of you.”

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The night’s program also featured another honoree — Elizabeth Calvin of Human Rights Watch — and a tribute video honoring the late Garson of Sex and the City fame. Garson, an Alliance supporter who adopted son Nathan, frequently used his platform to champion the cause.

His Sex and the City co-stars Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis sent in video tributes to their beloved friend. “Willie Garson was one of a kind. Nobody was funnier, nobody was smarter, nobody was more tenacious, nobody was slyer and nobody was more full of love,” said Nixon. “And the smartest thing and the most tenacious thing and the most inventive thing that Willie ever did was finding Nathan.” Added Davis: “He was really just an inspiration in terms of committing fully through love to his son Nathan and just jumping in and doing it and not being worried about being a single parent and whether he could do it or not.”

Speaking of jumping in, Richard, outfitted in a look by Brioni, got the Billy Harris-led live auction going by being the first to raise his hand and commit $25,000 to the Alliance on a night that raised north of $1.7 million. When added to the full RWQuarantunes tally, that brings it up to $32 million, but as Demi said in her acceptance speech, the run has far more meaning.

“The work that my dad and I have done together is not special because of how much money we have raised or because of who we’ve had on. It’s not defined by that, but it’s because we did this as a team, and it’s with the bond and love that we share for one another that makes it what it is,” she said. “This experience with my dad has been one of my most cherished memories and life-changing experiences.”

Same goes for her father. “This ride was humbling, gratifying and, of course, life-changing,” he said. “Many of you refer to us as your most expensive friends. We have really grabbed a lot of money from you, and we are very proud of it, and I say thank you, thank you, thank you.” After expressing gratitude (and shouting out key partners like Kerry Brown of Rolling Live Prods. and his assistant and Quarantunes exec producer Coco Weaver), Richard gave the audience of 250 (and those watching on from home) a call to action. “It’s your job to pay it forward.”

Cliff Gilbert-Lurie And Rick Rosen Take Turns At The Podium.  - Credit: Courtesy Of Alex J. Berliner/Abimages

Cliff Gilbert-Lurie and Rick Rosen take turns at the podium. – Credit: Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Dana Walden, Warren Littlefield And Karey Burke Catch Up During The Event.  - Credit: Courtesy Of Alex J. Berliner/Abimages

Dana Walden, Warren Littlefield and Karey Burke catch up during the event. – Credit: Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

The Org’S Jennifer L. Braun Poses With Honoree Elizabeth Calvin Of Human Rights Watch.  - Credit: Courtesy Of Alex J. Berliner/Abimages

The org’s Jennifer L. Braun poses with honoree Elizabeth Calvin of Human Rights Watch. – Credit: Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

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