Friday, October 29, 2010

Huffington Post Game Changers Awards Last Night

(image via broadwayworld)

"I'm 43 years old, but excuse me while I put on my reading glasses," said Anderson Cooper last night as he presented a Huffington Post Game Changer award to Sean Penn at 275 Hudson Street. The event was jam packed with interesting people (and these are just the ones I saw): Mayor Bloomberg (who, uncharacteristically, made a somewhat bawdy Charlie Sheen joke), Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Nora Ephron, a very glamorous looking Mika Brzezinski, Paulina Porizkova, Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson, journo Matt Taibbi, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Mayor Cory Booker, Geoffrey Canada, Ted Olson, Jann Wenner and -- of course -- the ubiquitous Arianna.

I say ubiquitous because before Arianna took the stage to MC the event, she was seemingly everywhere -- in every picture, talking to the honorees, meeting appreciative fans. This woman has tremendous energy and it is no womder that the Huffington Post is showing better numbers than The New York Times. Huffington knows how to command a room, even one as large as 275 hudson. Too bad the Huffington Post holds so few parties, because this one was amazing: the crowd, the food, the drinks, the DJ, the venue. The last HuffPo party -- at least the last one that I was invited to -- was the 2008 election night event.

More parties, Arianna!

Sean Penn was the most moving speaker (although educational reformer Geoffrey Canada came close). Little known facts: Michael Bloomberg sent 300 firefighters to Haiti, they saved lives, Penn is absolutely passionate about Haiti. Anderson cooper, who introduced Penn, essentially said that Penn has spent much of his time in haiti, in the disaster aeras -- even after the cameras have stopped rolling. I came away admiring the man quite a bit more than I have in the past.

Another little known fact: Heroic educational reformer Michelle Rhee is really, really attractive. Striking. Unfortunately -- for me -- she has an adoring husband (darn) who was attached to her hip. Rhee is also something of a celebrity among celebrities. From on the stage several award winners gave her a shout out, and she blew air kisses from the crowd. Educational reform is not a very sexy issue, but it is arguably the most important issue with regards to the American economy's competetiveness in the future. And while the voters of DC did a terrible, terrible disservice to themselves by getting rid of Adrian Fenty -- and, by proxy, Michelle Rhee, school's chancellor -- it is good to know that among "Game Changers" she is still a fierce force to be reckoned with.We have not seen the last of Rhee.

Sean Penn -- the only man, I believe, to have ever smoked on the Charlie Rose set -- apparently went outside for a smoke and my friend Dylan Stableford's friend apparently bummed a smoke from the Academy Award winning social activist. How cool is that? Elliot Spitzer was also there, although I missed him. I walked in alongside civil rights activist Julian Bond, which I think might have been the high point for me.

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