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It's not often I get to attend an event that's packed solid with my favorite stars from the past and present (in fact, that happens... never). But when Mario Batali, his awesome wife Susi Cahn and Michael Stipe (love R.E.M.) chair the Food Bank for New York City's Can-Do Awards dinner that honors Gwyneth and Helena Christensen (my favorite supermodel/photographer) with Stanley Tucci as the MC, the crowd will be pretty good. Here are some notes.
*Stephen Colbert is very very funny (Gothamist has some details of his presentation to honoree and MTV CEO Judy McGrath).
*New York Giant's head coach Tom Coughlin might not be as hilarious as S. Colbert, but he can be pretty funny talking about his reaction to watching Giant's kicker's Lawrence Tynes on the David Letterman show (Tynes said he never hears a word Coughlin says).
*Even if you've never found Gwyneth particularly inspirational, she can make a pretty amazing speech with very vivid descriptions of the children at food banks that makes you want to give more than you planned to (in fact, she spontaneously raised some $75,000 by getting people like Katie Lee Joel to throw in money - which GP then matched).
*Helena Christensen isn't as amazing with speeches as Gwyneth, but she takes some terrific photographs of food banks.
*If Susie Essman (who teaches everyone new ways to curse on Curb Your Enthusiasm) is the celebrity auctioneer, a David Chang-cooked dinner will go for about $20,000, a Pack Up Your Knives package with Top Chef's top judge Tom Colicchio (and Lorraine Bracco) will go for a little more, and the chance to volunteer at a Harlem soup kitchen with Mario, Gwyneth and Helena will go for about $65,000).
*Model Petra Nemcova comes to charity events with an insane amount of energy and will throw a homemade strudel into an auction package to up the bidding.
*When Colicchio goes head-to-head with R.E.M.'s Mike Mills in a silent auction over a John Lennon photograph by Bob Gruen, Colicchio will narrowly win. (But much later, at the Spotted Pig, Mills will detail how he plans to break Colicchio's knee caps to get it back.)
*If you're trying to decide whether or not to bid more money than you've got on a Ross Bleckner Throbbing Hearts print, Michael Stipe will stop snacking on macrobiotic desserts and help you figure out how to frame it.
*Christy Turlington and her husband Ed Burns are the best-looking couple in the whole world.
*He might not be as cute as Jamie Oliver, but with the amazing new children's hunger and literacy foundation that he's launching, Mario will be this country's answer to the Naked Chef.