When I retire I hope I can fill the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom with well-wishers—just like retiring CEO of Cedars-Sinai Medical Network Services Thomas D. Gordon did last night. A tanned, rested, and ready Jay Leno hosted the event and (unsurprisingly) had the whole room laughing the entire evening. He even played auctioneer, getting thousands of dollars for items benefiting the hospital’s Regenerative Medicine Institute. When it came time to raffle off an enormous 2016 Lexus LX570, the car fanatic joked, “This car has no radio. It’s so big it has live acts performing in it.” A tour of Leno’s own garage went for $30,000. The evening raised a respectable $1.4 million.
Tiny vocal powerhouse Kristin Chenoweth commanded the stage as well as Leno. The Tony- and Emmy Award-winning singer knew her audience and killed with songs like “Popular” (a song she first performed in Wicked), “Moon River,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and she came back out for an encore and hit everyone with “Over The Rainbow.” There were literally people putting their heads on each others shoulders.
But the person who brought out the crowd was the man of the evening: Thomas D. Gordon. Gordon is stepping down from his post after 21 years with the hospital. No one even made a valet dash during his speech (which clocked in at a good twenty plus minutes), and Chenoweth admitted being so moved that she Googled Gordon when she heard him rehearsing the speech earlier in the day. Here was a man who enjoyed his work (he will still be consulting at the hospital) and by all accounts made everyone around him feel terrific. “If I had known you people would be so wonderful, I’d have quit a long time ago,” he joked. Last night’s gala sold out before a single invitation even hit an iPhone or mailbox. That’s star power for ya.