PETA Picked Sir Paul to Perform at Its 35th Anniversary Party

River Phoenix’s family handed out the inaugural River Phoenix Humanitarian Award

This week PETA held a grand 35 Anniversary Gala at the Hollywood Palladium. There were chandeliers. Everything was gold—even the org’s iconic rabbit emblem sparkled. The vegan buffet…was…good (Gardein catered), and it was nice to be at one of these occasions where all the animal lovers don’t have to ask what is in every dish. PETA handed out awards to Tommy Lee, RZA, Maggie Q, Fred Willard, Mike White, James Cromwell, Bill Maher, Noah Cyrus, Kate del Castillo, and Marco Antonio Regil. In an extremely touching moment, the entire Phoenix family showed up to present the inaugural River Phoenix Humanitarian Award to documentary filmmaker Shaun Monson. Anjelica Huston and Pamela Anderson shared hosting duties. Here are the five and a half (that’s 35 in dog years) coolest moments of the evening.

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee
Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee

Photograph by Getty Images for PETA

1.Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee hugged it out. The exes (married 1995—1998, two sons, one sex tape) have remained close, but it was nice to see them smiling on the red carpet together.

2. Social activist Arlyn Phoenix showed up in a gorgeous purple evening gown. With her children Liberty, Joaquin, Summer, and Rain behind her, she presented the River Phoenix Humanitarian Award in honor of her late son, actor River Phoenix (who was a PETA spokesman at a very young age). “My son River never saw himself as being separate from others,” she said. “In fact, his great passion was highlighting our unity and the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and nature.”

3. Bill Maher and Moby donated $50,000 to the organization on the spot.

4. The best quote of the night came from multi-hyphenate rapper RZA, who, after receiving his accolade, said, “It’s an award that does not aim to reflect my art—it instead reflects my heart.”

5. Sir Paul McCartney took to the stage and played for about an hour to the delight of a crowd that included money-bags Steven Bing, musician Rob Zombie, actor/comedian George Lopez, actress Anjelica Huston, and scads of others animal advocates who danced away. He chatted with audience members while jumping from the guitar to the piano. “When I first heard the name, that’s what appealed to me. People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals,” McCartney said. “I thought that was really a very dignified, a very cool title.”

5.5 Beck joined McCartney onstage for a few songs and they performed a kick-ass version of “Drive My Car.”

RZA and Talani Rabb
RZA and Talani Rabb

Photograph Getty Images for PETA