Stars Honor New Orleans at Katrina Benefit
It's not often that a Nobel laureate, Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Academy Award winners and just about every other kind of winner share a single stage. But a benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, sponsored by The New Yorker as part of its annual New Yorker Festival, brought an eclectic and star-studded cast of performers to Manhattan on Saturday night. The lineup included Toni Morrison, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Kevin Kline, Richard Ford, Willem Dafoe and lots of zydeco music.
Most of the evening's entertainment celebrated New Orleans culture.
Actress Patricia Clarkson read Tennessee Williams' letters from the French Quarter, New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin read an essay about the city's anything-goes attitude, and actor Terrence Howard read a Mark Twain essay about New Orleans architecture.
Woody Allen played the clarinet with Eddy Davis and his New Orleans Jazz Band, and Kevin Kline played Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927," a song from the mid-1970's that sounds as if it could have been written about Hurricane Katrina.
Other performers included musician David Byrne, Buckwheat Zydeco, Queen Ida and Her Zydeco Band, Audra McDonald, Mary-Louise Parker, Walter Wolfman Washington and the Roadmasters and more. New Yorker editor David Remnick said many of the performers were still searching for relatives missing since the hurricane.
Tickets for the event ranged from $50 to $250, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. Conde Nast Publications, publisher of The New Yorker, will match the donation.