Alexandra Cousteau, Andy Sharpless, Angela Kinsey, Anne Heche, Burgess, Dennis Haysbert, Emily Osment, Eve Kornyei Ruffatto, Hemisphere, James L. Connaughton, James Tupper, Live Schreiber, Luke Tipple, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Mary Murphy, Mary Steenburgen, ocean conservation, ocean protection, Oceana, Oceana SeaChange Summer Party, Oscar Nunez, Philippe Cousteau, Sheryl Crow, Ted Danson, Valarie Van Cleave
Oceana, the world’s largest ocean conservation organization, held its sixth annual SeaChange Summer Party at a private coastal estate in the hills of Laguna Beach, and, I must say, it is one of the few Orange County fundraisers that attracts a slew of celebrities. Let’s start with Sheryl Crow, who was the evening’s entertainment. She rocked with a set filled with her hits as well as some new material, due to be released in an upcoming album. Actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson has attended every party and this year brought his lovely wife Mary Steenburgen. I was really excited to meet Mary Murphy of So You Think You Can Dance fame (I love the show!), and my favorite actor and Allstate spokesperson Dennis Haysbert, who also happens to be a diver and ocean enthusiast, returned this year to serve as master of ceremonies. Others celebs spotted included Anna Torv (Fringe), Angela Kinsey (The Office), Anne Heche and husband James Tupper (Revenge), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24 and the upcoming revamp), Oscar Nunez (The Office), Liev Schreiber (The Last Days on Mars movie due out Dec. 6), Luke Tipple (Capture), and Emily Osment (Disney’s Hannah Montana).
The celebs were there because they are passionate about protecting and preserving our oceans, and added to that list were the honorees, brother and sister Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau from the fabled ocean conservation family. Honored as Ocean Champions along with the Cousteaus was James L. Connaughton, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush on energy, environment and natural resources.
The elegant affair for nearly 400 guests began with an upscale silent auction on the mansion’s terraces, with sunset views of the Pacific Ocean a standout. Once again, The Kitchen for Exploring Foods served a delicious repast at tables covering the expansive lawn after which guests reached in their wallets to support the cause in the live auction. Haysbert, in a surprise gesture, offered a foursome for golf at Big Canyon Country Club, which sold for $6,250. The highlight was the seven-day voyage on the Hemisphere, the world’s largest recreational catamaran, donated by Burgess, the world’s super-yacht specialists. It sold for $100,000. Other luxury offerings included an African safari, a Tuscany villa, the Galapagos Islands, Four Seasons Punta Mita, Montage Deer Valley, and the Maldives, along with a gorgeous strand of Mikimoto pearls and a handsome Harry Winston Ocean Sport timepiece. Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez had great fun passing out stuffed dolphins to guests pledging money at different levels to round out the live auction, with net proceeds for the effort later tallied at more than $800,000. Pretty impressive!
SeaChange was co-chaired by Oceana board member Valarie Van Cleave and Oceana council member Eve Kornyei Ruffatto. Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless thanked everyone for their support and gave some hope on how we can save the oceans and feed the world, a topic he addresses in his new book, “The Perfect Protein.” “An abundant ocean is an achievable goal,” he said. “If we can stop overfishing in the waters of just 10 countries, more than two-thirds of the world’s ocean fish catch can be delivered to the future – healthy and abundant.” That is indeed hope for the future!
Guests departed with a beautiful crystal votive, courtesy of Neiman Marcus, Fashion Island.
Selected photos courtesy of Ann Chatillon, Nick Coon, Bob Hodson, Ryan Miller, Tom Vickers