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Al Gore, celebrities unite to raise money for environmental education center

Celebrities packed a Beverly Hills mansion this week to meet former Vice President Al Gore at a fundraising event for University of California, Los Angeles, environmental programs.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Democratic presidential nominee was honored at a gala Tuesday thrown to benefit UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), a hub for green programs in varying academic fields.

"Last year was the warmest year in the history of North America," Gore said at the event, according to UCLA. "We had $110 billion in climate-related disasters in the U.S. last year, smashing all the previous records.

"Some of the damage has been done and will continue to unfold," Gore added, "but it is nothing compared to what would happen if we do not say, 'All shoulders to the wheel. We are going to change this.'"

About 350 people attended the sold-out gathering, held at the home of Jeanne and Anthony Pritzker, who is chairman of the institute's board of directors. Pritzker is managing partner and co-founder of the Pritzker Group, a private equity firm.

Celebrities attending included Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Courtney Cox, Jeff Goldblum, Zach Braff, Sarah Silverman and Lawrence Bender, producer of "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Pulp Fiction."

Transcending politics?

But Glen MacDonald, director of the institute, said that the party featuring Gore and famous faces was not a Democrats-only affair. Host Pritzker, he said, is a Republican, and there are many corporate supporters of it.

"I firmly believe that these challenges transcend politics," MacDonald said. "They transcend to Republican-Democratic divide."

The event was the second annual fundraiser for the institute and more than tripled the amount taken in last year, MacDonald said.

To read the full article by Anne C. Mulkern click here.