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Stars Line Up to Meet the Beatle at Adopt-A-Minefield Gala

There are stars, and then there are STARS.

And then there’s Sir Paul McCartney.

And that’s why an assortment of Hollywood’s A-list arrived at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the fifth annual Adopt-A-Minefield Gala, which the legendary rock icon has headlined every year since its inception, just hoping for a moment, a second, any fleeting encounter with the former Beatle, easily the most influential singer-songwriter currently walking the planet today.

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And when Paul and his wife Heather Mills McCartney arrived on the red carpet, the looked every inch rock and roll royalty—with a consciuence: he was dressed in black pants, jacket and a red Von Dutch t-shirt that said “No More Land Mines”; while she was clad in dazzling diamonds and a glamorous orange Catherine Walker gown that was auctioned off at the end of the evening to raise funds to battle the worldwide landmine crisis.

Paul, who performed with an icon of a different style of music, silken-voiced Tony Bennett, made a simple case for world leaders to remove deadly landmines from their countries’ soil. “Listen to the voice of the people. People don’t like land mines, especially the survivors and the people who are living in the countries with them. I think it comes down to the government’s direction to just listen to the people and sign the treaty and get rid of them. It would put an end to all of it.”

He told us that he thinks the day will come when the landmines will be permanently eradicated. “It’s a long haul, but already there have been a lot of them taken off and the world is already a safer place. We are just hoping to bring attention to it through things like this and through the work we do. Hopefully people will understand that they are cowardly weapons and use their voices, and hopefully the government will understand that there is no need for these.”

The former Beatle commented on the shining example he’s set for decades, for celebrities to use their name to do some good. “The thing is that you can just be a celebrity or a musician or somebody in the public eye and do nothing, or you can help,” he said. “Obviously if these causes affect you, which a lot of them do, it’s good to go out and use your celebrity status to try and make people aware of them. Hopefully by doing so, the governments will do something and provoke change. We have been very lucky because we have been able to get some results and we are hoping to get more. We don’t want to see one single landmine in the ground.”

Heather, an advocate of the cause for the last dozen years, was optimistic that this year would be a fruitful one. “Last year we raised 1.4 million dollars and this year we just started and we are already at 1.4 so we hope to get to 2 million,” she revealed. “We plan on meeting with more world leaders. We do a lot of quiet talking. Sometimes you get more achieved not trying to get credit, and you have to slowly educate them on how they can go about doing it. It’s very easy to sign a mine ban treaty, but if you are in Russia and you have the biggest borders in the world, you have to give them a solution. You can’t just say ban them.”

Jay Leno served as the event’s master of ceremonies, a job he didn’t mind adding to his daily “Tonight Show” duties. “It’s not hard work,” Jay told Hollywood.com. “I just tell a few jokes, and it raises people’s awareness of the cause. There’s really no down side to doing it. I mean its landmines we are talking about. There is no left or right side to it, and there are no political spectrums here. People think that only Hollywood liberals are involved in this cause but no, that’s not the case. The war’s over, landmines exist, kids are stepping on them, so let’s get rid of them.”

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“Yesterday” and Today
McCartney is one of the few people in the world to leave even the biggest names in show business star-struck. Leno shared his memories of his first meeting with the legend: “It was very exciting, because I would watch him when I was in the 8th grade when he was on the Ed Sullivan show and it was a huge thrill to meet him in person. I don’t really have a favorite song, because I like the whole spectrum and I can’t pick just one.”

“Paul is someone who I hold in great regard and he influences the lives of so many people outside of his extraordinary music,” explained actor Andy Garcia. “He is the soundtrack of my life and my favorite song by him is ‘Yesterday’”

“He is an icon! Hearing him play his music is extraordinarily moving, and ‘Let it Be’ is my favorite song of his,” agreed actress Julia Ormand, who kept the evening McCartney themed by wearing an outfit designed by Sir Paul’s famed daughter Stella. “It’s a really easy cause to support and I think landmines shouldn’t exist.”

We asked singer Josh Groban (who loves “Let It Be,” while his girlfriend, Chanel-clad, fishnet-gloved actress January Jones, favors “Lucy and the Sky with Diamonds–My dad is a huge Beatles fan so I grew up with all their music”). exactly what it was like to meet a Beatle. “I actually have not met Paul!” he admitted. “Tonight is the night, and I am determined to meet him because I didn’t get to 3 years ago; I only saw him onstage. Next year ask me that question and I will tell you how I wet myself!”

Behind the scenes Josh thanked honoree Farah Ahmedi–a 17-year-old Afghan refugee and landmine survivor now living and attending school in Chicago and serving as Adopt-A-Minefield’s new Youth Ambassador–for sending him an autographed copy of her book. He told her sincerely that the next time he is performing in the Windy City, she is invited to come and sing backup onstage with the choir for his hit song “You Raise Me Up.”

“This is my first time to Hollywood and it’s a different world,” Farah told Hollywood.com. “I’m really excited that I got to meet Josh Groban!”

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The night’s other honoree was Juanes, the twelve-time Latin Grammy winner and one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” whose Spanish-language songs have become anthems of peace across the globe. He helped kick off a bid to eliminate the landmine problem in his native country. “In Colombia, two victims die in landmine explosions every day and it’s really difficult because most of the victims are children,” explained Juanes. “I can’t accept that this is going to happen, and I can’t just sit back and do nothing about it. I want people to become educated about this issue and face the reality of what is going on”

Even more celebs packed the red carpet: Ray Romano told us he was a “Hey Jude” fan; “Stacked” star Pamela Anderson—a longtime McCartney pal thanks to their avid interest in animal rights issues—also bounced by on the red carpet; and Alec Baldwin slipped by but didn’t say tell us anything, er, explosive.

A silent auction began as cocktails were served, followed by dinner and a live auction led by Leno. Among the items up for bid at the gala: a custom-designed “vegan” Cadillac CTS Sport Vehicle signed by McCartney and Tony Bennett; a Prototype No. 2 (of only two made) of the limited-edition Paul McCartney Epiphone Texan Series from Gibson Guitar (identical to the one he used to record “Yesterday”); and one of the evening’s biggest highlights was a copy of the legendary White Album signed by all four Beatles that sold for $85,000.

All in all the evening was a smashing success, impressing even the old pro: “I’m proud to be a part of helping to eliminate all the mines in the world,” Tony Bennett told us. “What really got me was the fact that little innocent children go out and play in the field and all of a sudden they are blown up. It’s just so absolutely tragic. The next stage in human development will come when other humans will stop killing other people.”

Additional reporting by Carlene Davis

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