It had the charm of a community theater production put on by a group of pals - only in this case, everybody happened to be famous. Tuesday night, actor David Arquette and some of his family members and "Friends" - namely wife Courteney Cox-Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Sheryl Crow, Christina Applegate, Ben Harper and more - staged a benefit concert to raise money for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank and Feeding America.
It was a roughly staged event where microphones went dead, teleprompters messed up and everyone in the audience seemed to know each other. At one point, the director came over the P.A. system and asked Cox and Kudrow to stretch - so Kudrow grabbed a guitar and played a couple bars of "Smelly Cat," the tune her character made famous on an episode of "Friends."
AEG Live donated the Club Nokia in downtown L.A., while others donated their time and talent. Garry Shandling did a little stand-up comedy. Crow wrote a sing-along reggae song especially for the event called "All We Need" - which she recorded as a duet for iTunes with Jason Mraz. It'll be available in about a week or so, with all proceeds going to Feeding America.
As Crow performed, Allison Sweeney (soap star and host of "The Biggest Loser") snapped photos on her cell phone from the balcony. Harper raced over on a rare night off from his tour with Pearl Jam. Katharine McPhee, Jonny Lang and Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden also performed live, as did Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. His mom, Mary, watched from the side of the stage, dressed in sensible shoes and a grandma cardigan. Speaking of which, Morello and his new wife are expecting their first child next month. It's going to be a boy!
This wasn't some Hollywood fundraiser where the celebrities involved had no personal stake in the charity. Cox told us her husband, David, has been spending two days a week packing lunches and helping out at the neighborhood foodbank in Venice. Sometimes their daughter, Coco, joins him. Crow couldn't help giving Arquette a special shout-out during her set. "I love David Arquette so much, man!" she exclaimed. "Who else would put himself out there like this?!"
David Arquette isn't an actor most people associate with serious drama - after all, while "Ready To Rumble," "Eight Legged Freaks," and the "Scream" series have plenty of fans, they're closer to "Shakes the Clown" than Shakespeare. But the 38-year-old funnyman is deadly serious about fighting hunger. He's a major volunteer with Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest), which helps feed more than 25 million low-income people in the U.S., including nearly three million seniors... and more than nine million children.
Parents: ever been unsure, even for a day, whether you could feed your children? You know there are few worse feelings, and I don't need to belabor the point. But it seemed a good time to highlight the cause, and Arquette's involvement in it. September is Hunger Action Month, filled with awareness- and money-raising events like Tuesday's "Rock a Little, Feed a Lot" concert in L.A. featuring Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Joel and Benji Madden and others. And today is Yom Kippur, when many Jews atoning for their sins of the past year abstain from eating - by choice, not because the fridge or cupboard is bare.
It helps to have a personal stake in a cause, and Arquette has said he has memories of lean periods growing up, when eating was an iffy proposition. Now he's in a position to do something about the problem, and he's walking the walk - working at food banks a couple of days each week, and spreading the word.
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