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Will Ferrell, Jane Fonda host and toast the Hammer Museum's 'Gala in the Garden'

October 10, 2010 |  2:48 pm

HAMMER pic 1 The place to be at the Hammer Museum's "Gala in the Garden" on Saturday was a corner of the courtyard balcony, 100 feet south of the restrooms.

As cocktail hour reached critical mass, Jane Fonda huddled there with honoree Alice Waters, the chef-owner of Berkeley's Chez Panisse who's credited with pioneering California cuisine. Later, Waters -- clearly the real star of the evening -- was joined by Will Ferrell, who chaired the gala with wife Viveca Paulin-Ferrell.

Will Ferrell, executive producer of HBO's raunchy "Eastbound & Down," a  "Saturday Night Live" alum and star of "Step Brothers," "Blades of Glory" and other recent super-goofy movies? Yeah, that Will Ferrell. Perhaps demonstrating that opposites attract, Ferrell's wife, Viveca, is a specialist in Italian Renaissance art who used to work for the Butterfields art auction house (and played an auctioneer in the Chris Tucker-Martin Sheen movie "Money Talks").

"We love the Hammer," Paulin-Ferrell told the Ministry. "We come with our kids here. It's very family friendly, and it's good for the younger set to come to keep making museum-going a tradition. It's always fresh and exciting."

Later, the couple welcomed the 500-plus gala-goers as they sat down to a fine dinner of Niman Ranch beef daube with baked ricotta, and French feta salsa verde was whipped up by an acolyte of Waters', Lucques' Suzanne Goin.

"Tonight we're honoring Charles Ray," Ferrell said of the prominent L.A. artist.

"Yes, and Alice Waters," said Viveca.

"Alice Waters, who in my opinion is a total sham," Ferrell said. "I saw her in the parking lot eating a Slim Jim and drinking a Slurpee. I don't know about this organic stuff."

HAMMER pic 2 Ferrell didn't roller skate through the galleries in Westwood, but he did lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" in honor of his mom's 70th.

"Her name is Kay -- K.A.Y.," he instructed. "Her hip-hop name is the initial K."

Jane Fonda, a fan of both the Hammer and Waters, was invited to introduce the chef famous for bringing organic, locally grown ingredients to the American table. She lauded Waters for her generosity of spirit, putting great, fresh food for her customers before profits.

"The investors never cut and run ... her friends are still her friends and it's why so many men fall in love with her and she with them -- and there were a lot of them," said Fonda, sporting a colorful silk jacket and slim black pants. "She's the quintessential sensual woman."

Because the Hammer comps artists and not celebs who aren't presenters, the Hollywood types toasting the evening were regulars on the art circuit -- Rachel Griffiths, Leonard Nimoy and "Parenthood's" Erika Christensen.

-- Irene Lacher

Top photo: It's happy hour for Alice Waters, left, Will Ferrell and Jane Fonda, who commune during cocktails in the cool corner of the courtyard balcony. Credit: Hammer Museum

Second photo: Rachel Griffiths gets her chic on at the Hammer. Credit: Hammer Museum

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