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Farm animal gala raises more than $1 million for Prop. 2


Celebrities posing for photographers, a Bel-Air mansion, an elegant dinner outside under twinkling lights, the iconic Carole King singing and playing the piano. Was it a fundraiser? Yes, of course. But the issue wasn't a presidential campaign, Darfur or the environment. The cause: factory farm animals. 

The Humane Society's Wayne Pacelle estimated that more than $1 million was raised Sunday night from 450 guests. The funds help pay for advertising and other expenses incurred in the campaign to help pass Proposition 2, the California state ballot measure that would outlaw confining crates and cages used in the factory farming of hens, veal calves and pregnant pigs. According to the campaign --sponsored by the Humane Society of the U.S., Farm Sanctuary and other animal welfare groups -- the cages are so tiny that hens cannot spread their wings, and the crates are so small that calves and sows cannot turn around.

Ellen DeGeneres and her new spouse, actress Portia de Rossi -- posing at right with Pacelle, the head of the Humane Society -- hosted the event on the grounds of the estate of businessman John Winfield.

Animal welfare causes have been championed by an array of deep-pocketed business people and philanthropists for years. But if you thought farm animals were a stretch to evoke passion and philanthropy, the supporters Sunday night said just the opposite.

Pacelle_ellen_and_portia_2"I think no one goes out of their way to hurt an animal," said DeGeneres, sitting with De Rossi for a brief chat in a living room -- there appeared to be several in this house -- before walking outside to schmooze with guests. But on the issue of conditions for farm animals, "unfortunately there's not a lot of awareness," she said.

"They're sentient beings, and they feel pain and fear," De Rossi said. "It's up to us, the more intelligent species, to take care of them."

"This isn't even taking care of them," DeGeneres added. "It's just making things a little better for them."

"It's such a modest proposal," De Rossi said.

DeGeneres said she wanted to use her celebrity to support the issue. "I love animals," she said.

Who can forget DeGeneres sobbing on her talk show last year, begging that the dog she gave up to her make-up artist's family be returned to them by a private rescue duo who took the dog back. "That's long over," said DeGeneres ruefully about the battle. "I had to give that up. It was a bad time." 


Actress Kelly Lynch, left, arrived in a satiny short black dress that she proudly said she got at Target. "I'm an anti-consumerist," she said. (She did not put the adornment and maintenance of her and her husband's midcentury home designed by famed architect John Lautner into the category of consumerism. "That's restoring and preserving architecture," she said.) Lynch's parents had a farm in addition to their Minneapolis city home when she was growing up. "We raised farm animals as pets," she said.

She came last night at the invitation of Kathy Freston, the self-help author and wife of Hollywood executive Tom Freston. Kathy Freston donated about $5,000 to finance a TV ad spot for Prop 2 -- one of numerous TV spot buys being auctioned off at the gala. "A lot of my book is about being a conscious eater," she said of "Quantum Wellness," adding that the "filthy conditions" of farm animals was something she believes most people will want to rectify.

That sentiment was echoed throughout the night. "We are not a barbaric people," said Pauley Perrette, the actress who plays the Goth forensic specialist on the TV show "NCIS."


"To me, it's a no-brainer," said actor Tobey Maguire of "Spider-Man" fame, pictured at right. "I'm a near-vegan. I eat like a vegan." Maguire showed up in a rumpled, untucked shirt and gym shoes (at least it's vegan).

The measure, of course, assumes people are still eating animals. It deals only with their treatment in factory farming situations. (There was no meat last night -- as is the custom at most animal welfare events.  The vegan dinner was catered by Madeleine Bistro. And it was good -- really.)

The Humane Society, the main muscle behind the ballot measure, unveiled four potential ads and showed off a humorous animated video set to the music of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." 

"You think this crowd can rock?" shouted Carole King. By the time she got to her classic "You've Got a Friend" guests were singing along in the warm night air and hoisting aloft votive candles from the tables rock-concert style.

"Ain't it good to know that you've got a friend; we're gonna pass Prop 2," she crooned, sliding in some new lyrics for the occasion.

Singer Moby, also an animal welfare supporter, took the stage next. 

The opponents have a campaign as well -- each side is spending millions of dollars -- but this night belonged to the Prop 2 folks.

"I have rescue hens. They're kind of menopausal," said Kathy Riordan, an L.A. Animal Services Commissioner and animal advocate who was at the event.  She's also the daughter of Richard Riordan, L.A.'s former mayor and the owner of the venerable Pantry restaurant downtown. "My father endorses this, and he has four meat-eating restaurants. I think there is a growing trend for a humane treatment of what we eat."

-- Carla Hall

Photos: Startraks Photo

Comments () | Archives (16)

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Our economy is falling apart and they're raising money for farm animals - give me a break!

Accolades, plaudits and commendation for all the people who donate and advocate on behalf of farm animals. One day humanity will finally realize that killing are fellow creatures for food is a monstrosity.

Hooray for the actor-vists!! Hollywood has heart.

Vote YES on Prop 2.

YAY for Ellen & all her friends....Moby & Carole King ROCK!
Kudos to John Winfield for hosting this event.


The animal rights groups are going across the country shuting animal breeders down. They are doing it by passing laws to make each animal have more space. If each animal gets more space then the farmer has to build more barns and or buy more land. If you want the AG industry to stay in California than vote no on #2. If you vote yes then you are putting American farmers on soup kitchen lines. The HSUS is backed by the Socialist Party. If you want to keep your freedoms than vote ''NO''. In case you didn't know the Humane groups just shut down the largest slaughterhouse in America in 6 days there wont be any beef or chicken. Are you going to let The Socialist Party ruin your lifes?

Prop 2 is a pathetic waste of time. It will provide little comfort to the animals, while increasing animal enterprise revenue. None of us should be rejoicing.

Skippy - Perhaps you should consider that there is hardly any risk of animal exploitation being removed from the USA (or California). Rest assured that "humane" slaughter will allow for plenty of "grass-fed", "free-range", etc., options. Please be aware that these methods are virtually the same as those used in typical factory farms. If you haven't noticed, corporate farms are responsible for the destruction of the traditional family-run farm. I think you are confusing socialists with communists. Socialists would undoubtedly support HSUS because HSUS provides "protection" for animals, just as socialists believe in the importance of protecting and providing assistance to citizens.

I would like to state for the record, that I am a vegan who believes in complete abolition of all animal exploitation and I do not support organizations such as PETA or HSUS. Neither of these organizations speak on my behalf, and it's unfortunate that they are continually connected with the movement. I'm certain that there are many other vegans who do not respect or support these organizations.

Please support local groups in your community that make a difference and do not bother giving money to organizations such as HSUS or PETA.

The most important gift you can offer the animals, the environment and the people who work in horrendous conditions (to kill and process your food), is to become vegan and just be joyful. I urge you to research these issues further, and find out the truth for yourself.

That's wonderful news. I'm looking forward to the TV advertisements. Prop 2 wouldn't even bring us up to European standards but at least it's a start. YES ON 2...stop animal cruelty!

Skippy...you sound like a crazed conspiracy theorist.

Thank you for bringing attention to this incredibly important proposition. YES ON PROP 2 will alleviate a little suffering and allow these animals raised for food to at least be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs/wings.
Vegan *, if you don't support this then you are doing nothing for the animals. It is admirable that YOU do not eat them but that is most certainly NOT the case for the majority of people. The awareness that this is bringing is incredible and you, as an Animal lover, should be championing it all the way! Don't be a part of the problem. You're making a huge difference on your own but what about helping to reach others? Or helping the animals who are most definitely going to suffer and be eaten? Wouldn't you like to help them as well?
YES ON PROP 2 is a step in the right direction.

None of you are thinking, 97% of animal breeders are also crop farmers. In the United States we have the right to boycott certain enterprises we feel are in bad taste. So if the nations crop farmers decide not to sell to the vegans they have every right. Most vegans eat entirely out of frozen containers. The farmers will have no problem not selling to the few groups that are out there. You have every right to eat what you want, but farmers have every right not to sell to you.

The factory farmer and the farmer next door are the same. If the farmer next door wants to put his Turkeys in his barn to keep them out of the weather then he has to follow the new laws. In the south chickens are kept in barns on the ground. If the laws sweep across the country then Fred farmer wont be able to turn the birds loose unless theres 10 feet for each bird. Sows will be kept in large areas where she will roll over on her piglets killing them. Yes I agree killing is killing. I have not ate meat since I turned 17 (spiritual reasons). But I dont believe in killing the farmer. I'm sure this will roll back over on the HSUS and PETA. As far as the Socialist Party goes, the socialists are screaming at the HSUS that they want total control. I got them on tape.....

I hope Prop 2 passes. It will certainly stop some of the worst abuses of animals who are forced to live on factory farms. Of course the only way not to contribute to the rest of abuses is to go vegetarian or vegan (www.tryveg.com).

I can't wait to VOTE YES ON PROP 2 come Nov. 4. All animals deserve humane treatment, including those raised for food!

We would never force our pets to live in filthy, cramped cages for their entire lives and we should not force farm animals to endure such misery. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment. VOTE YES ON PROP 2!!!!!

These animals cannot turn around in their cages/prisons. They live nothing like a normal life. Voting YES ON PROP 2 is the least we can do to make their existence a bit more comfortable. VOTE YES ON PROP 2!

My god, these animals cannot even turn around in their dank cages. Voting YES ON PROP 2 is the least we can do to make their existence a bit less uncomfortable. VOTE YES ON PROP 2

Vote no on proposition 2 please. My family has been in the egg business for over 20 years now, it has always been in the family. What people don't realize is that by voting yes, they are ruining the lives of many of the local egg producers in California. Many of us do not have the money to change the way the proposition proposes. If this proposition passes, The egg industry in California will become non-existence, because out-of-state competitors who do not have to deal with this proposition. So please vote no, and save your local egg producers.


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