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Film, music, and television stars and executives gathered for Sunday night’s Aiding Australia benefit in the heart of West Hollywood. The charity dinner and concert was held at the home of Academy Award winning editor and Awards Focus co-founder John Ottman (Bohemian Rhapsody).

Awards Focus was the primary sponsor of the event, with co-founder and National Arts and Entertainment Award winning journalist Byron Burton hosting the intimate evening. Aiding Australia highlighted the long-term fire recovery needs for Australia and its wildlife, following a billion lives lost and habitats decimated.

Jeremy Renner and JK Simmons at the Aiding Australia event
(left to right) Jeremy Renner and JK Simmons at the Aiding Australia charity benefit. (Photo by: David Yeh)

Attending talent included Academy Award winners JK Simmons and John Ottman, Academy Award nominees Michael Keaton and Jeremy Renner, actor and event sponsor Michael Rosenbaum (Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum), as well as Society of Illustrators 2020 Hall of Fame Inductee Drew Struzan (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the future artist), and Grammy winner Colin Hay.

Guests enjoyed a specially prepared meal provided by charity sponsor Charitably and Cheryl Canter’s “I Baked It Myself.” Afterward, they migrated to the living room for a standing room only performance by Grammy winning Men at Work singer/songwriter Colin Hay.

(left to right) Singer/songwriter Colin Hay of “Men at Work” and actor Michael Keaton. (Photo by: David Yeh)

Hay capped the evening with acoustic renditions of several classics, opting to go without the use of microphones or amps. The setlist including the noted Australian anthem “Down Under,” as well as “Who Can it Be Now” and “Overkill.” Hay performed alongside his wife and artist Cecilia Noël, Cuban artist San Miguel Pérez,  and artist/producer Marciel Miranda.

The honored guests signed several original posters from their music, film, and television careers. In an homage to the TCL Chinese Theater’s cement courtyard, the guests added their handprints in paint to commemorate the night and its goal of raising funds and maintaining awareness for the long-term recovery of Australian wildlife. The charity items will be auctioned via Awards Focus once all participating stars have had an opportunity to leave their handprints and autographs.

Michael Rosenbaum of the “Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum” podcast adds his handprint to one of the many charity auction items at the Aiding Australia benefit. (Photo by: David Yeh)

The auction will benefit the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund, which Colin Hay is also supporting with proceeds from his 2020 tour starting this Friday February 28th at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles.

“I’m grateful for John Ottman and the entire Awards Focus team for helping make this benefit a huge success. It’s gratifying to see people, who have achieved tremendous success, take the initiative to help their fellow humans and in this case mammals,” said event host, Byron Burton.

“I’m looking forward to bringing even more legendary names to our Aiding Australia initiative ahead of the charity auction.”

Talent that could not attend but are signing memorabilia for the forthcoming charity auction include Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Larry David, Ben Mendelsohn, Peter Billingsley, Vince Vaughn, Patrick Stewart and Star Trek: Picard executive Alex Kurtzman, and more to be announced.

Michael Keaton signing items for the Aiding Australia Benefit. (Photo by: David Yeh)
Michael Keaton signs a ‘Batman Returns’ poster for the Aiding Australia Benefit. (Photo by: David Yeh)

Aiding Australia was sponsored by Awards Focus and Charitably, as well as the generous folks at The TCL Chinese Theater, NEFT Vodka, Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum Podcast, Costa Communications, and the Fiore Media Group.

Charity sponsor Charitably will continue to accept donations for Australia bushfire relief which are tax deductible through its 501 C 3 status. 

Charitably Inc. President Patrick Speer gave the closing remarks on the night: “It’s nights like this that validates our mission and reminds us of all of the important work we do to affect change. Bringing people together to support some of the globe’s most critical challenges.”

To view the gallery of signed & handprinted items that will soon be available for auction, as well as upcoming additions, please visit our Aiding Australia Charity Auction Items page.

Readers can also contribute to the Australian Bushfire Relief cause through Charitably’s online donation platform, found at Charitably.Org.


“Aiding Australia” Benefit Photo Gallery