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Even though it comes smack in the middle of awards season, Saks Fifth Avenue’s An Unforgettable Evening — the bi-annual affair benefiting the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund — is a much-anticipated event on the Los Angeles social calendar, in no small part because of the high-profile honorees and A-list performers.


This year was no exception. Gwyneth Paltrow was on hand to accept the Courage Award and Courteney Cox accepted the Nat King Cole Award. Of course, boldfaced names require equally heavyweight presenters, so honorary event chair Steven Spielberg introduced “Gwynnie, my surrogate daughter.” Paltrow, who arrived at the event sans family, said, “My father’s dead, but I have my Uncle Morty (aka Spielberg), and my husband’s in Japan, but I have Jay-Z.”

The rap mogul was seated next to Paltrow because his wife Beyonce was the special performance. By way of introduction, emcee Tom Hanks said, “For the record, I did like it, and I put a ring on it,” referring to Beyonce’s hit “Single Ladies” and prompting wife Rita Wilson to stand up and wave her napkin in mock triumph.

Later in the evening, Hanks’ quick wit wasn’t so well received. While introducing the sponsors, he jokingly referred to Saks Fifth Avenue as a store “where bargains can be found,” no doubt alluding to the retailer’s holiday discounts. But during the next course, Hanks returned to the stage, cue card in hand, and said, “I’ve been told I need to apologize to some people, including Saks. I implied that they sell cheap merchandise. They have bargains, but the merchandise is of great quality.” The gaffe raised several eyebrows, but Hanks was quick to fill in with other mock apologies to friends like Tom Arnold whom he had taken jabs at earlier in the evening.

 

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