By  on May 5, 2005

NEW YORK — A fund-raiser to help prevent teenage pregnancy is bound to be a little controversial, and guests at Candie’s “Event to Prevent” Tuesday night did not disappoint.

After all, Jane Fonda, Rosie O’Donnell, Katie Couric, Jewel and Ashlee Simpson aren’t exactly shrinking violets. Jewel and Simpson headlined the evening with live performances at Gotham Hall here, raising $400,000 for the Candie’s Foundation. There was no question of lip-synching with Jewel, who belted out “Someone Over the Rainbow” without any musical backup. She was equally unwavering about her support for Candie’s.

“There are a lot of companies that do a lot for charitable things for very transparent reasons. After talking with the people at Candie’s, you can tell they really believe in the cause,” she said, then deadpanned, “There will be condoms handed out when you leave.”

Onstage, Simpson talked about women making the right choices, and offstage the 20-year-old said she is in the early stages of setting up her own clothing collection and expects to have one within the year.

“It’s absolutely something that I have really wanted to do since I was a little girl,” she gushed.

In a white La Perla tunic and James jeans, Simpson said, “I am so proud I bought my whole outfit by myself yesterday. When I came back, everyone said, ‘You did good.’”

All too familiar with the media’s dissection of celebrities, she said her sister Jessica offered some advice. “She told me, ‘Don’t listen to it, be yourself, believe in yourself and no matter what you do everyone will have an opinion.’”

Fonda, who was spat upon by a Vietnam veteran during a book signing for her autobiography last month, has dealt with a lifetime of opinions — her own and those of others. And O’Donnell, before giving Fonda an award for founding the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, praised her for her anti-Vietnam War stance.

As to whether women can be opinionated without being controversial, Fonda said before the event, “It depends what her opinions are about. If they are about vegetables, then no, she won’t be very controversial. But hopefully women will have opinions about important things and will express those opinions.”

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