PLEASE EXCUSE ME: With all that is going on amidst the holiday crush, there are bound to be lots of last minute cancellations. Partygoers are prone to all sorts of excuses — the weather, the flu, the kids, the train, the traffic, the boss. And whatever the reason, Monday night’s Phelophepa awards and benefit dinner at the Edison Ballroom had its share of no-shows. Honoree Sienna Miller was busy with “Business Trip,” one of two new films she is working on. Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz had a family commitment on their one night off from “Betrayal,” the Broadway show they are starring in. WABC’s Sade Baderinwa was unable to present due to laryngitis. Initially, Stella Jean was supposed to have a fashion show, but she could not make it to New York in time and then her replacement, the South African designer label Naked Ape ran into a time constraint, so that was off. Another honoree Mikhail Prokhorhov decided at the last moment that it would not be in his best interest to be honored at this time so he left that to his second-in-command at the Brooklyn Nets, Christophe Charlier.
Christina Ricci missed her flight and another guest, Philip Seymour Hoffman, was just plain missed. Emcee Colin Cowie did his part, honoring Nelson Mandela with a moment of silence and later airing a video message of thanks to the evening’s supporters from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is among the global leaders who support Phelophepa, pronounced “Pay-lo-pe-pa.” The Phelophepa is a nonprofit that runs 18-car trains that offer medical services to underserved communities in South Africa.
Celebrity dermatologist David Colbert, who also volunteers his medical skills in such impoverished places as Haiti, turned up to be honored, despite a bout with a 72-hour virus. “I couldn’t not be here. It’s such a great cause,” Colbert said. “I hope to go to South Africa in April with Siennna [Miller] to volunteer on the train.