Brad Pitt stages ''mini-Grammys'' show to help New Orleans

Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:52pm EST
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Every time he crosses the Claiborne Avenue bridge heading east across the New Orleans Industrial Canal, actor Brad Pitt gets a lump in his throat.

From that vantage point, he can look down on a section of the city's Lower Ninth Ward that is ground zero for "Make It Right," a home rebuilding initiative Pitt launched to help people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed 1,500 people and devastated the historic Southern city.

"Each time I come back to New Orleans and drive over that bridge, I get this swell of joy," Pitt told Reuters, his eyes going watery. "It's means a lot to me to watch that neighborhood take shape."

Pitt and his movie star partner, Angelina Jolie, own a house in the city's French Quarter, and they visit the city regularly with their six children.

The actor shares his feelings about the city and its recovery with a few thousand people on Saturday evening, as he and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, a New Orleans native, host the Make It Right Foundation's biggest fundraiser at a New Orleans hotel.

Billed as "A Night to Make It Right," the star-studded, sold-out gala is expected to draw 1,200 guests who paid between $1,000 and $2,500 to attend a dinner prepared by New Orleans celebrity chefs John Besh and Emeril Lagasse, and a concert featuring musical stars Rihanna, Sheryl Crow, Seal and Dr. John.

The lineup includes Hollywood luminaries and honorary hosts Sean Penn, Spike Lee, Josh Brolin and Kevin Spacey.

In addition, some 2,000 people have anted up $150 for an "after party" hosted by actor-comedian Aziz Ansari, with musical performances by Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and the Soul Rebels.   Continued...

Actress and presenter Angelina Jolie and her partner actor Brad Pitt arrive at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson