Sting Fronts a $1 Million Bash That's for the Birds (and the Trees, and the Snakes, And...)

updated 02/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

As Bruce Springsteen remembers events, it all started last year when he got a call from Sting.

"Gee," said Sting, "I got this Rainforest Foundation, and we gotta do something."

"What are you going to do?" said Bruce.

"We're going to have this big cookout."

"What if it rains?"

"We'll pitch a tent."

"How are we going to raise money?"

"We're going to charge heavy for this meat loaf."

So heavy, in fact, that last week's fundraiser in Beverly Hills for the Rainforest Foundation and the Environmental Media Association brought in donations totaling more than $1 million from the 900 stars—including Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck—and industry bigwigs who attended. Underwritten by department store heir Ted Field and his wife, Susie, the bash re-created a rain forest, complete with flora and humidity, in a 12,000-square-foot tent pitched behind the Fields' enormous neo-Florentine estate. And instead of meat loaf, dinner was a festive Brazilian feast of chicken, rice with shrimp and scallops, and fried bananas.

There were, of course, calls to arms. "If we can inspire people that we're all in this together, then we will be fulfilling our potential as an industry to make a difference," Ted Danson told the crowd. There was also humor, particularly from emcee Billy Crystal, who announced that "Art Buchwald couldn't be here tonight, but you should all know that this was his idea." But the high point of the evening was the entertainment. Backed by Herbie Hancock on keyboards and Branford Marsalis on sax, Sting invited "the greatest garage band ever"—Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Hornsby, Don Henley and Paul Simon—onstage for a very memorable one-hour hoot.

The cookout wasn't bad, either.

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