13 Jan THR: Inside the A-List Rock4EB! Fundraiser With Adam Sandler, Julia Roberts and Sean Penn
The event — held to raise funds for research and a cure for epidermolysis bullosa — featured ‘Uncut Gems’ star Sandler delivering a 60-minute set involving a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Lover” with his daughters.
The sun had just dipped into the Pacific Ocean off in the distance, causing the Malibu sky to slip into shades of soft pastels on a near-perfect Sunday with temperatures hovering around 75 degrees and not a cloud in sight. With that as a backdrop, Brillstein-Entertainment Partners manager Andrea Pett-Joseph stood on a stage at the back of colleague Marc Gurvitz’s expansive backyard, where she was joined by husband Paul, son Brandon and three others who know her family’s fight well — Michael Hund, Jill Vedder and Heather Fullmer.
“I bet you guys all thought that we had two years to plan this because it’s been so long, but we didn’t — we had six weeks,” said Pett-Joseph, revealing a quick sprint to pull the strings and orchestrate Rock4EB!, a starry, rock and comedy-fueled fundraiser for a shocking skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa. The last such event, in 2017, featured sets by Sting and Chris Cornell and an introduction by Brad Pitt, all to raise research funds for EBMRF. Sunday’s show was just as A-list, with performers Adam Sandler, Eddie Vedder, Glen Hansard and Judd Apatow in front of guests like Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Courteney Cox, Rami Malek, Kaley Cuoco, Elizabeth Olsen and dozens of others. Gathering those elements alone was quite a Herculean task, but so is living with epidermolysis bullosa, as the event highlighted.
EB is a rare genetic disorder that affects the skin, causing it to tear, blister and/or shear, which causes severe pain, disfigurement and wounds that sometimes never heal. In addition to all the boldfaced names, there were many people living and fighting EB in the audience, including Pett-Joseph’s son Brandon. “A lot has changed in two years since we were up on this stage, but our reason for being here remains the same: to fund a cure and help ease the pain of those living with EB,” said Pett-Joseph after doling out thank yous to vendors, volunteers, researchers and clients. “For our family, this has been an especially challenging year as new health issues arose for Brandon and challenged an already difficult struggle. That meant more hospital visits, more procedures, more difficult days getting out of bed and more painful wounds, but as we look around, we know that we are not in this fight alone. … In a town where relationships can be fleeting, your support has never wavered and that is not lost on us. It means a lot to us. By you showing up, we can show up for the EB community.”
It was a special sight for many to see. “I’m not into the whole celebrity thing but when all these A-listers show up and come out for this — it’s huge,” Cuoco told The Hollywood Reporter. A longtime client of Pett-Joseph, the actress has known Brandon nearly his entire life and thus has spent time with many EB kids: “This cause is so near and dear to our hearts. … I have gotten to know a lot of the families and I, every time I talk about it …” Just then Cuoco got choked up, with tears filling her eyes. “I am actually seeing a lot of people here I know.” One of those people, Isaiah, who battles EB, sat in the front row during every episode of season 12 of The Big Bang Theory. “He never missed a show. I talk to him all the time. There are certain families that I’m really connected with. I want to do everything I can to help and spread awareness that this has got to be cured. What these families go through is tragic,” Cuoco said.
Without that personal connection, not everybody knows what families go through either, explained Cox, a longtime client of Pett-Joseph’s sister, Cynthia Pett-Dante: “It’s nice to see the progress but there’s so much more to do. I love coming to this event, and it’s so wonderful to see these kids every year. There’s only like 500,000 cases in the world, so we need to get the message out. If you don’t know somebody, it’s hard to stay present with it, but if you were to know or meet one of these kids today, you never stop thinking about it.”
Olsen has met many of those living with EB, just like she’s met many of her peers who are represented by Brillstein and continually show up for the cause. “Cynthia and Andrea and all of the people they represent — it’s all about goodness and being good people and good citizens. They inspire everyone around them,” she said.
There was plenty to be inspired by Sunday — an event that saw the pairing of EBMRF with EBRP — even through the menu items being served up at various stations around the backyard. The event featured food and drinks from a host of vendors including Casamigos Tequila, Casa Vega, Wally’s, Pink’s hot dogs, Spartina, Slab, Fiji Water, Roxx Vodka, Nobu, Factor’s Famous Deli, D’Amore’s Pizza, J.Daniel Cuvee, Caffe Luxxe, Jennifer Naylor, Kona Brewing Co. and Eric Philippe champagne. Before the festivities kicked off onstage, Sandler, Vedder and Apatow were gathered in a quiet side yard catching up and doing a private meet-and-greet with some of the EB families.