Human rights group Amnesty International landed the celebrity party to end all celebrity parties in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night (06Dec09) when charity bosses chose to honour longtime supporters Bruce Springsteen and Sting.
The glitzy, top secret black tie affair took place after Springsteen was handed one of America's top cultural accolades - a Kennedy Center honour - alongside Robert De Niro, Mel Brooks, opera singer Grace Bumbry and jazz legend Dave Brubeck.
De Niro, Brooks, Bumbry and Brubeck joined Springsteen and Sting at the invitation-only party at the Tai Pan lounge inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel, which turned into a who's who of stars from Hollywood and the music world.
Meryl Streep, Martin Short, Matthew Broderick, Jack Black, rocker Eddie Vedder, Herbie Hancock and actor Ed Norton were among the big names who turned out to pay tribute to the rock stars.
The party was organised and co-hosted by producer/humorist Martin Lewis, who recruited Sting on behalf of Amnesty International in 1981. Amnesty's Executive Director Larry Cox, who previously ran Sting and Trudie Styler's Rainforest Foundation organisation was the other co-host.
The evening's special guests were Kennedy Center Honors co-creator and co-producer George Stevens and his son and daughter-in-law, Michael Stevens and Ali Gifford.
Sting was one of the first big names to sign on to help the human rights group and his performance at 1981's Secret Policeman's Other Ball inspired other musicians to support the organisation, including Peter Gabriel, Bob Geldof and U2.
Springsteen and Sting first became friends in 1988 when they headlined the six-week Human Rights Now! world tour for Amnesty.
Sting had another special reason to be at the party - one of the guests was former Argentinian prisoner-of-conscience Juan Mendez, who is one of the rocker's oldest friends.
An insider tells WENN, "New friendships and reunions sprouted throughout the room. Springsteen engrossed in conversation with De Niro, Martin Short with Jon Stewart, Meryl Streep with Ben Harper, Jack Black with Florence Henderson, Eddie Vedder with Martin Lewis, Ed Norton with Juan Mendez.
"Then Dave Brubeck celebrated his 89th birthday with his wife and five kids shortly after 2am. A huge birthday cake was presented to the beaming Brubeck - replete with five candles - and the words 'Take Five Dave!' in bright pink frosting.
"The party raged 'til past 5am, with the quartet of Ben Harper and his wife Laura Dern and Eddie Vedder and his partner Jill MCCormick among the last to leave."
The event kickstarted a big week for Amnesty International - the prestigious American Film Institute in Washington, D.C. launches a week-long festival of all-star films co-produced by Lewis for Amnesty. The Secret Policeman's Film Festival begins on Thursday (10Dec09) - International Human Rights Day.