Ellen Degeneres, Randy Jackson to host gala for Brad Pitt's rebuilding charity in New Orleans

Ellen Degeneres, Randy Jackson to host gala for Brad Pitt's rebuilding charity in New Orleans
Actress Ellen DeGeneres speaks at the "A Decade of Difference" concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. The concert is part of “Decade of Difference” weekend, which celebrates 10 years of the William J. Clinton Foundation. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
by: Associated Press

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NEW ORLEANS -- Talk show host Ellen Degeneres and "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson are hosting a star-studded gala in New Orleans to benefit Brad Pitt's Make It Right home rebuilding effort.

Pitt will attend the $1,000-per-person gala on March 10 called "A Night to Make It Right," which will include performances by singers Sheryl Crow, Rihanna, Seal, members of the Neville family and Dr. John, said foundation spokeswoman Taylor Royle.

Pitt launched Make It Right in 2007 to help Lower 9th Ward residents who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Lower 9th Ward was one of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods when Katrina caused levees to fail, inundating roughly 80 per cent of the city with floodwater.

Pitt worked with architects to come up with designs for stronger, safer and more energy-efficient houses than the ones residents lost. So far 75 homes have been built, six more are under construction and construction is set to begin on roughly eight others in coming months.

"Our goal is 150 houses, and this fundraiser is going to help us reach that goal," said Royle, noting that all proceeds will benefit Make It Right.

Royle said it has taken more time and money than the foundation originally thought to build 150 homes. Getting in touch with families, making decisions about their homes, getting finances in order and clearing paperwork takes months, she said.

"It's been a long road to get these families home," Royle said. "But we're happy with our progress, and we're looking forward to celebrating the progress we've made."

Royle said a video of Make It Right's work over the past four years will be presented at the gala. A four-course dinner organized by chef John Besh will include courses by chefs Emeril Lagasse and Giada de Laurentiis.

Degeneres, a New Orleans native, has already donated more than $2 million to Make It Right.

"She's been one of our biggest supporters," Royle said.

Jackson, a Baton Rouge native, was quick to offer his participation in the event, Royle said.

Other celebrities serving on the event's host committee who may also be attending include actors Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey and director Spike Lee.

The gala will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans. Comedian Aziz Ansari will host an after party. Tickets for that event start at $150.



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