Around Town: Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, Mario Batali, and More Fight Hunger at the Can-Do Awards Dinner

Mariska Hargitay

Where would you find rich and famous people dressed in designer clothing, traipsing up and down five flights of stairs to chat with art students in their paint-spattered studios? At the New York Academy of Art’s Tribeca Ball, which takes place in the school. 

The early part of the evening consists of open studios where students are exposed to the kind of donors who actually buy art. Not a bad idea.

Some of the guests have eclectic collections. Naomi Watts, in flowing Chanel, said she and her man Liev Schreiber both have a bit of the pack rat in them and they’re running out of space. Sanaa Lathan collects shoes. “All I can say is I need to build more space in my closet,” she said.

Leelee Sobieski, svelte in black Gareth Pugh, is the mother of a 14-month-old. “Right now, I collect pacifiers. Lots of them,” she said.

Sobieski’s hubby, Adam Kimmel, wasn’t the only fashion face at the ball. Cynthia Rowley, Kate and Andy Spade, Nicole Miller, Glenda Bailey, Linda Fargo, and M.A.C.’s John Demsey were all on hand. Rachel Roy admitted she can’t afford to collect art just yet.

“I hope to get to the point where I do collect art, but at the moment I do collect shells,” she said. “I collect seashells from wherever I go, and it only counts if I find them myself.”

W’s Stefano Tonchi talked about his recent cameo on Gossip Girl. Scenes were shot in the magazine’s offices, and the cast and crew totaled 100 people.

“We had to provide 100 passes into the building, and it’s a very high-security building, actually,” he said. So with all those people around, did anything go missing from the fashion closet? 

“I don’t think so,” Tonchi laughed. “They have enough of their own clothes, judging from the show.”

After checking out the artwork spread among five floors sprinkled with strategically placed bars, it was back to the academy’s ground floor for dinner and dancing.

On Thursday, famous folks trod the orange carpet at the Can-Do Awards gala, a benefit for the Food Bank For New York City. Al Roker hosted the evening, and his Today show colleague Hoda Kotb, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Stipe, and Chris Meloni all attended to help fight hunger.

Foodies Gail Simmons, Rachael Ray, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, and David Burke came out, and Mario Batali enlisted a bunch of his celebrity pals for the gala.

Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, and Josh Charles all told us they were Batali’s buds (not a bad circle of friends). But talk about loyalty! Mariska Hargitay, literally days after bringing home a newly adopted daughter, showed up unannounced, to the amazement of all. She snuck up on her pal Batali on the carpet for a hug and a photo, and even stayed a little while for cocktails, just to help support the cause.

In his opening remarks, Stewart explained how he got invited to the gala. 

“When Mario first asked me, he said, ‘Would you come to dinner with me?’ And I thought, Oh gosh, we’re going to go Babbo or Otto or one of those restaurants that he names after noises babies make. So I said, ‘Wonderful, where do you want to go?’ And he said, ‘Chelsea Piers.’  And I said, ‘Uh, sure. That sounds awesome.’ Because he told me about this incredible organization, and I just want to say to Mario that this is the nicest seder I’ve ever been to. It’s truly wonderful. Is it Passover? Am I wrong? Am I close? I’m Reform; for Passover it’s a bacon, egg, and cheese Croissan’Wich.” 

Stewart went on and had us howling as he skewered everything from Libya to the Pope to education to gay marriage to the banking system.

Photo: Mariska Hargitay at the Can-Do Awards Dinner