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Party Pooped Already? Pt. 2: Crisis at Purple Ball

Gossett in L.A. last month. (Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

One of the few inaugural galas with a solid celebrity lineup -- for so many parties, the stars are still TBD -- suffered a leadership crisis today when Lou Gossett Jr. announced he was severing ties with the Purple Ball.

The Oscar winner was one of the first Hollywood types out the gate to announce a splashy inaugural ball, on Jan. 20 at the Fairmont Hotel -- guests to include Ashley Judd, John Cusack, Angela Bassett, Ed Harris, tickets ranging from $300 to $5,000.

But on Friday Gossett issued a statement saying that neither he nor his Eracism Foundation would have anything more to do with it, saying he and the organizers were at odds. "There is a notable lack of diversity both on the host committee and the entertainment, which does not reflect either the mission of the Eracism Foundation or President-elect Obama's vision for America."

By mid-afternoon, a rep for party organizer Asal Masomi was insisting that Gossett back on board. "All disagreements ..... are bygone," said Ilene Proctor. Really? A rep for Gossett, Colette Philipps, remained coy, saying both sides were back in discussions but that Gossett will release a statement Monday.

So we'll see! Tickets were said to have sold out a while ago, but Proctor said yesterday that demand inspired a move to a larger ballroom, so it's still possible to get in. She also said that actors Terrence Howard and Djimon Hounsou have now confirmed they will attend... so there's some more diversity for you.

By The Reliable Source  |  January 9, 2009; 5:08 PM ET
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Next: Obama Visits Ben's Chili Bowl


Maybe he can get Blago to appoint him to something. Sour grapes and whining. What a bunch of nonsense.

Posted by: NotBubba | January 11, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I have been a fan of Louis Gossett, Jr. for many years, so when I decided on attending an inaugural ball to celebrate this historic election of Barack Obama, I looked to the Purple Ball and its chosen beneficiary for the event, the Eracism Foundation, founded by Mr. Gossett. As a white woman in a relationship with a black man, I live diversity everyday and I embraced the mission of the foundation as something I wanted to support. I joined the mailing list and looked forward to supporting the foundation beyond the purchase of my ticket for the Purple Ball.
So it is with great disappointment that I have read the press over the last few days and the decision of Mr. Gossett to withdraw his support of the event. I have little concern for the behind the scenes drama or egos involved in this last minute withdrawal. I believe that Mr. Gossett's decision to serve as co-chair created a responsibility on his part, along with Asal Masomi, to assure diversity for the event. From the outside, I assume there are other issues, which have little to do with the diversity, or lack thereof.
What does concern me, is in my opinion, the failure of Mr. Gossett to use this event as an opportunity to further the stated mission on the Eracism Foundation. It would have shown true commitment to the mission, as well as leadership, to address the diversity issue at this very time. I am reminded of the historic speech on race made by our president-elect in Philadelphia last year, and feel that this too could have been an opportunity to unite instead of divide. I ask Mr. Gossett to reconsider his decision to withdraw his support from the Purple Ball and see this for the true opportunity it is - an opportunity to live the mission of his foundation.
Should Mr. Gossett still decide against supporting this event, then I suggest Ms. Masomi find a new beneficary organization. Possibly Colin Powell's America's Promise, would be a choice that those of us attending the Purple Ball would appreciate supporting.

Posted by: livingdiversity | January 13, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I share the previous writer's disappointment with Mr. Gossett's last minute withdrawl of support from the Purple Ball. As a high school teacher of Ethnic Studies and History at a high school in Southern California I was excited to attend an Inaugural Ball where I would be donating to a very worthwhile organization the Eracism Foundation. As a high school teacher I am aware of the Organization's work. I was surprised this evening as I visited the website for the Purple Ball that Mr. Gossetts picture was no longer up on the Purple Ball website and was no longer associated with the Purple Ball.

Posted by: JoseMed2 | January 16, 2009 3:48 AM | Report abuse

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