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Elton John World News: Big Acts Expected at Clinton Benefit

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Tuesday 25 July 2006 @ 18:00 - GMT

Billy Crystal will provide the jokes. James Taylor and Sarah McLachlan, among others, will provide the music. And Canada's financial community will provide the venue -- and the bulk of the cash.

So stated the July 25, 2006 Globe And Mail, in its report that a lavish 60th birthday party in Toronto is planned for former U.S. president Bill Clinton. This star-studded gala is expected to raise $2.5-million for his foundation's fight against AIDS in Africa.

More than 500 guests will gather at the Royal York Hotel on September 9 to mingle with celebrities and, if they're one of the elite few who have nabbed an expensive seat, to attend a special "meet and greet" with Mr. Clinton.

"The invitation list is lots of Bay Street and lots of cultural people," said Shelley Ambrose, an independent consultant who is helping to set up the party. "It's kind of like the who's who, and given the level of the table price, we kind of drew it from all walks of life."

Only a few hundred people, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will receive invitations in the mail this week. And even those who can afford a seat aren't guaranteed admittance.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are rumoured to be mulling an appearance. Organisers are also trying to lure Elton into the fold, said one person familiar with the matter.

The event is the brainchild of Frank Giustra, a wealthy Vancouver mining financier who has become a close friend of the former president and is on the board of his charitable group, the Clinton Foundation.

Last year, the former film industry executive was the host for a private party that raised more than $1.7-million for tsunami victims, and featured Robin Williams, Wayne Gretzky and Rod Stewart among its paying guests. Mr. Clinton couldn't be there, but he did send a videotaped message.

This time, Mr. Giustra has lined up the financial support of several key players in Corporate Canada.  These include the brokerage firm Canaccord Capital Inc.

Mr. Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, is a co-chair of the event, and is expected to make a speech offering a tribute to him. His wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is campaigning, and has not confirmed whether she will make the trip to Toronto.

There is a second birthday party, however, planned for New York the following week. Technically, both of these events will be a little late: His birthday is on August 19.

Mr. Clinton created his foundation after he left office in 2001.

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