Ted Turner, Rufus Wainwright, Erin Brockovich, and a stray F bomb

Notes from the annual Captain Planet Foundation Gala

Even though pollution functions like Kryptonite for Captain Planet, Atlanta’s dastardly rush-hour exhaust did not stop him from glad-handing eco-celebrities on the green—not red—carpet at his Friday gala at the Georgia Aquarium.

The superhero starred in a cartoon series developed by Ted Turner in the early 1990s to promote environmental awareness and now serves as mascot for the Captain Planet Foundation, which promotes hands-on gardens and other conservation-oriented projects for children in Georgia and throughout the world—one million kids and counting, in fact.

More than 700 guests, not counting the marine creatures who occasionally glanced up from their plankton in the surrounding tanks, attended the annual event, with its silent auction fund-raiser, a hearty meal of bison from Ted Turner’s herd, and an awards ceremony.

It proved a quintessentially Atlanta-centric night, with the outsize presence of Turner and his daughter, Captain Planet Foundation chair Laura Turner Seydel; news personality Monica Pearson, the emcee who serenaded guests with “Hey, Big Spender,” ending it with a provocative shimmy; and the gown made of recycled Coca-Cola cans rocked to great effect by presenter Cara Isdell Lee. The folk-rock group von Grey–four sisters from Johns Creek–provided early entertainment, capped off later in the evening by Rufus Wainwright, who moved the crowd with his cover of “Hallelujah.”

The highlight of this gathering fraught with so many good intentions, though, came from Erin Brockovich, who was explaining her current project, tracking “cancer clusters” around pollution sites, when her PowerPoint projector hit a glitch. She dropped the F-bomb, loudly, into the microphone, eliciting a mix of shocked gasps, laughter, and, from a table in the back, applause. Julia Roberts could not have recovered better.

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