Malibu Seen

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    STARRY, STARRY NIGHT

    By Kim Devore/Entertainment Writer

    “Do you think Josh Groban will be here?” inquired Barbara Bossi as she took her seat on the grounds of David and Linda Foster’s flower-filled estate. “I saw him here three years ago,” she noted. “He was 19! No one had ever heard of him and look at him now!”

    David Foster was the first to acknowledge the popularity of America’s latest singing sensation, saying, “He’s become so big, even I don’t have his number.”

    The Grammy award-winning record producer kept us in the dark, but over the years, we’ve come to expect a few surprises. Let’s face it, when David and Linda host Pepperdine’s annual “Evening Under the Stars,” you never know who’s going to show up-it could be anyone from Olivia Newton-John to Cher.

    The Fosters’ outdoor tennis court was transformed into an airy stage and dining area for a sold-out crowd of 460. The party had a patriotic theme with star-spangled tables topped by massive arrangements of red roses.

    The program kicked off with a selection of soothing acoustical numbers courtesy of rising star Brandon Jenner. Newcomer Renee Olstead followed with sultry renditions of jazz standards like “Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?” The young songbird is already attracting a flock of fans.

    “She’s absolutely amazing,” marveled Gail Pritchett. ” The fact that a sound like that can come out of a 13-year-old is just incredible to me.”

    Between sets, David gave the largely conservative crowd a little good-natured ribbing. “These Pepperdine folks,” he said, “you know, they look tame, but in half an hour they’ll be naked.”

    While guests like Suzanne Somers enjoyed a dinner of filet and fresh asparagus, bidders went after live auction items, which included a Cadillac Escalade the size of a semi, fab flings to exotic hot spots and a glitzy pair of turquoise and diamond earrings.

    The event netted a record $160,000 for the university’s ARTSReach Program, which benefits thousands of Los Angeles-area school children.

    And yes, before the evening was over, Josh Groban returned to the makeshift stage where his career began and delighted the crowd with a medley of favorites. He has come a long way in a few short years, and it seems that Jenner and Olstead won’t be far behind.

    MONKEYING AROUND

    They heard the call of the wild and got to mingle with some real party animals at the Los Angeles Zoo at this year’s Beastly Ball. Instead of cocktail attire, guests came clad in safari-themed creations like khakis and jungle prints.

    While zookeepers kept the critters happy at mealtime, the hungry human hordes tucked into everything from barbecued chicken skewers to sweet corn tamales from 18 L.A. area eateries.

    They shopped the silent auction to a chorus of tweets, chirps and growls. Up for grabs? Items you won’t find at an average fundraiser. They included the chance to name a giraffe or, for the truly brave, bathe an elephant.

    The event raised more than $600,000 dollars to help keep the wild kingdom roaring along for years to come.