LARRY HACKETT
February 13, 2006 12:00 PM

They came, they saw, they mingled—and some of them stayed really late. House star Hugh Laurie held court in a booth flanked by seven women of various ages. Lost’s Jorge Garcia chowed down at the bar with his girlfriend. CSI‘ s Marg Helgenberger took to the dance floor, as did Britney Spears, escorted by her bodyguards. Over on a couch, the Grey’s Anatomy cast joked, toasted and took pictures, while George Clooney, Teri Hatcher, Tori Spelling, Morgan Freeman and Nick Lachey drifted by in search of friends, champagne or latte at the coffee bar.

The occasion was the official Screen Actors Guild Awards Gala on Jan. 29, cohosted (for the 10th consecutive year) by PEOPLE and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a major Hollywood charity. Noted party planner Stanlee Gatti somehow transformed a 12,400-sq.-ft. tent set up behind L.A.’s Shrine Exposition Center into an elegant homage to classic Hollywood.

Most important, the gala helped a good cause: PEOPLE and EIF jointly donated $100,000 this year to the SAG Foundation, which aids actors in need. The party is EIF’s way of saying thanks to stars who pitch in with the group’s charities and PEOPLE’s way of saying thanks to an industry we cover every week.

LARRY HACKETT, MANAGING EDITOR

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