Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party Honoring Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander Honored at L.A. Tony Awards Viewing Party With Scott Bakula, Annie Potts, Bryan Cranston, Frances Fisher, Gay Men’s Chorus and More

 

At the June 10 Tony Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles, supporters of The Actors Fund gathered to have its own awards ceremony and watch the New York telecast live from New York on giant screens at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Instead of sitting through commercials, party-goers enjoyed a live show in between the TV segments, culminating in Annie Potts of “Designing Women” presenting Jason Alexander with the Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement. Although best-known as George Constanza on TV’s “Seinfeld,” Alexander has had an impressive theatrical career.

His Broadway credits include “Accomplice,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound,” Kander and Ebb’s “The Rink” and “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” which earned him the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In Los Angeles stage, he starred in “The Producers” opposite Martin Short.

During the cocktail reception, Alexander said he enjoys all forms of acting: stage, screen and television. “But the one that got me into all this, is theater. If I don’t return and put my toe in the water periodically, I feel I’m cheating, “ he said. “Theater is the most challenging and therefore the most rewarding when it works.”

Over dinner, between segments of the Tony Awards telecast, Alexander spoke of his career in film clips, at one point noting his pleasure in singing “Marry Me” to Chita Rivera daily in “The Rink.” So it was a fun surprise in the next break to see the Gay Men’s Chorus singing “Marry Me” to the crowd and then surrounding Alexander to serenade him personally.

Scott Bakula of “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Men of a Certain Age” hosted the Los Angeles evening, which also featured Lorna Luft singing “Happy Birthday” to her mother Judy Garland. Had she lived, Garland would have been 90 that day.

In another segment, despite having to catch a plane that same night to Albuquerque to shoot “Breaking Bad,” Bryan Cranston said he came to speak about Alexander, whom he’d met 18 years ago “on this long forgotten show called ‘Seinfeld.'” Holland Taylor of “Two and a Half Men” and Bryan Batt of “Mad Men,” also took turns at the podium, as did Actors Fund president Joseph Benincasa, who spoke of The Fund, which provides health and social services to professional entertainers.

As a silent auction took place simultaneously in the lobby, Frances Fisher of “Titanic,” Orson Bean, Ruta Lee and comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, spent a segment describing the prizes for sale.

Luke Yankee directed the evening’s show, while David Rambo, writer/producer of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” was the night’s writer and producer. He said he got the listing of the commercial breaks the prior day, after the television show’s rehearsal. At that point, he had to choreograph the show, making sure each live segment fit precisely within each available time slot.

“It’s madness before it happens,” he said. “But then when it starts, it all comes together and it’s great.” 

Rounding out the team, Brad Ellis of TV’s “GLEE,” in his signature all-black attire, was the night’s music director, called by Alexander “the most important man in television who never speaks.”

I’d seen Ellis, along with Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison at another benefit earlier that same week, and I’d met Lea Michele and Cory Monteith at a different fundraiser the previous night. As I’d also met Darren Criss, Dianna Agron, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Iqbal Theba and others at more events, I mentioned the cheerful friendliness of all the “GLEE” cast members,  along with their remarkable willingness to reach out to so many worthwhile causes.

“They’re a great group and the hardest working people in Hollywood,” Ellis said, adding, “They’re incredibly supportive of each other. People have told each one, ‘you’re so important, you should move on,’ but they are happiest working together and sad to be going off in different directions next season.”

Clearly supportive of the group himself, Ellis said he’s fine in the background. “My job is to help make the day go right, and I’m actually proudest if I have to step up because there’s been some change of plans and we have to do something different quickly.” Moreover, Ellis said he likes wearing black.  “I guess I got so used to spending 12-14 hours a day on the set dressed in black, it now suits me.”

Still more guests at the Tony Awards Viewing Party were Loni Anderson, Anne Jeffreys, George Chakiris, Sheldon Epps, Ilene Graff, Barry, Alan Mandel, Charlotte Rae, Michael Lerned, Theo Bikel, Richard Herd, Patrika Darbo, Peter Tilden, Ivan Menchell, Stephen Collins, Alan Mandell, Alley Mills, Patricia Morison, Peter Hunt, Jeffrey Jones, Roxanne Hart, Christine Rose, James Karen, Barbara Van and Keith McNutt, director of The Actors Fund Western Region.

 

Top photo: Jason Alexander, left, received the Julie Harris Lifetime Achievement Award from Annie Potts, center; David Rambo, right, wrote and produced the Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party Honoring Jason Alexander

Second photo: The Gay Men’s Chorus serenaded Jason Alexander with the song, “Marry Me,” at the Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party Honoring Jason Alexander (photo: Scott Appel)

Third photo: Brad Ellis, the piano man of “Glee,” served as music director at the Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party Honoring Jason Alexander

Fourth photo: David Rambo, producer of the night’s show, with Frances Fisher, who spoke about the auction items at the Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party Honoring Jason Alexander


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Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party Honoring Jason Alexander

Published June 11, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA