GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Amber Riley Headline a GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala 

Honors Go To Sumner Redstone, Dana Walden, Roshon Fegan and Kim Vamos


At the “Big Bash,” aka the “2012 Rising Stars Gala,” benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, Lea Michele laughed, as she called her last song with Darren Criss “a shameless audition.” As the night’s featured performers, Amber Riley sang “Hero,” followed by Michele and Criss at the piano for a haunting rendition of “Make You Feel My Love.”

(See the 2-page gallery below for 30 photos of the GLEE stars, honorees and other VIPs at the Gala.)

Criss and Michele’s “audition” song, “Falling Slowly” came from the Tony Award-winner, “Once,” which Michele called one of their favorite Broadway shows. Regarding the audition, she said, “We always sing these songs at these events in hopes that (’Glee’ creator) Ryan Murphy will hear them and then put them on ‘Glee.’”  

Criss, Michele and Amber Riley of FOX TV’s “Glee” were there to serenade guests in honor of the the night’s award recipients: Dana Walden, chairman of Twentieth Century Fox Television; Sumner Redstone, Executive Chairman of Viacom and CBS Corporation; Roshon Fegan of Disney’s “Shake It Up” and Season 14’s “Dancing With the Stars;” and Kim Vamos, former BBBSLA Guild president.

Allie Mac Kay of KTLA hosted the Oct. 26 gala, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, praising the performers and their show, for its “positive impact on the lives of many young people,” saying “Every week ‘Glee’ works to send a message that it’s OK to be a little different.”

On this night, the performers also sent clear messages of appreciation to Walden, the night’s recipient of the Sherry Lansing Award, named for the legendary studio executive, (coincidentally there to present another award.) With Jordan Siegel at the piano, Riley dedicated her song about heroes to Walden. From onstage, Michele told Walden, “We love you so, so, so much… Just knowing you is a pleasure.”

Criss added his “two cents,” by responding to Walden’s gratitude for their performance. “You’re such a lovely person I’d play a million songs for you.”

And although perhaps a million songs might seem excessive, I’m certain the audience, including myself, would have happily stuck around to hear more from these three incredible talents. The women looked stunning, I might add, with Riley in a jeweled champagne-colored gown and Michele in a one-shouldered sequined Michael Kors number.

There was no lack of praise for the other honorees either. Mac Kay called Vamos, winner of the Trailblazer Award, an “amazing woman.”

During his turn at the podium, Roy Fegan – an actor himself – called his son Roshon, “a rising star… shooting into orbit.” Returning the compliment, the young actor said, “Every Ninja needs a Sensei,” before accepting the organization’s Rising Star Award.

Sherry Lansing introduced Redstone, named Walt Disney Man of the Year. Recalling Redstone’s taking over Paramount Studios during her years as chairman, she said Redstone had been her mentor. She then related an anecdote about the movie, “Congo,” which previewed to disastrous reviews, resulting in Redstone’s memorable line, which she said changed her life.

“Success is not built on success,” Lansing said, repeating Redstone’s words back then. “Success is built on failure. It’s often built on catastrophe, but you pick yourself up and you learn from it and you go on.” In the case of “Congo,” Lansing said she had the film completely re-edited and ended her tale by saying, “The story, as you know, is history. On the Friday that the movie opened, it broke records.”

And with regard to changing lives, an estimated $700,000 was raised to help match youngsters, including many facing adversity, with qualified adult mentors who can help them improve in school, attain higher self-esteem and achieve their aspirations. 

The accomplished crowd also included Jennifer Salke, NBC’s president of entertainment, to introduce Walden; Julie Chen of “The Talk,” Mark Harmon of “NCIS,” Fred Willard of “Anchorman” with his wife, Guild president Mary Willard; Nancy Wilson of “Heart;” JoAnne Worley of “Laugh In,” Paramount CEO Brad Grey and producers Robert Evans, Leonard Goldberg, and Arnold Kopelman.

Sandra Bilson and Sarah Purcell served as gala-chairs with Vamos and Pam Dawber as production co-chairs. Honorary gala chairs were Lansing, Philippe Dauman, Leslie Moonves and Gary Newman. 


Top photo: Darren Criss and Lea Michele “auditioning” their song “Falling Slowly” from the Broadway show, “Once,” at the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

“I have no idea what we’re thinking,” Michele said, before her first song with Criss, “Singing after Amber Riley?  This is a big mistake.” 

Second photo: With Jordan Siegel at the pinao, Amber Riley sang a dynamic version of “Hero,” which she dedicated to honoree Dana Walden at the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Third photo: Legendary studio executive Sherry Lansing introduced Sumner Redstone, given the Walt Disney Man of the Year Award at the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Fourth photo: Jennifer Salke, left, NBC’s president of entertainment, presented the Sherry Lansing Award to Dana Walden, chairman of Twentieth Century Fox at the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Fifth photo: Roshon Fegan, left, of “Shake It Up!” receives the Rising Star Award, presented by his father, actor Roy Fegan at the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Sixth photo: Kim Vamos, left, recipient of the Trailblazer Award, presented by Pam Dawber, of “Mork & Mindy” fame, at the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Seventh photo: Allie Mac Kay of KTLA hosted the GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

All photos, this page, by Vince Bucci for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles


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GLEE-ful Big Brothers Big Sisters LA Gala

Published Oct. 27, 2012 – Ellen Olivier Society News LA