Night at Sardi’s Honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine
An impressive array of talent belted out Broadway tunes at “A Night at Sardi’s,” which honored Brian Grazer, chairman of Imagine Entertainment, and British actress Jill Gascoine, raising more than $1.1 million for the Alzheimer’s Association.
More than a few of the night’s performers were no strangers to the musical stage. They included Jason Alexander, who – although best-known for his role in “Seinfeld” – is a Tony Award-winner; Colin Donnell of “Arrow,” Barrett Foa of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” Leslie Odom, Jr. of “Smash,” Broadway veteran Linda Hart, two-time Tony Award-winner Christine Ebersole, Tony-nominated Norm Lewis and Star Search Grand Champion Nita Whitaker. And while best-known for her role in “Shameless,” Emmy Rossum starred as Christine, the opera singer, in the film, “Phantom of the Opera.”
Performing were Beth Behrs of “Two Broke Girls,” Sharon Lawrence of “NYPD Blue,” Zachary Levi of “Chuck,” Rob Morrow of “Numb3rs,” Steven Weber of “Wings,” and the entire cast of “The Big Bang Theory.” In the latter group were Mayim Bialik, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons and Melissa Rauch.
During the cocktail hour, host Jason Bateman freely admitted he wasn’t among the stars with hidden musical talent. “I don’t even sing in the shower,” he said.
Nevertheless, the star of “Identity Thief” made a charming host, as he welcomed the crowd, thick with behind-the-scenes stars of the entertainment industry, among them Bob Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company; Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group; Adam Fogelson, chair Universal Pictures; Donna Langley, Universal Pictures co-chair, and many more.
(Check this page and the photo gallery below for pictures of the honorees, presenters, performers and guests.)
To present Grazer with the Abe Burrows Entertainment Award, Ron Howard did the honors. The Academy Award-winning director said he’d describe his friend and business partner from the outside in, beginning with Grazer’s walk.
“It’s loose, man,” Howard said, going on to call the “urban walkabouts” as a “giant improv – you never know which way he’s going to pivot next.”
He continued through facial expressions to comments on “the switch” inside Grazer’s brain. “If something interests Brian even a little bit, those circuits explode with curiosity and energy and creativity,” Howard said. “I’m frankly always surprised that he ever needed gel to get his hair to stand up.”
In accepting his award, Grazer expressed gratitude to his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, for encouraging and validating his curiosity, which led to his asking “What if?” the premise that eventually led to his asking “What if I met a mermaid,” which became the hit movie, “Splash.”
That premise, he said, also led to his support of the Mar. 20 event. “I just thought, when Peter and Laurie (Grad) called me,: ‘What if we could be part of the solution to this disease?'”
* Jason Alexander opened with an original song and dance number: “Good Evening, Beverly Hills,” sung to the tune of “Good Morning, Baltimore” from “Hairspray.”
* Recalling the ’60s, as a flower child, complete with a flowing gown and daisy decorating her wavy hair, Beth Behrs sang “Frank Mills” from the musical “Hair.”
* Zachary Levi performed the Frank Sinatra standard, “Lady is a Tramp” from “Pal Joey,” featuring Keltie Colleen as lead dancer.
* Emmy Rossum delivered a super-upbeat “Keep Young and Beautiful,” a song originally performed by Eddie Cantor in the 1933 film, “Roman Scandals”
* Explaining that he had been hired as the behind-the-scenes voice of Frankie Valli in the La Jolla production “Jersey Boys,” Leslie Odom, Jr., this time executed three of the show’s numbers from out onstage: “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Cry For Me” and “Walk Like a Man.”
* Christine Ebersole next belted out “42nd Street” from the show of the same name.
* Colin Donnell reprised his critically-acclaimed role in the recent revival of “Anything Goes” with Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You”
* In white shirt, narrow tie and “Elder Price” name badge, Barrett Foa delivered the earnestly hilarious “I Believe” from “Book of Mormon,” backed by the choir, Mormon prayerbooks in hand.
* For “You’ve Gotta Get a Gimmick” from “Gypsy,” Linda Hart “bumped it with a trumpet,” Sharon Lawrence “electrified it” and Steven Weber did it “with finesse,” or at least as much finesse as a man in drag can muster.
* Norm Lewis and Nita Whitaker executed a heartfelt duet of “Wheels of a Dream” from “Ragtime.”
* The cast of “The Big Bang Theory” ended the show with “Time Warp” from the “Rock Horror Picture Show,” and before the audience departed the ballroom, more of the night’s performers joined them onstage for the finale.
As a side note, I had the good fortune to be seated with Jeanne Phillips and her husband, Walt Harris. Phillips is better-known as Abigail Van Buren, author of “Dear Abby,” a byline her mother began sharing with her after having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is that Phillips said more people than ever send her letters, which is not so surprising as her advice column is now syndicated in a whopping 1,400 newspapers in the U.S. alone.
Also on the program, Ken Howard, Millicent Martin and Maria Carillo, who gave the audience an update on the progress of finding a cure for the disease.
Also in the show: dancers Craig Lucas, Leslie Stevens, Yvette Tucker, Matthew Vargo, Salvatore Vassato and Carly Wielstein; and back-up singers Robin De Lano, Ariana Savates, Caroline Stainsby and Nicolette Robinson Odom.
Top photo: From left, Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association; event co-chair Laurie Burrows Grad and Brian Grazer, recipient of the Abe Burrows Entertainment Award at A Night At Sardi’s honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
Second photo: The cast of “The Big Bang Theory,” from left, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch, Simon Helberg and Kaley Cuoco dressed up for the “Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at A Night At Sardi’s honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
Third photo: From left, Millicent Martin presents the Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award to Jill Gascoine, with husband Alfred Molina by her side at A Night At Sardi’s honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
Fourth photo: Emmy Rossum of “Shameless” shows off her singing skills in an Eddie Cantor tune dating back to the 1930s at A Night At Sardi’s Honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
Fifth photo: From left, Linda Hart, Steven Weber and Sharon Lawrence showing off their get-ups for their “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” number from “Gypsy” at A Night At Sardi’s Honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
Sixth photo: As Keltie Colleen dances, Zachary Levi sings “Lady is a Tramp” at A Night At Sardi’s honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
Seventh photo: Beth Behrs sings a number from “Hair” at A Night At Sardi’s honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine (Photo by Jordan Strauss/ Invision for Alzheimer’s Association/ AP Images)
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A Night at Sardi’s Honoring Brian Grazer and Jill Gascoine
Published Mar. 21, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA