Galas, Soirees and events around Hollywood

Gala for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles bring out studio titans

 The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles had their “Big Bash” Gala with the spotlight on Roy P. Disney, who continues his family’s wonderful legacy. It was Roy’s great uncle Walt Disney, and Meredith Wilson, who founded Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles in 1955 to match fatherless boys to good role models.

 Roy P. Disney (chairman, CEO and founder of The Apogee Companies) now serves on the board of BBBSLA, and received the Walt Disney Man of the Year honor from by Bob Iger, who is now at the helm of the Walt Disney Company. Plus Paramount Pictures’ Megan Colligan, got The Sherry Lansing Award from former Paramount chief Sherry Lansing and vice chairman of Paramount Pictures Rob Moore, and they kidded about acknowledging great mentors while Bad Grandpa was topping the weekend boxoffice for the studio.

 Yes, the Beverly Hilton was packed with the industry’s movers and shakers, but also shapers of young lives, which is the goal of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater LA. The awards recognize individuals who are positive role models. Some of the dedicated people behind it are BBBSLA’s Mary Willard and Tiffany Siart, plus Cynthia Bengtson-Budzyn, who was honored with the Trailblazer Award for her philanthropic achievements. Also enjoying the event were Pam Dawber and Sarah Purcell (who co-chaired with Sandy Bilson), plus JoAnne Worley, Markie Post, Leonard Maltin, composer Richard Sherman, Rick Baker, Fred Willard, Robert Ri’chard, and singer Jensen McRae.

 OMG Insider’s super-likable co-host Kevin Frazier was the emcee. He praised the program that brings inspiring mentors together with at risk youths, but joked about the Big Brothers and Big Sisters not being around for “that girl Lindsay (Lohan) and that guy Justin (Bieber).”

 The evening featured a performance by Jodi Benson, who sang songs from her signature role as Ariel in the Disney’s musical blockbuster The Little Mermaid. Jodi told the crowd that she was proud to have been a “Big Sister” and mentored a “Little” when she was in high school. She says, “It was an amazing experience. The memories last a lifetime.”

The Friendly House has Sumner Redstone’s support

 It was impressive to see Viacom media mogul Sumner Redstone, one of the industry’s most powerful magnates, show his support for the Friendly House which helps women recover from substance and alcohol abuse. Redstone made a brief appearance at the beginning of the 24th annual awards luncheon and fundraiser for Friendly House, serving as honorary co-chair with Viola Davis.

  A driving force for Friendly House, executive director Peggy Albrecht said, “It was huge to have Sumner here. I can’t thank him enough.” Actually there were more people to thank, with the Humanitarian Award going to Winn Claybaugh, author (“Be Nice–Or Else!”) and Paul Mitchell Schools founder; the Excellence in Service Award to Earl Hightower (head of Hightower Intervention Services); and philanthropist Sydney Holland (CEO of Rich Hippie Production) named Woman of the Year. Martin Sheen also supported the event, and recited an inspiring poem to the many recovering addicts in the audience who appreciate the efforts of the Friendly House. Kudos to all.

 Toluca Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

 A beautiful evening  was set up like a royal garden party, with champagne and music on the back lawn of the Lakeside Golf Club. And that was just the beginning of a perfect night that featured opera, dinner and dancing, plus, best of all, the company of truly good people. The event was generously sponsored by Ramsey Shilling and Associates to support the Toluca Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

 The proceeds from the Toluca Guild’s soiree benefitted the CHLA, and the evening featured a light opera performance presented by tenor Maximo Marcuso and mezzo soprano Mara Baygalova, with accompanist Marty Rosen. Mara strolled the room when she did Carmen. Maximo proceeded to steal hearts when he launched into several favorites including “Be My Love.” He ended with the classic “Nessun Dorma” which showcased his powerful voice. But the highlight was when the oh-so handsome singer came over to the opera-loving 99-years-young Grace Patz and kissed her hand. Atta-girl!

 There were many to thank for such a delightful event, but especially the Doug McDonald Trio who started playing on Lakeside’s back lawn, and at the end took the ballroom stage so guests could dance the night away. #


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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