A potpourri of exotic, exciting, and entertaining events


Photo by Margie Barron?

Donna Mills with the stars signatures on the Graffiti Gown

Exotic! The animal-loving folks from the Wildlife Learning Center have been bringing exotic creatures from around the world to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Why? So that kids can learn more about nature before they see the awe-inspiring Disney-nature documentary Oceans, playing until May 23. An “edu-tainment” pre-show is presented with furry critters and reptiles, with the wildlife experts emphasizing that exotic animals do not make good pets.

Both kids and adults were fascinated by the strange sea creatures that were featured in Oceans, with the most wonderful underwater photography I have ever seen. Immersed in the up-close visuals of dolphins frolicking, sharks feeding, pods of whales, and seals deep under the Antarctic ice, I kept wondering, “Where is the cameraman?” It’s amazing.

Before Mother’s Day, the Hollywood Museum hosted a gathering of celebrity moms and other stars for a special unveiling of the Graffiti Gown. It is the creation of the Emmy-nominated Jeran design team and has the signatures of more than 350 celebrated ladies. Designer Randy McLaughlin (who co-created it with the late Jerry Skeels) proudly explained “autographs were recreated on the gown in silver and platinum beads, and include Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, Halle Barry, Whoopi Goldberg, all the Desperate Housewives, and even Mother Teresa.”

Donna Mills, the stunning original desperate housewife on Knott’s Landing, told me PR wizard Harlan Boll actually asked her to wear the weighty size-two gown last year at a fund-raiser. The glamorous gown will be auctioned in November with the money to be donated to worthy AIDS charities. Until then, it will be on display at the Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor building on Highland. It was a great location for the event, and the celebrities had fun going through the exhibits of showbiz treasures, and eyeing the gown’s accessories by Michael John Image Jewelry.

On hand were TV moms Florence Henderson (Brady Bunch), Ilene Graff (Mr. Belvedere), Nancy Dussault (Too Close For Comfort) Kim Rhodes (Suite Life of Zach & Cody), plus Dee Wallace (ET’s mom), Stefanie Powers, JoAnne Worley, Rose Marie, Margaret O’Brien, Judy Tenuta, Kate Linder, Alison Arngrim, Romi Dames and Dwayne Hickman (Dobie Gillis). And always the life of the party, Rip Taylor raced over from NoHo’s El Portal Theatre, where he’s been rehearsing his It Ain’t All Confetti show.

Fun-loving actor George Segal not only played his banjo on the ballroom stage at the Beverly Hilton, he also handled the hosting duties for the inspiring Erasing the Stigma Leadership luncheon. It was an event sponsored by the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services to applaud efforts of advocates helping to dispel myths and prejudices about mental illness.

The theme of the event was helping youth, so it was fitting that the Erasing the Stigma Media Award went to Gary Knell, president and CEO of the Sesame Workshop. It was presented by his friend Margaret Loesch, president and CEO of the upcoming Hub kids network. It’s a well deserved honor for Knell who has developed multimedia initiatives to use the power of Sesame Street’s characters to help families deal with stress and address things that may cause children to worry.

Praising the L.A. County Didi Hirsch Mental Health organization for transforming lives, actor-choreographer Russ Tamblyn and Jennifer Renik helped present awards to the other recipients: Alison Malmon, founder of Active Minds; and Ross Szabo, author of Behind Happy Faces.

It’s sure to be one entertaining evening when two extraordinary careers unite. Legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb and celebrated R&B singer Thelma Houston (“Don’t Leave Me This Way”) will perform for the first time in forty years on May 21 at the Grammy Museum Sound Stage at LA Live. Proceeds from the show and VIP reception will support the free concert series this summer at Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park. It is fitting that Webb is the writer of “MacArthur Park,” the famous song inspired by the L.A. park that is site for the Levitt Pavilion concerts. The nonprofit Friends of Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park organization presents 50 concerts every season with a diverse lineup of performers, free to all who attend. That’s a great summer treat.

Yippie! Marty Ingels landed the plumb guest star gig on CSI’s tenth season finale. Titled “Meat Jekyll” (airing May 20), Ingels plays a savvy showbiz agent (not too much of a stretch) in the hot seat because he’s mixed up with one of the victims. The comic-business man says nailing the role didn’t come easy. “I had a flat tire and almost missed the appointment. When I got there, I was so out of breath and decomposed, but the producers thought it was the best reading.” Over the years Marty has had gigs on ER, Murder, She Wrote, and Baywatch, and now he’s ultra-busy with the shooting looming for a new reality show Bananas & Cream, with his sweet wife Shirley Jones. Marty’s the “Bananas,” Shirley’s the “Cream,” to no one’s surprise.

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