The legacy of the iconic visionary Walt Disney and music giant Meredith Willson (The Music Man) isn’t limited to the entertainment business. Their reach was extended to elevating generations of at-risk kids when Disney and Willson founded the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (BBBSLA) in 1955. They supported the multitudes of volunteer mentors, “the Bigs” who are everyday heroes from all walks of life. These mentors embraced the BBBSLA mission to be “Defenders of Potential” and helped “the Littles” achieve greatness.
“I’m proud to be part of that legacy,” said groundbreaking former Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing, whose longtime support of BBBSLA, currently as a Trustee, has produced an award named after her. At the Big Bash Gala held October 19 at the Beverly Hilton, Stephen Galloway, executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter presented the Sherry Lansing Award to Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner. Known as “the Shark with a Heart” and “the Queen of QVC,” Greiner is proud to be an investor, inventor and philanthropist who helps turn people’s dreams into a reality, “and that’s what the Big Brothers and Sisters do; it is humbling,” she said praising the organization. “The Bigs and the Littles are my heroes.”
Laura Lizer, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles, introduced all of the honorees and noted that the awards recognize “individuals who are inspiring and positive role models to our youth.” Joining Greiner was Chris Silbermann, founding partner of ICM Partners, who was presented with the Walt Disney Man of the Year Award. Lorrie Bartlett, ICM Partners partner and talent co-head, presented the award along with five current BBBS mentors from ICM Partners. It was revealed that Silbermann had broken a record by raising more money for the Big Bash than any other honoree in the history of the gala. It’s not surprising for Chris, who is the Chairman of the Board of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which presents the awesome annual Stand Up To Cancer national telethon.
Receiving the Golden Legacy Award from KCBS/KCAL9’s Pat Harvey, was the LAPD Police Commission President Steve Soboroff and his Little Brother Terry A. Williams. Soboroff and Williams were celebrating the 50th anniversary since they were matched as Big Brother and Little Brother, one of the first interracial matches in 1968. They have remained part of each other’s family for half a century.
Soboroff talked about the power of mentorship that has been encouraged in the LAPD with its Bigs in Blue Program. Steve said, “It’s a partnership that has positively impacted the relationships between the police and the communities of color. And 96 percent of the youth who have a Big Brother or Big Sister are graduating from high school, and 94 percent of them are going on to pursue higher education, and not getting on a freeway to jail. Big Brothers is probably the most effective off ramp for that dead end freeway. I want people to walk away tonight talking about how many kids they’ve saved.” Kudos, Soboroff, what a guy!
Comedian Tommy Davidson presented the Trailblazer Award to Marvel’s Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan, who was out of town due to his upcoming Creed II sequel release (Wed., Nov. 21), but accepted via video. It was noted that for the release of Creed, Jordan created an Omaze campaign benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters and visited BBBSLA to meet the Littles.
The Big Bash Gala was emceed by comic Orny Adams, with Larry Zucker handing the auctioneer duties. Among the VIPs attending were 20th Century Fox CEO Dana Walden, DreamWorks Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Tony Vinciquerra, director Jack Friedkin and BBBSLA President and CEO Olivia Diaz-Lapham. Highlights included an exciting performance by the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, launching the night with gusto which epitomized the BBBSLA motto that “Potential is everywhere.”
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years and was proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.