Why is “A Night at Sardi’s” an unforgettable event? Besides the hundreds of famous faces on the red carpet supporting the fundraiser, there were dozens of luminaries there to entertain. They hosted, introduced and performed show-stopping Broadway numbers from “Cabaret,” “Chicago,” and other Kander and Ebb musical classics. It was certainly a show that provided memories that would last a lifetime. But Garry Marshall emphasized the importance of the gala best when he roared in his Bronx-tinged voice, “Tonight is all about helping the Alzheimer’s Association and their efforts to provide care and research for a disease that nobody can forget.”
Garry was one of the evening’s honorees, along with his sisters Ronny (a theater producer) and Penny (who was unable to attend). The lovely Anne Hathaway, star of three Marshall films, presented the Champions Award, this year given to the Marshalls for their involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association Champions campaign as voices for those touched by the disease.
The Marshall family lost their mother, Marjorie, to Alzheimer’s, and Garry and Ronny shared stories about how “Mom’s love of entertainment got us all into show business.” Garry described his mother, a dance teacher in the Bronx, as “the Simon Cowell of Grand Concourse” when giving advice to her students. He said that she didn’t sugarcoat words with her children, either. Garry recalled some of her funniest comments. “She’d say, ‘Garry is celebrating eleven years of being round-shouldered.’ When Penny had an overbite, she’d say, ‘When I want to open a Coke bottle, I do it with Penny’s teeth.’” No wonder the kids grew up with a great sense of humor.
Among the other honorees were Susan Dietz, receiving the Humanitarian Award for her extensive history of supporting the cause. Demi Moore presented the Caregiver Award to her friend, former child star Soleil Moon Frye, who directed a documentary called “Sonny Boy” which followed her father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.
A big dose of Broadway followed, with performances by a talented troupe of Hollywood stars. Seth Rogen hosted with the help of Jason Alexander, Gilles Marini, Chris Pine, the cast of “The Big Bang Theory,” and many more. Eric McCormack opened up with “Willkommen” from Cabaret, and Lea Thompson did a sassy “Don’t Tell Mama.” “American Idol” finalist Allison Iraheta wowed everybody with the torch song “A Quiet Thing.” Others polishing their musical skills were Ken Howard, Sharon Lawrence, Tracie Thoms, Billy Porter and Samantha Harris. Making it a family affair on the stage at the Beverly Hilton, Michael Chiklis sang “Money Money” with his daughter Autumn, and Peter Gallagher belted out “And the World Goes Round” with his daughter Kathryn. Steven Weber brought down the house, singing “Class” from “Chicago” dressed as Sarah Palin. A more touching moment was David Hyde Pierce singing “Your Face,” a tribute to loved ones we’ve lost and will always remember.
Kudos to founders Laurie Burrows Grad and her husband Peter Grad who co-chair the event every year. It is a wonderful tribute to Broadway great Abe Burrows, Laurie’s dad, who battled the disease. And Susan Dietz has produced the event for 18 years, presenting a Broadway-quality revue that sadly is over in one night. The event is one night only, but it is an event that hopes to ensure that memories like this will last.
On April 1st, “Dancing with the Stars” pros Louis Van Amstel and Jonathan Roberts will be on hand at the Mammojam 2010, a dance club benefit at the Rise Club at Hollywood and Highland. It is a fundraiser for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s efforts to end breast cancer, and the event is the brainchild of Lissa Levin Guntzelman, a TV writer-producer (“Mad About You”) and 18-year breast cancer survivor. Dr. Love will be there for the celebration of women of all ages enjoying Van Amstel’s demonstration of his “Louis’ Dance Blast” moves. Students from his Sherman Oaks and Beverly Hills dance classes will also share the dance floor and they’ll be kicking up their heels with all types of music, from disco to salsa. Like the title of Dr. Love’s new book, it’s a chance to “Live A Little.”