Home for the Holidays and Celebrating Christmas

From l, Rob Gonzalez and Kevin Richardson.

Nothing says “Home for the Holidays” like a brassy Vegas-style band blasting classic holiday tunes! That was the essence of the Home for the Holidays Concert to Benefit the Angeles Clinic Foundation. The audience got a warm fuzzy feeling, especially when hearing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sung ultra-cool by Kevin Richardson (of Backstreet Boys fame) along with Skyler Stonestreet. They got together for the duet on a special musical night at the grand Montage Beverly Hills. It was a show that had a retro flavor to it, with a sense of the old Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra ring-a-ding-ding days. You know, when just pure talent grabs the spotlight on an intimate stage and entertains the heck out of the cocktail crowd. That’s what it was like with the Backstreet Boys’ Richardson and Rob Gonzalez as the headlining performers for the concert.

With a voice as smooth as Dino’s and piano-playing skills nonpareil, Gonzalez was the force behind putting the show together, and said, “We intend to make this an annual event.” Best known for his trademark concerts that partner with worthy charities, Rob is a great recording artist, songwriter, and performer who founded Music Equals Love, Inc., a company he said is “dedicated to reinventing the music industry by making the music about giving back rather than excess.” That’s a great idea.

Looking sharp in his tux, Richardson channeled Sinatra’s classy style. Kevin explained that long before becoming a member of the platinum-selling group the Backstreet Boys, he’d listen to Sinatra and Dean Martin records with his dad, who died of cancer. “So tonight’s performance is dedicated to his memory; that’s why I’m supporting the Angeles Clinic Foundation.” The non-profit is one of the leading cancer treatment centers in the world.

Adding to the celebration were guest performers Gina Gonzalez, of the “Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band,” and Skyler Stonestreet rocking all the Christmas songs. Plus there was dancing from acclaimed film choreographer Tara Nicole Hughes (Chicago, Burlesque, Nine), with a bevy of gorgeous Santa’s helpers.

Rocking the Red Kettle

Margie Barron and Mario Lopez.

Another great holiday concert helping a worthy cause was Rock the Red Kettle at Universal CityWalk last weekend, supporting the Salvation Army. “It’s always exciting here at CityWalk, but it’s especially tonight with great performances. Even though the weather is not cooperating, we’re here raising a lot of money for underprivileged kids, families, and everyone in need,” Extra’s Mario Lopez told me as a little sprinkle hit during the festivities. At CityWalk’s “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue, hundreds were on hand, and millions watched via the Cambio live stream online, where viewers clicked to donate in support of the great cause.

“I think it’s important to give back whenever you have the opportunity and the Salvation Army has been doing their Red Kettle campaign for 120 years, and helping people in need even longer. That’s amazing. It’s a great turn out and I’m honored to be part of this,” said Lopez who hosted the event. It featured some of the hottest young stars in showbiz. First up was Honor Society, then Greyson Chance, and later Hanson. Little girls were going wild for Cody Simpson singing “On My Mind,” there were screams for Drake Bell sporting a wild plaid suit, and sweet Rebecca Black introduced Colbie Caillat, gushing praise for the “Brighter Than the Sun” songbird. All joined forces to entertain and help spread the word about the wonderful work done by the Salvation Army. Major George Hood was there proudly representing the Salvation Army leadership.

An old friend from his Saved by the Bell days, Mario Lopez told me he was looking forward to a happy holiday and showed me the reason why. He took out a picture of his one-year-old daughter Gia, looking like a super cute cherub.

On a different night other “angels” were in the spotlight. For A Place Called Home’s Gala for the Children, three long-time supporters of the youth community center were honored. Executive vice president of Disney Studios, Frank Chiocchi received the Angel of the Children Awards; CEO of Walden Media, Michael Bostick received the Children’s Inspiration Award; and Latham & Watkins’ Peter Gilhuly was honored with the Debrah Constance Humanitarian Award.

Nights like these, filled with generous spirits, bring out the joy of the season. Merry Christmas to all.

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