“A Night At Sardi’s”

A Memorable Gala for Alzheimer’s Association

Willow and Robert Iger at “A Night At Sardi’s.”

A touch of Broadway came to Hollywood for the 19th annual “A Night At Sardi’s” awards gala. A star-studded lineup performed in the “Red, Hot and Cole” show featuring songs from Cole Porter musicals.

Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, received the Abe Burrows Entertainment Award, presented by Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) for Iger’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association. The award was heartfelt for Iger, who revealed that his mother is sadly losing her long-term memories. He respectfully gave credit to both his parents, saying everything he’s ever achieved he owes to them, “because it all started with their love and support.” Iger’s awesome wife Willow Bay looked very proud of her husband.

The night was all about saving memories, so I had to ask Iger to recall a fond childhood memory. Without hesitation, Bob said, “watching Walt Disney on a small black and white TV.”

Other childhood memories from the stars included: “Going on family vacations to Hawaii, and spending time with my grandmother,” said lovely Cheryl Burke. “Sleeping with my dog Bonnie, who was my best friend, like a big sister,” said Wendie Malick. “Having apple fights back in Ohio,” said 90210 hottie Matt Lanter. Musician Grace Potter (of the Nocturnals) laughed as she remembered how her grandfather would pop the car trunk remotely. “That was magic when I was little.”

The ballroom at the Beverly Hilton was packed with stars, and the event’s co-chairs Laurie Burrows Grad and Peter Grad announced that the gala raised a record $1.6 million, thanks to Bob Iger, his pals and longtime supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission to provide funds for research and care for victims of the disease. Laura Suihkonen Jones was named Caregiver of the Year. Dedicated to the cause, she helped change Social Security Disability benefits to help younger-onset Alzheimer’s victims like her husband.

Many entertainment industry notables were on hand to support the cause including Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jerry Bruckheimer, Brian Grazer and Judd Apatow with wife Leslie Mann.

David Hyde Pierce and Margie Barron.

Kicking off the “Red, Hot and Cole” show was host Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet), who did a funny routine with Betty White. Then the music of “Another Opening, Another Show” began with musical veteran Scott Bakula (Men of a Certain Age), who told me about his memories of waiting for reviews at Sardi’s after a show opened. It’s a grand Broadway tradition. Ken Howard, Jean Louisa Kelly and Lea Thompson also joined Bakula on stage.

Betty White’s Hot In Cleveland co-stars, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and Valerie Bertinelli, were there to perform a wild “Anything Goes.” Hot Vanessa Williams did a show-stopping “Too Darn Hot” number, with Dancing with the Stars Cheryl Burke and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Grace Potter sizzled singing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and Kristen Bell belted out “I Hate Men.” The Big Bang Theory castmates Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Jim Parsons and the lovely Kaley Cuoco got together for the cutesy “Friendship” tune.

Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers teen singer) may have surprised everyone with his stylish “Let’s Misbehave.” But after seeing his “Les Miserables” performance on PBS, I am impressed by this young man’s musical talent. It spans much more than pop tunes. Also impressive was Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy) who did a tearful “Every Time We Say Goodbye.”

But the most enjoyable for me was seeing David Hyde Pierce (a Tony winner for Curtains) do “You’re The Top.” Many years ago when he was doing Frasier, we would talk about his passion for the theater. Back then he’d also mention his beloved mother, and how Alzheimer’s was taking its toll. “That’s why it’s personal for me. I’ve lost family members, and I’ve been working with the Alzheimer’s Association for about 15 years now to help the cause,” he told me after the show.

Matt Gould conducted the band backing up all the musical stars, including Audra McDonald, Katy Mixon, Luke Macfarlane, and Taye Diggs. Plus Castle’s hot detective Stana Katic sang “What Is This Thing Called Love” which left strong men quivering. It was a great Night At Sardi’s.

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