Big Brothers Big Sisters Honor Best at Big Bash

Photo by Margie Barron

Big Brothers Big Sisters honored Anne Sweeney, Ron Tutor and Mary Willard.

You’ve got to love an event that starts off with USC’s Trojan Band beating their drums and blowing their brass. They marched right into the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to kick off the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles’ Big Bash 2010 Rising Stars Gala. Then Tom Bergeron arrived to emcee, so you knew it just had to be a great evening.

The gala is held to recognize inspiring individuals who act as positive role models for young people. That put the spotlight on Anne Sweeney, co-chair of the Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group. She received the Sherry Lansing Award. And, yes, Lansing herself bestowed the honor on her “girlfriend.” Lansing, a former honoree and former head of Paramount Studios, was generous in her praise of Sweeney.

This year Sweeney became a “Big Sister” to Georgina, a lucky girl who was introduced to the Walt Disney Company by her great mentor.

“I believe in mentoring, because I’ve been blessed by incredible people who played a huge role in my life and my career,” Sweeney said.

As he does with Dancing with the Stars and America’s Funniest Home Videos, Bergeron handled the hosting chores with aplomb. And he was a very generous donor to the evening’s cause.

Ed Begley, Jr. and his wife Rachelle Carson were on hand to present the Golden Star Award to Mary and Fred Willard. Although the acclaimed comedian-actor Fred was out of town filming, Mary, an award-winning playwright, brought a life-size cutout of her hubby and joked around with it. And Bergeron made a huge bid on “Flat Fred” during a lively auction.

The major donor of the evening was Ron Tutor, chairman and CEO of Tutor Perini Corporation, who received the Walt Disney Man of the Year Award. In the process of acquiring Miramax from Disney, Tutor joked that when he learned of the honor, he thought he might be paying too much for Miramax. Actually, it is the impact of Tutor’s humanitarian endeavors, and his deep commitment to our community’s youth, that made him so deserving.

The event’s entertainment featured a special performance by Dancing with the Stars pros Karina Smirnoff and Louis van Amstel. And the evening ended with a sensational concert by singer Maxine Nightingale, who had folks up dancing.

Notables on hand included Lost producer Carlton Cuse, Pam Dawber, Sarah Purcell, Sandra Taylor, Pete Hammond, JoAnne Worley, Alice and Leonard Maltin, and Tiffany Siart, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. It is an organization dedicated to empowering children who face economic, emotional and social challenges through a variety of programs, which provide a professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationship with a positive role model. Big Brothers and Big Sisters make a big difference.

Beautiful Bag Ladies

Now, get ready for the most fun-loving afternoon get together of all time! It’s the eighth annual Hollywood Bag Ladies Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Nov. 16. What makes it so special? Well, coordinated by the event chairs Carrie Brillstein and Mandana Dayani, it’s an afternoon of fun, fashion and friendship. Hundreds of well-heeled ladies raise money for Lupus research by bidding on designer handbags, having lunch, honoring wonderful woman, and a Fendi fashion show. Who could ask for anything more?