A night of song and reminiscences honoring late lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg featured a cast of stars, and drew about 650 guests to the Mark Taper Forum on Feb. 1. Center Theatre Group’s Salon at the Taper VII “Look to the Rainbow” event raised more than $170,000 to benefit the group’s discount ticket programs for seniors, students and others. Singer-pianist Michael Feinstein hosted the evening, featuring performances by Melissa Bell, Jane Carr, Tim Curry, Steven Davis, Susan Egan, Taina Elg, Malcolm Gets, Brian d’Arcy James, S. Mark Jordan, Maureen McGovern, DeBorah Sharpe, Cynthia Sikes, Michael Paul Smith, Steven Smith, Chic Street Man, Paula West, and the Antaeus Quartet. Gordon Hunt directed and Susan Clines produced the show. Harburg, who died in 1981, wrote lyrics to more than 500 songs, including “Over the Rainbow,” “April in Paris,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Last Night When We Were Young” and “Old Devil Moon.” Honorary co-chairs of the event were Audrey Skirball-Kenis and Charles Kenis, Harburg’s son, Ernie Harburg, and Ernie’s wife, Deena, Alan Alda and Carol Burnett. Among the guests were Cyd Charisse, Kirk and Anne Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Julie Hagerty, Howard Deutsch and Betty White.
* “Bill Nye the Science Guy” opened the California Science Center’s first anniversary celebration with a science experiment involving smoke rings extinguishing a candle. He also hosted the Feb. 6 “Discovery Ball” at the center, in Los Angeles, which netted $300,000 for the Science Center to continue its work encouraging interest in science and technology. About 650 people attended the black-tie reception and dinner, including Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa. The recipient of the center’s 1999 California Scientist of the Year Award, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, was announced. The awards recognize outstanding achievements by individuals in science and technology. In the past, 11 winners of the award have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their contributions to science. Blackburn, professor and chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at UC San Francisco, was awarded for discoveries that have profound implications for understanding aging and cancer. After dinner, guests were given the option of watching “Everest” at the center’s IMAX theater or dancing to swing music by the Bob Gail Orchestra in a room transformed into a 1940s-style nightclub. Dinner committee chair was Marvin Elkin of Northrop Grumman. The event was underwritten in part by Northrop Grumman and United Airlines.
* Cookie Johnson, wife of Magic Johnson, served as honorary Red Cross chair at the seventh annual Pan-African Film Festival’s “Red Cross Night” on Feb. 7. The two-week festival, which began Feb. 4, showed historical black films for Black History Month at the Magic Johnson Theatres in L.A. “Red Cross Night” featured a reception and silent auction attended by more than 200 people at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, followed by a viewing of “Sarraounia” at the nearby Magic Johnson Theatres. The film is an epic saga of the 19th century Queen Sarraounia who, with her people, fought to repel the French army from invading her land, known today as Niger. More than $9,000 was raised for Red Cross services including disaster relief. About 60 youths attended with the support of organizations such as the Inglewood Rotary Club, Allstate Insurance and Zeta Phi Sorority. Scott Terrell, a philanthropist and Red Cross volunteer, underwrote the reception. Omar on the Nile provided beverages.
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