The event: The “Big Bash” at the Beverly Hilton, benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, turned out to be so inspiring that Katherine Heigl volunteered on the spot to mentor a teen speaker.
And no wonder the young woman found herself an instant supporter -- she had talked onstage at the event Friday of her desire to learn five languages, become the future head the FBI and one day donate “thousands and thousands” to the program. “That girl was pretty phenomenal, wasn’t she?” said Heigl, still bubbling with enthusiasm at the event’s conclusion. “It didn’t take much. She was so incredibly funny and charming, and I’m now doing a show [“State of Affairs”] about the CIA, so I just thought I have to mentor her. … I want to help make her director of the CIA.”
The tributes: Before the evening ended, the organization named William H. Ahmanson its Walt Disney Man of the Year; gave Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, the Sherry Lansing Award; and honored the Hollywood Reporter -- represented by Janice Min, Lynne Segall and Stephen Galloway -- with the Trailblazer Award. Presenters included Roy P. Disney (Walt Disney’s great-nephew); philanthropist Brindell Gottlieb; Disney/ABC TV president and Disney Media Network co-chair Anne Sweeney; and Salke’s “little sister” Paola.
The scene: Against a backdrop of a city skyline on a star-filled night, the gala’s emcee, actor/producer Sean Hayes, glided onto the stage to the tune of “Climb Every Mountain,” a recurring theme. Magnolia Memoir performed, as did the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble, the latter delivering three melodious a capella tunes.
“Big brothers” and their “littles” spoke of the positive outcomes of their one-on-one relationships. Video presentations featured comments about the cause from Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sofia Vergara, Minnie Driver, Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss, Lea Michele, Alyson Hannigan, Ellie Kemper, Andrew Rannells and more.
The crowd: Actors joined entertainment execs and other supporters, including Alfre Woodard, Adam Kaufman, Cliff Chamberlain and Sheila Vand of “State of Affairs,” Pam Dawber and Mark Harmon, Anne Heche and James Tupper, Sarah Purcell, Fred Willard, Kate Linder, Doris Roberts, Jo Anne Worley, Sherry Lansing, NBC Entertainment chair Robert Greenblatt, 20th Century Fox Television chair Dana Walden, Paramount’s worldwide distribution and marketing president Megan Colligan, “Grimm” executive producer David Greenwalt, Big Brothers Big Sisters president and CEO Tiffany Siart. Guild president Mary Willard. Dawber and Kim Vamos co-chaired the event.
The young beneficiaries of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship who attended the event received a round of applause at Hayes’ suggestion. “You applaud them out of respect and honor,” he said. “I applaud them out of fear, because I’m sure they’ll be my boss someday.”
Quote of note: “We all know how important it is to have people you can count on in life” said Salke, after naming her own mentors. “They guide us in good times and bad, and when we lose our way they are there for us. … We all need those people -- every one of us in the room -- to thrive.”
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