The event: Actress Jane Lynch (known the last few years as the comically diabolical Sue Sylvester on “Glee”) and spiritual lecturer Marianne Williamson may seem to come from different worlds. But those worlds converged Saturday night at the 25th annual Angel Awards in Los Angeles.
The annual gala benefits Project Angel Food, which sends more than 10,000 meals each week to the homes of people affected by serious illness. Originally begun to provide nutritious meals to individuals suffering from AIDS, the charity expanded its mission in 2004 to include those with other illnesses as well. To date, it has provided more than 9 million meals to the homebound.
Williamson and Lynch are both committed to the work of Project Angel Food. Williamson, who founded the organization in 1989, was honored at Saturday’s event at the Taglyan Banquet Hall in Los Angeles, and Lynch -- who received an award from the group in 2013 -- headlined the entertainment.
The scene: Host Mary Beth McDade of KTLA introduced Lynch by reminding the audience of her fashion impact. “Right?” she said. “We all went out and bought a tracksuit after ‘Glee.’ Thank you, Jane, for that.”
For her first number, Lynch belted out “Slapping the Cakes,” which she claimed was named for familiar jazz era lingo, comparable to “the cat’s meow” and “puttin’ on the Ritz.”
Later, in a bit from her cabaret act, Lynch admitted, “I think I made it up,” and thanked the supportive audience members who pretended to know the bogus phrase.
Kate Flannery of “The Office” joined Lynch for an ironically buoyant duet of the poignant “Fiddler on the Roof” tune “Far From the Home I Love,” sung in the play by a character about to leave for Siberia. The two comedic veterans concluded their set by singing a “Brady Bunch” parody to the tune of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” as follows: “One show makes you realize, and it’s much more than a hunch; that your childhood never worked out, like the kids on ‘The Brady Bunch’; Go ask Alice; when she’s making lunch…”
The ceremonies: Actress Frances Fisher of “Masters of Sex” and “Titanic” delivered the tribute in praise of Williamson. “Visionaries see what isn’t there yet,” Fisher said. “Like artists, they see the picture on the canvas before it’s painted, the sculpture in a rock before it’s cut, music on a page before it’s played. They see it there because it should be there…”
At the podium, Williamson recalled Project Angel Food’s earliest days, when entertainment industry mogul David Geffen called her after one of her lectures. “I don’t know how rich people know how to get your phone number,” she said, as she remembered telling him that the group needed “a lot of money -- $5,000” to rent a facility.
“Within an hour,” she said, “because rich people also know how to find out where you live, the doorbell rang. It was a messenger service with $50,000 from David Geffen.”
The crowd: Pauley Perrette of “NCIS” and actor Frank Grillo also took turns onstage, as did additional honorees David Kessler, Ed Rada, Howard Rosenman and Freddie Weber, all members of the founding team. Grillo spoke on behalf of actress Eva Mendes, recipient of the night’s Angel Award, who couldn’t attend.
Those in the audience included Tony Award winners Nathan Lane and Judith Light, fashion and lifestyle commentator Lawrence Zarian and actress Carolyn Hennesy of “True Blood”.
Quote of note: “This city knows how to party,” said Williamson. “We all know that, and that’s part of what we love about Los Angeles. But this city also knows how to get very serious when times are very serious.”
The numbers: More than 500 people turned up for the fundraiser, buying tickets from $350 each or hosting tables for $5,000. Proceeds from ticket sales, additional contributions and silent and live auctions haven’t yet been tabulated.
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