Scene & Heard: ‘I Have a Dream’ Foundation-Los Angeles gospel brunch

Amy Brenneman with participants in "I Have a Dream" Foundation-Los Angeles programs. Brenneman hosted the foundation's annual gospel brunch and fundraiser at the House of Blues.
(WireImage / Neilson Barnard)
Special to the Los Angeles Times

The “I Have a Dream” Foundation-Los Angeles staged its annual gospel brunch on March 6, with Amy Brenneman of “Private Practice” playing host to an audience that included Ray Romano, Noah Wyle, Regina King, Michael Cudlitz and Scott Bakula, among 400 other guests.

On the program: a brunch buffet, gospel choir and presentations of the 2011 Dream Keeper Awards to Earl E. Gales Jr. and Michael Wright. Gales is chairman of the architectural construction management firm Jenkins/Gales & Martinez; Wright is executive vice president of TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies.

Nancy Cotton used the word “uplifting” to describe the fundraiser at Hollywood’s House of Blues. Kelly Goode added, “We didn’t want something traditional — this way, people can bring their kids.” Cotton, Goode and Laurie Zaks were the event co-chairs.

The foundation, inspired by the ideals of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., fosters the academic development of schoolchildren from low-income communities. Wright, Hill Harper of “CSI: NY” and Steven Spielberg, via videotape, all quoted the civil rights leader.


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” said Wright, on accepting his award.

Samuel L. Jackson, a 2006 honoree, presented the award to Gales and later mentioned that he would soon be playing King on Broadway in the play “The Mountaintop.”

Also present: Grant Little and board members Susan Sprung, Christiane Cuse, Laura Petrucci Carroll and Richard Wolf, plus several young “dreamers,” a.k.a. students, who shared their success stories from the stage.

Luminario Ballet

The Luminario Ballet celebrated its third season the same day with cocktails, dinner and a dance performance at its new studio in Los Angeles.

“This makes us a resident company now,” said company founder and managing director, Judith Flex Helle. “It’s going to take some getting used to.” The rehearsal space came courtesy of Steve Yablok, owner of the property and adjacent nightclub, Cafe-Club Fais Do-Do.

“They gave me a great deal,” Yablok said. “On a daily basis, there are incredible, beautiful dancers here who bring grace and light into my world. To think, there’s classical dance on Adams Boulevard — it’s a small miracle.”

Former New York City Ballet principal Carrie Lee Riggins joined the party as a special guest. Fresh from appearing in “Black Swan” as one of Natalie Portman’s dance doubles, she performed “Essays on Recovery Over/Under,” a solo created for her by Jamal Story about her recent experiences with love.


The evening’s other dances were “Luminate” by Josie Walsh, honoring her mother’s passing, and “Lift Ticket,” which Flex Helle choreographed, combining modern and classic ballet techniques with aerials. “Two Preludes for Piano and Violin,” composed by Ricardo Veiga, rounded out the program with Veiga on piano and Manoela Wunder on violin.

Who else attended? Marat Daukayev, former principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet; Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the L.A. Phil; performance artist John Fleck; L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti; Bernard Philippe and Francois Chouchan of Le Salon des Musiques; and Mary Lewis, Grant Barnes and Dora Breece of the L.A .Philanthropic Committee for the Arts.