Celebs gather for Alzheimer's benefit
From a Sarah Palin impersonation (by a well-known male TV star) to actors doing their rendition of Broadway tunes, the annual Night at Sardi's benefit was a blast.
Sat, Mar 27, 2010 at 10:52 AM
THE OTHER SARAH: Actor Steven Weber, best known for his role on the sitcom Wings, impersonated Sarah Palin at the event. (Photo: Alex Berliner/BEI Images)
Related on MNN: We caught up with even more celebs at the Humane Society's Genesis Awards.
The 18th annual A Night at Sardi’s benefit was a fun evening for a great cause: it raised $1.1 million — a quarter million more than last year — for Alzheimer’s research and care. The program featured celebrities performing songs from the Kander & Ebb catalog (including the shows Chicago and Cabaret) instead of a single musical this year. “We had many more songs to choose from,” said event founder Laurie Burrows Grad, whose late father, writer-director Abe Burrows, died from the disease.
The revue lineup included Ken Howard singing Mr. Cellophane, Scott Porter’s ode to baked goods, Sara Lee, and a hilarious Class from Steven Weber — dressed in drag as Sarah Palin. Tracie Thoms of Cold Case dazzled on Maybe This Time (if you’re in Baltimore April 29-May 2, catch her at Centerstage), and Eric McCormack (pictured below), a five-time Sardi’s vet, scored with his show opener, Wilkommen/Two Ladies. He’ll be on stage again this summer in Vancouver, starring in the play Glengarry, Glen Ross. “I’m driving the same Prius that everyone is driving,” he told us.
David Hyde Pierce, who performed Your Face, an obscure John Kander composition not from a musical, is a longtime Sardi’s participant. He lost his grandfather to Alzheimer’s and father to dementia. “People need to be aware of Alzheimer’s because it’s in their future. Statistics are not good. Once you reach 65, 10 percent of people get it. By the time you’re 85, half the people get it. You’ll either get it or take care of someone who does,” he said, praising the Alzheimer’s Association’s resources. “There are chapters all over the country, so people can find the help they need.”
The former Frasier actor told us he totes a refillable water bottle and drives a Prius, “but mine stops,” he jokes. He’ll next star on the London stage in a revival of the David Hirson comedy La Bete, a Moliere-era play in verse in which he plays the head of a theater troupe. It will head to Broadway in the fall.
American Idol alumna Allison Iraheta (pictured right), a Sardi’s first timer, was a standout on “A Quiet Thing” from Flora the Red Menace. About to graduate from high school, she’s promoting her debut CD Just Like You and watching this season’s Idol contestants, hoping Crystal Bowersox takes it all. “We recycle at home. It’s important to me because the Earth is sacred to all of us,” she told MNN.
“I recycle. I have a small carbon footprint,” said event host Seth Rogen, who became involved because his girlfriend’s mother has Alzheimer’s. Caregiver Award honoree Soleil Moon Frye (pictured below with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore) lost her father to it. “For many years it really tore our family apart,” confided the former Punky Brewster star, now the mother of two and owner of a baby boutique called The Little Seed in the Larchmont area of Los Angeles. “It’s all eco-friendly, nontoxic, organic products,” noted Frye.
Director Garry Marshall and his sister Ronnie, who lost their mother to Alzheimer’s, accepted the Champions award. “It wasn’t pretty to watch her go,” said the Valentine’s Day director, whose wife Barbara keeps him green at home. “We recycle everything,” she said, sharing a good tip. “When you clean out your medicine cabinets, don’t throw the pills in the toilet or sink or the trash, because it goes in the soil and then in the water. Put them in kitty litter first, and then in the garbage.”
Brothers & Sisters’ Gilles Marini, who introduced Samantha Harris’s terrific All That Jazz/Roxie medley, revealed a connection to Alzheimer’s — his late maternal grandmother had it. “A lot of people are touched by it, and a lot more are about to be touched by it because of the Baby Boomers,” he noted. “Every seven seconds someone is getting diagnosed with the disease.”
Related on MNN: Read our coverage from last year's A Night at Sardi's event.
Additional photo credits: Eric McCormack and Allison Iraheta by Alex Berliner/BEI Images; Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore courtesy of Soleil Moon Frye.