For music lovers, this night could be the hottest, smoothest, swingingest night in Los Angeles. For charity mavens, it could be the way to score a benefit.
The Singers' Salute to the Songwriter is only in its third year, but the lineup for the March 30 concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is impressive indeed. It includes the likes of Joe Williams, Vic Damone and Diahann Carroll, Stan Getz, Maureen McGovern, Toni Tennille, Debby Boone and, of course, her mother-in-law and spark plug for the evening, Rosemary Clooney.
Honor for Comden, Green
The story behind the benefit is as touching and wonderful as any musical written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. (They did "Bells Are Ringing" and "Wonderful Town," and are among the songwriters being honored.) When Clooney's sister, Betty, died of brain injuries, the singer decided to do something about it.
Four years ago, Clooney, Phyllis Holvey and her husband, Dr. Sherman Holvey, an associate clinical professor of medicine at UCLA, started the Betty Clooney Foundation for Persons with Brain Injury. Last month the Betty Clooney Brain Injury Center in Long Beach, the first of its kind in the country, opened to provide affordable community-based services for those disabled by head injuries.
More than $700,000 was raised by the first two salute evenings--and that's as nice a number as any written by Michel Legrand who's also being honored this year.
Roz Wyman, who for the third time repeats her sterling performance as concert chair, said: "Our dream was to have our center built in this year . . . . And we have."
The concert is one of the most creative evenings in Hollywood, a chance for singers to do the numbers they made famous for an audience, which includes famous songwriters. This year's honorees also include Melissa Manchester ("Come in From the Rain"), Burton Lane ("Finian's Rainbow") and Antonio Carlos Jobim ("One Note Samba").
"Rosemary is such a legend in American music that when she reaches out," Wyman said, "people can't help but respond."
Tickets for the evening range from $35 to $275, and include a fab reception. Allen Sviridoff is returning as producer--and said that more brand names are in the wings.
We're already shouting "bravo."
ANOTHER FAVORITE--Apparently it's the charity event that all Hollywood wants to be part of. It's the MacLaren Hall Celebrity Day on March 12, when United Friends of the Children bring their famous friends to visit the county facility for abused children. So look for almost the entire cast of "L.A. Law," Christopher ("Superman") Reeve, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, many "St. Elsewhere" stars (including the adorable Howie Mandel), Pee-wee Herman and others.
Also, American Airlines is flying in the San Francisco 49ers, who will meet up with the locals at the home of Henry and Stacey Winkler (she's "Friends" president) and then head out to MacLaren Hall. Between 3,000 and 5,000 children pass through the doors of this "temporary" shelter every year--and it is the "Friends' " constant presence there that makes the children's lives brighter every day.
AND YET ANOTHER--When the amateur chefs suit up for the not-so-annual Downtown Women's Center Italian dinner March 8 at Casa Italiano, that's amore . When the women's residence on Skid Row was completed and paid for last year, it seemed as though such fund-raisers would no longer be necessary. Then the October earthquake hit, and the old center next door was shaken so badly it was declared unsafe. Now it's a pile of bricks, and the dozens of women who normally lunch there have been eating in the back yard.
But construction will soon begin on a two-story building to take its place. Cooking up a storm to make that happen are the Music Center's Carmine Marinelli and Marco Weiss (Joan is president of the board), Founders' manager Deiter Jacoby, florist David Jones and chef Neil Baizer. Also helping are strong supporters like Vernon and Adrienne Underwood; real estate developer Wayne Ratkovich; Sheldon and Sandy Ausman, the protocol chief for Los Angeles County; and Bettina and Otis Chandler and Sharon and Donald F. Wright from The Times. Among the great silent auction items are dinners at Berkeley's Chez Panisse, a first-class round-trip for two to Malaysia, boxes at the Hollywood Bowl and dinners at Michael's, Trumps, Morton's, and Hugo's. Yum. We can't wait.