What's a "first annual" anyway?
For experienced benefit watchers, it's a red-flag phrase. There is rarely a guarantee that a first-time benefit will make it to the second time around. But this year, two big bashes debut on June 4, and the casts of supporting characters give them a better-than-usual chance of turning into annual hits. One is for the Landmark West School in Culver City and the other for the Greater Los Angeles Partnership for the Homeless.
The Landmark West School, which serves young people with learning disabilities, has signed up Disney president and CEO Frank Wells as honorary chairman of a black-tie gala at the Century Plaza, honoring Ted Mann and featuring a special musical created by Joyce Bulifant. (The invitation says it's the "fifth annual dinner," but organizer Jane Morgan Weintraub pointed out that the previous events were all luncheons and this was the school's first foray into big-time, black-tie benefit land.)
Weintraub sees the evening as performing several functions, only one of which is raising money. The show, "Different Heroes, Different Dreams," is a "Hollywood Salute to Learning Differences," and will feature a lengthy list of stars including live appearances by Tony Danza, Eileen Brennan, Helen Hayes and Jack Warden, along with taped spots from other stars, including Whoopi Goldberg.
Weintraub said that the show was being taped for a possible television airing on network or cable--"It will spread the word, to create a larger public awareness about learning disabilities in general," she said. Phyllis Schapira is the dinner committee chair, and working with her, along with Weintraub, are Lorraine Beck Holt, Ellen Saenger and Arlene Saffro.
Landmark West is a nonprofit school specifically serving high-potential dyslexic children. Because of its individual learning approach, Weintraub pointed out, tuition is high and many of the children are on scholarship.
If June 4 is a new route for Landmark, it's also a "beginning, but only the beginning" for the Greater Los Angeles Partnership for the Homeless.
That's how one of the Partnership's major supporters, Fred Hayman, described the evening that he and his co-chair, Roz Wyman, hope will raise $1 million.
Hosting the evening, honoring Bettina and Otis Chandler, chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of Times Mirror Co., are Interscope's Ted and Susie Field. The Fields' underwriting of the party means that every dollar raised from the $500-per-person party will go directly to work with the homeless.
Also mounting up the potential take: a $1,000-per-ticket raffle, plus a $250,000 matching grant from the Irvine Foundation. (What do you get for a winning $1,000 ticket? Possibilities are a new Mercedes-Benz 420SL donated by Mercedes-Benz of North America, an original work of art by James Rosenquist, or a $5,000 shopping spree donated by Hayman, who now heads Fred Hayman, Beverly Hills Inc.)
Bettina Chandler, a founding chair of the Greater Los Angeles Partnership for the Homeless, worked for several years as an almost full-time volunteer, chairing the Downtown Women's Center board as it built its residence for women.
Wyman said that the all-American food means that people can dress casually. But, "dressy casual," or, as songwriter Sammy Cahn pointed out in the lyrics for the invitation, it's a "one of a kind . . . as for dress, it's a casual-chic affair."
STILL MORE JUNE 4--And if those two events aren't enough, 35 chefs are creating "Le Grand Diner III," an eight-course extravaganza on that date to benefit the Scopus Society of the American Friends of Hebrew University.
Dale Deward Gribow, who chairs Scopus Society, pointed out that the repast at the Regency Club will help fund scholarships. The evening is a cooperative affair between the Scopus Society and Les Toques Blanches International, a worldwide association of chefs. Dinner chairs are Joan R. Isaacs, Richard S. Zinman and Daniel L. Pearlman.