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Celebrity Songsters Belt Out Their Support for L.A. Music Center Social Circuits

February 20, 2001|PATT DIROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Two of the Music Center of Los Angeles County's leading support groups, the Fraternity of Friends and the Blue Ribbon, packed the Mark Taper Forum for "The Writer, the Singer, the Song," a gala tribute to American songwriters. The event, conceived by Academy Award-winning lyricist Hal David and his wife, Eunice, a longtime Blue Ribbon member, coincided with a meeting of the board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in L.A.

" 'Rainy Days and Mondays' never get me down" said Paul Williams, who emceed the show Feb. 12, a rainy Monday. Works by Williams, Hal David, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Cy Coleman, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and Jimmy Webb were featured.

Each songsmith shared his spin on the creative process that takes place. "I'd throw a dart at a map of the United States and wherever it landed, I'd write a song about it," said Jimmy Webb ("By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman"). Cy Coleman ("The Best Is Yet to Come") began by answering the perennial question "What comes first, the words or the music?" with a quote from the late Sammy Cahn: "It's the phone call," he said.

When Bergman had a momentary lapse in his convoluted lyrics to "The Windmills of Your Mind" (written with wife Marilyn), he noted: "That's what happens when you write every other word." Hal David crooned his lilting "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." And Mike Stoller of the team Leiber & Stoller ("Hound Dog") brought down the house with one love ballad titled "Humphrey Bogart."

Performers included Rosemary Clooney, Larry Gatlin, Sally Kellerman, Maureen McGovern, Helen Reddy and Dionne Warwick.

Following a standing ovation, out came the umbrellas for a dash across the plaza to a supper in the Grand Hall of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Eunice David was co-chair along with Patty Wilson; Walter Grauman directed the event, which was sponsored by Sherry Barrat of Northern Trust and produced by Ronald Rosen and Karen Sherry.

Coming Up

* The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising will honor Debbie Reynolds with its Crystal Star Award Saturday on campus. Tickets: $200-$500; (310) 423-1040.

* Nadine and Ed Carson will be honored by the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists at a Mardi Gras Gala on Saturday at the Park Plaza Hotel. Tickets are $300. Call (310) 556-2815.

* Hillsides supporters present "Night of Golden Dreams," Saturday at the California Club. Tickets are $185. Call (323) 255-9005, Ext. 254.

* Les Dames de Champagne International Hostesses will celebrate Mardi Gras Saturday at West Hollywood's Hotel Sofitel. Proceeds will support an arts programs for needy elementary schools. Tickets are $225. Call (818) 343-7868.

* Villa Esperanza Guild hosts its Day of Thoroughbred Racing at Santa Anita's Turf Club on Saturday to benefit programs for the developmentally disabled. Tickets are $75. Call (626) 447-8714 or 797-8798.

* The Make-A-Wish Foundation's wine-tasting and auction is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Santa Monica. Tickets are $95, $120 at the door. Call (310) 788-9474.

* Actress Minnie Driver will be honored by the Foundation for Cardiovascular and Transplant Research at its Gift of the Heart Ball at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Sunday. Tickets are $300. Call (310) 553-9007.

* The Mardi Gras Symphony Gala to benefit the Pasadena Symphony will be Feb. 27 at the Regal Biltmore Hotel. Tickets are $250. Call (626) 793-7172, Ext. 13.

* The Mardi Gras Committee of Methodist Hospital Foundation is staging its Fat Tuesday celebration Feb. 27 at the Arboretum of Los Angeles County. Tickets are $60. Call (626) 821-2353.

* Ray Charles will perform at a benefit for the National Stroke Assn. Feb. 27 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Actress Della Reese will be honored. Tickets are $250. Call (800) STROKES.

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