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Civics Lessons

June 02, 2002|Patt Diroll; Ann Conway

It was a room full of lawyers--but nobody was arguing. Nearly 800 attendees, many from the city's top law firms, gathered to honor real estate executive Steve Soboroff and Judge William P. Hogoboom for their civic involvement at the Constitutional Rights Foundation's annual spring dinner.

The event raised more than $850,000 for the foundation, which has been sponsoring hands-on educational programs on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in area schools for 40 years. Students were among the guests at the dinner, which included a display of their school projects ranging from the Boston Tea Party to the Nuremberg trials to Beatlemania.

Among those impressed: writer Michael Beschloss, the keynote speaker at the dinner. Beschloss, who is currently working on a history of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, admitted he was bowled over by their knowledge. "A couple of those kids knew more than I did about the assassination," he said. "I actually got some research done here!"

Soboroff received the foundation's Bill of Rights Award, presented by Getty Museum executive Harold M. Williams. Soboroff, president of Playa Vista and a candidate for mayor in the last election, is former president of the L.A. Recreation and Parks Commission and chairman emeritus of Big Brothers. Hogoboom received the Lloyd M. Smith Award, presented by Judge Raymond C. Fisher. Hogoboom is the retired presiding judge of the Los Angeles County Court and a former president of the foundation.

The foundation also recognized the contributions of teachers by honoring the dedication of four: Helen Doherty of Bridges Community Day School in Charter Oak; Lee Rosenthal of Jefferson Middle School in San Gabriel; Glenn West of Belmont High School in L.A.; and Cheryl Greer-Davis of Chavez-Tubman High School in Compton.

Jess Marlow, host of KCET's "Life and Times," emceed the event at the Century Plaza Hotel May 22; Joseph A. Calabrese, John A. Kronstadt and Lester W. Olson were co-chairs.

--Patt Diroll

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Quite Relevant

Paul T. Salata, the man whose idea it was to celebrate the last player selected in the NFL draft each year--an idea that has become part of football tradition--was the honoree at a gala dinner that raised $100,000 for the Orange County chapters of Goodwill Industries and the American Red Cross.

Salata, a former football player, created "Irrelevant Week" in 1976. "The underdog didn't get much action--and the last guy is as good as the first--so we decided to honor him," explained Salata, who also founded the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation, a nonprofit that has raised millions for scholarships and athletic programs.

Salata received the American Tribute Award at the benefit, which began with a "Pre-Game Warm-Up" reception and entertainment by the USC Trojan Marching Band and featured a portrayal of the "four quarters" of Salata's life--from his years at Franklin High in Los Angeles to the mid-'70s, when he created Irrelevant Week.

Guests attending the May 23 event at the Grove of Anaheim dined on filet mignon at tables crowned with T-shaped pipes-- a nod to Salata's career as a pipeline contractor--filled with sprays of orchids. Table favors were packaged trading cards featuring photographs from Salata's life.

"Paul is an inspiration because of the generous way he has lived," said Dan Rogers, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of Orange County.

Seventy-five percent of the proceeds will go toward Goodwill's programs for the disabled; the remainder will be used for the Red Cross' emergency disaster relief services.

--Ann Conway

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Listening to Fugard

The cast of "Sorrows and Rejoicings," Athol Fugard's play about a South African expatriate poet, joined with theater supporters in celebrating the show's Los Angeles opening at the Mark Taper Forum.

Actor John Glover, who portrays the play's lead character, Dawid, had high praise for Fugard. "Athol creates a spirit that is quite unique. It's not just the actors, it infects everybody in the rehearsal room," he said. "Some people believe that Dawid is more personal to him than any other role he has created. It could be intimidating if it weren't for Athol. But, he's so generous, I just shut up and listen."

Fugard didn't join the party, but Glover's co-stars, Judith Light, Brienin Nequa Bryant and Cynthia Martells, were there on May 23 to mix it up at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Impresario Room. Light, who participated in a 100-mile AIDS trek in South Africa just before starting rehearsals, said she feels that she will be "connected to South Africa forever."

Among the first-nighters spotted were Gina Hecht and Jason Alexander, Judith and Rene Auberjonois, Angela Bassett, Joan Van Ark and John Marshall, Mary Jo Catlett, Yvette Freeman, Richard Libertini, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash, Christina Pickles, Lawrence Pressman and Jane Wyatt.

--P.D.

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'Turandot' Turnout

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