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Tony Awards 2012: In L.A., a party to benefit actors

June 11, 2012|By Ellen Olivier
  • Annie Potts presented the Julie Harris Award to Jason Alexander at the Tony viewing party, a benefit for the Actors Fund. Scott Bakula, right, was the evening's host.
Annie Potts presented the Julie Harris Award to Jason Alexander at the Tony… (Scott Appel )

Theater lovers in Los Angeles watched the Tonys together Sunday night at the Tony Awards Viewing Party, a benefit for the Actors Fund, at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Although most viewers on the West Coast couldn't see the show until 8 p.m., party-goers watched the awards show live as it happened in New York on three giant screens. During commercials there was live entertainment.  And when the show ended, the audience had its own awards ceremony, when Annie Potts presented Jason Alexander with the Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Scott Bakula of “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Men of a Certain Age” hosted the evening. Through film clips, the audience saw the"Seinfeld" show's George Costanza in his many movie, television and theatrical roles.

Alexander has appeared on Broadway in “Accomplice,” Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound,” Kander and Ebb’s “The Rink,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” and "Jerome Robbins’ Broadway," the last of which earned him the Tony Award for best actor in a musical. In Los Angeles, he starred opposite Martin Short in “The Producers.”

During dinner, between segments of the telecast, Alexander, in a series of film clips, talked about his career. He recalled his introduction to acting, his various roles and his pleasure in singing “Marry Me” each night to Chita Rivera in “The Rink.”

At the next break, members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles sang “Marry Me” to Alexander.

In another segment, Lorna Luft helped celebrate what would have been her mother Judy Garland's 90th birthday.

Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad,” Holland Taylor of “Two and a Half Men,” Bryan Batt of “Mad Men,” Actors Fund President Joseph Benincasa and others took turns at the lectern. Frances Fisher of “Titanic,” comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, Orson Bean and Ruta Lee touted items in the silent auction.

Staging a show in short, perfectly timed bursts is no easy task, especially since producer David Rambo received the timing of the show’s commercial breaks the previous day. “It’s madness before it happens,” Rambo said. “But then when it starts, it all comes together and it’s great.”   Rambo is writer/producer of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

The Actors Fund provides health and social services and other programs to help professionals in the performing arts who are in need.

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