Los Angeles Times – March 2016
7 things you missed from the final A Night at Sardi’s benefit
After 24 years and more than 500 performances of show-stopping Broadway tunes by familiar actors and well-known faces, the A Night at Sardi’s benefit had its swan song with what turned out to be its most successful event. Raising money for the Alzheimer’s Assn., Wednesday’s affair at the Beverly Hilton hotel brought in more than $1.5 million, bringing the total taken in over the years to about $30 million.
Aside from a raucous finale by the cast of CBS’ hit “The Big Bang Theory” (more about that later), here are seven things you missed.
1. Taking on “A Chorus Line” number
“Pray for me,” Kaley Cuoco told us during cocktail hour as she sat beside fellow “Big Bang” cast members Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik.
In honor of the late Peter Grad, who co-founded the event with wife Laurie Burrows Grad, Cuoco volunteered to sing the former TV executive’s favorite tune, “Dance 10, Looks 3,” from the musical “A Chorus Line.” Her concern? “It’s my singing that’s a 3,” she said.
2. Pre-dinner confessions
Kerris Dorsey (“Ray Donovan”) told us about her song for the event: an upbeat version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” from the Carole King musical “Beautiful.” Then she confessed she, too, had fears. “I’m hoping I don’t fall on the stage,” Dorsey said.
3. A heartfelt tribute
“I can’t start crying yet,” said Burrows Grad, daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Abe Burrows, fighting back tears as she stepped up to the podium. Grad, her son, Nicholas Grad, and her brother, TV director and show creator James Burrows, were co-chairs of this year’s event, which paid tribute to Grad’s husband, who died last year.
4. A special salute
Keith Carradine (“Madam Secretary”), recipient of the fundraiser’s caregiver of the year award, said he agreed to accept the award “on the condition that I share this recognition with my wife and mother-in-law.” He said they’re heroic for being “in the trenches, looking after my father-in-law…. I marvel every day at their commitment.”
In an earlier conversation with him, he said, “Some of us might not think about the beauty of doing something like this. It certainly is demanding. It can be very, very difficult and it can be heartbreaking. Yet it is profound and very humanizing and a daily reminder of what really matters.”
5. Passing the torch
Tony Award-winning actor Jason Alexander, best known for his role on “Seinfeld,” told the audience of 900 not to be fooled by the word of the night — “final” — as he called Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen to the stage to describe Hilarity for Charity and their fundraisers to help fight Alzheimer’s.
“We knew we couldn’t do anything that would compare with that level of sophistication [of A Night at Sardi’s’],” said Rogen, adding, “and so we did the exact opposite of that. We created an event where you will hear more [off-color] jokes than the word ‘Alzheimer’s.'”
6. Show-stopping talent
Emcee David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) told the audience, “We’re going to go out with a bang.” (Or did he mean a “Bang” as in “The Big Bang Theory”?) No matter what, he wasn’t wrong, considering the event’s lineup of actors, singers and entertainers included Peter Gallagher (“The O.C.”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”), Joey McIntyre (New Kids on the Block), Dove Cameron (“Liv and Maddie”), Robert Carradine (“Lizzie McGuire”), Karen David and Timothy Omundson (“Galavant”), Janel Parrish (“Pretty Little Liars”), Amy Pietz (“Caroline in the City”), Tracie Thoms (“Love” and “Send Me”), Jack McGee and Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”), Steven Weber (“Chasing Life”), Barrett Foa (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) and singer Grace Potter.
7. A “Bang”-up finale
True to Hyde Pierce’s words, the event ended with the cast members of long-running hit show “The Big Bang Theory.” They performed “You’re the One That I Want” and “We Go Together” from the hit musical “Grease.”