Shelley Gazin, artist and photojournalist, has been the recipient of four 2005 grants to further her photographic and video documentary study of California's Persian Jewish community. A grant from the California Council for the Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, launched Gazin's current project, "Work-in-Progress: Becoming Persian, a Photographic Inquiry Illuminating the Iranian Jewish Community" at USC. Her recent exhibitions include "Looking for a Rabbi" (Skirball Cultural Center, 2001) and "Reconstructing the West Bank" (UCLA Rabin Center for Jewish Life, 2003).
To the Dogs
Pampered pooches pondered a variety of fancy nibbles to nosh as the Peninsula Hotel's own doggy-in-residence, Billy Bean, hosted a book signing for his friends and their masters. Author Tracie Hotchner was on hand to sign copies of her latest book, "The Dog Bible – Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know" (Gotham). Billy Bean, a.k.a. "The Pet Columnist" – along with his "person," Donanne Kasikci, wife of Peninsula Managing Director Ali Kasikci– hosted the book signing at an informal tea in the hotel's elegant Verandah Room. Among those attending were Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Daly Riordan, Danni Janssen and Yvette Mimieux.
No Place Like Home
Los Angeles Family Housing (LAFH), founded in 1983 to end homelessness and increase affordable housing, honored Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver and developer Mark Weinstein at its sixth annual awards dinner at Universal Studios' Globe Theater. The festive evening, where LAFH President David Grunwald and comedian Shayla Rivera welcomed guests, was aglitter with the excitement and lights of the studio as more than 400 attendees raised $600,000 for LAFH, an organization that has served 90,000 Angelenos.
Former LAFH client Dorcas Williams of Palmdale opened the dinner with her sons Deonte, 10, and Dennis, 12, thanking LAFH for her independence. LAFH board chair George Minter of La Canada presented the L.A. Family Housing Inspiration Award to Villaraigosa, who has announced an unprecedented $1 billion affordable housing bond for the city of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa told the audience, "Los Angeles is not working when mothers and children sleep on our streets."
Hostess With the Mostess
Once again United Hostesses Charities (UHC), which supports the UHCs Cardiac/Stroke Emergency Care at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, outdid itself at its annual fundraiser at the Beverly Wilshire. Co-chairs Cindy Flagg and Roberta Weissman introduced the World Classic Rockers band, which had everyone grooving to the beat.
Honored this year with the 2005 Humanitarian Award were Drs. Julian Gold and Ronald H. Wender, co-chairs of Cedars-Sinai's department of anesthesiology. Event chairs must be congratulated for their creativity, and special kudos to Marilyn Gilfanbain for surprising and delighting guests each year.
UHC also supports the work of Dr. P K Shah, director of Cedars-Sinai's division of cardiology.
Big Brothers Rock
The room was filled with love as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire celebrated its 50th anniversary at its Rising Stars Gala Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Sir Sidney Poitier presented former Paramount Pictures chair Sherry Lansing, co-founder of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Future Fund, with the legacy award. Steve Soberoff, former senior adviser to L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, introduced his family and little brother as he spoke of his personal experiences as a big brother urging others to do the same.
Nick Cannon, Dakota Fanning and Renee Olstead all received the Rising Star award for their creative achievements. Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios received the Walt Disney Award.
The evening really started rocked when Frankie Valli took the stage and wowed the audience with a selection of his hit songs and people jumped up from their seats and danced and sang along.
The event raised more than $1 million for the charity. For more information, visit www.bbbslaie.org.