Seeking to generate contributions in support of its social service mission, the Actors' Fund of America (AFA) is launching the "Auction of 1000 Stars," on May 15, together with Yahoo! Auctions (auctions.yahoo.com) and fine art auctioneers Christie's. Theatre and television star Bebe Neuwirth has been tapped as the event's committee chair.
The event comprises a live event followed by a week-long "on-line auction" of celebrity experiences. Christie's auctioneer Marc. B. Porter will conduct an invitation-only cocktail reception which precedes a live auction at Studio 54 in Manhattan and the week-long net auction.
"The Actors' Fund is such a brilliant organization," Neuwirth told Playbill On-Line, "and I'm very proud to be a part of what they do. I think it's really exciting that so many celebrities and people in the industry have donated these fantastic, amazing experiences. I mean, David Duchovny is auctioning off "recording your answering machine message," as is Carol Burnett, who will do her Tarzan yell on your answering machine. You can watch "All About Eve" with Celeste Holm, and get a running commentary. You can go sailing with Walter Cronkite, I mean, you can have lunch with Kim Cattrall. It's really exciting."
The Auction of 1000 Stars has provided the following descriptions of the celebrity experiences that will be up for bid:
• A day on the set of hit television show, "Will & Grace." Stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullaly and Sean Hayes will have lunch on the set with the winner, who will leave with an autographed shooting script. • From Disney's The Lion King: the winner hangs out with young Nala or young Simba behind the scenes of the show, watching the process of make-up through performance. Includes four prime orchestra seats for the evening performance followed by a dinner at the ESPN Zone Theme Restaurant.
• From the cast of Contact: The winner and three friends receive private swing dance lessons from the cast of the hit musical in the Lincoln Center studios (videotaped); then dinner at Fiorello's; then back to Lincoln Center for the evening's performance with prime seats. Followed by a backstage tour and a reception with members of the cast.
• From Celeste Holm: An intimate dinner party for you and a friend with Academy award winning actress Celeste Holm, followed by a screening of the legendary "All About Eve," with running commentary provided by Holm.
• From Cabaret: A party for four at Studio 54; one person from the party gets to dress as a Kit Kat boy or girl and make their Broadway debut during the pre show, then the winner's party is seated at the best table in the house for the performance. At the beginning of the second act, the emcee will choose someone from the party for a special dance. After the show the party gets a backstage/behind the scenes tour of the infamous Studio 54 and ends the night in the green room for a private champagne reception with members of the cast.
• From Carol Burnett: Have your personalized answering machine message recorded by Carol Burnett featuring her famous "Tarzan Yell."
• From Bernadette Peters and the cast at Annie Get Your Gun : The winner gets his or her our Broadway debut. Attend rehearsals and costume fittings, then strut onto the stage during a key scene. Invite a guest to watch the entire show from the bandstand, then join Peters backstage for photographs and a champagne toast with members of the cast.
• From John Kander and Fred Ebb: Come hear the music play -- a Kander and Ebb double feature. The winner and a friend come to New York and enjoy a matinee performance of the smash hit Kander and Ebb Musical Chicago. After the show they have the opportunity to ask musical theatre questions during dinner with John Kander and Fred Ebb at the theatre community's favorite restaurant, Joe Allen's. After dinner, it's off to Studio 54 for a performance of the hit revival of the Kander and Ebb musical, Cabaret.
• From The Phantom Of The Opera, Hal Prince and Howard McGillin: The ultimate Phantom walk-on and Broadway debut. This package starts with the winner's rehearsal with the stage managers and dance captain, then to a costume fitting with the wardrobe department, then a wig fitting with the hair departments, then on to the Phantom's make up artist to have special make-up designed and a photo taken in costume. The winner will be escorted on stage by a cast member to make their Broadway debut during the Hannibal Opera sequence in the opening of the show and stays on stage until the Phantom causes the chandelier to drop forcing the winner to run off stage in the ensuing panic. The winner will then hang out backstage with the cast for the rest of the show, participate in the bows with the company along with four tickets for the performance for friends, a full page insert in the Playbill with a picture and bio. The winner will have the opportunity to purchase additional tickets if needed. After the curtain, the winner and four guests are escorted back to hang out with Phantom Howard McGillin and tour the backstage area with photos taken with various cast members, souvenir programs autographed by the cast and an autographed poster signed especially for you. Followed by drinks with the Phantom and his Christine at Barrymore's.
• From Jack Wagner: This is your moment -- an evening with Jack Wagner. The winner and a friend will receive two of the best seats in the house to see Wagner in Jekyll And Hyde. After the show, Wagner will personally bring the winner backstage for a guided tour, where photo's will be taken with him and other members of the cast. Then it's off for an after-show drink with the star.
• From Jack Klugman and Tony Randall: A Day At The Races -- The winner and a friend will spend the day in Los Angeles with Klugman who will be their guide to an insider's day at the track complete with lunch at The Turf Club at Hollywood Park. Jack will offer his best betting advice and photos will be taken to make this a memorable day.
A Night At The Opera -- The winner and a friend will spend a night with Tony Randall in New York City. Tony will host an incredible dinner, then it's off to the World-famous Metropolitan Opera and two of the best seats in the house. After the performance, Tony guides an insider's backstage tour of the Opera House.
• The Los Angeles Tony Awards Gala -- June 4, 2000: The winner and a guest will be invited to the star-studded Los Angeles Tony Awards Gala 2000 at The Beverly Hills Hotel. They will arrive in a chauffeured limousine and be a part of this gala event including live feed from the awards in NY, seating at a star-filled table, dinner, a one-of-a kind goodie bag and much more.
Other confirmed participants and item donors include Glenn Close, Blythe Danner, Peri Gilpin, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Sharon Lawrence, Jane Leeves, Shirley Maclaine, John Mahoney, Garry Marshall, Liza Minnelli, Rosie O'Donnell, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Powell, and Betty White. As well as, Aida, Saturday Night Fever, "The Sopranos" and more!
Joe Benincasa, executive director of The Actors' Fund cited Bebe Neuwirth for spearheading the event from the beginning and "nurturing it with her infectious enthusiasm and unparalleled dedication...we are enormously grateful."
Neuwirth credits Katharine Cook and the rest of the Actors' Fund staff for "putting it all together."
"I have a couple of friends that I have asked [to help], and I'm doing whatever I can," Neuwirth said, "but the real work is being done by the brilliant staff at the Actor's Fund."
The only national human service organization of its kind, the Actors' Fund of America provides for the welfare of all individuals who make their living in the entertainment industry. Founded in 1882, The Fund has grown to serve professionals in film, television, music, radio, opera and dance as well as theater. The organization provides social services, supportive housing and much more to performers and those behind the scenes, including creative professionals, technical and crafts professionals, and support staff.
Additional information and a detailed listing of auction items is updated regularly at www.actorsfund.org.
-- By Murdoch McBride