Fred Ebb Foundation Wows BC/EFA With $1 Million

News   Fred Ebb Foundation Wows BC/EFA With $1 Million Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS got a special dose of razzle dazzle in the form of a 2010 donation of $1 million from the Fred Ebb Foundation, which is funded by royalties from the catalog of the late lyricist of Chicago and Cabaret.

Fred Ebb
Fred Ebb

This is the largest single donation in BC/EFA history.

The Fred Ebb Foundation (Mitchell Bernard, trustee) announced the donation on Dec. 14. "Fred Ebb was as passionate and generous as he was gifted and brilliantly creative," Tom Viola, BC/EFA's executive director, said in a statement. "With John Kander, Fred gave us some of the most delightful and groundbreaking musicals of the last 50 years. Now, he has given us all another remarkable gift. …In these very challenging times, this gift enables us to hold steady in our support for the important work of The Actors Fund and more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations across the country. Indeed Fred answers the infamous question he so famously posed in Chicago: 'Whatever happened to class?' Fred, it's you. All you. Thank you."

The Fred Ebb Foundation, in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, artistic director) also presents an annual award, named for Ebb, to aspiring musical theatre songwriters. This year's award, which includes a $50,000 prize, was presented to Douglas J. Cohen. Past winners include John Bucchino (2005), Steve Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman (2006), Peter Mills (2007), Adam Gwon (2008), and Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (2009).

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As a writer, lyricist, composer and director, Ebb worked on many projects for film, TV and stage. Ebb is a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, Olivier and Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award winner. His first professional songwriting assignment came in 1953 when he and Phil Springer were hired by Columbia Records to write a song for Judy Garland called "Heartbroken." Ebb was introduced to composer John Kander in 1964 by music publisher Tommy Valando and became one of the most legendary songwriting teams in American history. The first successful collaboration was on the song "My Coloring Book," recorded by Barbra Streisand. Their second theatrical collaboration, Flora, the Red Menace, created a star out of Liza Minnelli in her Tony Award-winning Broadway debut. In 1966, their collaboration Cabaret, opened and received seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score. A 1972 movie version of Cabaret starring Liza Minnelli was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won eight awards and was nominated for nine Golden Globe Awards and won three including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy. The same year, the songwriting team wrote a number of songs for Minnelli's television special "Liza With a Z," which received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program - Variety or Popular Music. In 1975, the two wrote the Broadway musical Chicago, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach. The musical was successfully revived 20 years later at City Center Encores! and subsequently transferred to Broadway where it is currently the longest running revival in Broadway history. In 1977, the team collaborated with Martin Scorsese on the movie "New York, New York"; the title song was introduced by Minnelli and later recorded by Frank Sinatra becoming the unofficial theme song of New York City. The Minnelli Broadway vehicle The Act also opened that year. After a four-year absence, Mr. Ebb and Mr. Kander returned with Woman of the Year (1981), The Rink (1984), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) and Steel Pier (1997). They were honored by the Kennedy Center with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. Miramax's 2002 feature film "Chicago" was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture and was nominated for eight Golden Globe Awards and won three, including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy.

At the time of Ebb's passing in 2004, he and Kander were at work on several new musicals. Curtains, starring David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk, debuted at CTG/Ahmanson Theatre in 2006 and came to Broadway in 2007, receiving a Tony nomination for Best Musical as well as a Best Score nomination for Kander & Ebb. In 2007, All About Us was staged at the Westport Country Playhouse. The Visit, starring Chita Rivera and George Hearn, received a staging at DC's Signature Theatre in 2008. Earlier this year, The Scottsboro Boys debuted at New York's Vineyard Theatre. The production received an additional production at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis before coming to Broadway this fall.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation's leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised over $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

BC/EFA is the major supporter of seven programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and more. BC/EFA also awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide.

For more information, visit www.broadwaycares.org.

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