New York to D.C. and back again

The Nutcracker Family Benefit guests on the Promenade of the New York State Theater

New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet joined forces once again for The Nutcracker Family Benefit– one of New York’s favorite holiday events for families.

The Benefit began with a performance of the holiday classic, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.

After the performance, guests proceeded to the Theater’s Promenade to enjoy a holiday party decorated with gingerbread houses and plenty of good cheer. The Sugarplum Fairy, her Cavalier, Candy Canes, Chinese Tea, Marzipan Shepherdesses, and children from the cast were on hand to sign autographs and mingle with the guests.

NYCB dancer Sarah Williams signs autographs for some of The Nutcracker's smallest fans

Honorary Chairmen were Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. Benefit chairs were Whitney Clay, Serena Lese and Gillian Miniter. Corporate Chairman was Robert Tonner and event sponsor was Tonner Doll Company.

The Nutcracker Family Benefitis a critical source of support for New York City Ballet’s Education Programs, serving thousands of children and families in the metropolitan area. The Benefit also provides a vital source of support for The School of American Ballet’s Scholarship Fund. The fund ensures that students studying at the School, many of the most talented young dancers in the country receive crucial scholarship money.

Sterling Hyltin, The Sugarplum Fairy, signs autographs for some of her fans

NYCB dancer Tabitha Rink-Gay, Hot Chocolate, signs autographs for some of her fans

Nutcracker Family Benefit Chairwomen Gillian Miniter, Whitney Clay, and Serena Lese, with Sterling Hyltin, The Sugarplum Fairy

Bruce Harting and Carole Divet Harting with their daughter Chloe

Nutcracker Family Benefit guests

Alexandra Lebenthal and Ellie Diamond and guests

CandyCane Tom Gold and Christy Turlington Burns and Grace

Alex Herzan, Agnus Gund, and Lily Herzan

Dewdrop Tiler Peck and benefit guests

Olivia and Julia Flatto

Dr. Susan Krysiewicz and Thomas Bell

Benefit Chairwoman Serena Lese and her son William Lese in his costume from The Nutcracker

Peter Martins with Tracey Pollan and Michael J. Fox

Gillian and Sylvester Miniter and their family and benefit guests

Hon. Kate Levin and her daughter Veri di Suevero

Paula Zahn and Austin Cohen with a CandyCane

Chairwoman Whitney Clay with her son

Santa Claus and Darci Kistler greet Paula Zahn and Austin Cohen

Jessica Seinfeld and her daughter with The Sugarplum Fairy

The stars were out that night. The red carpet was as long as the excitement in the air. It was a cool crisp night in Washington, D.C., picture perfect for the Kennedy Center Honors. Caroline Kennedy, looking beautiful in navy blue explained to the audience how the Kennedy Center rewards achievement in the performing arts.

This was the 29th year of the awards, produced by George Stevens Jr. This years honorees were Smokey Robinson, Zubin Mehta, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dolly Parton, and Steven Spielberg.

The goal of the Center is to bring art into the lives of Americans. The Center believes that the Arts bridges all boundaries and ultimately bring people together. The funds raised by the Kennedy Center are used to train talented young people to go out to the many cultural centers in America and Third World countries (opera, philharmonic, ballet) and run these centers, using the skills learned here.

Carmen deLavallade and Geoffrey Holder

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Christine and Stephen Schwarzman

The fun part of the evening is that the honorees have no idea as to what’s in store for them as they sat in the Presidential Box.

The great Aretha Franklin introduced Smokey along with Berry Gordy who made the Motown Sound world famous. “Baby Love,” “Tears of a Clown,” “Cruising on a Sunday Afternoon.” India Arie singing “Just Say I Don’t Want Nobody…” joined by Cee-Lo; then the “soul man” Sam Moore and Johnny Lang with “Take A Good Look At My Face.”  The Temptations came out and performed “Get Ready Cuz Here I Come,” “My Girl,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” and brought the audience to its feet.

Zubin Mehta was introduced by Itzhak Perelman who spoke about their relationship and how strange it was for him to be standing up while Zubin was sitting down. He spoke of Mehta’s 14-year relationship with the New York Philharmonic and his life status with the Israel Philharmonic which makes “till death do us part” take on a new meaning.

There was a short film of Mehta’s life including many highlights of his career especially the concert at Oslo, and how passionate the maestro is about his music.

The curtain rose, revealing Pinchas Zuckerman and thirty members of the Israel Philharmonic (who had been secretly flown in by an anonymous donor to surprise Maestro Mehta and play for all of us).

Sara Brightman introduced Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber who originally wrote “Jesus Christ Superstar” as a school assignment. Brightman spoke of Lloyd-Webber’s “crazy idea” of creating a show based on the poems of T. S. Eliot which eventually became “Cats.” Corey Glover gave us a little religion with Jesus Christ Superstar and then a very handsome and grown-up Josh Groban entertained us with a poignant “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera.”

Reba McEntire took the podium to speak about Dolly Parton and how she had influenced every girl in the country music for the past 30 years. Ms. McEntire said she was especially proud to be on stage with her “idol,” comparing her to a diamond in a business filled with rhinestones.

Reese Witherspoon offered some “Dolly-isms” – “my feet are so small because they don’t get the light of day,” “I know I’m not dumb and I know I’m not blonde,” and “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Barbara Walters in Oscar de la Renta

Carrie Underwood in a BCBG dress

Cee-Lo Green

Carey Underwood performed along with Kenny Rogers, Allison Kraus, Shania Twain, Vince Gil, and Jessica Simpson.

After that segment, Liam Neeson took the stage to talk about the dedication and commitment of Steven Spielberg. “His movies widen our horizons,” and he recounted how the acclaimed film director was told as a young man to learn how to see the different horizons of life. Tom Hanks read from the “Book of Steve” and gave the background of how the young boy started film and eventually became the master. World War II veterans thanked Spielberg for Private Ryan. Then a Shoah survivor, Renee Firestone, thanked him for telling the story of the Holocaust. They were then joined by the Choral Arts Society and the U.S. Army chorus.

Afterwards everyone went to dinner in the Center. It was amazing how they can accommodate 1000 for dinner. P.S. Those Washington women are something else. Never stood on a ladies room line that moved so-ooooo fast! Attention!

"The Kennedy Center Honors" will be broadcast over CBS Television Network on Tuesday, December 26 from 9 to 11 pm.

— Rochelle Hirsch

2006 Honors Class

Caroline Kennedy, Vernon Jordan, and Ed Schlossberg

Christine Ebersole

Frances &and Smokey Robinson

Dolly Parton in Robert Bahar

Joe and Jessica Simpson

Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg

Lady Madeleine and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber

Josh Groban

Les Moonves and Julie Chen

Reese Witherspoon in Versace

Mellody Hobson and George Lucas

Shania Twain in Mark Bauer

Steven Spielberg and George Stevens

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

Zubin and Nancy Mehta

Last week, just moments before Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially kicked off the holiday season by switching on the tree lights in Rockefeller center, he presented real estate executive Bill Rudin with a painting by a student to acknowledge his work, along with the work of Laura Slatkin and NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein, in creating the New York Center for Autism Charter School (the first of its kind in the state) in Harlem. 

The Center gave a $500,000 check to Hunter College to start an autism training institute for teachers. The Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association was also on hand at The Pierre celebrating the work of the New York Center for Autism, New York Center for Autism Charter School, and the Charles Hayden Foundation. Notable guests included Laura’s husband candle king Harry Slatkin, Merryl Tisch, Jennifer Rabb, Ilene Laner and Barry Gradman.

The mission of NYCA is to provide persons with autism in the New York area and their families with centralized access to comprehensive, science-based educational services and informational resources, and to coordinate, support, and facilitate on-going research into autism spectrum disorder.

Bill Rudin, Merryl Tisch, Harry Slatkin, and Laura Slatkin

Sarah Samuels, Susie Berker, Diane Connells, and Paul O'Neill

Jennifer Rabb, Seigh Fleigel, and Merryl Tisch

Likita Macpherson, Sonni Hollan, Halene Holland, and Annette Bartley

Claire Lappe, Zoey Stein, Anthony Lappe, and Gideon Stein

Jamie Pagliaro, Angela Pazaar, John Michaelson, and Susan Michaelson

Bill Rudin and Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Donald Cecil and Zenia Fliegel

Lewis Smigel, Louis Smigel, and Michelle Smigel

Laura Slatkin, Marryl Labb, and Ilene Laner

Joel Klein and Laura Slatkin

Chris Brooks and Kara Keating

Genie Seigler and Jim Fratto

Elizabeth Counihan and Allen Dzbanek

John Rusk and Mark Kocy

Constance Marks and James Miller

Melanie Bryon

Laura Slatkin and Harry Slatkin

Ilene Laner and Barry Gradman

Franklin Exkorn, Karin Sill-Exkorn, and Dr. Vita Rabinowitz

Minyanville Publishing and Multimedia, a leading financial intelligence community, held its first ever Critters’ Choice Awards two weeks ago at Geoffrey Zakarian’s Country Restaurant. They honored former NBA New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls Championship player Trent Tucker and benefited the Ruby Peck Foundation for Children’s Education, as well as the Trent Tucker Youth Program.  Among those attending were Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, Howard Cross and Entourage star Emmanuelle Chirqui, as well as some of the biggest hedge fund managers and traders on Wall Street.

“The Critters Choice Awards is a celebration of human capital honoring the work of those furthering the lives of tomorrow’s leaders and dreamers,” said Minyanville founder, Todd Harrison.  “Trent Tucker has tirelessly dedicated his life to such causes and we are honored to have him as our first ever honoree.”

Since retiring in 1993, Trent Tucker has dedicated his life to his foundation which seeks to provide a better environment for kids and their families focusing on after-school programming for middle school students.

The Trent Tucker Youth Program focuses on the needs of at-risk middle school kids. Tucker’s program gives inner city 12 – 14 year olds after school programming, helping them focus on academic and leadership skills and avoid risky behaviors and influences.

About Minyanville: Originally created in 2003, Minyanville’s multimedia platform is one that blends finance, education and entertainment to help navigate the muddy and turbulent waters of finance. While it is currently servicing a targeted audience of sophisticated investors, Minyanville is creating experiences from piggy banks to investment banks, from the 123’s to the 401Ks in an effort to make the world of finance less intimidating and to promote “fiscal fitness.”

Tina Fox and Meghan McGurk

Kevin and Tami Wassong
Trent Tucker and Todd Harrison
Jeff Saut and Raymond James

All Cheers

Trent Tucker, Emanuelle Chriqui, Greg Weldon, MJ Pedone, and Vinny Harris

Emanuelle Chriqui and Lionel Ohayan

Mrs. and Mr. Mario Gabelli

Wendy Starland

Eric and Stephanie Pomboy-Macromavens with Patrick Ewing

Kevin Wassong, Trent Tucker, and Todd Harrison

Vinny Harris, Patrick Ewing, and Mario Gabelli

The boys playing poker

Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Trent Tucker, Todd Harrison, and Howard Cross


Photographs by David X Prutting/©Patrick McMullan (Ripka).




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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com