at "Night of 100 Stars"The theme of the National Italian American Foundation event could have been "La Dolce Vita" as scores of impressive Italians presented a Salute to the Academy Awards. The black tie event was held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and among the honorees were Jack Valenti and Academy Award winner Ernie Borgnine.
Borgnine, who won his Academy Award as Best Actor for Marty, 50 years ago, is still going strong at age 89, and just completed a film in Milan - in Italian! Valenti, former President of the Motion Picture Association of America expressed his pride in establishing a scholarship to help fund the education of outstanding students. He jetted in from Washington, D.C. where NIAF is based.
Some of the notables feasting on such specialties as Paccheri Ripieni di Ragu and Pollo Vesuvio, included actor Robert Loggia, Magnun PI's Larry Minetti, Dom DeLuise and Fred Travelena, who imitated every Italian actor from Robert Di Nero to Sly Stallone.
at Night of 100 Stars Oscar Viewing Party'Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who is of Mexican descent) was named as an Honorary Italian, and presented the key to our city to Valenti, who is an old friend of his.
Other prominent Italian Americans in the room included Connie Stevens (her real name is Concetta Rosalie Anna Ingoglia, and Gary Sinise who received an award from Joe Mantegna, who owns an Italian Restaurant "Taste of Chicago" in Burbank . Un bono notte for Italians everywhere.
The aforementioned Ernie Borgnine was among the 60 Academy Award Winners and Nominees at Norby Walter's "Night of 100 Stars"at the Beverly Hills Hotel. For the past 16 years we have shared this event with such celebs as Mimi Rogers (former Mrs. Tom Cruise), Richard Dreyfuss, and Patrick Stewart; and it was like a huge family celebration - instead of a stodgy celebrity event.
Some of the notables feasting and frolicking around the Crystal Ballroom included Anthony Michael Hall, Jermain Jackson, Joey Fatone & Lance Bass (N'Sunc), Cheryl Tiegs and gorgeous Super Model, Amber Smith. We particularly enjoyed meeting another Amber - Amber Fry and her ubiquitous attorney, Gloria Allred, who appears on more TV shows than Ophrah. Allred has just come out with a new book "Fight Back and Win", which no doubt will rival Amber's best selling tome, "Witness for the Prosecution of Scott Peterson".
at National Italian American Foundation EventOthers in the jam packed room included Camryn Manheim, Tracy Scroggins, Lou Diamond Phillips and our pal Rhonda Shear, with whom we appeared regularly on her USA Network Show, Up All Nite. Rhonda is now the star of Home Shopping Network, pitching a line of sexy slimwear which is made for gals like Rhonda and moi - Remember: Real Women Have Curves! Thanks to sponsors Sun -Doul - Os World Motor Sports and ISA Investigative Services, and, of course, to impresario Norby Walters for another memorable Oscar evening on the Hollywood Beat.