What was the party favor at last night’s final “A Night at Sardi’s” Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser? Kleenex. Yep, little packets of personalized Sardi’s tissues, which guests had already cracked open 20 minutes in. For 23 years celebs have put on one of the best variety shows in L.A. to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research and provide care for people living with the disease. To date, they have raised $28 million. The dinner/show takes place each year at The Beverly Hilton and is organized by Laurie Burrows Grad and her late husband Peter (who passed away last year). The event is in memory of Burrows’ father, Abe Burrows, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning radio and stage author/director who suffered from the disease. “I know you’ve always heard Peter and I swear that this is the last year that we’re going to ask you for money, but I promise you, this is the final year,” said Burrows Grad.
Jason Alexander hopped onstage to announce that they were passing the fundraising torch for the cause on to Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, who started their fundraiser Hilarity for Charity four years ago after Miller Rogen’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at 55-years-old. “Sardi’s is always such a classy event held by the even classier Peter and Laurie,” Rogen said. “We knew we couldn’t do anything that would compare to that level of sophistication, so we did the exact opposite of that,” he joked. “We created an event where you will hear more dick jokes than you will hear the word ‘Alzheimer’s.’” Their past Hilarity for Charity themes have included prom night and a bar mitzvah for James Franco. Everyone from Samuel L. Jackson to Aziz Ansari to the Backstreet Boys have stopped by.
After handing out awards to actor Keith Carradine and posthumously to Peter Grad, the final show began with performances by Carradine (he and his brother Robert performed “Look Around” from Keith Carradine’s Tony nominated turn as Will Rogers in Will Rogers Follies), and Perception’s Eric McCormack performed “I Got Life” from Hair (which he actually performed 15 years ago at this same event). But it was NCIS: Los Angeles’s Barrett Foa who stole the show, performing all seven parts of “One Day More” from Les Miserables…with a twist: He tackled the task by pretending he was in a bad theatre production. His last note literally contained all seven parts in one breath. I think I need to start watching NCIS. The cast of The Big Bang Theory ended the show with “You’re the One That I Want” and “We Go Together” from Grease.
While I’m saddened to see Sardi’s go, I’m smiling thinking of the laughs ahead with Hilarity for Charity and prospect of ending Alzheimer’s for good.