Friday, April 11, 2008
A Night To Remember
Well, as promised, last weekend was better than even I could have imagined. Betty and I left for Los Angeles around noon on Saturday and arrived at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at 3:00 PM. We checked in and had a light lunch. Before you knew it, it was 6:00 PM, time to put on my tux, and Betty her evening gown and head downstairs. There were already several hundred magicians and celebrities in attendance walking the Red Carpet. After the meet & greet from 6-7 PM, there was a cocktail party hour, and it was amazing to see so many famous people in one place. Mark and Nani Wilson arrived close to 7:00 PM, and we all entered the ballroom and took our seats. Shortly after, the meal was served and then it was time for the awards banquet to begin. Opening the banquet were the Mums, a group of acrobats, jugglers, and mimes who circulated through the audience with their final destination: the stage. Lots of color, movement, and music started the evening off with a bang.
Mark Nelson then introduced Mark Wilson who announced the first award of the evening which, believe it or not, was the Award of Merit. It was a great honor to receive this award, but it was an even greater honor to have it presented by Mark Wilson:
Accepting the award -- something I'll never forget
After the Award of Merit presentation, I took my seat, still hard for me to believe I was even there. As the evening progressed, Bob Barker stood up and did 15 minuted of ad-lib, which was great. A pro of his caliber do his thing at 80+ years-old; he's still got it! He then introduced the MC of the evening: Mark Kornhauser, and then the various awards were handed out, including a Master's Fellowship to Patrick Page, Performing Fellowship to both Penn & Teller and Dr. Sawa of Japan, a Creative Fellowship to Steve Dushek, long-deserved Literary Fellowship to William Kalush, a Special Fellowship to the Amazing Johnathan, and Lifetime Achievement Award to Al Cohen. And then, of course, there were the other awards, this time presented with special wand created by John Gaughan and $1000.00 cash prize. Close-Up Magician of the Year went to Paul Green, Parlor Magician of the Year went to Shoot Ogawa, Lecturer of the Year went to Martin Lewis, Stage Magician of the Year went to Dana Daniels, and Magician of the Year went to Derren Brown. We were also treated to the hilarious commentary by Jason Alexander throughout the evening, Bob Zabrecky, Matt Plendl as Mr. Dead, an act you MUST see if you get the chance, Rocco, FISM Gold Cup Award-Winner Rick Merrill, who absolutely killed, the great Patrick Page, and Eric Buss performing his now-famous Spring Snake Symphony.
Loni Anderson in attendance on the Red Carpet
John Gaughan and Gay Blackstone on the Red Carpet
Rocco in action
Matt Plendl AKA Mr. Dead
Mr. Dead and Bob Zabrecky
Amazing Johnathan, or is it?
The real Amazing Johnathan makes his appearance
Jason Alexander entertains the crowd throughout the evening
Jason Alexander and Milt Larsen yucking it up
Patrick Page and Steve Valentine
Neil Patrick Harris and Bruce Vilanch
Shoot Ogawa receiving his award
Max Maven presents the award to Dr. Sawa
Diana Zimmerman and Bob Dorian
Tippi Hedron and Ron Wilson
Dick Van Patton and Michael Finney
Mark Nelson and June Lockhart
Paul Daniels and Steve Valentine
Dana Daniels sans Luigi
David Krumholtz and Julie (Cat Woman) Newmar
Paul Green accepts his award
The after party with Mark Wilson, Michael Finney, Nani Wilson, and Michael Finney's brother
Betty, myself, Mark and Nani
Standing with Shoot Ogawa, Mark and Nani
Special thanks to Pete Biro and Barry Sokolsky for sharing some of the photos above.
I must tell you that my life has been forever changed since the first day the Magic Land of Allakazam aired. Watching Mark and Nani Wilson on TV, reading about all the Academy of Magical Arts Awards Banquets as a kid in Genii magazine -- not in my wildest dreams would I have ever believed I would have gotten this award and it be presented by Mark Wilson himself! Thanks, Mark and Nani, for all you've done, not only for me, but for all the others you've inspired and continue to inspire! Spending the evening with you was a memory I will cherish forever. Thanks to you for the kind emails and calls, and thanks for allowing me to share a little slice of heaven with you.
Until next time,