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.

The Mums

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:

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

Dr. Sawa

Diana Zimmerman and Bob Dorian

Tippi Hedron and Ron Wilson

Martin Lewis

Bob Barker

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,


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