In its third year, Hot in Hollywood has grown to be one of Los Angeles’ most talked about fundraising events. It features well known actors going outside their comfort zone to perform in a wild, fun talent/variety show that raises money for AIDS/HIV charities. This year’s event grossed about $300,000 and featured dozens of performers from television’s most popular shows and was hosted by Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera.
When Los Angeles actor Michael Medico took Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program, he didn’t think that the project he created inside the program would be any big deal. He thought it would be something about himself that helped his acting career.
Having a friend with AIDS who was having problems with their medication got Medico thinking. Everyone knows about AIDS he realized, but even after all this time, the perception still exists that AIDS is a gay disease or something that happens mostly now in Africa. People know intellectually that AIDS can effect anyone, he realized, but the behavior of many people doesn’t reflect that.
He decided to have a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment. At first, he set his sights fairly low—He was going to have it in a 99-seat theatre, and raise maybe $5,000 if he was very lucky.
Then he started speaking about the event to other people. A Hollywood producer he spoke to asked if he could be on the event’s committee. Medico didn’t have a committee, so he formed one. Before he knew it, the event had a life of his own.
Medico was committed the event be fun. There are a lot of fundraisers in Hollywood, and he wanted to provide a novel show that would reach a younger crowd.
“I didn’t want us to take ourselves too seriously,” says Medico.
The event may have been lighthearted, but it quickly attracted serious attention.
Jaime Pressley (My Name is Earl) led the way by hosting the first fundraiser in 2006. It has expanded rapidly ever since.
This year’s event had even more stars and attendees than ever. One highlight was during the live auction when Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up) won an $8,000 Jamaican vacation that includes a week’s stay in the presidential suite at the Grand Lido Negril.
This year, Pressley received special honors.
“Jaime is being honored because of her true commitment to the cause as well as our events,” said Medico. “She took a chance lending her name to an unknown organization in its first year and helped bring it to the success that it enjoys today. Jaime was an integral part of helping us put Hot in Hollywood on the map and we wanted to show our appreciation by presenting her with the first HiH award honoring service to cure HIV/AIDS.”
USA TODAY gave a detailed report on this year’s show:
Hot Night in Hollywood Raises Money for AIDS Foundation
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi didn’t make it to Saturday’s Hot in Hollywood charity event in Los Angeles; they were busy getting married. But there were plenty of other stars singing and dancing to a ’60s-themed evening of song benefiting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Sharon Knolle hit some highlights:
The music and more
•TheUgly Bettytrio. Host America Ferrera started off the show with a version of the James Bond theme song Diamonds Are Forever and was later joined by co-star Ana Ortiz on Goldfinger. Ferrera’s TV nephew, Mark Indelicato, threw on a fringed jacket to channel a young Michael Jackson on I Want You Back.
•The BonesBabe Stars Emily Deschanel and Eric Millegan have both sung on episodes of their Fox crime drama, but their duet of Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe amazed, as Deschanel did her best Cher impression in a long black wig.
•A naughty number. How I Met Your Mother‘s Neil Patrick Harris, via prompts from the audience, turned Puff the Magic Dragon into the X-rated Ruby the Magic Unicorn.
•The showgirl. Candis Cayne of Dirty Sexy Money wowed the crowd with a Vegas-ready performance of Thirteen Men, first sung by Ann Margaret. The transsexual actress said she’s still surprised by fans who want her autograph.
•The jokester. Jason Biggs showed up in drag, after Ferrara mentioned that he couldn’t make it to last year’s show. When she told him the sketch was for last year, he jokingly complained that he’d “waxed my butt for this.” Later he reappeared as Ed Sullivan to introduce a few acts.
Check out last year’s Landmark Education News story about the event.