Five celebrities set for UMES Gala
PRINCESS ANNE, MD-(January 9, 2012) Five Hollywood stars have signed-on to appear March 3 at the 2012 University of Maryland Eastern Shore Gala, “Lights, Camera, Action!.”
The third year for a celebrity presence, the 2012 guests include: S. Epatha Merkerson, Larry King, Billy Davis Jr., and Marilyn McCoo and Tippi Hedren.
“What an honor that these talented and community conscious celebrities are willing to give of their time to benefit our deserving students,” Dr. Veronique Diriker, Gala coordinator, said. “I’m sure our guests will delight in sharing the evening with them.”
S. Epatha Merkerson is best-known for her 16 years on the NBC hit series, “Law and Order,” as Lt. Anita Van Buren. She appeared in more episodes than any other cast member during the 20- year series’ run, which ended in 2010. The series earned her nine SAG Award nominations, two NAACP Image awards and an NAACP Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress last year.
Merkerson also starred in the HBO film “Lackawanna Blues,” receiving Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG and NAACP awards for her portrayal of Rachel Nanny Crosby. On stage, she received Tony Award nominations for her performance in August Wilson’s “
The Piano Lesson” and as Lola Delaney in “Come Back, Little Sheba.”
Larry King, a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame, has been a broadcaster for 50 years. He hosted the nightly interview TV program “Larry King Live” on CNN for 25 years, ending the show in 2010. King received the Peabody Award for Excellence in broadcasting for his radio and television shows and has won 10 Cable ACE awards for Best Interviewer and for Best Talk Show Series.
Among King’s many books are “The Best of Larry King Live: The Greatest Interviews” and “Anything Goes! What I’ve Learned from Pundits, Politicians, and Presidents.” He also wrote a weekly column for “USA Today” for 18 years.
Seven-time Grammy-winning duo Billy Davis Jr., and Marilyn McCoo burst onto the music scene with “The 5th Dimension,” a musical group of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. In a span of eight years, they had 30 songs on the pop charts, including, “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” “Up Up And Away,” and “Wedding Bell Blues.”
Davis and McCoo established themselves as a duo after a decade with the group. Their first #1 hit, “You Don’t Have to Be A Star,” earned them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo. CBS signed them for a prime time TV series, “The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show.”
Tippi Hedren is best-known for her Golden Globe performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic, “The Birds.” After the film, she starred alongside Sean Connery in “Marnie,” and Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren in “The Countess From Hong Kong,” Charlie Chaplin’s last film.
She has appeared in over 30 films, numerous television shows and is known for her humanitarian and environmental causes. Best-known is a non-profit big cat sanctuary, “The Roar Foundation’s Shambala Preserve” created as an African-type setting for the filming of the movie “Roar,” which Hedren co-produced and starred with her daughter, Melanie Griffith. The story of her life with the animals is documented in Simon & Schuster’s “The Cats of Shambala.”
Actresses Melanie Griffith and Jaclyn Smith, who initially were announced as celebrity guests at the event, are unable to attend.
Production on Griffith’s current film, “The Hot Flashes,” shooting in New Orleans, has been extended due to inclement weather. In lieu of attending the event, Griffith and the film’s producers—Nina Henderson-Moore, Susan Seidelman, Brad Hennig and Laurie Lacob—will be donating $20,000 toward the Gala Endowment Fund.
Smith’s mother-in-law, Maxine Allen, 81, died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Funeral services will be in Rochester, N.Y., the weekend of the UMES Gala, her publicist said. Smith is married to Bradley Allen, a Houston cardiothoracic surgeon.
Tickets for the event are at two levels-Oscar tickets are $175 and VIP tickets are $500. Call Veronique Diriker at 410-651-8142 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to purchase tickets.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, email@example.com.
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355, firstname.lastname@example.org.