The drive from San Diego to Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon was relatively smooth, but very hot and humid, even with my car’s air conditioner going full-blast. I was listening to the news radio station’s coverage of the area’s wildfires. The “Station” fire burning in the northeastern hills, and the largest in the city’s history, cast a smokey layer to the already hazy sky. I’m glad Mt. Wilson was spared, home to a gazillion radio-tv satellite and cell towers.
Finally I arrived at my hotel for the night with a little over an hour to get situated and ready for one big occasion; A garden party and fundraiser for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Don LaFontaine Voice Lab, hosted at the Bel Air home of Joe and Ann Cipriano.
When I arrived a little before 6:30, I walked in and was greeted at the door by SAG Foundation personnel, and set off to join the party, which already had a number of attendees. The first thing I saw was a large photo of Don, smiling and welcoming me. Everyone was invited to sign the photo. Joe and Ann welcomed me as well. I was feeling quite comfortable indeed.
I then made my way to one of the hosted bars, and had a “Voice-tini”, a concoction that somebody said was in honor of Don. After that I checked out Joe’s studio housed in the building to the left side of the above picture. The evening was warm with an almost full-moon on the rise.
Studio guru and fellow friend at the vo-bb and Facebook, George Whittam assisted Joe with his set up. Another angle is below.
I then decided to go out and mingle. I met Suzanne Angel Pape. Paul, her husband and Don were best friends. We enjoyed a cocktail and some laughs. Paul was running around, making sure everything was rolling perfectly. And it was.
Suzanne Angel Pape and yours truly
I noticed a young guy that looked somewhat familiar. I introduced myself to him. It turns out he is Don’s nephew, Heath, who is just getting into Voiceover. We chatted a good long while, about the business, and how Don helped him move back to Minnesota, so he could be near his autistic son. I could feel Don’s good vibes everywhere. The first anniversary of Don’s passing was the day before, and it seemed like no time had gone by at all. I just believed that Don was smiling on us all from VO heaven!
Here are a few more pics;
David Alden, CBS voice, and promo coach & director for Don, Joe Cip and others. He’s holding on to me and a Voice-tini.
And the gorgeous author and Voice actresss extraordinare- Joan Baker.(She’s very funny, friendly and extremely animated)
VO Coach Nancy Wolfson, me, and Stephanie Ciccarelli of Voices.com share grins
Zurek of Voiceover Universe and our host, Joe Cipriano
Sure, I could go on and on about all the nice folks I chatted it up with, like Shotgun Tom Kelly, Beau Weaver, Steve Tisherman, John Taylor, Jeff McNeal, James Alburger, Penny Abshire, and Marice Tobias, but the evening was really about a cause. To make the DLF Voice-Over Lab a reality .
The Voice-Over Lab at the SAG Foundation will feature a fully-equipped sound studio, two recording booths, and classroom, allowing aspiring voice actors to work on their craft, record auditions or work on demos, all at no cost.
There were a number of amazing silent auction items, like this sign:
And the most unique items: “Don’s Doodles” on assorted promo and trailer scripts:
I’ve zoomed to the most detailed drawing below. Joe Cipriano told me this one for 20th Century Fox’s “Dr. Doolittle” was most probably from a VERY-long session. HA!
I forgot to mention, there was a very good band, and Nita, Don’s wife got up on stage at the end of the evening and sang.
It was a very memorable, enjoyable (successful evening for SAG Foundation), and a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man, Don LaFontaine.