Gest returns to biz

David Gest who last produced “Liza’s Back” in 2002, now announces “I’m back!” He demonstrated his return to the biz with “The Party,” Monday night in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Gest invited 800 to dinner and a show he produced boasting 28 star-acts, an orchestra of 34, and 10 backup singers in tribute to Dionne Warwicke. She will star in his special, “Dionne Warwick’s 45th Anniversry Spectacular,” to tape Jan.26 and 27 at the Kodak Theater.

It is the launch of Gest’s new production company, Extreme Entertainment Enterprises. “The Party’s” tab, $200,000-plus, was paid for by Gest’s “friends” whom he identified as Drexel Chemical, AMCO, Tsunami Books, Aces Oasis, Global Dinng plus American Airlines flying in performers from around the country. Gest claims he never pays the performers, “They are all my friends.” They performed until midnight with the audience dancing to each act in a scene never before witnessed in this room by seasoned BevHilton audiences.

Angie Dickinson and Nancy Wilson hosted. The stars, in alphabetical listing: Archie Bell, Blu Cantrell, Carl Carlton, Mel Carter, Taylor Dane, Johnny Gill (of “New Edition”), the Emotions, James Ingram, Freda Payne, Russell Thompkins, Jr., Martha Reeve and The Vabndella, Smokey Robinson, Mickey and Jan Rooney, Freddie Scott, Kathy Sledge, Candi Stayton, BJ Thomas, Lanny Welch and Warwick with “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and, appropriately, “That’s What Friends Are For.” Gloria Gaynor closed the lengthy show with “I Will Survive.”

The evening also benefited Partners for Potential via a silent auction plus a live auction m.c’d by Martin Lewis. Joey Melotti masterfully conductedthe audience with proper charts for each artist. Tristan Rogers directed.

Upcoming from Gest’s Extreme Entertainment Enterprises is a 85th Birthday Salute Special to Jane Ruseell. And a B’way-bound musical “DivaLicious.” Russell was among the evergreen stars on hand for Monday night’s “The Party.” Others included: Rose Arie, Jane Withers, Margaret O’Brien, Rhonda Fleming and Anne Jeffreys.

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