For nearly 20 years, the Hollywood community has gathered annually at the Stars Benefit Gala to support the Fulfillment Fund, which provides educationally underserved students with guidance, mentorships and scholarships that can help steer them to success. Through partnerships with studios and with the help of Hollywood talent and execs, the Fund helped negotiate $3.8 million in financial aid during the 2012-13 academic year.
In addition to raising coin, the Gala recognizes a leader in the entertainment industry each year for his or her philanthropic contributions; Judd Apatow, Brian Grazer and Leslie Mann are among the past honorees.
This year, the laurel will take on added meaning — for the first time bestowed as the Tom Sherak Award, named for the late film czar who passed away earlier this year after a battle with prostate cancer. “Tom was perhaps Hollywood’s greatest philanthropic spokesperson,” said Gary Gitnick, founder of the Fulfillment Fund. “He was a giving person who spent a good part of his life working with leaders in Hollywood to find ways of helping people.”
Sherak had a hand in selecting Relativity Media founderRyan Kavanaugh as this year’s honoree, though he died without knowing the award would bear his name.
Gitnick noted that naming Kavanaugh as the recipient of the award was a perfect outcome for the debut honor, adding that not only does Kavanaugh contribute to his community and the fund, but he was also mentored by Sherak. “We thought he was just the right person to get the first Tom Sherak award,” Gitnick said.
The Stars Benefit Gala will be held Oct. 14 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel beginning with cocktails at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:30. The event will be hosted by John Oliver, with special guest Kathy Griffin and a performance by Jennifer Hudson.