On Saturday night, April 27th, over 60 Celebrities along with LAPD Officers & members of the community showed up at the historic Saban Theatre for the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation Celebrity Poker Tournament & Party hosted by James Gandolfini.
The street was packed with fans and press as each celebrity made their way to the carpet and into the event.
The 1920’s Rotunda of the Theatre was filled with unique and priceless auction items like a Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant autographed Collage and an item from Muhammad Ali as well as a plethora of food and cocktails, a 3D photobooth, a high-end Cellupedic bed to lounge on and a dozen+ poker tables.
The evening began with the Al Atkins, Executive Director of the Foundation presenting a plaque to James Gandolfini for his service to the cause. Gandolfini took the microphone and while looking at the plaque responded that he did not expect this. He recently moved to the area and thought “what’s a better way to give back to the community than to support his local law enforcement, the LAPD”.
The poker tournament was a diverse mix of celebrities from all genres, including Michael Cudlitz and C. Thomas Howell (Southland), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Vanessa Marcil, Rob Riggle, Neal Mcdonough, Rocky Carroll (NCIS), Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS LA), Karina Smirnoff (Dancing with the Stars), Brian Baumgartner (The Office), Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory), Adam Rodriguez and Omar Benson Miller (CSI Miami), Katherine LaNasa (Deception), Grant Show (the original Melose Place), Shaun Sipos (the new Melrose Place), Roger Cross (Continuum), Neal Flynn (The Middle), Michael Trucco (Revenge), Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill), Tony Denison (Major Crimes), Sarah Brown (Days of Our Lives), Kate Linder (Young & the Restless), Aaron Hil (Greek), Marlon Wayans, Billy Burke (Twilight), Rory Cochran (Argo), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side), Ken Davitian (Borat), AJ Mclean (Backstreet Boys), Adrian Young (No Doubt), Bryce Sodeberg (Lifehouse), Blake Lewis (American Idol), UFC Fighter Tito Ortiz, Detroit Piston Corey Maggette, former NFL player and Olympic Gold Medalist Willie Gault, Jack Osbourne, Shanna Moakler, Alexis Bellino and Jim Bellino (Real Housewives of the OC), Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi (Shahs of Sunset), Omarosa (Celebrity Apprentice All-Stars), Jennifer Tilly, Jamie Gold, Maria Ho, Jason Sommerville, Tiffany Michelle and more.
The Memorial Foundation recently brought in Producer Traci Szymanski to help bring a new and fresh energy to the scene. “The Foundation has had great success over the years with very loyal supporters in the community and in the Entertainment Industry. I think we’re creating something for everyone… the wonderful long-time supporters and introducing new names to the Foundation. A non-profit organization has to constantly evolve and grow with the environment and I think we’re helping the Foundation to do just that.”
During the event, a live auction was held including an LAPD Helicopter Ride-Along, an Aqua Expeditions cruise down the Amazon River and the Main Poker table autographed by James Gandolfini and all attending celebrities was auctioned off to the crowd. Officers, celebrities, sponsors and supporters all excitedly participated in the festivities. NBA player Corey Maggette took home both the Cruise & the Poker Table (after the tournament had concluded).
As the night was winding down, the Final Poker Table left in the tournament was half-filled with celebrities including Billy Burke, Jeremy Sisto, Adrian Young and Paul Johansson. The Grand Prize was graciously donated by PokerStars, the biggest online gaming company in the world who makes it a priority to give back to charitable causes worldwide. And the lucky winner is One Tree Hill’s, Paul Johansson. Johansson has won himself a $10,000 Main Event Seat at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas and a flight there provided by Latin Escapes.
Proceeds from this event benefit officers and their immediate family members, who have experienced unforeseen catastrophic circumstances, including death, illness and injury. The Memorial Foundation is the cornerstone of the Los Angeles Police Departments employee wellness program and has raised over $14.5 million without any direct taxpayer money.
The support of the entertainment community helps enable the Memorial Foundation to raise needed funds to support officers in their time of need.