WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — The last river card has been turned at the 1st Celebrity Poker Gala but it is far from over. Filmed for television, 4 fun filled and action packed episodes will be coming to you soon. Miguel A. Nunez Jr. said “I had a great time!” and that was the consensus with not only the playing Celebs but with of all the guests. Glamorous Co-hosts Maria Ho and Rosalie Michaels fit right in with the Lambos, Ferraris, and Porsches as they interviewed Celebs on the Red Carpet. Making a guest appearance was Triple Crown Winner Victor Espinosa.
Deejay Ashlee Willis a.k.a. Bad Ash began the James Bond themed entertainment segment of the Gala with Las Vegas Blues singer Dianne Kallay matching the richness of Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger”. She also sang “Live and Let Die” and “Nobody Does it Better”. The talent was overflowing as Hunter Larsen of American Idol fame sang “License to Kill”. She represented the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. Megan Rugar of the Voice did “Tomorrow Never Dies”. Her charity of choice was the Safety Harbor Kids. Sonia Harley representing the Children’s Diabetes Foundation is known to her fans as the best black female Rock and Roll singer. She did justice to Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only”. Safe Passage Lives was represented by Ashley Cuellar who sang “Thunderball”. Each singer received a well deserved enthusiastic ovation.
The invitational had no entry fee and each Celeb represented the charity of their choice. One very close to home is the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund which is Daniel Baldwin’s mother’s charity. The star of “Apocalypto”, Rudy Youngblood played for America’s Unwanted Children. Andy Dick represented Autism Speaks. His eldest son Lucas represented the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. Jacob, another son of Andy’s represented the One Step Closer Foundation which helps those afflicted with Cerebral Palsy. Brett Cullen known for “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Ghost Rider”, and “Apollo 13” selected Alz.org. The Reed for Hope Foundation was represented by Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. who starred as a suspended NBA player disguising himself as a woman to play in the WNBA as “Juwanna Mann. Christopher Rich who starred in “Reba”, “Boston Legal”, & “Murphy Brown” played for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The Sunshine Kids is an organization that gives children with cancer opportunities to enjoy normal activities. Represented by Tony Denison, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and AlcoholGSH.com have also been supporters for years. With a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Kate Linder of the “Young & the Restless” capably played for the ALS Foundation. The George Lopez Foundation was selected by Paula Trickey who starred in “Pacific Blue” & “The OC”. Founder Kiki Shephard represented her own charity, the K.I.S. Foundation when Omar Gooding, the younger brother of Cuba Gooding Jr. was too sick to attend. Carmit Bachar who was with the Pussycat Dolls played for Mayte’s Rescue which finds loving homes for shelter dogs. Other charities for animals were The Humane Society of the United States represented by Thomas Agusto from the Capital Records boy band Midnight Red and the ASPCA represented by Wedil David. Omarosa is a realty TV star from Donald Trump’s NBC show “The Apprentice”. Representing the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is Jeff Timmons, singer and founding member of the Grammy nominated group 98 Degrees. The Ripple Effect is represented by Dezmond Meeks who was a quarter-finalist on both “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent”. Professional sports were represented by Super Bowl XX winner Willie Gault who played for Athletes for Life and 6 times Major League All-Star Kenny Lofton.
The sponsoring non-profit of the event is the GuardaHeart Foundation which promotes a state of the art technology for heart disease risk assessment through the PULS Cardiac Test. Laurel Wiley played for them but Eric Roberts joined cardiologist Rico Simonini MD of Cedars-Sinai on the Red Carpet to explain the importance of this test.
Maria Ho introduced the Voice of the Octagon Bruce Buffer who started the poker contest with his trademarked, “It’s Time”.
Sakeman provided premium sake to the guests. The two brands were $120-$150 per bottle. The dietary supplement brand www.AlcoholGSH.com sponsored the Gala with a $25,000 donation. Each charity receives 2% and the remaining balance is divided by the 6 Finalists. 6th place will receive a donation of 4%; 5th 9%; 4th 14%; 3rd 19%; 2nd 24%; 1st 30%. All the charities and non-profits must have an active 501c number. The creator, executive producer & producer of the Gala, Yosh Nakano says, “AlcoholGSH is a very controversial name. The misconception is that it promotes the consumption of alcohol. GSH is the chemical symbol for glutathione which is vital to health, wellness, and longevity. Since alcohol depletes glutathione faster than anything and our product Riboceine is the best for enhancing glutathione’s production, it is important for the health of those that choose to drink and 178 million Americans drink.”
The director is Justin Steele and the producer is Matt Berkowitz both of Nero Films. Michael Itaev and Ralph Rudd are also executive producers. Talent Producers were Kevin P. Robinson and Lynn Mitchell. Other cast members include Ashley Tran, Lexy Lynn Graham, Neille Tenza, Randy Kim, Rio Sage, and Chika Kanamoto. The gifting suite was provided by Steve Stein.