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NEW YORK You know your benefit has pull when ex-president and man-about-town Bill Clinton shows up during the cocktail hour to schmooze with your guests. Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning's (Pencil) Stand Up for Your Schools benefit at the Hammerstein Ballroom had such a visit from the president, who spent a good 20 minutes chatting with Pencil's supporters and notable guests. Among them were New York schools chancellor Harold Levy and his wife Pat Sapinsley, Law & Order star Jesse Martin, New York City comptroller-elect Bill Thompson, Ice-T, Katie Couric, former BMG head Strauss Zelnick, and New York Knicks Kurt Thomas and Allan Houston.
Produced by Tobak-Dantchik Events and Promotions, the event started with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres (which guest and Rock and Wrap It Up founder Syd Mandelbaum proclaimed were “fantastic!") from Great Performances in the Hammerstein's foyer. For dinner, the plated first-course amuse-bouche, which looked like sushi at first glance, included duck and cabbage rolls, smoked salmon Napoleon, a woodland mushroom strudel, a black olive crostini and black mission fig with gorgonzola mascarpone. Girl-group Dream performed a few songs for the guests between the first course and entree. Pencil chairman Lisa Belzberg and president Ruth Cohen then presented the Pencil awards to businesspeople who created partnerships between schools and their private-sector companies.
The highlight of the event was a performance by Boyz II Men, the multi-platinum selling R&B group that was brought in by L.A. Reid, president and CEO of Arista Records, the benefit's main corporate sponsor and the head of the group's recording label. The group had the audience, especially those at the front tables, in a bit of a frenzy. Some of the women reverted to screaming teenagers. The performance was an all-around hit, with the crowd raving about the performance well out the door.
Read an impresario profile of Suzanne Tobak and Cathy Dantchik...